On Tuesday, July 11th, Kingsborough Community College accepted a $100,000 grant from Assemblywomen Jaime Williams (59th AD) and Stacey Pheffer Amato (23rd AD) to directly fund their Youth Engagement Summer Stem at Sea (YESSS!) program.
This initiative allows for nearly 200 students between the ages of 11-17 to partake in a four-day excursion, from Monday to Thursday, to learn about and explore the ocean and sea as a part of Kingsborough’s Maritime Department.
The program takes course over eight weeks and allows students the opportunity to participate in a multitude of activities from learning in the classroom, to being on the beach and even the most exciting part — boarding Kingsborough’s very own RV CUNY 1 Vessel to travel the waters, learning about life out at sea.
“This relationship started eight years ago with a visit to Kingsborough, talking about how can we get the youths involved,” Williams said. “I felt it was incumbent upon us to open that door for a free program to activate the young minds and by having such a program we can do just that.”
The summer program is already in its third week, and kids just can’t seem to contain their excitement on what Kingsborough has to offer.
“I get to dip my feet a little bit in marine biology and it feels like you are a real marine biologist… and I get to see marine life; I think it’s really amazing,” 12- year-old student James Saade said about the program.
“It’s really fun, we get to go outside, look at water and go on a boat soon,” William Flanders, another 12-year-old student, said.
This program has a lot of departments and faculty backing it, as the school is working with BioBoat, an organization that specializes in teaching students about aquatic life using its best maritime technology.
“This is just an extension of [Williams] trying to get people from the community interested in the maritime career and what better way to start then getting people interested in Jamaica Bay,” John Nappo, director of Office of Maritime Technology at KCC, said.
“It’s a great program and we are really looking forward to next year already.”
Kingsborough is the only maritime program within CUNY and making sure this STEM program continues this level of success is a top priority to Simone Rodriguez, the vice president of Workforce Development and Continued Education.
“The support from Assemblymember Williams has been exceptional. We are so happy they are able to be here with us and celebrate this special day.”