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CSI Honors 193 Students at Inaugural International Honor Society Ceremony

Say hello to Computer Systems Institute’s (CSI) International Honor Society! This organization, which held its inaugural induction ceremony in October, is committed to recognizing academic achievement, developing and motivating students to persist in their studies, and preparing students to become leaders in their professional fields of study.

“We know that success is achieved in small increments, one step at a time. Our International Honor Society students have chosen to take their studies seriously, which shows they are committed to doing their best not only in school, but also in life,” said Julia Lowder, CSI’s Chief Executive Officer. “It is this commitment to shine in everything they do that gives us and everyone around us hope.”

Business Career Program student Mariana A. thanks the instructors who have helped her find success at CSI.

During the ceremony, 193 students were recognized for their academic achievements. As International Honor Society members, these students have agreed to lead by example, both in class and at extracurricular activities. To reward their hard work and dedication, they will receive the following membership benefits:

  • A letter of recommendation
  • Access to special campus events for International Honor Society members only
  • Exclusive scholarship opportunities

For many of these students, the International Honor Society is a testament to their hard work and the support they receive from CSI, their peers, and their families. Here’s what some of our inductees had to say during the ceremony:

“Every individual at CSI does their bit to ensure that we as an institute make our way towards a better tomorrow.” – Nishit Ghelani

“I take my inspiration from all of the instructors at CSI. I get inspired by their personal stories, how they have come to be part of CSI, and what they have had to go through to be with us. Everyone has been truly amazing and helpful, especially during COVID and remote learning!” -Ina Asparuhova

“Every instructor I have had at CSI has been cheerful. Family plays a big role too. Without their support, it would be harder. And of course, we all desire to succeed in our professional careers.” – Heilen Bravo

“Fellow classmates are instrumental in our success too. They give you that sense of community and help you adjust to the school and environment. Being an international student is challenging and it’s great to be around like-minded, hardworking classmates.” – Joyce Anne Dimaano

Prioritize Your Academic Success with Help from CSI

If you are considering choosing CSI to further your education, you can rest assured that we have a knowledgeable and helpful team that is invested in your success. Our Academics Department is committed to ensuring our students receive a rigorous education and are sufficiently prepared to excel in the workforce upon graduation. Here are just a few of the services our Academics Department provides:

  • Tutoring services
  • Help with basic study skills
  • Mentoring
  • Workshops
  • Portfolio preparation
  • Assistance with resume and cover letter preparation
Learn more!

Dreams to Reality

What is your dream? Whether it is heart-breaking or heart-warming, everyone has
a story to tell. Storytelling is an ancient art form and Rattapol Thania aspires to master the art of transforming your ideas, your dreams, and your personal stories into 21st century social media videos. His goal is to capture who we are in compelling images.

Rattapol’s own dream of utilizing visual images to tell a great story began in HatYai, Songkhla when he was a young boy. Growing up in this bustling city at the far southern tip of Thailand, Rattapol became determined to make his movie creation dream a reality.

Rattapol traveled from his home in HatYai to the ornate, shrine-filled capital of Bangkok, to take the first step in accomplishing his goal. In Bangkok, he excelled at Thammasat University, where he received a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with an emphasis in film.

After graduation, he landed a job as an assistant film director with Wonderland Films where he assisted with the production of the award-winning short film, Prison Rat (“อีขี้คุก”). Prison Rat is a story about a former prisoner who turned her life around after her release from prison by becoming a singer musician. Through her music, she chronicles her journey from life as a convicted criminal to an inspirational performer. The Ministry of Justice released this video publicly as an uplifting message of hope intended to show prisoners and former inmates that it is possible to turn your life around. 

Inspired by his experiences at Wonderland Films, Rattapol moved to Chicago to continue growing as a storyteller. Rattapol feels that Computer Systems Institute (CSI) has provided him with a place to expand his knowledge of the global community. He believes learning at CSI is like traveling on a commercial flight. The passengers’ luggage all come in unique sizes, harboring individualized knowledge, cultures, and personalities. The exceptional faculty at CSI encourages their students to share among one another so no matter how small their suitcase is, the treasure inside will be meaningful to others. Additionally, CSI acts as the pilot who guides each valuable passenger toward their ultimate destination. For Rattapol, this means continuing his journey to reveal those untold stories waiting to be found.

A Change of Place, a Change of Pace

From the big, bustling metropolis of Sao Paulo, Brazil, population 12.18 million, to Seekonk, Massachusetts, population 15,548 — that kind of change would put anyone into serious culture shock, but CSI’s Small Business Administration student Roberto Aparecido and his family took it in stride. They had good friends already living in Seekonk, which is why they chose the town, and they found a welcoming and ready-made community in a local church. No doubt, the large population of Portuguese speakers, shops, and restaurants in their town helped in their adjustment, and that their 7-year-old son was able to enroll in a bilingual school.

Roberto came to the US from Brazil with a degree and many years’ experience in Business Administration, seeking to learn English and take his life and his family in a new direction that would challenge all of them to learn and grow. Mission accomplished! He says every day offers new challenges, but “I enjoy challenges.” He sees challenges as opportunities to learn, and he does learn, because, he explains, “I like to do things well!” After spending about a year studying English, Roberto enrolled in CSI’s Small Business Administration Program.  He says he found his Bookkeeping class especially useful, because that is in his area of interest and is something he now uses every day at work. In addition to learning business and technical English, he has picked up some new skills and improved others, and is currently putting it all to use in an externship in a local company that manages construction projects.

The company he works for is small, with only about 10 employees, but the opportunity to learn and utilize the skills he is studying is huge. He says he’s quite happy being behind a desk all day, working with accounts payable and receivable, reconciling accounts, using QuickBooks, dealing with contractors, and learning about taxes, laws, insurance, liability, and construction in the US. “It’s a new industry, new language, and the laws are different, so I learn every day, but really, working in business administration in the US is not very different than in Brazil.”

It’s been two years now since they arrived in the US, and Roberto’s English has greatly improved. While he doesn’t feel fully fluent, and he says that the language is still a challenge, he understands very well and can usually find a way to express his ideas even if he still has to search for words.

Roberto says the whole family has really enjoyed the change of pace. Their life here is quieter and more family-centered; they have a great church and community of new friends, and he says they also really appreciate the safety of their town. They also have been enjoying the countryside and have three parks near their home where they like to go for long family walks.

What has surprised him most about the US? All the wooden buildings and the different style of homes. He has been impressed at all the structures and the size of structures that are made of wood here in the US. Another thing that jumped out at him was how much Americans respect the law. For instance, drivers actually stop at crosswalks to let pedestrians cross the street, and generally, drivers comply with laws more here – though he concedes that not all local drivers are polite and the potholes in Massachusetts roads are terrible. He also appreciates the clarity in prices and taxes: “Here you know what you are paying and why, it’s murkier in Brazil.”

He says the experience has changed him – and all of his family – for the better. “I think that having an experience outside your country is really important for a person. It gives you another view of life, another perspective. When we are away from home – living in a new language and culture, we need to step out of our comfort zone. Here, everyday there are challenges and every day we are learning. It changes your values and priorities.” Being an International Student at CSI has been a valuable experience for the whole family, which Roberto will utilize in his future academic and professional pursuits.

Student of the Month–Juan Daniel Cardona Cuartas

Daniel Cardona is originally from Colombia. He learned about Computer Systems Institute (CSI) during his vacation to Boston three years ago. Daniel was looking to study and develop his skills through getting an education in the U.S. Daniel was looking forward to be immersed in an international student environment. CSI has provided him with not only the opportunity to learn about business skills, but also to learn from the friends that he’s made from all over the world.

Daniel is currently enrolled in the Hospitality program. He really enjoys being here because this program allows students the opportunity to learn and practice their skills at the same time. He thinks that this is really helpful considering that he can apply his knowledge acquired in the classroom to his externship. Daniel thinks that being able to participate in the externship program is an opportunity
that will help him with his career in his home country.

Daniel’s current job is a supervisor at a restaurant chain. He told me: “CSI has given me the necessary tools and skills to utilize my talents and engage myself in academic and practical work. I really appreciate CSI.”

Daniel is a very hard-working student, he is always the first one who comes to the classroom, and submits the assignments on time. Inside the classroom, he participates in the lecture and works with his classmates collaboratively; outside of the classroom, he is very outgoing and easy to get along with.

Daniel is very enthusiastic about photography. He participated in a photography contest at the beginning of this quarter. His professionalism was very impressive and outstanding.

Although Daniel is already a success, he is also very humble. He listens to other people’s opinions and is eager to improve himself. In addition, he is willing to help other students when they feel confused either in study or in life. His enthusiasm has impressed everyone in the classroom. We are thrilled to have Daniel as a student and look forward to his contribution to make CSI a great institution.

Walking on Snow, Dreaming of Sand

 As the snow crunches under foot on a snowy Chicago morning, Stefany De Abreu can’t help but to dream a little of the warm, sandy beaches in her native Venezuela. But these dreams are not just about warmer, sunnier days. Stefany is dreaming about the future of her sister’s swimwear company, Citera.

Stefany studied accounting in Venezuela and International Business Management in Canada before coming to Chicago. The city of broad shoulders, with a rich history in economics, finance, and commerce, was a natural choice for her American adventure. Her long-term dream is to become a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), but for now she wants to learn more about how to grow a company through finance. She loves the way that numbers tell a story about a company. They not only tell us about the past, but they allow us to predict the future.

Stefany learned about Computer Systems Institute (CSI) through friends studying at the school. They thought it might be the right fit for her, and they were right. She looked into the Business Career Program (BCP) and liked what she saw. It featured a range of topics that she wanted to learn about, including Finance, Accounting, and Microsoft Word and Excel. Most importantly, though, it provided a structured program to better understand the foundations of entrepreneurship in the United States.

Now, at the end of her third quarter at CSI, she feels that she has accomplished much of what she set out to do and more. She particularly appreciated the opportunity that her last course, Introduction to Small Business Management, gave her. In addition to her dream of working in finance, she eagerly wants to help her sister to grow her swimwear business. Her capstone project for the course pushed her to develop a clearer vision of what is necessary to expand the reach of Citera from Venezuela to the United States.

Citera is a swimwear company that specializes in high-quality, beautiful and comfortable women’s swimsuits in an assortment of sizes and styles to accommodate all varieties of body styles and shapes. This mission served Citera well as the company blossomed in Venezuela, and Stefany believes it will succeed in American as well with the right business plan. She wants to work with her sister to bring Citera to Miami, and from there, the rest of the beaches in the world.

Let’s remind Stefany that Chicago has beaches, too….but best not to go there in a bikini until the ice melts.

Our Journey – New England

Autumn in New England is well known for its beautiful foliage, crisp cool air, and mountain vistas located only a short drive from the city of Boston. The tipping of Earth on its axis and the changing of the sun’s light put a chill in the air and scarlet hues to the falling leaves. For many people who come to New England from other parts of the country and other parts of the world, Autumn is perhaps the best season to experience. For Jose “Roberto” Soares, moving to New England came with many opportunities and sacrifices along the way. His vision of building a life with his beautiful family took him first to Europe then to the U.S. which he now calls home away from home.

Roberto was born in Campinas, Sao Paulo which is home to three of the top universities in Brazil. After getting his degree, he acquired a job, got married and had a daughter. He then decided to move his young family- wife, Rosanna and daughter, Gabriella – from Sao Paulo to Italy. They settled in Milan, the fashion capital of the world. He held a position at the Consulate General of Brazil and at Banco do Brasil.

“The flame of adventure is always lit in this family…
our choice was to be close to Boston, in the wonderful state of Massachusetts.”

The family became Italian citizens and Roberto was beginning to feel settled-in to his new home. Roberto found the regions of Tuscany and Liguria to be his favorite places to bring his family, as they appreciated the scenic beauty of the amazing mountains, gorgeous blue waters and beaches. And then when Italy’s economy began to suffer and a recession loomed, Roberto knew it was time to once again move his family, this time to America. As he states, close friends who had settled in Massachusetts before Roberto and his family had so many wonderful things to say about New England. They were very impressed by the quality of life here, the region’s history and the great reputation that Massachusetts colleges and universities have nationally and globally.

Rosanna and Roberto’s daughter, Gabriella, is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in International Business and is fluent in Portuguese, English, Italian and Spanish. Roberto has been enrolled at Computer Systems Institute’s Worcester campus for over two years and is currently enrolled in the Business Career Program. He has also made many friends and enjoys learning about American culture. There are so many choices for someone looking to advance their education. “I am so fortunate to have found Computer Systems Institute, the quality of their programs, the support the instructors and staff, I am so impressed. I am planning to find a business opportunity that I can leverage my background and continue to gain real world experience.”

“New England has been a great place to experience this time in our lives,” states Roberto. New England is home to many great poets, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson who reportedly coined the phrase, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” For a family who began their journey back in Brazil, they would agree with Mr. Emerson.

Friendship Across Continents

Many students feel torn between pursuing their dreams in America and leaving their beloved families behind in their home countries. Of course, nothing will replace the bond students have with their families overseas. Nonetheless, Tian-Ying Meng, fondly known as Apple, and Olesya Timofeeva, two CSI students, have built a friendship that they treasure and take great pride in as if they have found a long-lost sister. When words of their new friendship traveled back to their homelands, their families tearfully rejoiced.

Tianying and Olesya met at CSI in the BCP program they both attended. Ever since they have been in the same class for both BCP and SKB programs. They helped each other, encouraged each other, cared for each other while ill, and were there for each other during difficult times. Their friendship has blossomed as they have achieved academic success and have remained top students in all classes they have attended as well as thrive in their Externships.

Before enrolling at CSI, Apple and Olesya grew up on different continents – Asia and Europe. Apple was from China, majored in literature at college and worked as a journalist and editor-in-chief at a TV station. Olesya was from Russia and had 10 years’ working experience as manager of the foreign economics department, SDT-Impex representation of Martimex a.s. in Moscow.

Despite busy work schedules, they are among the first to come and the last to leave their classrooms, ensuring they will not leave today’s work for tomorrow. They always submit projects ahead of time and always produce quality work with sound perceptions and insightful points, readily applying what they learned to their externships.

While they are from different countries, they share many commonalities and affinities – in their own words: “We have big dreams, the audacity to challenges difficulties, and the determination to give our best for whatever we choose to pursue.” They are grateful that CSI has provided a platform for them to meet, growing together academically and personally, becoming friends and sisters across continents.

Their life in the US is more balanced and enjoyable because they are close friends. While striving to be the best overall students at CSI, they use their leisure time to share experiences and expand on their dreams while they dine in restaurants and sip coffee in coffee shops. CSI makes possible everything from academia to work to life for international students and bridges all three unique dynamics into one exceptional, unique experience.

In the future, the two international sisters may be separated by distance, attend different schools, work on different jobs, or even return to their native countries. Still, when asked how long they will remain friends, they responded that the friendship will last forever because a sister is part of the family.

“We have been friends for years since we joined CSI. The solid relationship at CSI is one of the best things we gained in the United States. We speak different languages and come from different cultures, but we share a lot in terms of family values, life attitudes, and pursuit of excellence, which enable us to understand, connect and communicate well like sisters. We know our friendship will last forever – we just know it.”

Shine and let others Shine

Marta Cebula impresses everyone as a young lady full of energy and positivity. Her face glows with a bright smile, may it be a warm, sunny day in May or a snowy, gloomy day in January in Chicago. No matter the weather, she shines.

She walks into the classroom, always wearing a smile. She is not picky about where to sit in the classroom and sits at the first available spot. With complete engagement, she attends every class, always participating, sharing thoughts, asking questions, submitting assignments timely, and getting top grades. Regardless where she sits, she shines.

Marta was a physical education major in her home country of Poland. Despite the fact all her families are in Poland, Marta was delighted to be able to continue her career in the United States. The courses in Customer Service program at CSI opened her up for opportunities to apply her expertise to helping others thorough physical education. She shined with hope.

Opportunity came when Marta became part of Fusion Recplex Burbank Parke District family for her externship. “I discovered that place – thanks to my friend. I always liked to participate in different recreational activities, and I embraced the opportunity dearly and seriously,” Marta shared.

When she first went to Fusion, she was stricken by how helpful and friendly everyone was. That delighted her as a student studying customer service. She took her job seriously, enjoyed her experience at the recreation facility and continued growing professionally, while bringing her enthusiasm and thoughtfulness to both her colleagues and customers.

Not long after Marta started the externship, the facility manager approached and asked her if she was interested in becoming an employee of Fusion Recplex. Marta was thrilled: “That was one of the happiest days in my life!” She shined with joy.

As Marta reflected and shared her stories of helping customers through her passion and expertise, she recalled the time when she signed up for the customer service program at CSI and commented: “I am very grateful for CSI as its course work and externship options provided the valuable tools and prepared me to grow – CSI made my dream come true.”

Her instructor and fellow students enjoy her as an outstanding student, her supervisor appreciates her as an exemplary employee, and her customers love her as a customer service professional with care, love, passion and expertise. She touches everyone with warmth and enthusiasm and her glowing smile.

Marta shines and she lets others shine with her!

Meet Snizhana Kolesnyk

Snizhana Kolesnyk
Please meet Snizhana Kolesnyk from Kyiv, Ukraine. Snizhana lives on beautiful Cape Cod in the town of Yarmouth. She is also a student at Computer Systems Institute (CSI) Allston, MA having started in July, 2018. For those of you who do not know where Cape Cod is in relation to Allston, please take a look at your google maps. You will probably say at least two things: it really looks beautiful there (it is!) and wow, that is a long way from Boston (it is!) It takes a little over six hours a day for the roundtrip to and from Cape Cod and CSI. Snizhana travels by bus and then subway. Snizhana says “but hey, we all invest time and effort in our education. J It is worth it to me to live on Cape Cod by the Atlantic Ocean. It is also worth it to me to travel this far to CSI. After all, I came all the way from Ukraine!” Also note that despite the formidable commute, Snizhana has achieved 100% attendance for several quarters.

She has traveled quite a lot, not only in the USA, having visited Florida, New York (her dream was to first visit Miami and then Manhattan; that’s what initially brought her to the U.S.), California, Nevada and Illinois, but also around the world. She has been to Austria, Poland, Georgia, Montenegro, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Turkey and India.

She says that Boston is one of the best cities from what she’s seen! It has beautiful architecture and a smart composition of buildings and parks that allow you to always find shade in the summer and visit nice places in winter. She always enjoys her time at school, but the bonus part is spending a day in Boston after classes. She’s toured the Museum of Fine Arts already, but the list of must-see places has expanded to include the Museum of Science, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

She holds a Master’s degree in Management from Ukraine, and the Business Career Program she is currently enrolled in fits perfectly with her future business plans in Ukraine. She likes to keep her plans simple and attainable, so after graduation she’d like to work and travel in the USA for about a year, and then go back to Europe and open a coffee shop with fresh pastries in downtown Kyiv. She feels her time in the USA and at CSI is laying the groundwork to successfully undertake this venture.

It was during her visit to Boston that she became aware of CSI through mutual friends. She visited the Allston campus and immediately felt that being a student here would be beneficial in helping her achieve her business and career goals. She also liked the community atmosphere at the CSI Allston campus and really loved the Allston neighborhood, which is very diverse, urban and culturally varied.

Her CSI instructors like Mel and Sheryl to name a few make the lessons informative and interesting, so she really enjoys the courses. She states that we have a lot of interactions in class that get students involved and thinking, and they always bring up important, relevant and practical things and make everything easy to understand. She is really enjoying her time at CSI, in Boston, and in the USA.

She further states the courses in the BCP program that are very applicable to her future business plans include Principles of Sales and Marketing, Applied Business Concepts, Customer Service, Financial Services, Computer Applications 1 and 2, Intro to Small Business Management. She says she would not come all the way from Cape Cod if there was little to nothing to gain from the courses. On the contrary, she looks forward to coming to CSI, because she sees the value in the courses mentioned above related to opening and operating a small business. A big value-added benefit of CSI’s BCP program is the opportunity for an OPT. She fully intends to do this to apply the skills she is learning, and to get a better idea of how businesses run in the USA. She feels this will be invaluable in getting her business in Kyiv up and running. Snizhana is thrilled to continue her education and gain invaluable experience at CSI as she looks forward to her future.

A Dominican in Chicago

 Working on one’s resume can be a difficult task, especially for those with a foreign background. Biencar Luciano, from the Dominican Republic, is not the exception. “Whenever somebody looks at my resume, they ask me how I can have such a wide background in two different fields: finance and teaching. Education is a foundation that can be applied in any domain of expertise. The success of a good financial professional depends on their ability to communicate their analysis and ensure the departments they are supporting have understood the complex financial information they have worked on. This requires comprehending how people absorb information, retain it, and what drives them to act on it”.

It all started when she was 11 years old and joined a financial cooperative in her “barrio,” a humble neighborhood in the second city of the country, Santiago. Early on she saw in the people around her the will to strive, to hold onto the smallest opportunity they could find. The cooperative members would meet once a week and discuss topics, such as: money management, self-esteem, leadership, and so on.   A few years later, she became the president of the division for kids and teenagers for two consecutive terms. She helped to establish similar groups in other barrios.

“The people in these barrios inspired me. They all had something in common: they believed. They believed that they could have a better future, even if they had to fight twice as hard”.

Biencar’s parents always advised her and her siblings to be mindful of how lucky they were to have food on the table. Words that she did not really understand until the crisis of 2004 hit her family and her mother went bankrupt with her jewelry business.
“Those things that we took for granted before were not there anymore. Every penny counted to make ends meet. We never complained but embraced the change”.
Once in college, Biencar joined Un Techo – RD, a nonprofit thanks to which she would discover the reality of some Dominicans who were living in extreme poverty conditions. Hundreds of young volunteers would go to some of the most undeveloped towns in the Dominican Republic and spend days building and painting the houses of these families. They would eat together, sleep on the floor of some community centers, bathe wherever they could find some water and open the eyes to a truth that is not shared on social media.
“I am very grateful of the families that opened up their homes and hearts to us. They were so kind, joyful, generous, and thankful in such harsh conditions. It was just beautiful”.

While going to college for her finance degree, she got a job as an English and Computer teacher. She graduated Summa Cum Laude and decided to work full time in the area that she always knew was her passion. After working in an accounting advisory capacity for several industries, she was hired to run the finance department of a small international export company (400 employees).

However, her journey as a teacher was not over yet. Some years later, eager to go abroad and discover new opportunities, Biencar contacted over 14 American universities, applied to five different scholarships, and spent all her savings in tests and fees. She finally got a scholarship to complete a master’s in Education in the United States. Within a few weeks she had to pack her belongings, hop on a plane for the first time, and arrive right before New Year’s Eve to discover subzero weather. “I came in winter time and that is all I brought to the U.S.: one suitcase of summer clothes and $700. I left behind my family, friends, career, a business and a nonprofit that I had co-founded, and my comfort zone. I was not afraid — out of ignorance rather than courage. I had no idea of the challenge waiting ahead of me”.

Dominican in Chicago Eventually, she graduated with a GPA of 4.0 and got a job in Chicago Public Schools, working mostly with immigrant kids. Biencar successfully passed the CPA exams while completing the Business Career Program in Computer Systems Institute. CSI gave her the opportunity to understand all those terms that she had learned before, now in an American setting. When asked about what she plans to do in the future, she replies: “I really miss finance and I am looking forward to going back to my field. I would love to mentor other Dominicans, as well. Whatever I do, I will always be inspired by the image that many Dominican women have projected throughout the history. And I hope that I can always represent our ethics and core values”.