May 2024 Winners

Connecting a Digital Community while Creating a Gaming World

Photo of Scott Underwood

Scott Underwood

College Laboratory Technician
Academic Computing Center, and Faculty Advisor for Technology & Gaming Club

It is serendipitous that Scott Underwood is the May winner of the C.A.R.E.S. Award.

It coincides with the opening of the remodeled space of the Technology Support & Service Center (TSSC) to a centrally located space on the first floor of the Library Building within the existing Academic Computing Center.

The ADA-accessible location provides increased resources to students, faculty, and staff by bringing currently dispersed areas under one roof to reduce the duplication of efforts.

This includes bringing together colleagues who are currently supporting the IT Help Desk on the third floor of the Administration Building, as well as adjuncts and ten College Laboratory Technicians (CLT’s) from the departments of English, Foreign Language, Business, Social Sciences, and Math, who provide technical support to college computer labs in academic departments.

“One of the wonderful parts of my job is getting to know people from different departments and to learn more about what they do and how we can support their technological needs to enhance their academic values. I am part of a team that plays a crucial role in these things, and it is great to work with everyone in the campus community.”

“Scott provides invaluable support to the campus administering the server and student lab infrastructure in the Academic Computing Center,” said Mark Chropufka, Director of Queensborough’s Academic Computing Center, who nominated Scott for the C.A.R.E.S. Award. “He provides top notch support to his colleagues and students to ensure they have a positive experience at Queensborough.”

Mark added, “Even during Covid he set-up all 200 lab computers on VPN including four student use lab computers from classrooms across campus.”

Scott also mentors a handful of tech fee students who provide daily service in the lab and participate in special projects.

“In 2006 I began helping students as an assistive technology specialist. I am still working with students in Accessibility Services –in assisting them with all technology matters.”  

“Working with students with disabilities holds a special place in my heart,” said Scott, who was reclassified to a full-time College Laboratory Technician in 2012. In 2021 he was named Faculty Advisor, Technology & Gaming Club.

“My older brother, Jonathan, had cerebral palsy but was fearless and did not let his disability overcome his aspirations or joy of life. We shared a passion for video games and spent hours playing Pac-Man, Nintendo, Mario Bros, and Kong.”

And Scott understands the importance of creating connections for students through gaming. So, when he heard that BMCC was offering CUNY campuses free audio-visual TV carts, he snapped them up and outfitted them with gaming equipment. He then worked with the Student Government Association to create the Technology & Gaming Club for students, faculty, and staff who are interested in basic computer concepts, networking, cyber security, penetration testing, video games, game design and Anime. Two years in, there are weekly open gaming sessions and an active chat platform community to foster communication on and off campus. 

“It is a wonderful way to socialize, to connect," said Scott, who added that the group has grown into a large student following. “I am so happy to see everyone enjoying themselves as well as the smiling faces of students from Accessibility who participate. They remind me of Jonathan and his own joy for life.”

Scott himself has faced personal challenges that left him feeling vulnerable, unmoored. In the foster care system since he was 13, his life was unpredictable, and he stayed with a family for several months and then went back home and was taken away again to another family. It took a couple of years before things settled down.

Scott attended North Babylon High School on Long Island from 2000-2004. In his junior and senior year, he took 16 college credits toward his first semester at Farmingdale State College in Suffolk County. Around this time, his current foster parents in Babylon moved to Florida, and Scott was taken in by another foster family in Riverhead, Long Island.

Scott did not go back to Farmingdale State College in Suffolk County and instead attended Suffolk County Community College where he earned his AAS degree in Computer Information Technology: Network Design and Illustration in 2009.

Scott’s passion for gaming has been passed down to his 11-year-old son Nathaniel. “It is great to spend time with Nathaniel playing the latest Minecraft platform or Roblox, but I lose a lot. These games are designed for a new generation. I cannot keep up!”

A Seasoned Food Server Shares ‘Recipes for Success’ en la Cocina

Photo of Oseas Peralta

Oseas Peralta

Food Services

If a kitchen could take on a personality of its own, then Queensborough’s kitchen located on the basement level of the Student Union would be larger than life.

Much like Oseas Peralta, who has overseen its operation for more than 30 years.

“Everything I do is for the College; I have such a feeling of joyfulness when I give to others. If I have good health, I will be happy and can continue to do the things I love, like talking with students, seeing how they are doing, saying hello to faculty and staff. This a great community and I have experienced its culture of care many times over the years.”

Ellen Hartigan, Dean, Continuing Education and Workforce Development, who nominated Oseas, agrees. “Whether he is working at the cash register in the cafeteria, leading his food prep staff, or preparing for an event, Marcos encourages his employees to be their best in all that they do. He is an impressive Queensborough ambassador.”

And a mentor too.

“If a student comes to me expressing a strong interest in food preparation, I will encourage them to explore that interest in the kitchen under my supervision.” Linda Zuniga, a first semester student from Peru, is majoring in Architecture. She approached Oseas to ask if there might be an opportunity to work in the kitchen. “I am showing her the ropes of what it takes to maintain an operation of this size and she has started making simple sandwiches and salads. I consider it an honor to help students and it has been a pleasure to know that many who have passed through my kitchen have gone on to rewarding lives after getting their degree.”

Oseas grew up in Mexico City with five siblings. He helped his single mother manage her food truck business which was located across the street from the community college where he earned his Carrera Técnica (associate degree). “I would go to class then cross the street, help my mother and then off to class again. It was experiences like this that introduced me to cooking—this and observing my sisters and mother cook at home.” 

Oseas’s older siblings continued their education at four-year colleges and then launched successful careers in medicine and engineering. “I had my own ambitions,” he said.

He attended the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico where he earned a bachelor's degree in political science in 1982. “Debating and discussing philosophy were my passions.”

“I was immensely proud of my achievement and then two things happened that changed the rest of my life. My thirst for adventure and desire to follow my brother to Sanora, Mexico. He is a doctor who visits different English-speaking territories in Mexico to treat people who have little access to health care. I met a lot of people during our travels, but I knew no English. This was something I wanted to change.”

At age 23, he immigrated to New York City and began working as an assistant for Metropolitan Foods at Marymount Manhattan College. Metropolitan Foods was expanding throughout CUNY, including Queensborough where Marcos started working in 1989. He even took a couple of courses in reading and writing. “My job at that time required me to do everything related to serving, purchasing supplies, coordinating events, and maintaining the sizeable cooking areas. I was relied on to run things smoothly.”

And boy, do they.

At the entrance is a walk-in refrigerator stocked with crates of fresh eggs, boxes of fresh vegetables, and fruit, loaves of bread and jars of pesto and olives. Across the aisle from the refrigerator are pizza ovens, racks for hot pizza, grills, and deep fryers. To the right are three dishwashing sinks—spanking clean-- and down the walkway are ceiling high shelves with oversize cans of garbanzo beans, pineapple chunks and large bags of potatoes. Giant containers of spices are found beneath an intimidating collection of enormous pots, sieves, and tongs.

A quick glance to the right lay a tray filled with hot grilled chicken and another with warm chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven.

Food prepared here is sent to the Science Cafeteria on a portable cart because there is no kitchen of its own to cook food there.

But that is about to change.

The Science Cafeteria will undergo a complete renovation that will include its own kitchen. And on May 6, the Oakland Hilltop Kitchen opened to all students, faculty and staff featuring several new hot food servers, a new pizza oven, a grill, sandwich and salad bar, sushi, and other prepared items. Juice and other beverages will be available as well. Additional options for the College community are the recently relocated Starbucks and QPAC Snack Bar.

Oseas eagerly welcomes these changes that will enhance the quality of life on campus.

“I have dedicated my life to the values my mother inspired in me. Family, friendship, and the joy of creating dishes to be shared by this wonderfully diverse community that we all love.”

Campus Cultural Centers

Kupferberg Holocaust Center exterior lit up at nightOpens in a new window
Kupferberg Holocaust Center Opens in a new window

The KHC uses the lessons of the Holocaust to educate current and future generations about the ramifications of unbridled prejudice, racism and stereotyping.

Russian Ballet performing at the Queensborough Performing Arts CenterOpens in a new window
QPAC: Performing Arts CenterOpens in a new window

QPAC is an invaluable entertainment company in this region with a growing national reputation. The arts at QPAC continues to play a vital role in transforming lives and building stronger communities.

Queensborough Art Gallery exterior in the afternoonOpens in a new window
QCC Art Gallery

The QCC Art Gallery of the City University of New York is a vital educational and cultural resource for Queensborough Community College, the Borough of Queens and the surrounding communities.