Alumnus Invention Wins $1.125 Million Grant

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John Damiao demonstrates how his indieGo invention converts a typical wheelchair into a power wheelchair.

Alumnus and Adjunct Professor John Damiao ’09 calls his invention which turns an ordinary wheelchair into a power wheelchair for about $1,000 a “game-changer”  It’s called indieGo and has awarded  Damiao and his team at the Center for Discovery with a $1.125 million grant to develop it and get it on the market.  Damiao is an Adjunct Professor at Dominican College teaching Kinesiology. 

The indieGo is a small, lightweight device that you can roll any wheelchair on to in order to convert it to a power wheelchair. Damiao is an occupational therapist who works with individuals with Cerebral Palsy who are unable to control their own wheelchair.  His team in Hurleyville, NY, at the Center for Discovery is experimenting with a variety of controls, from joysticks to touch buttons to allow any patient with impaired mobility to drive.  Typical wheelchairs for these individuals can cost $10,000 to $15,000.

Damiao said it was nice that Google recognized the tremendous impact that this device can have and was not looking only at funding high-tech or flashy projects. “We felt great and excited that Google recognized the importance of trying to bring mobility to as many people as possible.  They are this big tech giant company and this device is very basic and simple,” he said. 

Google awarded 29 grantees with $20 million in grants to help address accessibility challenges all over the world and is helping bring the projects to life.



New Members Inducted into Alumni Hall of Achievement

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Edward Astorino, Melissa Lucido, and Clare Mc Clarnon Steward were inducted into the Alumni Hall of Achievement on Saturday, May 7, 2016.

Three new members were inducted into the Alumni Hall of Achievement on Saturday, May 7, 2016, during the Annual Alumni Reunion. Melissa Lucido, ’95, Edward Astorino, ’98, and Clare McClarnon Steward, ’99, were honored for Excellence, Leadership and Service after a cocktail reception on the Granito Center patio.  All of the honorees were active in the Aquin Players, Dominican College’s theater group, when they were students at the College. 

Melissa Lucido, for Excellence

Lucido said she was honored to be chosen for the award for Excellence. “I thank Dominican College for always giving me the opportunity to develop my leadership, to step out of the box, to learn what it means to make a difference in the world,” she said. 

After deciding that she was better suited to a career in education, Lucido left her job in sales and marketing and went back to college to get her teaching certificate and later her Masters of Science in Education from Walden University. She now teaches kindergarten and first grade students at the Anne Blanche Smith School in Hillsdale, N.J.  Lucido was named 2016 Teacher of the Year in her school district and was nominated four times for the New Jersey State Teacher of the Year.  Since 2001, she has been coming back to Dominican College to serve as a co-director and choreographer of the College’s spring musical. 

Edward Astorino,  for Leadership

At Dominican College, Astorino served as Class President, president of the Student Government Association, and president of the Aquin Players. He was the recipient of four Leadership Awards as well.  Upon graduation, Astorino used those leadership skills to rise in business from a help desk support representative to an ITT Project Manager, running projects worth millions of dollars. 

Astorino has never forgotten his friends at Dominican College. “I’ve always been coming back.  Years have gone by where I haven’t been able to come back because of travel,” he said.  “But I know that I could always walk through that door and feel like I never left.” Recently, Astorino has been helping out as a production assistant with the Dominican College spring musical. 

Clare McClarnon Steward, for Service

Steward often volunteers her time playing the bagpipes, including at Dominican College’s graduation ceremony. She is an active member of two bagpipe bands, serves as a Cub Scout Den Leader and is involved in the choir and the religious education program at St. Margaret’s Church in Pearl River.  She is a past recipient of the Veritas Medal at Dominican College and has been honored by the Rockland County Ancient Order of the Hibernians and received a certificate of recognition from the Marine Corps League.  Steward said she is very humbled and honored by her induction into the Alumni Hall of Achievement.

“I’m not looking for an honor or a recognition of what I do. I just do what I do because it’s who I am.  It’s who Dominican has taught me to be,” she said.

A photo of the honorees will be placed in the Alumni Hall of Achievement in the lobby of Prusmack Center.


Dominican College Alumna Appointed Bankruptcy Judge

Mary Kay Vyscocil

Mary Kay Vyscocil, ’80, has been appointed to serve as a bankruptcy judge in the Southern District of New York.

Mary Kay Vyskocil, ’80, has been sworn in as a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Southern District of New York. Vyskocil, who was a partner in the New York law firm of Simpson, Thacher& Bartlett LLP, was appointed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. 

“Mary Kay is a widely respected trial lawyer who has been a valued colleague and a leader of our Insurance Litigation Practice,” said Bill Dougherty.  Chairman of Simpson Thacher’s Executive Committee.  “We are proud of all that she has achieved and congratulate her on this distinguished appointment.”

During her 33-year career at Simpson Thacher, Vyskocil litigated some of the most significant insurance and reinsurance cases, representing major domestic and foreign insurers in numerous arbitrations, jury trials and appellate arguments. She represented Swiss RE Ltd. In litigation arising from the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and has also represented JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Travelers Cos. Inc.

Second Circuit Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann said , “ With her substantial experience in complex and sophisticated commercial litigation matters, Mary Kay Vyskocil joins a distinguished Southern District bankruptcy bench.”

Vyscocil graduated summa cum laude from Dominican College and was Valedictorian. She attended St. John’s University Law School. She has stayed active at Dominican College, serving on the College Board of Trustees for more than 25 years.   

Former Charger Basketball Star Signed to Professional Team

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Former Dominican College men’s basketball star Nick Smith has signed a professional contract with the Solna Vikings Basketball Club in Sweden.

While at Dominican College, the 2015 graduate was named the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Co-Player of the Year and was a member of Dominican College’s 1000 Point Club. Among his many accomplishments, Smith was a member of the first men’s basketball team in College history to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA East Regional in 2013.

“I am very appreciative that the Solna Vikings Basketball Club believe in me and are giving me the opportunity to play professional basketball. I am going to continue to keep growing and never settle for anything less than my absolute best,” said Smith. “Also, there are many people who have been there for me along this long and tough journey. They all played a huge part in my growth as both a person and a player and to them I am truly thankful.”

Chargers Head Coach Joseph Clinton described Smith as an extremely talented young man. “The entire College wishes him only the best moving forward,” he said.

Nick will be travelling to Solna, Sweden to begin training with his new coaches and teammates for the upcoming season.





Alum Rebuilds Homes Damaged By Hurricane Sandy


Mackenzie Riley,’14, installs wood flooring in a Howard Beach home that was flooded during Hurricane Sandy.

Long after most of the volunteers to help victims of Hurricane Sandy have disappeared, Dominican College Alumna Mackenzie Riley, ’14, is working with AmeriCorps to finally finish rebuilding homes almost three years after the October 2012 storm.

Riley is now finishing up a 10-month term with AmeriCorps and is assigned to work with St. Bernard Project and Friends of Rockaway in Queens, NY. Since November, she has worked as a site supervisor in about 20 homes, overseeing volunteers and pitching in with demolition, framing, installing drywall, putting on trim, and painting.

Riley said many of the homes she is working on suffered damage from flooding inside, but don’t show any damage outside. “We take a lot of pride in our work and we want it to be nice for our homeowners because they’ve gone through so many issues since Sandy,” said Riley. “People have kind of forgotten that Rockaway and all these places were hit so hard because you can’t see the damage.”

Riley said it was at Dominican College that she first “fell in love with service” on an Alternative Spring Break Trip to Mississippi as a freshman. She later co-founded and served as President of the Dominican College Chapter of Habitat for Humanity.


Three exceptional alumni honored at our annual reunion

Dominican College honored three exceptional alumni at our annual Reunion this year: Eileen Foti ‘95, Service award, Michael McLaughlin ’90, Excellence award, and Nhi Tran ’00, Leadership award. Their presentations were delivered by Athletic Director Joe Clinton, Accounting Professor Jack Armstrong, and Vice President of Student Development John Burke.

Joe Clinton’s lifelong devotion honored with Hall call

Courtesy of Josh Thomson of The Journal News Read the full article here.

Joe Clinton of Pearl River, a former star basketball player at Albertus Magnus, will be inducted into the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, April 18.

Orangeburg, N.Y. (4/15/15)  When Joe Clinton graduated Union College in 1983, he never had that moment where he stopped to contemplate his future. And why would he? Clinton grew up playing ball from dawn to dusk. He wasn’t about to take up accounting.

So, at 22, he began to coach. Thirty-two years later, the Pearl River native’s passion for the games he loves persists.

“I liked playing so much, I couldn’t see myself do anything else,” he said.

Clinton’s lifelong devotion continues, but his achievements will be honored on Saturday when he is among those inducted into the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame.

The 54-year old is one of six brothers, all of whom attended Albertus Magnus. Clintongraduated in 1979 as an all-county basketball and baseball player who helped the Falcons win Section 9 basketball championships during both of his seasons on varsity. They reached the state championship game Clinton’s senior year when he earned Rockland player of the year honors.

“I look back on it, and It was just a great time to grow up,” he said. “We came home from school and played ball all day.”

Clinton played four years of basketball and two years of baseball at Union. He finished with over 1,000 points and 500 assists and led Union to its first NCAA tournament appearance as a senior.

After graduation, he worked mornings at Sears so he could work a $1,000-a-year job as an assistant at SUNY Maritime. He returned to join the staff of his high school coach, Tom Collins, and soon became the head coach at Rockland Community College at just 25.

Clinton coached four years at RCC before arriving at Dominican. He has been the director of athletics and head men’s basketball coach for 25 years, posting a 362-341 career record.

“My favorite time of year is when we have our alumni game,” he said. “It’s just good to make the lifelong friendships and enjoy that camaraderie.”

Sports continues to provide Clinton with the special moments he cherishes. The last three years, he has coached his son, Joe, a former all-county guard at Pearl River who will be a senior next season.

“I just can’t believe how fast it’s all gone,” Clinton said.

Alumni From the Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments Program Recognized

Dominican College is pleased to announce that alumni of the Teacher Education Program for Students with Visual Impairments have been selected to serve on the board of NYSAER, a local chapter of the Association For Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired. They are Jamie Wallace, Chelsea Hale, Jennifer Dohman-Kehrer, and Amy Fisher.

NYSAER will be hosting their annual conference in October. Current students, Fotini Tsillis and Melinda Gonzalez, have been awarded full scholarships to attend the AER conference based on their submitted applications and their academic achievements.

The mission of AER is to support professionals who provide education and rehabilitation services to people with visual impairments. The Association was formed in 1984 as the result of a consolidation between the American Association of Workers for the Blind and the Association for Education of the Visually Handicapped.

Alumnus Signed By AZ Diamondbacks

Tyler ClarkMay graduate, Tyler Clark, has been signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks and assigned to the Missoula Ospreys, a member of the Pioneer League located in Montana.

After graduation, Clark attended try-outs where he worked out in front of scouts from independent teams. During one of these sessions, Chris Carminucci, who is the independent league scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks saw Clark and contacted the College’s coaching staff about a second work out. Three days after seeing Clark for the second time, Carminucci called and offered a professional contract to play for the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.

“I see a lot of raw untapped ability and 6-5 catchers are an anomaly so we feel he has upside and potential. We are excited to have him” Carminucci stated.

During his baseball career at the College, Clark was sixth in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) in doubles and stolen bases, ninth in runs scored, 12th in hits, and 14th in triples. He led the conference in runners caught stealing and sported a .992 fielding percentage with just three errors and 324 put outs. Recently, Clark earned his second consecutive All-CACC Second Team selection and was the recipient of the Dominican College Baseball Co-Coach’s Award. He was also named to the East Region Gold Glove First Team and the 2014 ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove Team.

“Tyler has been an impact player for us the past four years and has always worked hard. I am extremely excited to see him continue his baseball career and wish him the best of luck,” said Chargers Head Coach Rick Giannetti.

In his initial game playing for the Ospreys, his first hit of the night was a home run to left center. The game-winning run came off his bat as he singled to the right side of the infield. The Ospreys beat the Great Falls Voyagers 4-3.

The College Welcomes New Trustees

The Board of Trustees of Dominican College is pleased to announce the appointment of three new members. They are: Dr. Bernadette M. Kappen, ‘70, Executive Director of The New York Institute for Special Education; Mr. Michael C. Perry, Executive Director of The Investment Casting Institute; and Dr. Erinmarie Sullivan, ‘94, Director of the Hospitalist Group at Lenox Hill Hospital.

Bernadette Kappen, Ph.D., holds a Doctorate in Special Education Administration from Gallaudet University, a Master’s degree in Special Education with a specialization in teaching students who are deaf/blind from Boston College, and a Bachelor’s degree in English/Elementary Education from Dominican College.

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Michael Perry holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from William Paterson College and an Associate’s degree in Accounting and Economics from Bergen Community College.

Erinmarie Sullivan, MD, FACP, holds an MD from Saint George’s University, an MBA/Physician Executive degree from University of Tennessee, a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College of Columbia University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Dominican College.

Dominican College President, Sr. Mary Eileen O’Brien, O.P. praised the new members, as well as the entire board. “We are truly excited to welcome these new trustees. Our board members comprise a dynamic group of effective and visionary leaders, and we are blessed by their ongoing support and encouragement.” said O’Brien.