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June 2, 2005


NEW YORK, June 2, 2005 -- Hyesin (Joy) Kang, a Korean immigrant led to medicine by the death of her infant brother, and Luz E. Liriano, an asthmatic from the Dominican Republic whose ailment inspired her to become a physician, are City College’s 2005 Jonas E. Salk Scholarship recipients. Each will receive a $6,000 stipend for medical school.

A third CCNY graduate, Maryellen V. Benito, was one of eight honorary winners named by The City University of New York (CUNY). All the Salk Scholars will attend leading medical schools.

The prestigious scholarships are awarded to students chosen by a panel of distinguished physicians for their outstanding academic records, quality of their research projects and their volunteer work.

Dr. Selma Botman, CUNY Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, presented the awards to the winners. Dr. Adam Aponte, a 1990 City College alumnus who holds senior positions at Mount Sinai Hospital and Medical School and at North General Hospital, was the keynote speaker.

Other speakers included CUNY Chancellor Dr. Matthew Goldstein (CCNY Class of 1963); and noted architect Wellington Z. Chen, a CUNY Trustee.

The scholarships are named for Dr. Jonas E. Salk, a 1934 graduate of City College, who developed the polio vaccine. When Dr. Salk was offered a ticker tape parade by New York City in 1955 in honor of his discovery, he asked that the money be used for scholarships instead.

Brief bios of CCNY's Salk Scholarship winners and honorary winner follow:



Hyesin Kang ’04:
Ms. Kang was five when her infant brother died. At age 14, her discovery that his death was caused by a hole in his heart heightened her desire to become a physician. One of the experiences that reinforced her career choice – and her belief in the importance of access to health care – was a trip to the Dominican Republic with her church as a medical volunteer. Ms. Kang, who came to the United States from Korea in 1993, conducted research in on age-related changes in glucose handling in naked mole rats, the longest-living rodent, under the guidance of CCNY Professor of Biology Rochelle Buffenstein. Her volunteer work has included working as a translator for the Board of Elections and her church. The Queens resident will attend Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Florida.


Luz Liriano ’04:
Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Ms. Liriano suffered frequent asthma attacks that led to numerous emergency room visits. These strained her family’s modest finances. The shortage of doctors and preventive care in her homeland encouraged her to become a physician. She moved to the United States in 1998 and later enrolled in CCNY’s SEEK program, where tutored to other economically disadvantaged students. Ms. Liriano’s research work in genetics and molecular biology in Professor Shubha Govind’s lab focused on the regulation of crystal cell development in the fruit fly. She served with CCNY’s Volunteer Emergency Squad (VES), and as a member of CCNY’s women’s fencing team was named 2004 Fencer of the Year by the Eastern Women’s Fencing Conference. Now living in Washington Heights, Ms. Liriano will attend Weill Medical College of Cornell University.



Mayellen V. Benito:
Illnesses and death among friends and family led Ms. Benito to explore the world of medicine. She joined VES, became a certified New York State EMT, interned for the National Institutes of Health’s Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement for Minorities and participated in research programs at CCNY, Columbia University, Weill Medical College of Cornell University and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense. Her research project focused on the role of Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen in the production of anti-nuclear antibodies, possibly leading to systemic lupus erythematosus. Her mentor was Dr. Linda Spatz of the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at CCNY. Ms. Benito, a Queens resident born in New York of Filipino immigrant parents, will study at New York College of Osteopathic Medicine.