City College names Class of 2020 Valedictorian & Salutatorian for first “Virtual Salute"

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, student success and recognition continue to be at the forefront of The City College of New York's age-old mission. The 173-year-old institution announces the selection of Sabastian Hajtovic as its Class of 2020 Valedictorian. Isabella Joseph is Salutatorian.

Hajtovic is graduating summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA from the CCNY-based CUNY School of Medicine’s (CSOM) Sophie Davis Biomedical Education Program. The Queens resident has earned a BS degree in biomedical science as he continues work toward his MD from CSOM in spring 2023.

A member of CCNY’s Macaulay Honors College, Joseph is also graduating summa cum laude with a 3.94 GPA. She will receive a bachelor of architecture degree from the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture and is the first CCNY Salutatorian from the Spitzer School. She minored in anthropology.

Following are brief bios on CCNY’s Class of 2020 Valedictorian and Salutatorian:

Valedictorian Sabastian Hajtovic
Brought up in Rockaway Beach to a family of Turkish heritage, Hajtovic is described as a talented researcher and gifted student by mentors. His graduation honors include the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence. He received the Rudin Research Fellowship in Dr. Linda Spatz' lab for his work on molecular mimicry and cross-reactive antibodies in patients with lupus. He also received a Colin Powell Fellowship in Leadership and Public Service, under which he studied NYCHA housing conditions and asthma prevalence. He was also on the Dean’s List for his entire undergraduate years. 
Hajtovic has shown exemplary leadership and excellence outside the classroom and lab, too. He’s served as treasurer, and is currently president-elect, of the CSOM chapter of Physicians for Human Rights, for which he’s coordinated an opioid crisis summit and Naloxone (opioid overdose prevention) training sessions. Hajtovic is also president of the Surgery Group at CSOM.

Other highlights of the Valedictorian’s accomplishments include serving as a BronxCare Hospital pediatrics department intern. There he designed a screening program for Social Determinants of Health. 

As he works toward his medical degree, Hajtovic is interested in pursuing a surgical subspecialty. His interest in neuroscience peaked last summer during a six-week research fellowship at Istanbul University, working in a neuro-immunology lab and shadowing the neurosurgery department. 

Salutatorian Isabella Joseph
Born of Indian immigrant parents in upstate New York, Joseph is a Macaulay Honors standout. She’s lauded in the Spitzer School of Architecture as “a model of the future student who pursues diverse skill sets to more effectively perform and address society’s myriad of issues.” She’s made the Dean’s list every year at City College.

Joseph helped revive the J. Max Bond Center for Urban Futures, the Spitzer School’s applied research center, and was recently part of a team that developed mapping resources for community boards 9 and 10 in response to COVID-19. She gained valuable experience as an architectural intern at the global firm Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) Associates collaborating with its design team on the Changi Airport Terminal 5 project in Singapore. 

Her other accolades include being named a WX Women in Real Estate Scholar of Merit this April, CUNY Chancellor’s Global Scholarship in summer 2018; and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Greenbuild Scholarship in fall 2016. 

Crossing disciplines, Joseph received a Climate Policy Fellowship from the Colin Powell School. Her work included co-writing a policy brief with teammates from economics and mechanical engineering on innovative financing strategy for resilience projects at NYCHA public housing developments. She is currently working on concurrent architectural and written thesis projects also dedicated to NYCHA housing in the architecture school and the Macaulay Honors College.

She aspires to become “a civically-engaged architect who not only designs and plans infrastructure projects, but also contributes my abilities, voice, and perspective to the most pressing issues of my time.”

About the City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided a high-quality and affordable education to generations of New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. CCNY embraces its position at the forefront of social change. It is ranked #1 by the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights out of 369 selective public colleges in the United States on the overall mobility index. This measure reflects both access and outcomes, representing the likelihood that a student at CCNY can move up two or more income quintiles. In addition, the Center for World University Rankings places CCNY in the top 1.2% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. Labor analytics firm Emsi puts at $1.9 billion CCNY’s annual economic impact on the regional economy (5 boroughs and 5 adjacent counties) and quantifies the “for dollar” return on investment to students, taxpayers and society. At City College, more than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself. View CCNY Media Kit.

Jay Mwamba
p: 212.650.7580
View CCNY Media Kit.