Community Health Major Gets New Scholarship And Acceptance into Columbia Grad Program

Stephane Labossiere’s has a ready smile and these days he has many reasons to keep it going. His York College experience has been one filled with adventure and success and the graduating senior recently received his latest scholarship, a Society for Public Health Education’s (SOPHE) Vivian Drenckhahn Scholarship. It is only the latest in many scholarships he has received since arriving at York as a freshman in 2010.

Although modest in sum ($1,500), the award is prestigious in overall value, and according to Labossiere, a first for York and indeed, for CUNY. It is given to “deserving graduate or undergraduate students.” His winning essay was based on research in food and nutrition. Follwoing on the heels of that good news, Labossiere has also received acceptance into the Master of Science in Community Health Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. True to form, along with the acceptance, Labossiere, a native of – Port Au Prince, Haiti, is being offered an initial scholarship toward his first semester.

Labossiere has been a most prolific young scholar. To fund his undergraduate education, he has received more than $20,000 in scholarships during his time at York. They include a Thurgood Marshall College Fund Student Ambassador/Scholar award of $7,000; a Costco Scholarship Thurgood Marshall College Fund award for $6,200; a Research Foundation Scholarship CUNY Scholarship of $2,500, a York’s Student Government Association award of $1,500 and a York College Alumni Association Scholarship for Juniors. If that’s not dizzying enough, he also received study-abroad funding from York and the CUNY STOCS program, for his recent trip to China.

Labossiere who already spoke four languages (French, French Creole, English and Spanish), recently participated in the STOCS program to finance his trip to the Asian nation to learn a fifth: Mandarin. This of course, is in preparation for his future as a global health professional.

He has also participated in numerous research presentations at York and the CUNY Graduate Center. His internships and fellowships include Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s WIC Program; Collaborative Research Group on Health Policy Promotion at the York College Department of Health and Physical Education; and the National Urban League (NUL) where he is an intern under the mentorship of Dr. Noel Manyiado, a graduate of the Harvard School Public Health. In this internship Labossiere has also had the opportunity to write, edit, and publish the NUL Community Health Worker Newsletter.

For Labossiere, a first-generation college attendee, his undergraduate education has to be more than acquiring the 120 credits needed to graduate from York. For him it is important to take additional classes whether in his direct major or to enhance his qualification. Consequently, he will graduate with more than 150 credits. He has also benefited from the mentorship of the college’s outstanding faculty.

“York is the best [college] in CUNY that I could have gone to,” he said. “Once you find your connection with a professor who inspires you, you can go on to great things. And if you ever want to find resources that you can leverage, turn to the professors.”

Labossiere was always a go-getter.

“When I came in 2010 I attended a graduate fair and realized you can’t learn only in the classroom,” he explained. “I saw the diversity too. College opens your eyes. You can’t graduate being close-minded or else you have just wasted four years.”

But he has not wasted a day and has the five-page CV to prove it.

Labossiere’s curriculum vitae lists peer-reviewed conference presentations, leadership experiences and research with his mentor, Dr. Nicholas Grosskopf, as well as with Dr. Susan Letteney.

Grosskopf has been “that connection” for Labossiere.

“In the summer of 2012 Stephane was chosen as an undergraduate research fellow with the Collaborative Research Group on Health Policy & Promotion, a group that I co-direct with Dr. Susan Letteney of Social Sciences,” said Grosskopf. “During the course of the fellowship Stephane was exposed to foundational concepts in the research process and worked with us on several projects prioritizing underserved populations and prevalent health disparities in New York City (e.g., the increasingly high HIV incidence rates of young men who have sex with men [YMSM] of color).”

“Stephane is an emerging independent researcher and I look forward to his continued mentorship in a graduate program where he will be able to fine-tune his skill set and construct his own independent research agenda,” said Grosskopf.

For Labossiere, his mentor has made all the difference.

“If it weren’t for his help I wouldn’t have succeeded in the ways that I have, as a first generation student,” said Labossiere, whose parents now live in Florida.

He is also thankful for the study-abroad exposure, which included a trip to the Great Wall.

“The trip to China was the highlight of my college experience,” Labossiere noted. “In addition to studying Mandarin, I visited five cities and examined the public health system there.

A founding member and first president and of Eta Sigma Gamma Epsilon Lambda at CUNY, a national society for students majoring in health education and promotion, Labossiere has seeking a summer internship at Columbia University, and will commence his graduate studies at the Ivy League school in the fall 2014 semester.


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