Five SUNY New Paltz students were honored with other SUNY students for the 2014 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence at Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, N.Y.
According to Suny.edu, each campus president establishes a committee in order to review eligible students for nomination. The five New Paltz students, all fourth-years, were chosen for this award on a basis of President Donald Christian’s selection committee, which selects students to be recommended to SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher for the award.
The recipients of the 2014 Chancellor’s Award are Loucia Papaseraphim, Deborah Walnicki, Brendan Wright, Stephen Lawrence and Chelsea Allocco.
The Chancellor’s Award aims to recognize distinct students attending a SUNY who have “demonstrated academic excellence along with other attributes including leadership, campus involvement, athletics, career achievement, community service or creative and performing arts,” according to award guidelines.
Lawrence, a fourth-year communication studies major, is currently a resident assistant and serves as co-executive director of St. Jude’s “Up ‘Til Dawn” events. He has also spent previous summers in New Paltz working as an orientation leader. He said receiving this award has made him proud of his experiences at the college and feels grateful for all the positive encouragement he has gotten throughout the years, in and outside of school.
“To know I was recognized by administrators beyond those here at SUNY New Paltz is extremely motivating. I am truly honored to have received this award and cannot have accomplished all that I have here without the support of my friends, my faculty and staff mentors here at New Paltz, and of course, my family,” Lawrence said.
Papaseraphim, a fourth-year childhood education major, has spent her time at New Paltz involved in student activities such as Emerging Leaders mentoring, Student Activities Management and Alternative Spring Break Volunteer, as well as holding membership to the Honors Program and the educational honor society, Kappa Delta Pi. Throughout her four years, she has worked closely with the women of the Center for Student Development, who she credits for being a big part of her New Paltz experience.
“They helped me expand my leadership opportunities, and were also a huge support system for me,” Papaseraphim said. “I was ecstatic and so proud to receive this award — it felt like my work for the past four years has all been worth it. It’s a great feeling to be recognized for your achievements and hard work.”
Wright, a fourth-year Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies major, has been involved with campus and student activities at New Paltz including working as a residence assistant, student managing at the Welcome Center, working at the Center for Student Development and holding membership of the campus’ chapter of NRHH, where he serves as associate director for the North East Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls. He said he recalls receiving the Chancellor’s Award as a distinguishing moment in his college career.
“It was really such a great honor to be selected for this award,” Wright said. “Since so few students are able to receive it each year, being selected as one of those students who got the award this year was a great feeling.”
Wright said that a large portion of his achievements can be traced back to his deep involvement with programs and activities on campus and encourages others to do the same.
“No matter what students choose to commit their time to, being involved within the campus community helps form connections and bonds within their peers and faculty or staff members as well,” he said.
Walnicki, a fourth-year sociology major, has been a member of the Honors Program for all four of her college years. She has experience working as a research assistant at the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO) to develop health plans commissioned by the Ulster County Department of Health and is currently working for girls’ empowerment program “Girls on the Run” for her human services internship.
“I am humbled to have been chosen,” Walnicki said. “Being at the award ceremony in the presence of so many motivated individuals was truly inspiring.”
Allocco a fourth-year computer science and math major who has been a member of the swim team for her entire college career, said that she was “blown away” by the news of getting this award, but is nonetheless honored. She notes that being a student athlete has taught her the values that have fueled her success both in the pool and the classroom.
“Swimming, as with any sport, takes a lot of time, so like most athletes, I had to learn to budget my time and make sure to spend it wisely or I wouldn’t have had time to finish assignments,” she said.
The five New Paltz students attended the award commencement consisting of nearly 300 SUNY students, all whom earned praise from Zimpher on this achievement.