The Academic Elite

Ayanna Thomas, Kristofer Pistillo, Jeremy Borrelli and Alexandra Danz were among 257 students from 64 state university campuses recognized for Student Excellence.
Ayanna Thomas, Kristofer Pistillo, Jeremy Borrelli and Alexandra Danz were among 257 students from 64 state university campuses recognized for Student Excellence.

On April 4, four SUNY New Paltz seniors were awarded the 2012 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence and were recognized by Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities at a ceremony in Albany.

Jeremy Borrelli, Alexandra Danz, Ayanna Thomas and Kristofer Pistillo were among 257 students from 64 state university campuses honored.

According to the SUNY New Paltz website, the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence was created in 1997 and recognizes students who have best demonstrated academic excellence while achieving accomplishments in leadership, community service, athletics, creative and performing arts or career achievements.

A selection committee, appointed by SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian, nominated the qualifying students. These nominees were then sent to the Chancellor’s office for additional reviewing prior to sending the final recommendations to the Chancellor.

Pistillo, a fourth-year psychology and organizational communications major, said his involvement on campus helped him overcome many of the obstacles in his life. However, Pistillo said getting involved served as an outlet for his stresses.

Pistillo said he has worked two internships and served as a Resident Assistant in Dubois Hall in the last three years. He founded the Dub-Step into Leadership organization, which he said helps students individually to realize the potential they have to succeed on their own by just being themselves.

Pistillo said he believes the people he has met during his time at New Paltz, helped to shape who he has become and to achieve the Chancellor’s award he was given last month.

“Honestly, I think there are so many amazing people on our campus that do so much and if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have people to live up to,” he said. “I am driven to help those around me and I want to make every experience one I wouldn’t forget as well as make an experience
others wouldn’t forget.”

Danz, a fourth-year earth science and adolescent education major, was excited when she found out that she had been nominated for the 2012 Chancellor’s Award but she didn’t realize what an honor it was at first.

Since her first year, Danz has played lacrosse, joined the Emerging Leaders program and became a mentor in her second year.

Danz is a founder and affiliate of Sigma Gamma Epsilon (the National Honor Society for the Earth Sciences) something she said she is most proud of. She currently works in the Student Union as a student activities manager.

Danz said she appreciated the geology program and said she has had unforgettable experiences from the department.

“I will take with me the confidence and ambition to learn every day of my life,” Danz said.

Danz said she hopes to work as a full time earth science teacher at a high school or middle school come September.

Thomas, a fourth-year political science major and Black Studies minor, said she has only attended New Paltz for three years because she is graduating a year

Thomas has been the Student Association vice president of academic affairs and governance since 2011 and said she has helped in the efforts to extend library hours and creating the Student Concerns committee on senate.

“I was very grateful to receive the award because it was a great feeling to know that my hard work this year paid off,” Thomas  said. “I have represented the student body well.”

Thomas said she will be attending St. John’s Law School in Queens next fall.

Borelli, a fourth-year anthropology major, said he was honored to be nominated for the Chancellor’s award.

Borelli has been a swimmer throughout his undergraduate career and served as captain of the Men’s Swim team this year. He was also a member of New Paltz’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee as well as the rising stars leadership academy.

Academically, he said he has been involved in work within his major. Last summer, he worked as the crew chief for New Paltz’s Archaeological Field School and has been the vice president of the Anthropology Club for the past two years.

Borelli said that it was difficult for him to balance school work with everything else he was involved with at times, but extracurriculars helped him relax.

Borelli said he is proud of the impact he had on the Anthropology Department, working closely with faculty to spread information about the major and create interest among students. He said his success is due to the support of those around him, especially his teammates.

“Getting involved on campus and following your passion is key and looking back on my career, I can say that I have no regrets and followed what made me happy and this award is a reflection of that,” Borelli said.