Four-Hundred-Eighty Students in Grades 6 to 12 from Orange County Schools to be Hailed

>> List of Award Recipients

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – SUNY Orange will celebrate the outstanding achievements of 480 local students attending Orange County schools when the College hosts the awards ceremony for its 24th Sojourner Truth Awards Program at 6 p.m., Friday, March 14 in the Physical Education Building on the Middletown campus.

The Sojourner Truth Awards Programs hails students from grades 6 through 12 who have excelled in areas such as athletics, citizenship, creative arts, diversity, English language arts, foreign languages, perseverance/effort, sciences and technology. The program aims to promote education in a positive manner and motivate students who are from groups that are traditionally under-represented in the college population to consider college as a viable and attainable goal. The honored students will be acknowledged during the awards ceremony.

The evening’s keynote speaker is the Honorable Maria Vazquez-Doles, Supreme Court Justice for the Ninth Judicial District of New York. Her district includes the counties of Orange, Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess and Putnam. She is the only Latina Supreme Court Justice in those five counties.

Vazquez-Doles graduated and earned her Juris doctorate from Touro Law School in 1997, and began her career working as a defense attorney. Very quickly she was promoted to litigation manager in the Mass Toxic Tort litigation. In 2001, she worked as a court attorney for the Supreme Court, New York County, where she researched and drafted decisions for approximately 60 judges.

She later opened her private practice and concentrated in the area of residential and commercial real estate transactions, landlord/tenant proceedings, family law and matrimonial law. Vazquez-Doles became a Town Judge in the Town of Monroe in 2009, where she received an overwhelming 85 percent of the votes in the general election to become the first and only elected Latino judge in Orange County. As town judge in Monroe, with the largest population in Orange County, she presided over 400 cases per month, including misdemeanor criminal cases, landlord/tenant actions, small claims, traffic, zoning and town ordinance cases.

On Nov. 5, 2013, Vazquez-Doles was elected to serve as Supreme Court Justice for the Ninth Judicial District.

She has served as the Chair of the Latino Democratic Committee of Orange County and was president of the Friends of the Monroe Free Library. She has earned numerous awards, including the Orange County Award for Volunteerism, the Orange County Annual Youth Bureau Award, and the prestigious Flor de Maga Award as Business Attorney of the Year from the Puerto Rican Bar Association.

Vaquez-Doles has been married for 21 years to her husband, Harley, and is the proud mother of triplet girls, Emily, Elizabeth and Eliza. Additionally, she was blessed with the opportunity to raise her three nephews Abe, Javier and Julio for 11 years until they became adults, after her sister’s passing in 1997.

In addition to speeches and the awards ceremony, the evening’s program will feature a presentation of colors by the Middletown High School Junior ROTC and entertainment by Jeremy Palermo, a member of the Newburgh Performing Arts Center.

Sojourner Truth, for whom the program is named, lived in the mid-Hudson Valley after escaping from slavery. She is hailed as one of the most distinguished and highly regarded women of the 19th century. Born Isabella Bomefree (later spelled Baumfree) about 1797 in Hurley, N.Y., Isabella was sold four times, until she and her daughter were given their freedom in 1828. Isabella spoke low Dutch until she was about 10 years old and never learned to read or

In 1843 she changed her name to Sojourner Truth to better reflect her chosen missions of traveling to show people their sins and telling them what is true. Sojourner Truth is often referred to as one of the most effective and powerful
speech-makers of her time.

Corporate funding for the program and awards ceremony comes from presenting sponsor Orange & Rockland Utilities. To learn more about this program, visit SUNY Orange’s Sojourner Truth web site, call the Office for Student Services at 341-4000 or e-mail event coordinator Dolores Jones.

List of Award Recipients


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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940