Three Presented with SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence; Two Honored by Phi Theta Kappa

PHOTO: Amanda QuintanaMIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – Five SUNY Orange students were among more than 300 of their peers honored this past Wednesday, April 2, as the State University of New York presented 274 students with the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence while another 68 students received statewide academic recognition by Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for community college students.

Joanna Dykeman, Amanda Quintana (right) and Vivek Sood were presented with the Chancellor’s Award, the most prestigious honor bestowed upon community college students in the SUNY system, during a late-afternoon celebration. Earlier in the afternoon, Phi Theta Kappa announced its All New York Community College Academic Teams, with Melissa Beck earning a second-team citation and Laurel Speed accepting third-team accolades.

In recognition of their having been named a Chancellor’s Award winner, Dykeman, Quintana and Sood each received a framed certificate and medallion, which is traditionally worn at Commencement.

“Students honored with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence, and those recognized by Phi Theta Kappa, truly embody the power of SUNY,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. “As proven leaders and role models, scholar athletes, creative artists, and civic volunteers, each student is recognized not just for academic achievement, but also for the profound impact they have on college campuses and local communities across New York State. Congratulations to the SUNY Orange students being recognized today.”

PHOTO: Joanna DykemanAn English major from Montgomery, Dykeman (left) is an Honors Program student who holds membership in Phi Theta Kappa, the English Club and the Apprentice Players. In the Fall, she was selected to be the first-ever student representative to the SUNY Orange Foundation’s Board of Directors. She serves as an Honors Program peer mentor. She is a volunteer at the Montgomery Free Library, has assisted with events at the College’s Orange Hall Theatre and has served as a childcare assistant at the Morrison Lab School.

Last year, Dykeman was selected as part of SUNY Orange’s initial contingent of student presenters at the prestigious Northeast Regional Honors Council Conference in Philadelphia, Pa., a three-day student conference hosted by the NRHC for students at colleges and universities in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. She will once again present at this spring’s conference slated for Niagara Falls. She presented a research project at last year’s Beacon Conference, a conference for students at community colleges in the northeast. She has also received the SUNY Orange President’s Honors Program Scholarship.

PHOTO: Vivek SoodQuintana, of Newburgh, is currently president of the Newburgh campus Board of Activities, is secretary of the Student Senate and serves as a Student Ambassador. She was presented with the Improvement of Campus Life recognition award last Spring, and has helped organize a Newburgh campus graduate recognition ceremony, the Board of Activities’ semi-formal and the BOA/Student Senate retreat. Quintana, who is studying psychology, has volunteered for community cleanup projects, participated in fundraising initiatives to raise awareness of autism and breast cancer, served Thanksgiving meals at Safe Harbors of the Hudson, and helped collect clothing for needy local residents.

Sood (right), of Middletown, is a member of the College’s Honors Program and serves as vice president of the Business Club. He has also been an Honors Orientation leader, a peer mentor and Student Ambassador. Studying business administration, Sood volunteers at the Bharatiya Mandir Temple and last spring he returned to his alma mater to work with the Middletown High School tennis team, of which he was a team captain during his high school career. Along with Dykeman, Sood will be presenting a research paper at the NRHC Conference. He has received the Business Department’s award for outstanding academic achievement and was presented with the SUNY Orange SUNY Orange President’s Honors Program Scholarship.

PHOTO: Melissa BeckBeck (left), of New Hampton, is presently pursuing a nursing degree at SUNY Orange, having returned to the College in 2011 after losing her job as a high school math teacher. In preparation for her teaching career, she earned a liberal arts degree from SUNY Orange in December 2007, graduating with honors. During her current stint at the College, she has once again excelled in the classroom, forging a 3.85 grade point average. She has also served as president of the Nursing Club, where she organized a team that participated in the annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk, raised money to help two local families in need, served as head of the pinning committee and scheduled several field trips, fundraisers and guest speakers.

Speed (below), a Warwick resident who boasts a 3.54 grade point average, is on track to earn a liberal arts degree at SUNY Orange and plans to transfer to the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, where she will work toward a veterinary degree. During her freshman year, Speed participated in a SUNY Brockport study abroad program in Antarctica, where she studied the diversity and abundance of avian species crossing the Latitudinal Diversity Gradient in the Ross Sea.

As a sophomore, Speed spent a month working with wildlife veterinarians in South Africa, experiencing the application of veterinary science in the wilderness. She has been a competitive horseback rider since an early age, has trained her own horses and it a top-ranked member of the International Pony Club. She has received the David Logan Memorial Scholarship, the SUNY Orange Annual Perpetual Scholarship and the Phi Theta Kappa Study Abroad Scholarship, as well as the Crown Jewel Award at the International Dressage Festival

PHOTO: Laurel SpeedThe Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence was created 16 years ago to recognize students who have best demonstrated, and have been recognized for, the integration of academic excellence with accomplishments in the areas of leadership, athletics, community service, creative and performing arts or career achievement.

Each campus establishes a selection committee, which reviews exemplary members of that college community who are graduating. Nominees are then forwarded to the Chancellor’s Office and are subject to a second round of review. Finalists are then recommended to the Chancellor to become recipients of the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive university system in the United States, educating more than 468,000 students in more than 7,500 degree and certificate programs on 64 campuses with more than 3 million alumni around the globe.

The Phi Theta Kappa Award Ceremony recognizes outstanding community college students throughout the state. The ceremony is sponsored annually by NYCCT (New York Community College Trustees) together with the New York Community College Association of Presidents and the Faculty Council of Community Colleges.

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940