More Than 530 Students in Grades 6-12 from Orange County High Schools to be Honored

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – SUNY Orange will celebrate the outstanding achievements of 532 Orange County school students when the College hosts its 28th Sojourner Truth Awards Program at 6 p.m., Friday, March 9, in the Diana Physical Education Center on the Middletown campus.

The Sojourner Truth Awards Program honors 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 to 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 evening’s keynote speaker is Monroe France, associate vice president for Student Affairs and Diversity Initiatives at New York University. He serves as the most senior level university administrator responsible for advancing university-wide diversity initiatives within student affairs at NYU’s New York City campus as well, as its global academic centers. In this role, France provides leadership to the NYU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Student Center and the NYU Center for Multicultural Education and Programs.

France is also an adjunct faculty member in the NYU Silver School of Social Work and NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Communication. He serves as the fiscal officer and treasurer for the OutRight Action International Board of Trustees, is chair of the Diversity Abroad Network’s LGBTQI+ Task Force; and is a faculty member during DAN’s annual Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Institute.

France has more than 20 years of experience as an educator, professional trainer, consultant, strategist and keynote presenter. He has created, implemented and managed social justice and human rights education programs both nationally and internationally.

In 2004, he co-founded Envision, a social justice training and consulting agency providing social justice and diversity trainings at institutions around the country. He has worked at Lambda Legal as the supervising community educator. He was education training manager for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) where he was responsible for building GLSEN's national Training of Trainers Program on LGBT issues in schools and continues to serve with the organization as a national senior training consultant. In both roles, he created curricula and trained thousands of educators and K-12 upper-level administrators on how to make schools safer for every student, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity expression.

He has received numerous honors and accolades, including NYU’s 2012 Distinguished Administrator of the Year Award, the 2014 Trailblazer Award from re-gender (formerly National Council for Research on Women) and the 2016 National Association for Student Personal Administrators’ Diversity Achievement Award. 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 a local talent and SUNY Orange student – Kevin Garcia-Salas.

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) in about 1797 in Hurley, N.Y., Isabella was sold four times before she and her daughter were given their freedom in 1828. She spoke low Dutch until she was about 10 years old and never learned to read or write.

In 1843 she changed her name to Sojourner Truth to better reflect her chosen mission of traveling to show people their sins and telling them what is true. She 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 sponsors Orange & Rockland Utilities and O’Connor Davies. To learn more, visit SUNY Orange’s Sojourner Truth web site at, call the Office of Student Services at (845) 341-4000, or email Dolores Jones at

See entire listing of winners here

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940