Two SUNY Oneonta seniors and one recent graduate are among a select group of State University of New York students chosen to receive the 2016 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher will present the awards to the students at a reception in their honor Tuesday, April 5, at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany.
“This award is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to stand-out SUNY students whose achievements reflect their own impressive hard work as well as the support of their families and friends, and SUNY’s world-class faculty and staff,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “The 248 students we honor with this year’s award have excelled academically, become role models on campus, and established themselves as leaders in the community. Congratulations to all of the students receiving the 2016 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence.”
The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence is the highest honor that SUNY bestows upon students. It is presented annually to SUNY students who demonstrate academic excellence and integrate it with accomplishments in other areas, such as leadership, career achievement, campus involvement, athletics, community service, or creative and performing arts.
The three SUNY Oneonta students who received the 2016 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence are:
Samuel Afriyie of the Bronx, NY
Afriyie has earned a cumulative 3.6 grade point average while pursuing majors in both Africana Latino studies and international development studies, and minoring in French. His scholarly work includes New York African Studies Association conference presentations in 2013, 2014 and 2015, a presentation detailing problems faced by street kids for the Ghana Regional Showcase, and an award-winning essay, which he wrote in connection with SUNY Oneonta’s Student Research and Creative Activity Day.
As an intern for the UNESCO Center for Global Education, Afriyie designed programming and planned events to attract philanthropic support for major foundations. He also interned at the Foundation Center in New York City. There, he audited NGO projects and budget allocations, and assisted with the creation of a new international mapping interface for non-profits within Nigeria.
Outside of the classroom, Afriyie has distinguished himself as a senior student leader who models hard work, compassion, and a concern for justice. He served as president of SUNY Oneonta’s Pan-African Student Organization for two years. In 2014, he co-founded Students Against Racial Profiling and organized a rally around addressing racial inequity. Last fall, he became a peer academic coach for the Educational Opportunity Program, guiding students to improve their academic performance.
Melissa Haig of Levittown, NY
Haig completed her bachelor’s degree in three and a half years, graduating in December 2015 with a double major in mathematics and statistics and a minor in economics, and an
almost-perfect GPA. The college has awarded her several scholarships for achievement in both of her majors.
In 2014, Haig co-authored “Conflict of Interest Disclosure in Orphan Drug Research,” which was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Ethics in Biology, Engineering & Medicine – An International Journal. In a focused pursuit of one of her career goals, she passed the first actuarial exam in one attempt.
Beyond outstanding academic performance, Haig has established herself as a leader among her peers. She has organized fundraising activities, tutored other students in statistics, and completed Safe Space training, enabling her to educate employees of the Hunt College Union about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and questioning community at SUNY Oneonta. She is also a 2014 inductee of SUNY Oneonta’s chapter of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society.
Kevin Sutton of Afton, NY
For his outstanding academic credentials and performance, Sutton receives SUNY Oneonta’s most prestigious merit-based award, a Presidential Scholarship, while pursuing a double major in mathematics and theatre. In 2015, he received a competitive college grant for undergraduate research to develop software used for textual analysis of theatrical works.
Sutton’s broad involvement in several facets of student life complements his academic achievement. As a member of both the Gender and Sexuality Alliance and LGBTQA Speakers’ Bureau, he advocates for and educates peers about gender and sexuality equity and inclusion. Having participated in extensive co-curricular leadership training, he has earned Platinum status—the highest level of recognition—in the college’s Leadership Education and Development program.
A dedicated member of SUNY Oneonta’s theatre club, Mask and Hammer, Sutton was inducted into the Alpha Psi Omega national theatre honor society in 2013, and this year, theatre department faculty selected him to be the assistant director of a college production.
Since 1998 when the Chancellor’s Award program was implemented, 80 SUNY Oneonta students have received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.