Three SUNY Cortland seniors and one recent graduate were honored with the top academic prize for SUNY students on April 4 in Albany, N.Y.
The College’s recipients of the 2013 State University of New York Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence were:
• Erik Burrows, a senior political science major from Cicero, N.Y.
• Jessica Evans, a senior physical education major from Hamburg, N.Y.
• Kristen Guercio, a senior adolescence education: mathematics major from Smithtown, N.Y.
• Lima Stafford ’12 of Grenada, a December graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education.
The four recipients balanced their outstanding grade point averages (GPAs) with other accomplishments as campus leaders, such as fostering cultural diversity on the campus, helping those less fortunate in the economy, excelling on a varsity team, sharing camaraderie with a sport club, or promoting healthy lifestyles on campus and in the community.
Including this year’s winners, 68 SUNY Cortland students have earned a Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence since the program was created in 1997.
Each year, SUNY campus presidents establish a selection committee to review outstanding graduating seniors. The nominees are forwarded to the Chancellor’s Office for a second round of review and a group of finalists is selected. Each honoree received a framed certificate and a medallion to wear during Commencement.
Here’s a closer look at each 2013 SUNY Cortland honoree:
Burrows is living a political science major’s dream: traveling to the United Kingdom to learn about the British government first-hand, as an intern in the office of Liberal-Democratic Member of Parliament John Leech.
Only a select few SUNY Cortland students have captured the award enabling his trip, an Atlantis Mobility Fellowship for study of public administration and public policy at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom. The grant focuses on student mobility and exchange and was awarded by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to institutions across the U.S.
Burrows entered SUNY Cortland as a Merit Scholar and his performance has earned him the renewal of this award annually by the College. He maintains a 3.85 GPA and made the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 President’s List of the College’s top scholastic achievers. He was among only 10 juniors across disciplines to earn a top scholarship and citizenship award, the Alpha Delta Junior Scholarship.
A leader among his fellow political science majors, Burrows has presented papers at a state conference in his field.
He has served as the president of the Golf Club, which competes against other colleges in the Central New York Club Golf League. Burrows collected substantial food items to feed the Cortland community’s poor and volunteered at a homeless shelter in Syracuse.
It’s not enough for competitive swimmer Evans to be an outstanding athlete. She is also a champion scholar.
Evans, a physical education major, made the SUNYAC All-Academic and Commissioner’s List in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and has maintained a 3.89 GPA at SUNY Cortland. She has been recognized at Honors Convocation for scoring among the top 5 percent of students at the College.
Evans has made SUNY Cortland’s President’s List twice and the Dean’s List five times. Her Fall 2012 entry in the Seminar for Field Experience Portfolio Showcase was chosen as one of the top portfolios.
In 2012, the NCAA honored her as an Academic All-American for being an outstanding student athlete.
Yes, Evans qualified for and competed in the 2012 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship. But she also strives every day to influence others to pursue higher levels of academic, physical and civic achievement. She demonstrated this leadership by serving as president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee from 2012 to 2013 and by twice serving as captain of the women’s swimming and diving team.
In 2012, Guercio is only the ninth volleyball player in NCAA Division III history to reach 6,000 assists. In 2010, she broke SUNY Cortland’s record for single-season assists with 1,645 logged to her name.
Twice, the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) honored her as the AVCA Division III National Player of the Week.
But perhaps most impressive of all is the fact that she achieved those milestones while maintaining a 3.68 GPA and serving as captain of the volleyball team.
For her prowess both on and off the volleyball court, the College Sports Information Directors of America named her to its First Team Capital One District Three All-Academic Selection in 2011 and 2012. In 2012, Guercio was recognized for her excellence in academics and athletics with the SUNYAC Chancellor's Scholar-Athlete Award.
Guercio likes to promote community involvement in recreational activities. For three years, she volunteered at “Girls Day Out,” the College’s annual all-day gathering intended to motivate young girls in the community to explore their interest in various areas of athletics, health and careers.
Three years after enrolling at SUNY Cortland through the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Stafford stood at a podium and shared her experiences with 1,200 first-year students during the Fall 2012 Opening Convocation.
Stafford stands as a beacon to others who may wish to follow in her path and dedicate their college years to self-improvement, whatever their academic or personal interests may be.
Her interests resulted in many awards and accomplishments in the classroom and numerous lives influenced through her involvement in campus activities and leadership within student organizations.
Stafford, a former Brooklyn, N.Y., resident, maintained a 3.2 GPA and frequently made the Dean’s List while serving as a resident assistant for three years. Meanwhile, she was the president of the College’s Caribbean Student Association and an event coordinator for the Alliance of Physical Education Majors Club. Stafford participated in varsity women’s track and field, the swimming club and the women’s rugby club.
Based on her academic success, in 2012 she earned the EOP Gold Academic Award from the College’s Educational Opportunity Program.
Chi Alpha Epsilon, the national opportunity program honor society, honored Stafford in 2010 for students who have are high academic achievers.
That year, the College recognized her with a Certificate of Academic Achievement for her scholastic excellence and extraordinary dedication to self-improvement.