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Jason Decker

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"Cortland seemed gigantic to me. A lot of students and faculty helped me when I got here. The key is finding a way to fit in. Now I’d like to help students with the same things I struggled with."


Coming from tiny Brushton (pop. 459), SUNY Cortland felt huge for Jason, and adjusting to his new campus home posed some challenges. He’s glad he didn’t have to face them alone.

“Cortland seemed gigantic to me,” Jason says of his first days on campus. “A lot of students and faculty helped me when I got here. Now I’d like to help students with the same things I struggled with.”

In fact, he wants to make a career of it. That’s why he’s majoring in community health, with a concentration in college health promotion. He figures to be a good fit — in 2011 he won SUNY Cortland’s Leonard T. Gath Award, which recognizes a senior who has shown exceptional leadership and concern for the safety and well being of others.

As part of his internship in the Health Promotion Office, Jason coordinated Paws for Stress Relief, an exam-time event where students can blow off steam by playing with dogs that were brought to campus.

The transition to college can involve everything from homesickness to worries about making friends. Jason thinks Cortland does an especially good job of helping students manage that transition.

“The key is finding a way to fit in,” he says, noting that Cortland offers a ton of such ways. The activities calendar is full, with movies, intramural sports, residence hall programs, Cortland Nites and some 75 student clubs on topics from environmental awareness to rugby.

Some of Jason’s best friends are people he met working out in the weight room. “When you find that group to hang out with, you’re happy to be here. That really helped me.”

Ten years from now, Jason hopes to be working at a college setting up programs that give students the same kind of support that’s meant so much to him at Cortland. “I’ve been amazed by the amount of helpfulness here,” he says. “I’d love the challenge of developing that someplace else.”