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Four Students Earn SUNY Chancellor's Awards

04/07/2010 

Four SUNY Cortland seniors were honored on April 6 in Albany, N.Y., with 2010 State University of New York Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence.

The SUNY Cortland recipients, all seniors, are:

• Jeanna Dippel, a dual major in biology and kinesiology from DuBois, Pa.

• Brandon Herwick, a physical education major from Coxsackie, N.Y.

• Keith Lusby, a dual major in political science and history from West Babylon, N.Y.

• Michelle D. Santoro, a political science major from North Bellmore, N.Y.

“The 228 students we honor today have excelled academically and taken advantage of what SUNY has to offer outside the classroom,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher as she recognized students from the 63 SUNY campuses throughout the state during the ceremony in Albany, N.Y. “These students are proven leaders, athletes, artists, community servants and much more. Congratulations to all of the students receiving today’s award and thank you all for your genuine dedication to student excellence.”

The recipients were honored for integrating academic excellence with accomplishments in leadership, athletics, community service, creative and performing arts or career achievement. This year’s honorees each have an overall grade point average of 3.8.

With this year’s awards, 56 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 that is traditionally worn at commencement. A complete listing can be viewed at: www.suny.edu/Files/sunynewsFiles/Pdf/StudentExcellenceListing.pdf.

A more detailed profile of each 2010 SUNY Cortland honoree follows:

Jeanna Dippel

Jeanna Dippel
Jeanna Dippel

Selected by her teammates as assistant captain of the women’s varsity ice hockey team in 2008-09 and 2009-10, Dippel takes pride on the rink, in the classroom and in the community.

“One of the things I really liked about Cortland was the good balance between academics and athletics,” says Dippel, who has maintained a 4.02 grade point average while earning laurels as a scholar-athlete from both the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) and the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC). “Athletics is not just an afterthought, there’s really a lot of attention paid to it. They make it just as important as academics. It’s been a good experience.”

In the classroom meanwhile, faculty members serve as her mentors.

“At SUNY Cortland, one of my main influences was (Professor of Biological Sciences) Peter Ducey,” she said. “He taught me during my first semester here and he always motivated me to do my best and looked out for me.”

Dippel was named to ECAC’s West All-Academic Team in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and the SUNYAC named her to its Commissioners List for her academic accomplishments during the same years. The Athletics Program presented her with its 2007 and 2008 Excellence in Academics and Athletics.

A member of the Beta Beta Beta, the national honor society for biological sciences, and Phi Kappa Phi, the interdisciplinary honor society, she has made the President’s List and Dean’s List at SUNY Cortland. SUNY Cortland’s Biological Sciences Department named her as its 2009 Outstanding Academic Achievement Among Senior Biology Majors.

Her varied and extensive list of service and social action in the community has earned her the College’s 2009 Civic Engagement Leadership Award. She has taken special pride responding to the rescue of classmates aboard the Emergency Squad van. She has participated in approximately 25 calls to take vital signs since the spring of her sophomore year.

A biology and kinesiology dual major, Dippel focused early on her career objectives.

“When I was in the ninth grade, I sprained my ACL,” she explains. From that experience, “I knew I wanted to go into healthcare and have focused on becoming a physician’s assistant. I read about them and shadowed them. They deal with a wide range of problems and people. It’s just a fascinating area.”

She served as a nurse’s aide at the Cortland Regional Medical Center, which presented her with its 2008 Emergency Medicine Physician’s Sponsored Scholarship.

Upon graduation in May, Dippel plans to pursue a master’s degree in health science and national certification as a physician assistant.

“I’m really excited, because I love helping people,” said Dippel, who has been accepted into Lock Haven (Pa.) University’s Physician Assistant Program.

Brandon Herwick

Brandon Herwick
Brandon Herwick

To the SUNY Cortland community, Herwick brings to life the College’s Red Dragon mascot, aptly named “Blaze.”

But it’s not all fun and games for this senior physical education major, who has maintained a 3.63 grade point average during his two years at the College. The National Association of Sports and Physical Education (NASPE) honored the May graduate as its Major of the Year in March for his excellent academic achievement, exemplary leadership and involvement, and demonstrative dedication to the fields of health, activity and fitness.

A promising scholar in his chosen field, Herwick delivered four presentations at two New York State Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (NYSAHPERD) conferences and recently was slated to give another for the national association.

“I think physical education is an elemental part of a child’s education,” Herwick says. “It’s something that needs to be set up early so that it can be continued for life. Especially with the obesity epidemic, it’s important that we get inside of schools and we teach students how to be confident in their abilities.”

In March 2008, Tau Sigma, the academic honor society for transfer students, initiated Herwick, who attended Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) before Cortland, as a member. A resident assistant on the campus, Herwick was recognized last spring with an Academic Excellence Award by the Residence Life and Housing Office.

Herwick serves as president of the Alliance of Physical Education Majors Club and the Cortland Table Tennis Club, participates on the Student Activities Board, and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. He has offered his time and talent to several efforts on behalf of individuals with physical challenges.

This spring, he student-teaches at V.W. Becker, an elementary school in Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk (N.Y.) School District, and Catskill High School. He’ll continue his studies toward a graduate degree in adapted physical education.

“SUNY Cortland is one of the premiere, if not the premiere, New York state physical education schools and it definitely ranks among the top in the nation, if not the world,” said Herwick, noting that he was inspired to transfer to SUNY Cortland by Thomas Rogan ’66, a Cortland alumnus and his professor at HVCC. His mother, alumna Denise Sonustun Herwick ’86, was another influence.

“I think the teachers are very diverse at Cortland and what makes the program so great is how the professors can bring so many different aspects to one profession.”

Keith Lusby

Keith Lusby
Keith Lusby

A 2010 “Renaissance man,” Lusby is as much at home arguing a case in Moot Court as he is running cross-country or teaching martial arts.

Recently at an Eastern Regional Moot Court Competition of lawyer hopefuls in Fitchburg, Mass., he placed 24th individually out of 96 competitors.

Since he was 16 years old, he has instructed children and adults in Shaolin Kempo Karate with the Shaolin Self-Defense Centers.

The State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC), noting both his academic and physical achievements, named him to its All Academic Team for cross-country in 2006 and 2007, indoor track in 2008 and outdoor track in 2007 and 2008. He competed on SUNY Cortland’s cross-country team that captured the 2008 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Div. III national championship.

“I love this school,” he said. “I wasn’t so sure coming here what I wanted to do, but Cortland had so many different opportunities. I arrived here wanting to become a history teacher and I am a dual history and political science major. I think being here, and the faculty here, especially the Political Science Department faculty, has been great.

Bound for Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., to study for a law degree this fall, Lusby has maintained a 3.82 grade point average at SUNY Cortland.

Outside the classroom, Lusby completed an internship with a SUNY Cortland graduate, the Hon. Judge Robert C. Mulvey ’80, of the New York Supreme Court in Tompkins County, Ithaca, N.Y.

“This gave me a real hands-on experience,” Lusby said. “Judge Mulvey let me read a lot of current cases he was working on and this gave me a feel for the kind of work real lawyers do. He was great. He always let me sit in on lawyers' meetings and court proceedings.”

“Judge Mulvey was highly impressed with Keith’s work,” notes Mary McGuire, assistant professor of political science. “Keith showed diligence, curiosity and commitment in his internship and received a strong evaluation. Judicial internships are not common for undergraduate students.”

McGuire has submitted his research paper produced during his internship experience for presentation this month at the New York State Political Science Association’s annual meeting in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Lusby has volunteered as a student justice on the College’s Judicial Review Board, the non-academic discipline-adjudicating panel.

“Keith is always respectful of our student respondents regardless of the nature of their offense,” observes Christopher Latimer, an assistant professor of political science and the Political Science Department’s pre-law advisor. “He believes that everyone deserves a fair chance and is able to provide a voice for those who are in need of help.”

In 2008, he was promoted to intramural sports supervisor with the College’s Recreational Sports Program. He oversaw intramural sport activities as well as the training and evaluation of intramural sport student employees.

Lusby gave his time and energy to Habitat for Humanity repairing homes for low-income families following a flood in Binghamton, N.Y. A member of three national honor societies, he has made the Dean’s List every semester he has attended SUNY Cortland and the President’s List in Fall 2009.

“I think running cross-country and track for two-and-a-half-years helped keep me disciplined by forcing me to stay on schedule,” Lusby said. “It was a release from studying and was one of the most beneficial things I did while I was here.”

Michelle D. Santoro

Santoro was an uninspired student through most of high school, but you wouldn’t know that today. With two congressional office internships under her belt, one inside Washington, D.C., and the other in an upstate New York district office, this May graduate with a 4.02 grade point average can give an impressive presentation on the workings of the House of Representatives.

Michelle Santoro
Michelle D. Santoro

The recipient of the College’s William B. Rogers Award for the top grade point average in political science, Santoro will present her research findings at the New York State Political Science Association annual meeting April 16-17 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

“I think that my highest honor would be my internship experience because it’s enabled me to have a greater understanding in the arena of political science,” says Santoro, whose academic achievements have placed her on the President’s List and led to her induction into three honor societies. “I don’t think I would have been able to do all my presentations if I hadn’t had the internship experience. I’ve been able to work for really educated and intelligent people who have helped me so much. I just couldn’t have learned it in the classroom.”

Santoro was turned onto politics in her high school junior year by her American history teacher.

“Learning is empowering,” she said. “It makes you a better person because you understand more things and you have a firmer grasp on everything.”

Still lacking confidence in her ability to pursue political science, she embarked at SUNY Cortland as a secondary education: history major.

“I think the Political Science Department here is just incredible,” Santoro said. “There couldn’t have been better, more helpful professors. I really just can’t say enough about how impressive they are, how willing they are to help and teach and how much I’ve learned from being a political science major here.”

In Summer 2008 she interned for two months in the Washington, D.C., office of her hometown congresswoman, Carolyn McCarthy. Last semester, she sampled district office duties during a second internship with Congressman Michael Arcuri in Cortland.

 “I gained a lot of knowledge about the way things work in Washington, D.C., as opposed to how they work in the district office,” said Santoro, who has shared her newfound knowledge about Congress in presentations on the Constitutional Convention origins.

At SUNY Cortland’s Scholars’ Day on April 16, she will lecture on “The Attenuation of Constitutional Principles and the Terrorist Threat: The Case of the Bush Administration’s Terrorist Surveillance Program.”

She continues to intern with Arcuri’s office while she considers her next career move.

“I really do like the communication and public relations side of politics,” said Santoro, who has also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, as a peer counselor and tutor and with Mercy for Animals in advancing animal rights. “While I’m younger, I lean toward working in politics. But when I’m older, if I could be in an academic career, such as an adjunct professor, I would like that.”