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Alumni Support Helps Student Continue Mother’s Cancer Fight

 Alumni Support Helps Student Continue Mother’s Cancer Fight


As the only child of immigrant parents from Ireland, SUNY Cortland sophomore Sarah McCannon grew up in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., with traditional Irish values in a very close-knit family.

So when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when McCannon was in high school, McCannon felt a responsibility to offer her mother support and hope for the future. As a result, McCannon has been a dedicated volunteer with Relay for Life, an all-night event put on by the American Cancer Society, both at SUNY Cortland and in her hometown.

This summer, she expanded her role in the national fight against cancer. In an effort to pair her passion for helping others with job experience in advertising, the communication studies major completed an internship with the American Cancer Society.

Her growing role in the battle was made possible by a SUNY Cortland alumna.

Monica Ryan Garrigan ’84, the senior director of Relay for Life at the American Cancer Society in White Plains, N.Y., helped McCannon land her internship position. McCannon knew Garrigan from her high school days, when Garrigan would help out with the all-night event at McCannon’s high school.

McCannon described the internship as “a life changing experience” where she learned valuable skills, gained hands-on experience and helped strike a blow against a potentially deadly disease.

Her entire SUNY Cortland experience ¾ which includes writing for the College’s Dragon Chronicle student newspaper and Speak magazine ¾, hinges on the generosity of another College alum; John Fantauzzi ’58, a retired school teacher.

McCannon is one of 21 current SUNY Cortland students benefitting from a John M. Fantauzzi ’58 Scholarship.  To be eligible for a renewable Fantauzzi scholarship, a SUNY Cortland student must maintain a 2.7 or higher grade point average and be the child or grandchild of immigrants to the United States. Since 1990, Fantauzzi Scholarships have aided more than 65 students whose ancestry can be traced to Europe, Asia, North and Central America.

“My parents think it’s so amazing for our family that I’m going to college,” said McCannon, the first member of her family to attend college in the United. States. “I wouldn’t be able to go to this school if I didn’t have the scholarship. It pays for a lot of what I do here, and I’m very appreciative of it.”

 The $5.1 million gift that made the Fantauzzi scholarships possible was part of “Educating Champions, the Campaign for Cortland,” the College’s ambitious drive to raise $25 million by 2013 to support its institutional goals. To date, it has raised more than $20 million from alumni, friends and other sources.