Recipient Stories

Scholarships enable our students to explore their passions and pursue their dreams. The stories below feature some recent graduates who benefitted from scholarships during their studies.

Camilo Fredes ’19

John M. Fantauzzi ’58, M ’60 Scholarship Recipient

Camilo Fredes

Camilo Fredes ’19 found he had a lot in common with his classmates when he arrived at SUNY Cortland.

He attended Locust Valley High School on Long Island, where he played tennis, ran track and field, wrote for the school newspaper and volunteered in the community through the local Boys & Girls Club.

Yet when those classmates asked where he was from, Fredes had a long answer.

The son of immigrants from Chile, where he was born and lived until he was 9 years old, Fredes is a first-generation college student. He discovered that his voice was unifying on the Cortland campus. He understood those who were born and raised in America because he largely had that experience himself. Fredes also found it easy to connect with those who came from different backgrounds, as he did.

Fredes was a recipient of the John M. Fantauzzi ’58, M ’60 Scholarship, which supports children and grandchildren of immigrants and first-generation college students.

A dual major in Spanish and communication studies with a concentration in journalism, Fredes was able to attend college thanks to the scholarship. He made the most of his time at Cortland as a member of La Familia Latina, a reporter for The Dragon Chronicle and in various roles including president, vice president and treasurer of the Spanish Club.

Following graduation, he is working as a reporter for The Cortland Voice and is supporting his parents, Americo Fredes and Jenny Silva, who sacrificed so much for him.

John Swedin ’19

Future New Yorker Award Recipient

John Swedin

John Swedin ’19 set foot on campus with hopes of majoring in biology and becoming a dentist.

Instead, he decided to follow his dreams of making it big on the big screen.

Before he walked across the stage at Commencement, Swedin had added director, writer and actor to his resume.

His short film, “Soup,” was screened as part of the Blackbird Film Festival held on campus each April. Swedin, who changed his major to communication studies, wrote and directed “Soup” as part of an advanced filmmaking course he took during the fall semester of his senior year.

Swedin, from Ringwood, N.J., was a recipient of Cortland’s Future New Yorker Award, which eases out-of-state tuition for select students. He used his apartment’s kitchen as a set and convinced friends to act in a story of a nervous college student trying to impress a date through cooking with some hilariously unexpected — and disgusting — results. In addition to a pair of six-hour filming blocks, Swedin spent countless hours editing his film and tweaking the audio through Foley techniques, a sound editing trick that uses everyday objects to produce an effect onscreen.

He is considering careers in film or the music industry.

Rebekka Higgins ’19

Esther K. Hawthorne Scholarship Recipient 

Rebekka Higgins

Rebekka Higgins ’19 has leaned heavily on lessons she learned in and out of the classroom.

Higgins, the winner of the SUNY-wide Benjamin and David Scharps Memorial Legal Essay Award contest in 2019, used her experiences as an intern with the City of Cortland Police Department, the Cortland County District Attorney’s Office and the office of Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin in penning her winning entry.

A dual political science and criminology major from Queens, N.Y., Higgins explored the topic of concealed carry on campus for the contest. She was given a hypothetical case and a number of real cases and sources on which to base an argument.

Higgins was the recipient of a number of awards during her time as a student, including the Esther K. Hawthorne Scholarship. It is given to students with academic ambition and financial need.

She credits political science faculty members Timothy Delaune and Robert Spitzer for giving her an understanding of the law and gun control issues through their classes.

Breanna Washington ’19

Lambda Phi Delta Service Scholarship Recipient

Breanna Washington

Breanna Washington ’19 is passionate about education and SUNY Cortland gave her opportunities to pursue that dream. A member of Cortland’s Urban Recruitment of Educators (C.U.R.E), Washington, a dual major in special education and childhood education with a concentration in the social sciences, got hands-on experience in the classroom as an undergraduate. She also did so abroad, teaching English to children in Thailand.

She also excelled in the scholarship of teaching, winning an Outstanding Writing Award for “How Assessments Affect Students of Diverse Demographics,” which she composed in a foundations of education course.

Washington was an active member of the campus community outside of her classes, working as a resident assistant for three years, volunteering on the Auxiliary Services Corporation executive board and serving an undergraduate fellow for the Multicultural Life and Diversity Office. A recipient of the Lambda Phi Delta Service Scholarship, which is awarded to students who have a positive record of impact and service to campus, Washington is thankful for the support that allowed her to grow into a leader and chase her goals.