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11/15/2022

Caesaré German waited 16 years to finish college

Caesaré German grew up without seeing many people of color in leadership roles.

The exception was her grandfather, now 90, who many years after retiring as a teacher and school principal still encountered touchingly grateful former students.

“I can’t wait to be a positive influence for my students,” said German of Syracuse, N.Y., a senior inclusive childhood education major who is concentrating in social sciences.

“I want to make an impact in the lives of children to let them know that they can do and be anything they want, regardless of obstacles and adversities they may face on a daily basis,” said German, who grew up in Port Murray, New Jersey, and pronounces her first name ‘CHEZ-R-A.’

An outstanding high school student, after graduation in 2006 she balanced work, community college and helping her family care for her mother, who has multiple sclerosis.

One day she could no longer cope. In 2010, German reestablished herself as a California resident near San Francisco, enrolling in community college. But the state’s cost of living undermined her college plans and, ultimately, her sobriety.

In 2017, a Salvation Army rehabilitation program in Syracuse, N.Y., helped her get back on her feet. 

Now German, who plans to walk at the next Commencement and to graduate in December 2023, can’t wait to be that visible example of success in a classroom where all students are embraced regardless of ability, race, gender and class. She’s observed a Grant Middle School classroom in Syracuse and will complete a four-week immersion at Syracuse Latin School.

Her studies are supported by the Cortland’s Urban Recruitment of Educators (C.U.R.E.) program; the Lenora J. Rumore Scholarship, supporting a future educator enrolled in the C.U.R.E. program; a Dorothea Kreig Allen Fowler ’52, M ’74 Scholarship for Future Educators; a Kenneth and Jo Ann Wickman Scholarship; a Marylou B. Wright ’68 Scholarship for Non-traditional Women; and a TEACH Grant through the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation. The C.U.R.E. and TEACH scholarships come with a commitment to begin one’s career in underrepresented New York state schools.

“With the scholarships, I don’t have to work full-time,” said German, who supports her own education as a part-time substitute teacher in the Syracuse City School District.

“I wouldn’t be able to continue my education without these scholarships and for that I give my thanks.”

German is one of approximately 225 non-traditional students are enrolled at SUNY Cortland, which the university defines as undergraduate students who are 24 years of age or older or, regardless of age, who may have dependent children, be working full-time, have military experience or have made a break in education at some point after high school.

The university will acknowledge these individuals Monday, Nov. 14, through Friday, Nov. 18, during its celebration of Non-Traditional Students Week.

Stories about outstanding non-traditional students will be shared during the week.

The week also includes a host of special activities, both on campus and virtually. Unless otherwise indicated, these will take place in the Non-Traditional Student Lounge located in Cornish Hall, Room 1221.