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14 SBU Undergrads Honored with SUNY’s Highest Student Award

Chancellor awardees 13
Stony Brook University’s 2013 SUNY Chancellor Award recipients (standing, left to right): Michael Saccomanno, Kirolos Ibrahim, Saira Afzal, Steven Licardi, Daniel Jones and Robert Drago; (seated, left to right): Rachel Jaffe, Karthik Rao, Kevin Sackel and Briana Locicero. Not pictured: Katherine Chu, Joan Rosenthal, Samuel Rosner and Alexandra Santiago. 


Fourteen Stony Brook University students received the 2013 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence from SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher on April 4 at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany.

“The students we honor today have strong records of achievement as student leaders, scholar athletes, aspiring artists and community volunteers,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “By exhibiting excellence in class, on campus and in their local communities, these students truly represent the power of SUNY, and we honor them with great pride. Congratulations to all the students being recognized today.”

“The Stony Brook students selected for the Chancellor’s Award this year truly exemplify the most accomplished students in their fields of study, and in their extracurricular efforts,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD. “They have earned this award on its merits and are outstanding role models for those who follow.”

“I am incredibly proud of our students who have won SUNY’s highest student honor,” said Charles Robbins, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Stony Brook University. “We submitted 14 nominations, and all were selected. I consider myself very fortunate to be with the students, their families and the Chancellor in Albany yesterday.”

Chancellor Zimpher presented the award to 243 students from campuses throughout the SUNY system, and also congratulated 70 SUNY and CUNY students who received awards from Phi Theta Kappa, a national honor society for students in two-year colleges.

The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence was created in 1997 to recognize students who have best demonstrated, and have been recognized for, the integration of academic excellence with accomplishments in the areas of leadership, athletics, community service, creative and performing arts, campus involvement or career achievement.

Each year campus presidents establish a selection committee that reviews exemplary students. Nominees are forwarded to the Chancellor’s Office and are subject to a second round of review. Finalists are then recommended to the Chancellor to become recipients of the award. Each recipient receives a framed certificate and medallion, which is traditionally worn at commencement.

The 14 Stony Brook students who received the award include:

Saira Afzal, Nanuet, New York, is majoring in political science with a minor in journalism. She is a student ambassador, a Chill peer educator, an orientation leader/orientation team leader, and a teaching assistant. Saira serves as social media chair on the Relay for Life publicity committee and has also participated in the Alternative Spring Break Outreach program. Her senior honors project focuses on media coverage during the 2012 Presidential elections.

Katherine Chu, Woodside, New York, is an Honors College student majoring in political science and history. She is co-founder and former secretary of the Stony Brook Speech and Debate Society and has served as a Supreme Court Associate Justice in Undergraduate Student Government. Katherine is working on her honors thesis project in political science.

Robert Drago, Brooklyn, New York, is majoring in political science. He is a student ambassador, a staff assistant in the Office of the Dean of Students, a resident assistant and a staff captain for the Tabler Center for Arts, Culture and Humanities. Robert participated in Summer Study Abroad: Rome, Italy, and was awarded the Long Island Council for Student Personnel Administrators Creative Program Award (2012).

Kirolos Ibrahim, College Point, New York, is an Honors College, EOP/AIM student majoring in biochemistry whose research in Professor Iwao Ojima’s laboratory (Department of Chemistry, Institute of Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery) has been supported by URECA and by Minority Access to Research Careers. Kirolos has been a volunteer tutor/teaching assistant for EOP students in chemistry and biology, and has attended the Counseling and Treating People of Color conference in Havana, Cuba (2011).

Rachel Jaffe, North Potomac, Maryland, is an Honors College student majoring in English and environmental humanities. She serves as executive manager and contributor for Spoke the Thunder literary magazine and is a Writing Center tutor. Rachel has been a blogger for Undergraduate Admissions and interned at the 2012 Southampton Writer’s Conference. She is doing her senior honors thesis on science fiction’s influence on decision making.

Daniel Jones, Farmingville, New York, is a member of the University Scholars program and majors in mechanical engineering. He serves as president and suspension-design leader for the Stony Brook Motorsports Team. Daniel has interned at Polaris Industries and Honeywell Inc., and is a member of the Stony Brook volleyball club.

Steven Licardi, West Islip, New York, is a psychology and philosophy major. He has served as an orientation leader, a Chill peer educator and a commuter assistant, and is a member of the Student Health Advisory Committee, the Rotaract Club, and Red Watch Band. Steven received the Alumni Association Dean’s Choice Award and volunteered in the Alternate Spring Break Outreach program. He has published poetry in Local Gems Poetry Press and has participated in Study Abroad: Italy.

Briana Locicero, Shoreham, New York, is majoring in philosophy. She is a Chill peer educator, a teaching assistant, a Student Health Advisory Committee member, and has served as an EMT-B on the Port Jefferson Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Briana received the Andrea Roher Scholarship Award (2011), presented research at the American Epilepsy Society meeting and participated in Study Abroad: Costa Rica.

Karthik Rao, Westborough, Massachusetts, is a member of the University Scholars program and majors in biology with a specialization in neuroscience. He is a student ambassador, principle drum major in the Stony Brook Marching Band, 2012 Homecoming King and co-director of the Philippine United Student Organization/PUSO Modern Dance Crew. Karthik performs research in developmental genetics within the Department of Biochemistry.

Joan Rosenthal, Hauppauge, New York, is an Honors College student majoring in history. She is a Teach for America 2013 Corps member, a volunteer at Parents for Megan’s Law/Crime Victims Center, a viola teacher and violist for the Stony Brook University Orchestra. Joan served as an e-intern for USAID Rwanda Education for the US Department of State, interned for the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum, and worked as an assistant to the librarian-archivist at the Smithtown Library District.

Samuel Rosner, Yonkers, New York, is a member of the University Scholars program and majors in biology. He has been a teaching assistant and president of the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH). Sam received the Top 10 Programming award at the NEACURH Regional Conference and the SUNY Emerging Leader award. He has done research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and was a primary organizer of the 2012 NRHH Bone Marrow Registry drive, the 10th largest single-day college bone marrow drive.

Michael Saccomanno, Garrison, New York, is an Honors College student majoring in chemistry. He is president of Catholic Campus Ministry, a community service coordinator for the National Residence Hall Honorary, and is an Honors College Big Sibling. Michael received the 2011 Sei Sujishi Prize in Chemistry and does research in the Department of Chemistry; he also received a URECA Summer Fellowship in 2012.

Kevin Sackel, Plainview, New York, is an Honors College student majoring in mathematics and physics. He received the 2013 Churchill Scholarship to support his postgraduate study at the University of Cambridge to pursue a Master’s of Advanced Study in Mathematics. Kevin was on the SBU team that placed fourth in the 73rd annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition, is president of the Math Club, and does research in mathematics and theoretical physics. He also initiated Free Compliment Mondays and is an oboist with the University Orchestra.

Alexandra Santiago, Rocky Point, New York, is a member of the University Scholars program and majors in environmental studies/environmental humanities. She is a student ambassador, a senator in Undergraduate Student Government, a member of the Environmental Club, and an outreach coordinator for the Office of Sustainability. Alexandra was a Power Shift 2011 co-coordinator, a Global Water Brigades Volunteer in Honduras, and was selected as a JFEW SUNY Levin Institute intern and scholar. She received the Jeffrey Eng Memorial Scholarship in Environmental Sciences (2011) and participated in Study Abroad: Tanzania and Italy.

A complete listing of the 2013 award winners is available online.

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