Chancellor's Award winners share wisdom

Seniors Isobel Connors, Ryne Kitzrow, Adam Kroopnick and Joseph Mort were the Geneseo recipients of the Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence, which is bestowed upon four students from each SUNY institution.

According to a press release, the award, now in its 13th year, "recognize[s] students who have best demonstrated, and been recognized for, the integration of academic excellence with accomplishments in the areas of leadership, athletics, community service, creative and performing arts or career achievement."

Each of the selected students have made significant contributions to the Geneseo community. Kroopnick, captain of the Geneseo Bhangra team and president of Geneseo Environmental Organization, helped to organize an anti-bottled water campaign at the college and a statewide environmental network. He also recently organized a delegation of Geneseo students to attend Power Shift NY, a regional environmental summit at the University of Buffalo this weekend.

Kroopnick said that transitioning from an urban public high school to Geneseo made him acutely conscious of his role in the community. "The sense of being in a community was one of the reasons I joined Bhangra and became dedicated to environmental issues," he said. "These organizations gave me an opportunity to better understand how I fit into the community."

Connors, a public relations representative for Pride Alliance and an active member of the Womyn's Action Coalition, has heavily invested herself in LGBT and women's issues during her collegiate career. Though she is graduating this spring, she is working with a group of students to organize a teach-in on sexual assault to take place during the fall semester.

Kitzrow recently spent a summer volunteering in Tanzania and took a semester in D.C. Since his freshman year, he has been involved in research on race, gender and politics at Geneseo, and recommends that other students look for research opportunities early in their undergraduate years.

Kitzrow said that his research seeks "to piece together the history of minority students at Geneseo, how they have been treated at Geneseo and how this has translated into administrative policy." His ultimate goal is to make recommendations to the administration; his research contributed to the teach-in on race and has been presented at G.R.E.A.T. Day and at conferences.

Mort plays defense on the varsity soccer team and has become involved in extensive community service engagements as a result. He is also a member of the pre-dental club. He recommends that students "get involved in as much as they can … the student body at Geneseo is the right size for students to be able to distinguish themselves."

Connors said she agreed, and advised students to "recognize how powerful your voice is on campus and how much control you have over the space you've been given." She also recommended that students try to connect their personal interests to the material in their coursework and extracurricular activities, explaining that her interests in feminism and LGBT issues relate to the study of anthropology.

Speaking about time management and staying on top of academic responsibilities, Mort urged students to minimize stress by not worrying too much about any particular test. "Be less concerned about your grade and more concerned with whether or not you're proud of what you're doing," Connors added.

"Never forget that [higher] education is a privilege and an opportunity," Kroopnick said. "It is not inherently deserved nor a right."

All four awardees said they hope to pursue post-graduation opportunities that build upon their undergraduate activities and interests.

"There are a lot of deserving people on campus," Kitzrow said of the award. He said that he and the three other recipients have distinguished themselves by demonstrating leadership at the college.

A committee organized by the presidents of each SUNY campus selected the recipients. The committee then sends nominations to the Chancellor's office for a second round of review and final selection.