On April 2, Chancellor of the State University of New York Nancy L. Zimpher honored 274 SUNY students, four of whom are Geneseo students, with the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. The award, created in 1997, honors students who have displayed excellence in not only academic achievement, but also through accomplishments in leadership, athletics, community service, creative and performing arts, campus involvement or career achievement.
Seniors Marty Rogachefsky, Laura Duclos, Rena Pazienza and Mary Aldridge were all nominated and selected for the award. Students that are nominated are then asked to fill out a seven-page application, which is reviewed by a committee of faculty. The committee will usually select four applications to send to the chancellor’s office, which makes the final decision.
Rogachefsky is a political science and economics major in the Edgar Fellows Program who was nominated due to his large presence on campus. He was a resident assistant during his sophomore and junior years and is now the senior resident assistant in Niagara Hall. During his time at Geneseo, he has served as the instructor of an improv comedy troupe and vice president of the College Republicans.
“I try to appeal to all my different interests in different ways; I like being involved,” he said. “It really speaks to how Geneseo allows people to pursue whatever they want to and to do it to the extreme.”
Duclos is a biology major with a cognitive science minor. She’s conducted research in both the biology and the psychology departments, and plans to continue research at the University of Rochester after graduation, where she will be pursuing her Ph.D. in neuroscience.
Duclos has been very active in student life, working as a resident assistant and an orientation advisor while also giving prospective students tours of the campus. She has also taught a biology lab for the last two years, which she said has inspired her to teach in the future in addition to her work in neuroscience.
Pazienza is a double major in psychology and philosophy, a presidential scholar and recipient of the Dr. Bill Edgar Tribute Endowed Scholarship in philosophy. She has done integral work for sexual assault awareness and prevention through the Womyn’s Action Coalition and the advisory committee for sexual assault prevention.
“It was an incredible honor; it really validates all the work that we do, and it inspires us to encourage others to get involved,” Pazienza said.
During her time at Geneseo, Pazienza has conducted research in the psychology department with associate professor Jennifer Katz on bystander intervention; she has also served as a teaching intern several times. She plans to pursue her master’s degree at the University of Albany after graduation.
Aldridge is a business administration major and is doing an internship in Buffalo. She served as captain of the women’s cross-country team and was the co-chair of the Professional Operations Committee in Geneseo’s Society for Human Resource Management Chapter. She also received an Emerald Certificate from Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development.
After her internship, Aldridge will lead youth outdoor adventure hikes originating from Salt Lake City, Utah. When she returns in the fall, she plans to apply to law schools.
At the award ceremony in Albany, Zimpher spoke about how the recipients can implement their skills into future endeavors and discussed the SUNY message and mission.
“[She spoke] about how we were leaders and how to implement our ideas going forward,” Duclos said. “She spoke during the ceremony as well, really highlighting the value of SUNY. It’s such a good education for such a low price, so I really believe in her message.”