State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher awarded 256 students––four from Geneseo––with the 2015 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. These four students––seniors Chelsea Butkowski, Jack Caradonna, Gordon Lyons and Michael Yee––were recognized in Albany on April 2.
The award was created in 1997 in an effort to recognize students who demonstrated academic excellence as well excelling in leadership, athletics, community service, creative and performing arts, campus involvement and/or career achievement.
These four students were nominated by a member of the Geneseo community and were notified by email of their recognition. Students are reviewed by both individualized college and Chancellor’s Office committees before receiving the award.
“I was pretty excited,” Lyons said. “It just kind of showed how my hard work has paid off a little. I’m not really about awards and stuff, but it’s nice when some people notice your accomplishments.”
Lyons is on the men’s basketball team, Student Athletic Advisory Committee, Accounting Society, Intercollegiate Athletic Advisory Board and numerous honor societies.
“I just think it gives you a good balance,” he said. “If you’re focused on academics too much, you can get stressed out and it can negatively impact your experience at school, but if you’re in a lot of groups you get to relax a lot, you get to meet a lot of good people. It’s just a good experience overall, I think.”
Lyons noted that he was surprised when he learned he received the award, as he didn’t know he was nominated. Caradonna, however, wasn’t as surprised––his coaches told him of his nomination beforehand and had him sign off on a list of activities he participated in. Butkowski also knew of her nomination, as Dean of Curriculum and Academic Services Savi Iyer asked her to list and describe everything she did at Geneseo––a list that totaled seven pages.
“I was striving to win the award since freshman year, but then I couldn’t attend the award ceremony because of The Lamron,” Butkowski, who serves as editor-in-chief, said. “My parents were all ready to go to Albany, but I had to tell them that I couldn’t get there between 5 a.m. when I left The Lamron office after finishing the paper and 9 a.m. for the ceremony.”
In addition to being editor-in-chief of The Lamron, Butkowski, a communication and art history double major, is the Arts & Exhibits Coordinator of Activities Commission, president of Heard@Geneseo, a presidential scholar, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, was previously a Residence Assistant and Assistant Residence Director, received the Community Advocates Ambassadorship in Community Engagement and held numerous internships.
Biology major Caradonna is captain of the men’s hockey team and is a member of the Make Your Mark program. He said that he enjoys being involved on campus for the connections it brings.
“You get a greater appreciation of what Geneseo has to offer and you seem to make friends that become more than casual acquaintances, they become your best buddies,” he said.