SUNY Fredonia seniors receive Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence

Four SUNY Fredonia seniors were honored by SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center as she presented students from campuses throughout the state with the 2013 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.

“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.”

Fredonia award recipients are Rachael Coccia from Victor; Hannah Delansky from East Amherst; Maxwell DeNies from East Aurora; and Sarah Ficarro from Owego.

Coccia graduated in December 2012 summa cum laude with a major in communication/public relations, with minors in biology and psychology. During her college years she has been a host and associate producer of “Aqua Kids,” a nationally syndicated children’s television show focusing on preservation of marine and aquatic environments. While at Fredonia, Coccia was also a member and served in leadership roles with Fredonia’s chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society, Lambda Pi Eta National Honor society, the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success, the Fredonia chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America and Vocal Point Show Choir, and was a Dean’s List student each semester. She also was a host and script writer for The Raphy Report, a student interest web series; a Publications Assistant for the Michael C. Rockefeller Arts Center, and was a Leadership Trainer for new students and night desk attendants. She was a volunteer for many activities including Fall Sweep, Up ’til Dawn to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Relay for Life.

Delansky is graduating in May with a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in childhood inclusive education and a concentration in earth sciences. A participant in the award-winning Fredonia-Hamburg Teacher Education Program, she also served as a member of its Steering Committee as a candidate representative, and has a minor in leadership studies. She has received the Dean’s Scholar Award, Fredonia Scholar Award, and Fredonia Honors Award – all scholarships for academic excellence – and has received recognition through scholarship awards for teaching excellence. Delansky has completed Fredonia’s Honors Program, is a Keeper of the Dream Scholar, was named to the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, and received scholarships from the American Association of University Women and Golden Key International Honour Society, of which she is a member. She was also active and served in leadership roles in the Fredonia chapter of Rotaract, received the Rotary Youth Leadership Award, and served as president of Alumni (residence) Hall. Among her other volunteer and service activities are the Relay for Life, Fall Sweep, Out of the Darkness Walk, and working with local high school students in the Leap 2 Success program.

DeNies will receive a bachelor of science degree in biology, and was the recipient of a National Science Foundation summer fellowship to perform research at Marquette University during the summer of 2012. During the summer of 2011, he received a full scholarship as part of the National Institutes of Health-National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Summer Institute for Training in Biostatistics at Boston University, and during the 2012 J-Term was an intern at the Erie County Public Health Laboratory. He is president as well as a setter and defensive specialist for SUNY Fredonia’s nationally ranked Men’s Club Volleyball team. Also an accomplished violist, DeNies was selected through competitive audition to perform with the Fredonia Chamber Orchestra, and performed in a quartet selected to participate in a master class with world renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma during Mr. Ma’s 2011 residency in the Fredonia School of Music. He is the recipient of many scholarships and awards, including the Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light) Scholarship, and has completed the university’s Honors Program. His service includes stints as a chemistry tutor at the Learning Center and he was a teaching assistant in general chemistry and genetics laboratory.

Ficarro is graduating with a bachelor of science degree in communication disorders and sciences and has been named to the Dean’s List each semester. She is also completing a sports psychology internship during the spring semester. Ficarro is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success, and served as captain of the women’s varsity swimming and diving team for the 2012-2013 season. She was named Student of the Month in September 2012 by the Office of Residence Life and in December 2012 received the Dr. Delores Bogard Award from the membership of the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) as the junior or senior female athlete with the best combination of academic and athletic ability. Ficarro is a six-time NCAA Division III All-American diver on the 1 and 3-meter springboard, and in 2013 earned All-America Honorable Mention. She also earned NCAA Scholar All-American awards. Ficarro is a four-time First Team All-SUNYAC championship diver and was selected as “Women’s Diver of the Meet” at three SUNYAC Championships. Her many volunteer activities have included Relay for Life, Fall Sweep and Lake Erie beach clean-up.

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, which reviews exemplary students. Nominees are then 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.