April 7, 2014
Empire State College President Merodie Hancock, third from right, joins the 2014 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence recipients Sandra Barkevich, far left, Elizabeth Hughes, Danny Ferrerya, Lori Mould and Mark Rider at this year’s ceremony in honor of the recipients. Ashley Caldwell, not pictured, was visiting the White House with her U.S. Olympic Teammates. Photo/Empire State College
(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – April 7, 2014) A former construction worker and president-elect of the SUNY Student Assembly, a two-time U.S. Olympian, a union electrician, a “40 under 40 Rising Star,” a teacher’s assistant and an assistant director of a seven-time, state-championship-winning marching band, are the 2014 SUNY Empire State College recipients of the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, SUNY’s most prestigious student honor.
Lori Mould, the former construction worker, also recently was elected as the next president of the student assembly, SUNY’s student governing body. She also is a grandmother of two. Ashley Caldwell, a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic Team, is the current U.S. National Champion in freestyle skiing, aerials. Sandra Barkevich ’13 is a graduate student with the college and was selected as one of “2013 NY’s 40 Under 40 Rising Stars” by The Hispanic Coalition NY, Inc.
Danny Ferreyra ’12 is an apprentice with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3. Elizabeth Hughes, who works with children with autism, is a teacher’s assistant at the Greece Central School District. Mark Rider, an assistant director of the Victor Marching Blue Devils, is an award-winning sales and training professional.
“Students honored with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence truly embody the power of SUNY,” said Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “As proven leaders and role models, scholar athletes, creative artists and civic volunteers, each student is recognized not just for academic achievement, but also for the profound impact they have on college campuses and local communities across New York state. My congratulations go to the Empire State College students.”
“From every walk of life, our students come to us to seek out a high-quality, nontraditional education,” said Merodie A. Hancock, president of SUNY Empire State College. “This, in turn, requires that we fulfill that promise. As outstanding members of our student body, this year’s recipients have taught us how to better ourselves for the next generation of Empire State College students. My congratulations go to Sandra, Ashley, Danny, Elizabeth, Lori and Mark for receiving the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence and for all of their remarkable achievements.”
Sandra Barkevich, a 2014 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, smiles as her father, Richard Cassarini, shares the moment with great pride. Photo/Empire State College
"As editor of The Student Connection, I've had the honor of interviewing past recipients of the Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence over the past couple of years,” said Barkevich. “I never dreamed that one day I'd be on the other side of things and receiving this incredible award myself. It is a huge honor and I am humbled to have been selected as one of this year's recipients.
"Like most nontraditional students, I came to a crossroads in my life. I'm not unique. Every day, people just like me are coming to their own crossroads. Do I settle for a job I loved, but had no room for advancement unless I had a bachelor's, or do I set my sights higher and aim for that degree? Empire State College offers so much more than an outstanding education, and though many of us study at a distance, there's a level of connectedness that feels like family."
Barkevich graduated in 2013 with an A.S. and a B.S. in business, management and economics, with a concentration in business, and a GPA of 3.86.
Barkevich is married and has two children, Amelia, who turns 13 on April 10, and son Jonas, 11. The 40-year-old native and current resident of Amsterdam, N.Y. grew up and completed high school in Gloversville, N.Y.
She completed her degrees online through the college’s Center for Distance Learning and is currently enrolled as a graduate student with the college, working to complete her M.A. in learning and emerging technologies.
Barkevich was selected to participate in the Capital Region discussion on Open SUNY as the college’s student representative, where she shared her extensive experience with online learning. After the meeting, she accepted an invitation to participate in further discussion, which resulted in two, one-hour phone interviews with the consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
Open SUNY is the systemwide effort focusing on nontraditional students, online-enabled learning and degree completion.
The daughter of a Puerto Rican and Spanish mother, she was selected as one of “2013 NY’s 40 Under 40 Rising Stars” by The Hispanic Coalition NY, Inc.
Each year the coalition recognizes community members who have shown “a quality of performance that indicates they are leaders among their peers and will continue to develop into distinguished members in their community.”
Barkevich is the editor of The Student Connection, the college’s online student-run newsletter. She serves as the student representative on the Integrated Technologies Committee and as an alumni representative for the Student and Alumni Advisory Group. Previously, she served on the Student Affairs Committee as a student representative for the Center for Distance Learning. She also was chosen as the student representative at the inauguration of President Merodie Hancock to deliver students’ greetings and sit on the podium with Hancock, Board of Trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall, Chancellor Nancy Zimpher other dignitaries.
2014 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence recipient and two-time Olympian Ashely Caldwell, center, is seen here after winning the 2014 USANA National Championships in Aerials, held March 29 at Park City Utah. Photo/Riley Steinmetz/U.S. Ski Team
“I'm extremely honored to be a recipient of the Chancellor’s Award,” said Caldwell. “I worked really hard to keep up with my education while training for the Olympics during the past four years. Most Olympians have a difficult time finding schools that can work around their training and competition schedule. I was fortunate enough to find out about SUNY Empire State and its online programs. I would not have been able to complete my degree in four years and at the age of 20 without the support of my faculty mentors and such a great, flexible program.”
Ashley Caldwell won her first-ever U.S. Freestyle Skiing National Championship in aerials on March 29 at the 2014 USANA U.S. Freestyle Championships held in Park City, Utah.
The 20-year-old native of Ashburn, Va., a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic Team, completed her requirements for the B.S. in business, management and economics with a concentration in finance and graduates this spring with at GPA of 3.8.
At the 2014 Winter Olympic Games at Sochi and at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, she finished 10th in women’s aerials.
Caldwell was a competitive gymnast for 11 years before she watched Olympic skiing on TV and thought it would be “totally awesome” to try aerials. After only three years of training, Caldwell made the U.S. Ski Team at a selection event in the beginning of the 2010 season and then went on to have an outstanding rookie season.
Later that year, at the age of 16, Caldwell claimed top 15 results in her first three World Cup competitions. She finished 10th at the Olympics and claimed a silver medal at the U.S. National Championships, a feat she repeated in 2011.
Then, in December of 2011 and again in 2012, Caldwell sustained serious injuries to both her right and left ACLs (anterior cruciate ligaments). Overcoming both injuries, she earned a silver medal in women’s aerials at the World Cup competition held Dec. 15, 2013 in Lake Beida, China, on her road to Sochi.
Danny Ferreyra, seen here with his fiancée Quyen Nguyen, is a 2014 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. Photo/Empire State College
“Empire State College has made me a stronger, prouder person,” said Ferreyra. “My union brought me to Empire State College and enabled me to achieve a standard of living I never thought I would. I participate in activities at the labor center and volunteer in the community because I want and need to give back. For me, the community is like one big machine and everyone is a part of it, but nothing in society moves forward if we all do nothing.”
Ferreyra, 23, a native and resident of Bronx, N.Y., is a student at the college’s Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies and has nearly completed his apprenticeship with IBEW Local 3. He graduates this spring with a B.S. in labor studies and a GPA of 3.69.
The intensive, five and one-half year apprenticeship includes on-the-job training and classroom instruction. He completed his A.S. in labor studies in 2012. Local 3 requires and pays for its apprentices to earn their associate through the college’s labor center.
Ferreyra was selected to make two presentations at the 2013 Student Academic Conference, “Sandy – Victims and Volunteers” and “Working Class New York.” He presented, “The American Dream: Was it Ever a Reality?” at the 2012 conference.
Ferreyra helped to form the labor center’s Student Alumni Association of Empire State College (SAAESC).
SAAESC is the center’s student/alumni club, which encourages members to get involved with school activities and to utilize their resources to champion the causes of human and civil rights in their communities.
He also was elected to serve as the representative from the labor center to the college’s Student Affairs Committee and actively served on the student involvement subcommittee.
Ferreyra put his knowledge and skills as a college-educated union apprentice to good use by participating in Rapid Response, a program coordinated by the city of New York, which expedited home repair in the immediate after math of Hurricane Sandy. Traveling from his home in Bronx to Far Rockaway, Queens, Ferreyra put assisted storm victims whose homes were damaged.
After graduating with his bachelor’s, Ferreyra will take a one-year break from higher education. He said that completing a master’s in urban planning is one of his long-term goals because he is considering a career in public service, but that he would be just as proud to have a career as a union electrician. Ferreyra and his fiancée plan on getting married next year.
2014 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence Elizabeth Hughes, at right, is joined by her partner, Kerry Wille, at the ceremony honoring this year’s winners. Photo/Empire State College
“The more I worked through my studies with my faculty mentor, Gayle Stever, and my other mentors, the more I realized how much I had underestimated myself,” said Hughes. “The ability that I had just blew me away and I credit Gayle for pushing me as much as she did. Completing my degree has opened up all sorts of time for me. I work with children with autism now, so I plan on using my bachelor’s to become a behavioral therapist, focusing on children with autism. I have students that compete in the Special Olympics, so I would like to give back to them and that community.”
Hughes said that the best and worst part about studying face to face with a faculty mentor was that she couldn’t hide in the back of a classroom, or fake reading a chapter. She added that her mentors took the time to teach her when she didn’t understand the material.
A 44-year-old native of Endicott, N.Y. and resident of Rochester, Hughes is a teacher’s assistant with the Greece Central School District. She graduates this spring with a B.A. in human development, with a concentration in psychology, and a GPA of 3.9.
She is the mother of Sarah, 19, and Elijah, 18.
Hughes has co-authored two papers with Stever in the area of “parasocial” attachment. Both papers were submitted for publication consideration in the fall of 2013.
She was selected by the Greece Central School District administration, its autism consultant and special education teacher to design and implement the new classroom layout for the Brookside Elementary School’s autism classroom. Hughes also was responsible for developing teaching and learning materials for the students.
The program was so successful that she was asked to expand it to Athena High School, so the students could continue in a successful environment.
Hughes was recognized twice as an Empire State College Outstanding Adult Student because of her academic excellence, her sustained commitment to volunteerism in her community and career achievements.
She is a recipient of both the Mary C. Wilt Scholarship and the 2013 Empire State College Foundation Scholarship. Both awards are merit-based.
As an active member of the Association of Greece Central Personnel, she volunteers to help provide food and clothing for those in need. For nearly 14 years, Hughes has been an active volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America in its bottle and can drives, scouting for food and clothing event and Eagle Scout award projects.
Left to right: Maureen Winney, director of alumni and student relaitions, joins 2014 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence Lori Mould, Audrey Lynch, of the Genesee Valley Center, and Patricia Myers, director of collegewide student services. Photo/Empire State College
“It’s heartwarming to know that others appreciate your work and that they are willing to recognize it,” said Mould. “As a career changer, I was attracted to Empire State College because of the ability to design a degree suited to a job that I would love doing. Empire State College worked for me because of the college’s emphasis on critical thinking, writing and knowledge as opposed to memorization.”
She graduates this spring with a B.A. in art, with a concentration in photojournalism and documentary production and a GPA of 3.9.
On April 5, Mould was elected as the next president of the SUNY Student Assembly at its annual spring conference, held this year in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The student assembly is the official student governing body for the 465,000 SUNY students across 64 campuses that engages with the SUNY Board of Trustees in the process of shared governance.
As president of the student assembly, Mould sits on the board as the student trustee. Mould’s term begins June 1, 2014 and ends May 31, 2015. She also served as acting vice president of the student assembly.
Mould is the first Empire State College student elected president and was the first student elected to serve as a university college representative to the student assembly.
The 51-year-old native of Delevan, N.Y., returned to school after 27 years after a career in construction.
She earned two associate degrees from Genesee Community College, where, in 2008, she was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for students attending two-year colleges. In 2010, while still at GCC, she was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence for the first time.
She organized a Hurricane Sandy rebuilding trip to Staten Island and has organized more than 30 trips to the Gulf Coast for recovery and rebuilding efforts post hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Mould was a presenter and co-presenter at the 2013 Student Academic Conference. Her research and presentation at the conference, “Ecological/Environmental Effects from Hurricane Sandy,” also was selected for inclusion in the annual showcase of student research. Held in Albany, the event is organized by the SUNY and City University of New York faculty governance bodies for the benefit and education of the members of the state Legislature.
She co-chairs the college’s Student Affairs Committee and serves on the college senate, the college’s Alumni Federation Board and on the Student Activity Fee Committee of the college’s Genesee Valley Center.
Mould’s artwork was selected for display at the 2012 and 2013 GVC alumni, student and faculty exhibit and one of her photographs was selected for inclusion in the college’s 2012-13 calendar.
Mould has one son, Joshua, 32, a daughter-in-law, Jamie, 29, and a two granddaughters, Autum, 6, and Anaka, 2.
2014 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence Mark Rider is supported by daughter Claire, far left, wife Lesley daughter, Lauren, and his mother, Linda, at his right, at the at the ceremony honoring this year’s winners. Photo/Empire State College
“Returning to college was a real awakening for me,” said Rider. “Initially it was to just check the box, say that I got it, and be done with it. But the reality is that once I engaged with Empire State College, I went through a transformative learning process. My entire perspective on workforce development, where I spent 20 years of my career, had completely changed.
“I first approached Empire State College with experience and skill sets, some college credit, a real mixed bag, and I wasn’t sure how to turn that into a degree that made sense. Fortunately, my faculty mentor, Lorraine Lander, was instrumental in helping me to navigate my path. She made a significant difference for me in terms of really evaluating where I was, where I wanted to go and what we could do to help get me there. Working with her really helped me find the finish line.”
Rider graduates this spring with a B.S. in educational studies, with a concentration in training and development, and a 3.93 GPA. The 40-year-old resident of Farmington, N.Y. and his wife, Lesley, have two daughters, Claire, 12, and Lauren, 10.
Rider founded and served as the volunteer director of the Victor Summer Music Lesson Program. This program allows students to continue their music lessons during the summer months at low or no cost for families with financial challenges.
He also is an assistant director of the Victor Marching Blue Devils, one of the leading marching band programs in the state. The Blue Devils has won the marching band state championship seven times and more than 100 students in the Victor Central School District participate each year. Additionally, he helped start Winterguard, the school district’s indoor percussion and cadet guard program.
Rider is an award-winning show designer, music arranger and visual designer. He has written more than 30 productions in the past decade for the Blue Devils and other marching bands, color guards, drum corps and percussion ensembles in the Northeast and Midwest.
As a member of the Victor Outreach in Children Education parent group, Rider supports parents who are new to working with Individualized Education Programs for their special needs children. As a parent of a special needs child himself, he has extensive experience in advocating for resources in his school district. He readily shares that expertise by participating as a parent representative during the IEP review process and by coaching new parents on how to advocate for their children so they receive the best services possible.
Last year he was promoted to director of sales operations at Getinge North America, part of Getinge AB, a publicly listed, Swedish-based group of companies. He is recognized around the world as an authority on the implementation of the Getinge sales transformation program, “Commercial Excellence,” which includes analysis, design and implementation of sales strategy, process, management and key performance indicators and metrics.
Rider is a member of the Genesee Valley Chapter of the American Society of Training and Development and a former member of the chapter’s board of directors.
In 2012, he was invited and accepted an invitation to join the Leadership Development Network, a group comprising 16 thought leaders from high-performing organizations in the greater Rochester area.
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 forwarded to the chancellor’s office and are subject to a second round of review. Finalists are recommended to the chancellor to become recipients of the award. Each recipient receives a framed certificate and medallion, which is traditionally worn at commencement.
Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates more than 20,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 35 locations in the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.
The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students average age 40.
Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.
In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.
Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.
Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.
The college’s 70,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.
The college was first established in 1971 by the Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY System from 1970 to 1977.
Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
More information about the college is available at www.esc.edu.
Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications
518-587-2100, ext. 2918
518-321-7038 (after hours and on weekends)
David M. Henahan, Director of Communications 518-587-2100, ext. 2918 David.Henahan@esc.edu
518-321-7038(after 5 p.m. and weekends)