Westchester Community College Adds Members

Westchester Community College Adds Members

VALHALLA – The Westchester Community College Board of Trustees has added three new members:

Elizabeth Lugones has been selected as the student representative to the college’s Board of Trustees. Her goal is to graduate from the college with a degree in Engineering Science and then move on to a master’s program before entering the industry.

Deborah S. Raizes is a senior consultant for Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, Ltd., which specializes in searches for administrators, including superintendents, at public schools. Prior to this position, she was a teacher for the Durham County Schools in Durham, North Carolina.

She has a significant record of voluntary public service in the field of education. Highlights include her affiliation with the Westchester Community College Foundation Board for which she has served in a variety of roles including member, chairperson, and president. She has also served as vice chairperson and chairperson for the Lesley University Board of Trustees. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees for this private institution in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In addition to her work with Westchester Community College Foundation, her local impact has been significant through her involvement with the Scarsdale School System. She served as president of the Scarsdale Council of Parent Teacher Associations, was a member of the Westchester-Putnam School Board Association, and was a member of the New York State School Board Association. For the Scarsdale Board of Education, she held several roles ranging from member to vice president and president.

A member of the Institutional Review Board of the White Plains Hospital Center, she received her B.S. in Education from Lesley College. She was recognized by the Westchester Community College Foundation, which bestowed the Abeles Award to her due to her commitment to public service. She also received the Lesley College Community Service Award.

Dr. Gregory Robeson Smith is the senior pastor of the Mt. Hope A.M.E. Zion Church, the oldest African-American Congregation in Westchester County. He is the president of the Mt. Hope Community Development Corporation; Prince Hall Housing Development Fund Inc.; and Prince Hall Fund Inc., a multi-million dollar non-for-profit 501(c)3 Foundation providing program funds/grants to assist the poor, distressed, and underprivileged. In 1990, he was appointed by President Bush as president and chief executive officer of the African Development Foundation, an independent Federal agency in Washington, D.C., with offices in 25 African nations and a staff of more than 3,000 individuals. Dr. Smith continued to serve in this position in the Clinton Administration. The agency assists the most vulnerable members of society with grants for technical assistance and capacity building to grassroots organizations, cooperatives, and community enterprises that strengthen local institutions and achieve lasting impact. He also has served as Director of International Disaster Response for Church World Service, an entity of the National Council of Churches.

A graduate with honors from Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, Dr. Smith also earned two Masters and two Doctoral degrees: MBA Degree in Marketing and Finance; a Master of Divinity Degree; Doctorate in Higher Education Administration and Finance ABD; and a Doctorate in Ministries.

Dr. Smith is the grandnephew of the late Paul Robeson, the renowned singer and activist.

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600 Students Awarded Diplomas at Vassar

600 Students Awarded Diplomas at Vassar

By Jennifer L. Warren

POUGHKEEPSIE – Diversity. Tolerance. Pluralism. Being an American.

Vassar diploma candidates are all smiles just prior to the start of Sunday morning’s 154th Annual Commencement ceremony.

They were words and phrases frequently alluded to at Sunday’s 154th Vassar Commencement, in many ways defined the Class of 2018. This year’s group of 600 (which now brings Vassar’s all-time total alumnus tally to 39,566) was comprised of graduates from 47 states as well as 29 foreign countries or U.S. territories. 234 studied abroad in 39 countries on six continents. And then there are the long list of varied, impressive feats, spanning the athletic, academic and civic realms, by those graduates. It’s that range of activities, ethnic, racial and other compositions, and far-spanning backgrounds, that will prepare this group of young people for the challenges that will confront them as they venture off into the ever-evolving workforce as well as communities they will encounter.

“Your new voice, the one that you developed here, can be your greatest voice,” stressed Elizabeth H. Bradley, Vassar President.

Referring to “engaged pluralism,” Bradley further spoke of the critical need to depend upon two things should that voice falter: imagination and empathy. The first year President added, “Imagination will allow you to try to live like another does, seeing things through their lens; while empathy, will let you not just tolerate difference, but flourish with it, something that requires using muscle memory.”

That muscle memory is something the morning’s Commencement Speaker knows very well. Heather McGhee, leader of Demos, a nationally known public policy organization, as well as frequent guest on such national political shows as; “Meet the Press,” “Real Times with Bill Maher,” and “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” opened her passionate speech with an immediately riveting tale. Alluding to a time early on in here career when on live television a man said to her, “Im a white man, and I’m prejudice,” McGhee further detailed how she ultimately turned that initially very disturbing remark into a profound learning experience, as well as the man, into a good friend.

“I remember telling him (“Gary”) thank you for admitting his prejudices, as so many are afraid to do so,” said an energetic McGhee. “I then gave him ideas of how to combat his ideas, such as meeting with black people and reading, and he took my recommendations to heart over time; all of this made me think: What does it mean to be an American?” McGee then went on to detail the long list of seemingly justified reasons why so much discrimination has riddled this country’s history, adding that none of them were logical, fair, or humane.

Looking directly at the Vassar Class of 2018, she continued, “I think it’s going to be up to you to determine exactly what that means, challenged McGee. “As you go out today, I want you to remember, the majority of Americans, have not had the pluralistic education you have had here; it’s not going to be easy, but it is always worth it; being a better American is to love more people than the people who look just like you.”

Bringing her talk full-circle, McGhee, who co-chaired a task force for Americans for Financial Reform, one that made pivotal changes to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Consumer Protection Act, then smiled wide as the rain began to pick up momentum, and added, “Gary and I are counting on you.”

Scholarship Awards Recognizes 11 Students

Scholarship Awards Recognizes 11 Students

By Jennifer L. Warren

NEWBURGH – Eddie Ramirez often offers his friends a special kind of “economic” advice.

“I always tell my friends, don’t invest in the Stock Market,” related Ramirez. “Invest in the Latino community.”

Ramirez, the CEO of R & M Promotions as well as the Director of the Latino High School Scholarship Fund, has been diligently following his own people tip for much of his life- particularly with area youth-for over 20 years with the creation of the Hudson Valley Latino High School Scholarship Awards program. Together, with his wife Norma, the two have relentlessly sought out gracious sponsors so that these higher education monies, along with other forms of recognition, can be secured for well-deserving, often overlooked youth. Their efforts have now resulted in yet another milestone: 140 recipients have received these scholarships. A record-setting 11, who were honored at Newburgh’s Ramada Inn Thursday night, made that number official. And the selection was not an easy process: another record-setting number, 65 candidates applied. Each carried with him/her an impressive resume of academic, athletic, and community accolades as well as creative, well-written essays and stellar teacher references. That pool of candidates, along with the special ethnic flair of the scholarship, were just a couple of the reasons Newburgh Free Academy senior, Taino Caballero, was thrilled to have been chosen.

Pine Bush High School seniors Eduardo Jaime, John DeGeorge and Sean Bergos, were recognized at Thursday’s 20th Annual Hudson Valley Latino High School Scholarship Awards.

“When I found out I was one of the winners, I was super excited; it was the first scholarship I actually got out of several I applied for,” recalled Caballero, who is headed to the University of Albany in the fall to pursue a major in Digital Forensics. “This one is special to me because it’s for my ethnicity of Puerto Rican and Dominican; I’m going into the STEM field, which is related to the sciences (and technology), a place where the Latin female presence is not really visible, so I want to inspire more Latin women to join that field.”

The evening’s guest speaker, Jacqueline Hernandez, Town of Woodbury Councilwoman and Deputy Supervisor of Woodbury, knows all about taking uncharted paths and inspiring just the way Caballero aspires to some day. Attending a predominantly white, upper class student body at Colgate University, Hernandez spoke about the discriminatory challenges that gave her a “tough skin,” helping mold her into the persistent, hard-working, “never-take-no-for-an-answer,” woman she is today. Relating her initial career path in the sciences, she spoke of the “meant to be” twists and turns that steered her toward being a businesswoman as well as politician, two paths she had no formal training in, but possessed something much deeper.

“A lot of times you have your sites set on one path, but the journey changes; every part of my journey led me to a bigger picture,” Hernandez asserted. What I thought was a dead end, actually started a new season.” Urging soon-to-be graduates to take chances, be creative, and most of all: follow their passion, she added, “You need determination and a plan, and you then need to put wings to it, execute and make it come alive.” Hernandez said. “You can achieve and overcome, as long as you put your mind to it.”

Four Newburgh Free Academy high school seniors were honored at Thursday’s 20th annual Hudson Valley Latino High School Scholarship Awards. In total, 11 high school seniors were recognized for their academic, community, athletic and other outstanding feats.

At least one of this year’s recipients appears to already be living the life Hernandez alluded to. Kayla Deleon, has been hard at work this past year with the McLymore Foundation, an organization promoting non-violence in Newburgh. The Newburgh Free Academy senior has been assisting with the group’s mission of getting kids off the streets while using art as a form of expression rather than violence. “Being Latina really shapes your mind and how people see you,” said Deleon, who will attend SUNY Cortland with a major in elementary education in the fall. “So, I want to break the mold, and not be another statistic; rather I intend to come back to Newburgh, the place and community that raised me and made me who I am, and teach here some day.”

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Black Public Media Gets $40,000 NEA Grant

Black Public Media Gets $40,000 NEA Grant

NEW YORK – The Harlem-based media arts organization Black Public Media (BPM) has been awarded an Art Works grant of $40,000 by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The allocation, one of more than $80 million in approved grants by National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018, will help fund BPM’s signature public television series, AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange.

Art Works is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.

“The variety and quality of these projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said Chu. “Through the work of organizations such as Black Public Media in New York, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”

“NEA’s support for the AfroPoP series reinforces our belief that authentic stories about the African Diaspora are important to keeping the American public informed and engaged about diversity of the African-American and global African experience,” said BPM Executive Director Leslie Fields-Cruz.

For 10 years AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange has been bringing stories about people of African descent around the world to television. Produced by Black Public Media and distributed by American Public Television (APT), AfroPoP is the nation’s only public television series of documentaries on contemporary life, art and culture across the African Diaspora.

Hosts of the series have included Idris Elba, Anika Noni Rose, Gabourey Sidibe, Wyatt Cenac, Anthony Mackie, Yaya DaCosta, Jussie Smollett, Nikki Beharie and Nicholas L. Ashe.

For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news. For more information on Black Public Media, visit www.blackpublicmedia.org, or follow it on Twitter @BLKPublicMedia or on Facebook.

About Black Public Media:

Black Public Media (BPM), formerly the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), is committed to enriching our democracy by educating, enlightening, empowering and engaging the American public. The nonprofit supports diverse voices by developing, producing and distributing innovative media about the Black experience and by investing in visionary content makers. BPM provides quality content for public media outlets, including, among others, PBS and PBS.org and BlackPublicMedia.org, as well as other platforms, while training and mentoring the next generation of Black filmmakers. Founded in 1979, BPM produces the AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange documentary series and manages the 360 Incubator + Fund, a funding and training initiative designed to accelerate the production of important Black serial and interactive content.

About The National Endowment For The Arts:

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.

For more information, visit www.arts.gov.

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SUNY Orange Celebrates Record Number of Grads

SUNY Orange Celebrates Record Number of Grads

MIDDLETOWN – Speakers at SUNY Orange’s 68th Commencement ceremony on Thursday evening (May 17) emboldened the more than 500 attending graduates to “build” a brighter future for themselves and their community, “step” briskly into that new future, and positively “influence” those with whom they come in contact.

Dental Hygiene professor Dr. Frederick Melone and graduate Rachael Richards were the featured speakers as SUNY Orange feted an estimated 527 graduates, the most ever to attend Commencement. A partly sunny sky blanketed the crowd of 4,000 on an Alumni Green turned soggy by rains earlier in the week. In all, a record total of 901 students are expected to have completed their degree requirements within the past academic year (pending certification of all May graduates’ transcripts)

Richards, a graduate of Warwick Valley High School, earned her liberal arts degree with honors (magna cum laude) in December and spent this spring semester as a chemistry major at SUNY Binghamton. She is presently conducting research, under the direction of a Binghamton professor, aimed at discovering organic, solvent-free methods of removing lead from drinking water.

“Some of us may aspire to shape behavior until it changes minds; craft science until it changes lives,” Richards said. “Some may want to build movements, speak up and out, join walk-outs and sit-ins; write books or create music that people look to when they’re lost; provide every human with a meal and clean drinking water; build buildings for people to stay in and trusses for others to cross; find cures for diseases and solutions for problems; spread love and literally never ever stop.

SUNY Orange celebrated it’s 68th commencement ceremony on May 17, featuring 527 participants and a crowd of approximately 4,000 attendants.

“And trust me, I know that when you want to build (something) that big you often find yourself looking down at your hands thinking: ‘I can’t do this, my hands are too small,’ but I assure you they are not. Just start laying bricks. Because with this education we’ve earned, with this knowledge we’ve acquired, with this drive for whatever it is we do, we would be shocked at just how many beautiful things our hands can create,” Richards added. “There is time for all of these things, and although the work is never easy and the journey is seldom pretty, it’s the only way things get built. We all learned that, right here at this college.”

Melone, a recipient of the 2018 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence, was selected to serve as the faculty speaker. He has been a member of the College’s faculty since 2000 and was among three faculty members and one staff member to be recognized during the ceremony for having accepted a Chancellor’s Award.

“Now, you stand at the summit of your success. Now you stand ready to take a step once again – a step to be inspired not by your footprints from your past, but to be inspired by your blueprints for your future: a step to explore new directions – a step to engage new diversions – and a step to enjoy new destinations,” Melone said. “And so, may each of you walk on your upward path with never a misstep. May each of you walk with your family and friends forever beside your footsteps. And may every one of you see your Commencement to be not solely your stepping stone, but to be your platform: your platform to step onto – your platform to speak from – and your platform to step closer to your dreams.”

Additional remarks were delivered by Helen Ullrich, chair of the SUNY Orange Board of Trustees; Orange County Director of Operations Harry Porr; and Derrik Wynkoop, chair of the SUNY Orange Foundation Board of Directors. SUNY Orange President Dr. Kristine Young hosted the event, and during her remarks related the influence that her professor and undergraduate faculty advisor, Dr. Donald Shive, had upon her to the relationship between SUNY Orange students and faculty.

“In my three years as president, I have spoken with countless SUNY Orange alumni who quite vividly recall one faculty or staff member who was their personal ‘influencer’ here. That person who motivated, nurtured, cajoled, pushed … and most importantly … encouraged them,” Young explained. “I’m confident that each of you today has a Dr. Shive. Each of you most likely can point to the left or the right of this very stage, and identify among our faculty and staff, that one person.

“That’s why I love community colleges. That’s why I love SUNY Orange. This thing we call higher education is a people business, a relationship business,” she added. “The great power of education is that it can change people’s lives. You, too, can be influencers. Many of you already are.”

Each year, SUNY Orange awards diplomas to students who earn Associate in Arts, Associate in Science and Associate in Applied Science degrees, while presenting graduation certificates to those who complete the College’s various certificate programs.

One student graduated with perfect 4.0 grade point average (Daniel P. Kall) … five graduates had their degrees presented to them by a parent or relative who works at the College: Emma Paradies (mother Dr. Michele Paradies, professor of biology), Brianna Worden (father William, adjunct professor of criminal justice), Andres Salgado (uncle Fred Watson, SUNY Orange Trustee), Rommel Sankhi (father Sonny, security guard), and Peter Jahn (father Walter, professor of biology) … 19 students graduated from the College’s Honors Program … three students earned the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence (Reuben Buck, Renita Johnson, Emma Paradies) … the breakdown of 901 graduates is August 2017 (146), December 2017 (227) and May 2018 (528) … 110 graduates completed their degree programs entirely at the Newburgh campus … 17 students comprised the first graduates from the Excelsior Academy (the collaborative P-TECH program at Newburgh North High School in partnership by SUNY Orange and IBM).

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Seniors Recognized for Academic Skill, Dedication

Seniors Recognized for Academic Skill, Dedication

NEWBURGH – With graduation only a few days away, Mount Saint Mary College seniors were recognized for their dedication to academics and the campus community.

More than two dozen deserving senior students received awards earlier this month.

Senior class president Jake Kosack of Hopewell Junction, N.Y. was the recipient of the MSMC Award, presented to a graduating senior who has held high academic standing, manifested loyalty to the college, and represents the students of Mount Saint Mary College.

Angelique Suarez of Jersey City, N.J. was the recipient of the Thomas J. Conlon Memorial Award.

Jessica Free of Hewitt, N.J. was the recipient of the Father Michael J. Gilleece Memorial Award.

Angelique Suarez (right) of Jersey City, N.J. receives the Thomas J. Conlon Memorial Award from Elaine O’Grady (left), Vice President for Students. Photo: Lee Ferris

Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges award recipients were Steven Tobey of Stratford, Conn. and Venezia Verdi of Medford, N.Y.

Bridget McKeever of Middletown, N.Y. and Verdi received awards for Outstanding Service to the Class of 2018.

Senior Class Awards for Service and Involvement recipients were Meghan Atwood of Rockaway Park, N.Y.; Nicole Cavallo of Hopewell Junction, N.Y.; Rachel Collymore of New Hampton, N.Y.; Janae Graham of Orange, Conn.; Shantelle Lord of New Windsor, N.Y.; Samantha McGregor of Highland Mills, N.Y.; Brittany Moore of Walkill, N.Y.; Geoffrey Quist of Montrose, N.Y.; Maria Rivera of Bronx, N.Y.; Alexa Walsh of Rock Tavern, N.Y.; and Danielle Zaleski of Walden, N.Y.

Senior Class Awards for Outstanding Leadership recipients were Nicholas Boffoli of Hopewell Junction, N.Y.; Jeffrey Hamrlicek of Bayport, N.Y.; Ashley Lane of Levittown, N.Y.; Dylan Legg of Hayes Falls, N.Y.; Caleb Oliver of Jamaica, N.Y.; Jessica Rini of Bethpage, N.Y.; Hope Schaumburg of Goshen, N.Y.; Heidy Taza of Hempstead, N.Y.; Tobey; Megan Torpey of Oakland, N.J.; and Guy Zoutis of Walden, N.Y.

Jake Kosack of Hopewell Junction, N.Y. received the Mount Saint Mary College award, presented to a graduating senior who has held high academic standing, manifested loyalty to the college, and represents the students of Mount Saint Mary College. Photo: Lee Ferris

Mount Saint Mary College celebrated its 55th annual commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 19, featuring keynote speaker Robert Dyson, chairman and CEO of The Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation.

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NEW YORK: Gillibrand Legislation Would Help Students

NEW YORK: Gillibrand Legislation Would Help Students

NEWBURGH – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Friday visited Newburgh Free Academy to announce her bipartisan legislation, 21st Century Strengthening Hands On Programs that Cultivate Learning Approaches for Successful Students Act. This bill would direct federal funding to high-tech training and education programs in high schools and institutions of higher education, which would give more students the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to get good-paying jobs in the high-tech manufacturing sector. U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN) is a cosponsor of this bill.

Technologies like 3D printers, laser cutters, and computerized machine tools are transforming American manufacturing and increasing the need for specialized training for manufacturing jobs. To prepare our students with the skills needed for high-tech jobs, this legislation would amend the Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act to give greater priority to funding for maker education, makerspaces, and training for teachers in the application of maker education.

Newly elected Orange County Legislator Kevindaryán Luján talks with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Friday while she visited Newburgh Free Academy to announce her bipartisan legislation. Hudson Valley Press/CHUCK STEWART, JR.

“Many manufacturing companies in our state have job openings with good salaries, but they can’t fill them because too many workers haven’t had the opportunity to learn the skills they need to take on those jobs. We need to fix this,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation to make sure tech-ed classes are teaching students how to use the latest high-tech tools, like 3D printers, that manufacturing companies expect them to know how to use. Our students should be able to take many different paths in order to get a good job and earn a good salary, and this bill would help equip more students with the skills they need to get on a path toward good-paying high-tech jobs when they graduate high school.”

“We appreciate the support of Senator Gillibrand in promoting legislation that will give students access to new and emerging technologies as they prepare to become the workforce of tomorrow,” said Johnnieanne Hansen, Director of Workforce Development and Apprenticeship Coordinator for the Council of Industry. “Career and Technical Education provides a clear path to rewarding and lucrative careers in the advanced manufacturing sector. More and more students, parents and professional educators are recognizing this fact and this legislation will help make CTE available to more students. It is also a wonderful complement our association’s efforts to encourage people to pursue careers in manufacturing such as GoMakeIt.org and Apprenticeships.”

This investment in vocational education would give more students the technical skills needed for good-paying jobs, providing hands-on learning experiences for students to use high-tech industrial tools to create and innovate. This approach to technical education will offer more opportunities to inspire the next generation of manufacturing workers and entrepreneurs.

This bill, as well as a broader reauthorization of federal CTE programs, will help promote to career and technical education to set more students up for success by preparing them for the jobs of the future.

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