Three outstanding SUNY Potsdam seniors were recently among those honored with the 2021 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. Chancellor Jim Malatras presented the awards in a virtual ceremony. The SUNY Potsdam recipients included Jennifer Darlak ’21, Haven Gotham ’21 and Monica Mack ’21.
Jennifer Darlak ’21 of Lockport, N.Y., is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in creative writing, with both general and advanced honors, all with an impressive 3.95 grade point average. In recognition of her accomplishments, she has been inducted into three honor societies, including Phi Alpha Theta (history), Sigma Tau Delta (English/literature), and Phi Kappa Phi (all disciplines). For her first two years at SUNY Potsdam, she was a member of the Potsdam Bears softball team, and she was listed as a National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar Athlete and named to the SUNYAC Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll, while taking part in a number of community service projects with her teammates. For the past three years, she has been a member of the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Council, worked as an assistant in the Dean’s Office for the School of Education and Professional Studies, served as a TRiO peer tutor and completed an editorial internship with Blueline literary magazine. In addition, she has earned numerous awards and scholarships, including being named a Departmental Scholar in History and receiving the Maurice Kenny Creative Writing Award and Israel Kaplan Essay Award. She received funding to complete an independent Presidential Scholars intensive history research project. Through her advanced history coursework, she was able to travel to Washington, D.C., to learn from professional archivists on museum and archive tours in preparation for the spring 2019 exhibit, “Sewn in Protest: Chilean Arpilleras from the 1970s and ‘80s.” Jennifer worked to index interviews and write museum labels for the exhibit and was later selected for the student team for the Bridging Cultures Mural project, working to research human rights history in Latin America and helping to paint the mural itself. After graduation, Jennifer is planning on pursuing her master’s and Ph.D. in history.
Haven Gotham ’21 of Edwards, N.Y., is graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree in music education, with a concentration in voice, graduating with general honors, maintaining a 3.98 GPA and earning a spot on the President’s List each semester. Haven has received the Helena Jarvis Memorial Scholarship, NC Elite Housing Scholarship, Elmira College Key Award and George Eastman Young Leaders Award. At The Crane School of Music, Haven is the president of the Crane Collegiate Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, responsible for scheduling workshops and events, working with guest choral composers, conductors and music educators, and organizing student involvement in the ACDA National Conference. When the College shifted to remote learning following the onset of the pandemic, she organized a series of virtual events to allow her classmates to connect virtually through a song “challenge” series, and organized a successful house concert fundraiser to assist students with conference travel costs. She is also public relations officer for the Crane Student Association, helping fellow students register to vote and assisting at audition days for prospective students. Prior to the pandemic, she served as a lifeguard at the Maxcy Hall Pool. She is a member of the Middle States Working Group for Inclusive Excellence, and active in Student Activists for Gender Equality. An active choral performer, director and soloist, Haven has performed extensively at Crane, including in the Crane Candlelight Concerts and LoKo Arts Festival performances with guest conductors and artists. She has been chosen twice to perform in small ensembles alongside renowned alumna and Broadway star Lisa Vroman ’79. She has been a member of the New Singers Ensemble, the Hosmer Choir, Concert Choir and Crane Chorus, and conducted the ACDA Lab Choir numerous times. She has studied under Dr. Lonel Woods since high school and continuing through her undergraduate studies. Haven is pursuing a career in music education.
Monica Mack ’21 of Webster, N.Y., is graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, with an impeccable 4.0 grade point average. She has been on the President’s List since her very first semester. She will be attending the University at Buffalo’s College of Dental Medicine, seeking her DDS degree. Monica is a member of the Beta Beta Beta Biology Honor Society, and received a Kilmer Research Fellowship to research a protein found in yeast known as the Elongin-Cullin complex, working alongside biochemistry Assistant Professor Dr. Fathima Nazeer, ultimately presenting her research at the SUNY Undergraduate Research Conference and earning the first place Frederick B. Kilmer Student Research Award at the 2019 SUNY Potsdam Learning and Research Fair. Her other academic awards include the George R. Isenberg Award, Freshman Chemistry Prize Award and being named a Departmental Scholar in Biology. Monica has competed on the Potsdam Bears women’s volleyball team since Fall 2017, and has been a starting middle hitter all three years, helping lead her team to its first SUNYAC playoff appearance in six years. She was named co-captain of her team in 2019, helping to support and represent her teammates both on and off the court, and leading their community service involvement, such as special games to raise funds for breast cancer research and show support for first responders, as well as helping with the Village of Potsdam cleanup efforts each year. Monica has served as an Admissions ambassador, a TRiO peer tutor and as a volunteer for the Terra Northeast Regional Science and Engineering Fair, helping to judge projects from K-12 students from across the region. When the pandemic hit, she began volunteering at Foodlink, a foodbank serving families in the Finger Lakes region, and completed training to begin serving as a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line, and continues to volunteer on a weekly basis.
The Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence was created in 1997 to honor students who excel academically and show involvement in leadership roles, 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. SUNY Potsdam will honor the three Chancellor’s Award recipients and the other graduates of the Class of 2021 in ceremonies on Saturday, May 22. For more information, visit www.potsdam.edu/commencement.
About SUNY Potsdam:
Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit www.potsdam.edu.
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