SUNY Orange’s Britney Schoonmaker and Erica Cruz were among more than 300 State University of New York students honored recently in Albany as SUNY presented 257 students with the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence while 64 students received all-state academic awards from Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for community college students.
Schoonmaker was a double winner Wednesday, joining her fellow PTK award recipients at a luncheon where she was named third-team academic all-state before later accepting her Chancellor’s Award, the most prestigious honor bestowed upon community college students in the SUNY system, during an afternoon celebration. Cruz also was presented with the Chancellor’s Award in the afternoon.
“The students we honor today have taken full advantage of the academic and extracurricular programs that SUNY provides both in the classroom and in the community,” said SUNY Chancellor Dr. Nancy L. Zimpher. “These proven leaders, athletes, artists, and civic volunteers truly represent the power of SUNY. I congratulate all of the students being recognized today and thank them for the positive impact each has had on New York State, our university system, and the communities we serve.”
In recognition of their having been named a Chancellor’s Award winner, Schoonmaker and Cruz each received a framed certificate and medallion, which is traditionally worn at Commencement.
Schoonmaker is studying criminal justice and English at SUNY Orange and expects to graduate in December 2012. She is in the SUNY Orange Honors Program, holds membership in the College’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter as well as the Criminal Justice Club, and serves as a student mentor. Prior to enrolling at SUNY Orange, she graduated near top of her class from Pine Bush High School and was the top graduate in her class at the Orange/Ulster CTEC Law Enforcement and Security Academy. A native of Middletown, she works part-time at the Middletown Humane Society, where she cares for young animals that are not yet ready for adoption.
Cruz, of New Windsor, serves as the student representative to the College’s Board of Trustees, is a student ambassador and was president of the Student Senate during the 2010-11 academic year. An engineering student, she has been on the Dean’s List during each of her semesters at the College and is also a member of the SUNY Orange chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.
Cruz works as a laboratory technician with Advanced Testing and is also an intelligence analyst with the Army National Guard, a role she has held since 2006. Prior to returning to Orange County to enroll at SUNY Orange, Cruz was a border patrol agent in Nogales, Ariz., and a correctional officer in Dallas, Texas. She has already earned an associate’s degree in intelligence operations. She was salutatorian of the United States Border Patrol Agent Academy in Artesia, N.M., in 2008; class sergeant and valedictorian of the Correctional Officer Academy in Dallas in 2007; and valedictorian of the Intelligence Analyst Training Class at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., in 2006. She earned her German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge in 2006.
The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence was created 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 or career achievement.
Each campus establishes a selection committee, which reviews members of that college community who are graduating. 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 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.
The Phi Theta Kappa Award Ceremony recognizes outstanding community college students throughout the state. The ceremony is sponsored annually by NYCCT (New York Community College Trustees) together with the New York Community College Association of Presidents and the Faculty Council of Community Colleges.