Five RCC students, Rene Midouin, Lisa Newmark, Alex Ojeda, Abraham Taub, and Marwan Zaid, were each awarded the highest honor given by the State University of New York, the prestigious SUNY Chancellor’s Award. Two students, Sean Rugys and again-Alex Ojeda, were among 64 statewide to receive special awards from Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for community college students.
The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence was created in 1997 and honors State University of New York students who best demonstrate the integration of academic excellence with other aspects of their lives. Qualities may include leadership, athletics, career achievement, community service or creative and performing arts. The awards were presented at a special event in Albany on April 4, 2012. Dr. Cliff L. Wood, the Rockland Community College President, traveled to Albany so he could present the awards along with the SUNY Chancellor, Nancy L. Zimpher.
SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence
Rene Midouin ‘12, AS Liberal Arts and Science, Mathematics and Science.
Rene came to RCC in 2010 as an international student after graduating from high school in Haiti, seeking an education towards his goal of becoming an electrical engineer. He has always excelled at mathematics, and began tutoring some of his fellow students during his first Math course at RCC. Rene found it very rewarding, and learned that for him, “True happiness comes from helping others.” He has also volunteered for community service projects in his community of Spring Valley.
Lisa Newmark ‘12, AS Liberal Arts and Sciences: Childhood Education.
Lisa graduated from Suffern HS and continued at RCC towards her life-long goal of becoming a teacher. She served as vice president of the Student Government Association, president of the Teachers of Tomorrow Club and student representative to the Board of the Campus Fun and Learn Child Development Center. She is transferring to SUNY New Paltz in a program towards earning a master's in Childhood Education. Her volunteer activities at RCC included an instrumental role in this semester’s very successful blood drive for Good Samaritan Hospital.
Alex Ojeda ‘12, AS Liberal Arts and Science - Mathematics and Science.
Alex was born in Ecuador, and came to the US as a teen. His lack of English skills made graduating from Spring Valley HS a struggle, yet Alex knew he needed to continue his education in order to create a better life. He began RCC in 2010 and worked very hard, putting in many hours of study and taking advantage of Khan Academy You Tube videos, guided by a Math Professor who recognized his potential, Peter Arvanites. Even though his high school record wasn’t great, he earned admission to enroll in Honors calculus, and later became a full Honors student, maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA for his first year.
In addition to the Chancellor’s Award, Ojeda is a Phi Theta Kappa 2012 New York All American Academic Team honoree. He was named to the All-New York First Team and will be recognized at Commencement for being an All American Medallion winner. He received a $1,000 scholarship from Coca-Cola as one of the 150 top scholars in the national All American Team. He also won the John Vadney Past Presidents’ Award ($1,000) from the New York State Mathematics Association of Two-Year Colleges.
Along with significant academic achievements, Ojeda also served as a Student Government senator and vice president of Phi Theta Kappa. His goal is to work towards advanced graduate degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics.Abraham Taub '11 of Spring Valley, A.S., Liberal Arts, Math & Science.
Currently employed as a New York City paramedic, Taub is now earning his second associate’s degree, and hopes to transfer to a four-year college to pursue a bachelor’s in Biology. “As the sole provider for my family, I'm still undecided whether I can take on the time-consuming challenge of medical school, or if I should pursue a master’s degree in Physician Assistant.”
Marwan Zaid ‘12, AS, Liberal Arts and Science - Mathematics and Science.
Marwan grew up in Yemen, where he and his friends dreamed of studying in America, calling it the “Golden Hill.” As an RCC international student in the MTS Honors Program, he achieved that dream and began to realize his academic potential, while finding new outlets for his passionate commitment to community service. As president of the College’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society, Zaid increased the chapter’s participation in community service, doubling their membership and gaining valuable leadership and team-building experience.
Zaid served as VP of the Peer Mentoring Club, treasurer and VP of the Transfer Club, was a Student Ambassador and a member of the Robotics, Chess, and International Clubs at RCC. Zaid’s study interest is engineering and nanotechnology. His long-range goals are to earn an advanced degree and to pursue a career in biomedical engineering.
Phi Theta Kappa Awards – National Honor Society for Community College Students. Two RCC students, Alex Ojeda and Sean Rugys, were among the 64 students throughout New York State who received special awards from Phi Theta Kappa. Both Sean Rugys and Alex Ojeda are studying Liberal Arts, Math and Science and were named to the 2012 New York All American Academic Team and the All-New York First Team.
Alex Ojeda ’12,
(see writeup under Chancellor’s Awards)
Sean Rugys ’12,
Sean enrolled in Rockland Community College in 2010 as an Early Admit student during his senior year at Nyack High School. Achieving a 4.0 GPA in RCC's MTS Honors program last semester, Rugys served as an editor for "First Inkling," a magazine based at RCC and committed to publishing the best college student writing in English. He was also a student member of the Jewish Heritage Month committee.
Explorers Club in New York City, where he participates in discussions with noted explorers and professionals to learn more about conducting in-field research. Rugys recently visited Israel, where he plans to return and study advanced Judaic studies. His central desire is to pursue a path towards synthesizing a thorough knowledge of modern science with that of Jewish law and tradition.