Pictured: Student Life Award Winners (l. to r.) Top row: Ashley Dent, Emmanie Ayala, Thomas Bozzo. Second row: Ishmael Ifill, Rochelle Browne, Klaudia Romaniuk. Third row: Zamiur Rahman, Isaiah Miller, Denesia Mitchell. Not pictured: Jeanne-Venus Aine, Aylissia Tatum.
Each May, the Office of Student Life presents awards to members of the graduating class in recognition of their exemplary achievements and contributions to the university. Veronika Nemcová, a Box contributor and fellow member of the Class of 2020, caught up with this year’s award winners to find out about their experiences and insights.
“The members of our Class of 2020 are exemplary for so many reasons, and while our graduating class did not have the spring semester they envisioned, we are happy to be able to continue the tradition of recognizing our student leaders with these awards,” says Tiffani L. Blake, M.S., Ed.M., New York Tech’s interim assistant provost for student engagement and development.”
Dean of Student Life Award
Presented to a student whose outstanding extracurricular activities reflect concern, support, and dedication to the college community.
Jeanne-Venus Aine is receiving her B.S. in Computer Science. At the New York City campus, she has served as a senator for the Society of Women Engineers and president of the Student Programming Association and is a member of Alpha Sigma Tau Sorority. Aine, who is from Brooklyn, N.Y., says her involvement in clubs and activities has helped her grow into the kind of person she always wanted to be: “To be dedicated in the college community means to understand that there is so much more than coming to class and just getting your degree.”
Ishmael Ifill, who is graduating with a B.S. in Health Sciences, has served as treasurer of the Long Island campus Student Government Association (SGA) since his junior year. He says this role has given him great planning and organization skills and taught him to have a keen eye for attention to detail. Ifill, who is from Kew Gardens, N.Y., worked with the SGA president and vice president in creating budgets for clubs and events at school. “In a time of extreme societal divisions, it matters that we are committed to something that will make a difference–for me, a diverse and inclusive community like New York Institute of Technology,” he notes. “In doing so, we can show how and why diversity is a source of strength and need not be a source of division.”
Emerging Professional Award
In recognition of outstanding extracurricular activity and/or special efforts related to a student’s field of interest.
Emmanie Ayala, who hails from Staten Island, N.Y., majored in psychology at the New York City campus. She served as president of the United Fraternity Sorority Association, president of the Behavioral Science Club, and vice president of Member Development and social media chair director for the Alpha Sigma Tau sorority. Ayala notes that all of her extracurricular activities strengthened her leadership skills. As a research assistant working with Assistant Professor Melissa Huey, Ph.D., she worked on a study entitled “Social Media and Anxiety and the Impact of Technology on Young Adults: Addiction or Obsession.” Her goal is to become a clinical neuro-psychologist specializing in childhood trauma.
Denesia Mitchell, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, is pursuing her Master of Science in Energy Management at the Long Island campus. She graduated in 2019 with a B.S. in Engineering Management. As an undergraduate, Mitchell was president of the Campus Programming Board and helped produce Mayfest in 2019. In addition, she has served as a first-year experience mentor, resident assistant, residence hall director, and a peer mentor. She says her participation in the college community taught her to step out of her comfort zone and be available anytime for her peers: “It is because of this experience and my role as orientation leader that I became incredibly involved in the community.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Award
Presented to students who have made outstanding contributions to the minority community at New York Tech.
Ashley Dent is receiving her B.F.A. in in Advertising, Public Relations, and Technology at this year’s commencement, where she will also serve as New York Tech’s student orator. She has held significant roles in several organizations as a student at the New York City campus: as a New York Tech Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force member, vice president of New York Tech’s Public Relations Student Society of America, a member of the Black Student Union, Pride Alliance, and IEE, a New York Tech Veteran peer mentor and peer tutor, and president of the Golden Key International Honor Society. As president of the Student Veteran Organization, she served as an advocate for student veterans on campus. “The greatest challenge of my generation is also our greatest opportunity. As millennials, we are not always taken seriously and often have preconceived notions placed upon us,” notes Dent, who is originally from Atlanta, Ga. “However, we are a generation of doers, innovators, thinkers, and teachers.”
Rochelle Browne, a New York native, majored in architecture on the Long Island campus. She has worked for the Office of Residence Life for the past four years, helping students have a positive transition from living at home to living in the dorms. Browne, who is from Cambria Heights, N.Y., joined the Black Student Union to help her peers feel comfortable sharing experiences related to race or other topics and was as the organization’s creative director. “It has been my experience that seeing the success of someone that is part of the same community as me is a great motivator. If they can do it, then it is possible that I can do the same,” says Browne. “At New York Tech, I sought to be someone who can make other members of the minority community that I am a part of feel like they can have success here and in life in general.”
Outstanding Student Leader Award
Presented to a student leader from each New York campus who has demonstrated dedication and commitment to New York Tech in the past academic year.
Zamiur Rahman is receiving his B.S. in Biology. A New York City campus student, he served as the secretary of the campus’s American Medical Student Association (AMSA) and was a research assistant. This native New Yorker says that being involved in research and school organizations were an essential part of college life for him. Through AMSA, he has had the opportunity to make an impact on many events, including the annual blood drive, and encouraged peers to pursue careers as healthcare professionals. Rahman’s research focused whether nuclear shape features change significantly throughout the different stages of premalignancy.
Isaiah Miller, who hails from Paterson, N.J., is receiving his B.Arch. He is involved in the Interfraternity Student Council (IFSC) on the Long Island campus and is a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. Throughout his five years at New York Tech, Miller held several leadership positions, including IFSC marketing chair and TKE Xi-Gamma Chapter president, marketing chair, and secretary. He says each position helped make him a more experienced leader and an effective communicator: “I can honestly say I never considered myself a student leader. I've just always been myself, and never forgot the morals that my mother instilled in me. It feels great to be considered a student leader, but this is only the beginning.”
Alice Burke Memorial Award
Presented to a student who personifies the late Alice Burke’s commitment to making a difference for those in need.
Aylissia Tatum is receiving her B.S. in Information Technology. A native of Jersey City, N.J., Tatum has held a multitude of positions on the New York City campus since the beginning of her sophomore year: orientation leader, first-year experience mentor, president of the National Society of Leadership and Success, peer health educator, and member of the student executive council. Tatum says her core focus is to help students with mental health issues and their overall well-being: “I never wanted recognition for my achievements because my achievements are motivated by my drive to helping those in need. Being able to make an impact on people's lives is enough recognition that I need, and I am thankful for being able to have that opportunity to do so.”
Thomas Bozzo, from Lindenhurst N.Y., is receiving his B.S. in Psychology. As a student on the Long Island campus, he has been an active member of residence life since his freshman year. Bozzo joined the Residence Hall Council, then became a resident assistant and eventually a hall director. He says his goal has always been to transform the residence halls into a community instead of just a place to live in. In addition, Bozzo is involved in volunteer programs that allow him to better the lives of people in need of help.
Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) Award
Presented to a HEOP participant who has demonstrated exceptional educational achievements.
Klaudia Romaniuk, originally from Bialystok, Poland, is a member of the Class of 2020 majoring in Business Administration. As a student ambassador for the School of Management Student Advisory Board on the New York City campus, Romaniuk has managed to be a proactive member of the community while achieving educational excellence, including being part of the second-place team in the 2018 Corporate Challenge. Romaniuk is planning to join the graduate program in the fall and is looking forward to more opportunities to continue collaborating with the School of Management. “If I would be asked to describe my experience at New York Tech in three words it would be: unforgettable, significant, and professional,” she says.