By JAY REY
Fifteen UB students, whose accomplishments inside and outside the classroom run the gamut, have been awarded the highest honor SUNY bestows upon its students.
The 15 have been named recipients of this year’s SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, created in 1997 and given annually to recognize high-achieving SUNY students who also excel in such areas as leadership, community service, campus involvement or the arts.
Each year, selection committees from each SUNY campus consider nominees, who are then recommended to the chancellor’s office.
This year’s winners from UB were recently announced and invited to the awards ceremony scheduled for April 26 in Saratoga Springs.
Hannah Baker of Norwich is assistant editor of the Global Women’s Empowerment Magazine and a sociology ambassador in the College of Arts and Sciences. An outreach coordinator for the UB club Advocates for Girls’ Education, Baker is also a teaching assistant and a LEAD peer mentor of Leadership House. Baker will graduate with bachelor’s degrees in sociology, global gender studies and social sciences interdisciplinary.
Temara Cross of Buffalo served as a peer mentor, student ambassador, service trip leader and a representative on the President’s Advisory Council on Race. She researched breast cancer in Black women at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, where she produced a manuscript as first author and presented findings at statewide conferences. Cross is also involved with Say Yes Buffalo and Open Buffalo. She will graduate with a master’s in public health and bachelor’s degrees in public health and African-American studies.
Sydney Emley of Lackawanna is a University Honors College scholar. She has been a peer mentor, teaching assistant and treasurer of the Buffalo Bullfrogs Club swim team. She has worked in a cognitive psychology research laboratory, contributing to a paper on autism spectrum disorder and a study on emotional regulation. Emley also volunteers at her local food bank and fosters feral kittens with the feline rescue organization Ten Lives Club. Emley will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Julianne Frey of Putnam Valley is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Sigma Alpha honor societies. She has been a member and peer mentor in UB’s Leadership House, an ambassador for the Department of Political Science and is a senior news / features editor for the student newspaper, The Spectrum. A community volunteer throughout her time at UB, Frey will graduate with bachelor’s degrees in environmental studies and political science.
Kathryn Gentz of Grand Island was named to Buffalo Business First’s list of “Movers and Shakers” under 25. She has served as president of her pharmacy class and was inducted into both Rho Chi Society Omega Chapter, an honor society for pharmaceutical sciences, and Phi Lambda Sigma, the pharmacy leadership society. A graduate assistant to Blackstone LaunchPad, Gentz is also a three-time recipient of the Western New York Prosperity Fellowship to help progress economic development in her community. Gentz will graduate with a doctorate in pharmacy and a master’s in business administration.
Sydné Jackson of Elmont is a University Honors College scholar, a Millonzi Distinguished Honors scholar and a recipient of a Pride of New York Scholarship. Founder and president of Dreams Affirmed, an initiative for performers of color at UB, Jackson has worked with the UB Arts Collaboratory and the Department of Theater and Dance on theatrical and media projects. She has served as a resident adviser for two years and a Welcome Weekend leader. Jackson will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a certificate in creative writing.
Siana Jacobs of Wheatfield is a University Honors College scholar and vice president of community service for UB’s chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. A teaching assistant, tutor and peer mentor, Jacobs also is a member of the choir, orchestra and flute ensemble. Jacobs works as a pharmacy technician and volunteers at a pediatric urgent care. She will graduate with bachelor’s degrees in biomedical sciences and music performance, as well as minors in nutrition and math.
Anoop Kiran of Nanuet is a Ronald McNair scholar, as well as a past recipient of the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship. He was recognized by the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences as one of the 2020 Leaders in Excellence for his efforts as a student ambassador, a mentor for underrepresented students and as a lead volunteer for the Future Alumni Leadership Council. Kiran also has interned at Boeing, where he worked on improving aviation safety. He will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering.
Clayton Markham of Syracuse is a presidential scholar at University Honors College. Markham has performed research at UB, SUNY College of Environment and Forestry, and Syracuse University, and is a teaching assistant for first-year engineering seminar courses. He also developed a module for the first-year computer science seminar, challenging students to make computing antiracist. Markham founded the UB Solar District Cup Team and has performed with the a cappella group Buffalo Chips. He will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering.
Sophie May of Cheektowaga is the first UB student to receive a Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship to pursue a degree in a field relevant to the Foreign Service. She is the founder and president of the UB French Club, vice president of the Political Science Association, and a college ambassador for the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. May has also interned at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, the Hudson Institute, the Joint Baltic American Committee, and the National Defense University. May will graduate with bachelor’s degrees in political science and French, along with a minor in history.
Diana Olivares-Salazar of Brooklyn has studied abroad three times, tutored chemistry and Spanish, and worked for a law firm, where she was a medical paralegal and interpreter. Olivares-Salazar is a health care specialist in the Army National Guard and conducts military funeral honors for deceased veterans. She also works at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center as a pharmacy technician. Olivares-Salazar will graduate with bachelor’s degrees in biomedical science and Spanish.
Oress Fiona Pratt-MacDonald
Oress Fiona Pratt-MacDonald of East Amherst is an advanced Honors College scholar, Student Engagement ambassador, student tutor for athletics, teaching assistant, self-determination assistant through People Inc. and a member of both the Dean of Students Advisory Council and the Violence Prevention Team’s Student Advisory Council. Most notably, Pratt-MacDonald is an upcoming panelist for the Buffalo Niagara Chapter of the Association for Talent Development, a campus nominee for a Fulbright Scholarship and a scholarship recipient from AmeriCorps. Pratt-MacDonald will earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in psychology.
Pia Franziska Schwarz
Pia Franziska Schwarz of Singen, Germany, is a student-athlete on the women’s tennis team and a member of the undergraduate Honors Program in the Department of Biological Sciences. As an athlete, she has represented UB at the Mid-American Conference and Northeast Regional Championships, and has been named to all-MAC tournament teams, as well as first and second all-conference teams. As a student, she has served as a teaching assistant for evolutionary biology majors and conducted research in the Department of Biological Sciences examining evolutionary genomics, speciation and hybridization in North American stream fish. Schwarz will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences.
Julia Shapiro of North Tonawanda is a University Honors College scholar. She is a mathematics ambassador in the College of Arts and Sciences, a teaching assistant, president of the UB Mathematics Club and an ambassador and peer mentor in the Honors College. She is also a recipient of the Harriet F. Montague Award for intellectual and creative promise in mathematics. Shapiro currently participates in a national research experience in Markov chains through the University of Connecticut. She will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics.
Paloma Tripathi of Buffalo is a Dorothy C. Darlak scholar, a University Honors College scholar and a Pride of New York scholar pursuing her nursing degree. Tripathi also has been a DAISY Award winner for extraordinary nursing students. A member of the Indian Student Association, Tripathi has volunteered locally as a health screener and assisted with food drives. Tripathi, who pursued a care coordinator certification to enhance her education, will graduate with a bachelor’s in nursing.