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Ten UAlbany Students Take SUNY Honors

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Ten University at Albany students were awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.

The Chancellor’s Award, noted as the highest award within the State University of New York’s system, was presented to 256 students from 64 of the SUNY campuses at Empire State Plaza on Wednesday.

“It is my honor to celebrate the achievements of students who have surpassed SUNY’s highest standards of academic excellence and leadership both on and off campus,” Nancy Zimpher, SUNY Chancellor, said in a statement. “Every student we recognize today has demonstrated a strong commitment to their degree program, home campus, greater community, and much more.”

This commitment among the Great Danes who have been selected is not only evident in regards to their studies, but the greater UAlbany community as well.

Although Akeela Makshood will be graduating with honors in political science and history, her most profound achievements are in her extracurriculars. She has served as a student activist coordinator for the Capital Region’s Amnesty International and is the president of the Muslim Students Association here on campus. This strong interest in social justice issues has led the Albany native to want to pursue a law degree.

I had been very passionate about social justice and looked to law as a platform for which I would be able to contribute to society,” she said.

By working to advance society, whether it is in the area of one of her many interests such as immigration and constitutional law, or health care, Makshood hopes to serve as a role model for young boys and girls.

A similar passion for helping others is exemplified by another Albany native, Naomi McPeters.

In addition to serving as a Peer Career Advisor for Middle Earth and a tutor for high school students and college freshman, the English major has used her interest in documentary filmmaking to educate the public on community issues through film.

Last summer McPeters interned for WNET, New York and New Jersey’s PBS station where she worked on a documentary film titled “The Talk: Race in America,” which explored how people of color educate their children on how to interact with law enforcement. This internship as well as the UAlbany bus incident that occurred last winter has led her to an interest in identifying the cause and effects of racism.

“I wanted to know what might cause someone to falsify such a story, and what the historical and psychological roots of racism are in America–and how this affects individuals,” she said.

Not only was the film she worked on during her internship aired on national television, but McPeter’s work can also be found in various offices throughout campus. Pieces from her photography project, titled “#SilenceNoMore,” which highlights diversity within the student body, can be found in the Advisement Services Center and the Office of Access and Academic Enrichment.

After graduation, McPeter’s plans to spend a year working in New York City before attending a graduate program in journalism.

Like McPeters, Stuti Misra, another awardee plans to move out of the Capital Region upon graduation. However, instead of heading downstate, the computer science and mathematics major will be moving across the country to Seattle where she will work for Amazon’s Transaction Risk Management Team. Her job will be ensuring that Amazon.com remains a safe website for its customers.

Her love for computers started when she was just six years old and by the age of 15, Misra was already programming. During her time at UAlbany, she co-founded Cultural Connections, which serves as a way to bring together Great Danes who are international and domestic students.

“As an International student, I felt very passionate about this issue since I faced the issues faced by international students first hand,” said Misra, who is from Dubai. “Hence, I worked with my other co-founders to create workshops and events to create awareness about cultures and help international students. “

She hopes to further her interest in connecting individuals from various communities by returning to school within the next few years to pursue her master’s degree. With her degree, Misra would like to professionally work towards the good of the community and continue to serve as a mentor for younger girls in the STEM field.

When it comes to integrating career goals with their passions, not only is it not too late, but you do not have to look much further than the UAlbany campus, according to Makshood.

“UAlbany has so many different clubs and organizations as well as research opportunities out there for you, which will mold you into not only an excellent scholar but also a great leader,” she said. “Make use of the resources that are available to you.”

Among Makshood, McPeters and Misra, the other recipients were Mathew Boll, Kaitlin Qingyang Briggs, David Bunn, Cassandra Edwards, Kayla James, Ermida Koduah and Aritra Saha.  

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