Stony Brook University students Neomi Lewis and Erika Nemeth are recipients of the 2021 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence (CASE). Hosted virtually, SUNY students, their families and friends, campus leadership, and faculty and staff congratulated this year’s awardees on April 14.
Lewis, from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is majoring in physics with an optics concentration. She has participated in optics research since her freshman year. Through a DAAD Research Internship in Science and Engineering Fellowship, she worked at a Nobel-prize winning lab in Germany. She was a resident assistant and is a mentor in the WISE program.
Nemeth, from Sound Beach, New York, is an aspiring physician scientist in the Honors College, majoring in biology. She is a Goldwater Scholar and conducts sphingolipid research with Dr. Daniel Canals and bioinformatics research with Dr. Richard Moffitt. Erika leads the Society of Women Engineers, volunteers as an emergency medical technician and intends to earn MD/PhD degrees.
“Our students have sacrificed so much over the last 13 months. Now more than ever, it is imperative that we mark the milestones and celebrate the brilliance, vision, resilience, and community stewardship of SUNY’s best and brightest,” said State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras. “It is my great honor to present the Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence to these truly incredible students. Undeterred by the challenges of a once-in-a-generation health crisis, they have all overcome significant odds to pursue their academic passions, become campus and community leaders, help and inspire others, and foster a better world for us all. Congratulations to all the winners, and a heartfelt thank you for making the SUNY system proud.”
Senior Advisor to the Chancellor and Student Advocate Dr. John Graham served as emcee for this year’s event, along with Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman, a SUNY New Paltz graduate, as the keynote.
This year’s CASE ceremony introduced four new award categories: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Military Service; Overcoming the Odds; and Special Service. Additional speakers included four notable alumni, who all gave remarks to this year’s special award winners: SUNY Board Trustee Camille Varlack, who co-chairs the Board’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee; Upstate Medical’s Dr. Frank Middleton, who led the team that created the number one worldwide COVID-19 saliva test; General Ann Dunwoody, SUNY Cortland alum and the first woman in United States military and uniformed service history to achieve a four-star officer rank; and John Dau, human right activist and University at Albany alum.
The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence was created in 1997 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, campus involvement, or career achievement, and with this year’s awards, the addition of diversity, equity, and inclusion; military service; perseverance; and special service in relation to COVID-19.
Each year, SUNY campus presidents establish a selection committee, which reviews the accomplishments of exemplary students. Nominees are then forwarded to the Chancellor’s Office for a second round of review. Finalists are then recommended to the Chancellor to become recipients of the award.
A complete listing of student recipients is available online.