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Gradel, Graham, Kornacki and Taughrin receive 2010 Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence
Monday, March 22, 2010

Kornacki and Graham
Julie Graham (left) and Susan Kornacki

Gradel and Taughrin
John Gradel (left) and Ryan Taughrin

What do serving as an intern at a local hospital, winning the “Most Spirited Resident Assistant Award,” co-founding an Eco Fashion Show, and receiving multiple newspaper awards — all while excelling in the classroom — have in common?

Together, they provide a hint of the dramatic range of achievements of John Gradel, Julie Graham, Susan Kornacki and Ryan Taughrin — SUNY Fredonia’s recipients of the 2010 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.

The honor recognizes a student’s ability to integrate academic excellence with accomplishments in leadership, athletics, creative or performing arts and community service.

The contributions by these students to the campus have been as diverse as their fields of study — Biology, Social Studies, English, Visual Arts & New Media and Music Business — yet each consistently earned Dean’s List recognition and will conclude his or her undergraduate career with a grade point average (GPA) between 3.5 and 3.96.

John Gradel: "handles pressure..."

John Gradel, who will receive a B.A. degree in Social Studies Adolescent Education and History, has shown tireless leadership since coming to Fredonia as a freshman from Endicott, N.Y. He was president of the Spectrum Entertainment Board, where he supervised a 10-member executive board and planned over 60 events per year. He was also president of the Teacher Education Club, where he organized 10 professional development workshops for teacher candidates. Presently, he is chairing the Senior Challenge Committee as well.

Student Affairs Vice President David Herman lists Gradel as one of the “most outstanding student leaders” he has known over his 40-year career which has spanned four campuses. “John is one of those truly exceptional students who handles the pressure of academics and leadership seamlessly, performing at the highest levels in everything that he does.”

The word “seamless” is especially appropriate in describing John. Though his father passed away a mere week before he was to receive the Robert C. Coon Scholarship — the top junior leadership award — Gradel handled the entire event with grace. He dedicated much of his success to his parents, as his family watched him accept the honor with great pride during the awards program. His poise earned him a standing ovation and overwhelming respect from all those in attendance.

Gradel was a student member of both the University Judicial Board and Faculty Student Association Board of Directors. He has received three scholarships and awards and has been accepted into several honor societies. Other hats Gradel has worn have included college ambassador, resident assistant, orientation leader and campus tour guide. Not surprisingly, he was also honored with the “Most Spirited Resident Assistant Award” by the department of Residence Life.

Gradel’s academic highlights included traveling to Turkey, where he spent two weeks learning the historical, cultural and social characteristics of Turkish culture. He plans to earn a graduate degree in Higher Education Administration, and is presently teaching social studies to 10th graders at Fredonia High School.

Julie Graham: "passionate...a shining star"

Elmira, N.Y., native Julie Graham, who will receive a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry, has received 11 academic honors and awards and holds membership in three honor societies. She has brought unflagging enthusiasm to the position of president of the Biology Club, and served as its vice president in her junior year.

Biology Chair Patricia Astry says Graham as one of the “shining stars” of the department. “She is an outstanding student — passionate in her pursuit of knowledge and always challenging herself to move to a higher level of achievement.” Graham was one of a small group of students selected to participate in a new honors-format Cancer Biology Seminar that required extensive independent research.

“Julie performed at the level of a graduate student. Her contributions to the seminar and her formal presentations were outstanding,” Astry said.

A rare scholar, Graham has maintained a stellar 3.96 GPA while being active in many student activities. Her tenure with the Relay for Life program helped raise thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society. She has been one of SUNY Fredonia’s most dedicated cheerleaders, giving admissions tours, serving as a peer recruiter at her former high school and appearing in a recruitment video.

Graham is currently completing a clinical pharmacy internship at Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk, N.Y., and was recently accepted into the highly competitive pharmacy program at the University at Buffalo.

Susan Kornacki: "a probing intellect..."

Susan Kornacki of East Aurora, N.Y., will receive a B.A. with majors in English and Visual Arts and New Media. She has compiled noteworthy achievements in virtually every criteria used in the Chancellor’s Award evaluation process. She is also believed to be the first sibling of a prior Chancellor’s Award recipient to win the same honor; her sister, Kathryn, was selected in 2008.

Susan’s leadership abilities are numerous, having served as student coordinator of Earth Week, founder, chair and organizer of the 48-person Eco Fashion Show committee, and an assistant editor for the “Reverb” Arts & Culture section of The Leader.

A recipient of five scholarships and awards, Kornacki belongs to two honor societies. She is also an executive board member of SUNY Fredonia’s Department of Environmental Affairs and engages in the Western New York art scene.

“In her efforts to build a world that is more just and more vibrant, Susan’s generosity of heart is bolstered by a probing intellectual curiosity and rigorous work ethic,” said Professor of English Jeanette McVicker. “The results of her labors are evidenced in a wide range of projects across the Fredonia campus and community that reveal her flair, grace, humor and profound intellect, projects that have enacted genuine change.”

Kornacki’s commitment to community service is evidenced in the Relay for Life program, Habitat for Humanity Club, Western New York Book Arts Collaborative and SUNY Fredonia Fall Sweep. She performed in The Vagina Monologues and Women, Rock and Soul Annual Benefit and was a featured artist in the Fredonia Showcase Exhibit.

Distinguished Teaching Professor of English Theodore Steinberg found Kornacki to be an outstanding student in two of his courses. “She takes part in discussions and her contributions are always worthwhile,” he said. “Her work is simply excellent. Her papers are a joy to read.”

Ryan Taughrin: "distinguished himself as a leader..."

Ryan Taughrin of West Seneca, N.Y., who graduated in December 2009, earned a B.S. in Music Business. He has held numerous leadership positions, including president of the Student Senate, the Campus Activities Board, the men’s music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and the Resident Assistant Advisory Board. He also served as editor-in-chief of The Leader.

Taughrin was also a finalist for the Landford Presidential Prize, a member of two honor societies, and a two-time prize winner for editorial writing in the Better Newspaper Contest, sponsored by the New York State Press Association.

He became one of the most distinguished student leaders on campus, according to Dr. Herman. “In every role, Ryan distinguished himself as a leader, making some contributions for the betterment of the campus or the organization,” he said.

Dr. McVicker echoed similar praise, saying that enhancing student life, making policy transparent, and enabling greater communication between various campus and community constituencies were the motivators behind Taughrin’s many visible leadership activities.

Off-campus, Taughrin assisted with lobbying efforts to get the American Clean Energy & Security Act passed during an internship with Environment America Federal Office in Washington in 2009. On campus, he served four years as a referee for the Office of Intramurals and was voted Homecoming King in Fall 2009.

Not surprisingly, Taughrin gained employment immediately upon graduation. He is currently working as an account manager for Bank of America in Buffalo, N.Y. He one day hopes to obtain a master’s degree and enjoy a long career in Student Affairs.
 

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