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2016-2017 Jefferson Awards Announced

News Story

Four Pace students and seven faculty and staff members were awarded Jefferson Awards for Public Service, the “Nobel Prize for Community Service.”

Each year, the Jefferson Awards for Public Service looks for the “unsung heroes,” the selfless people who make the world a better place through volunteering and community service efforts. The Center for Community Action and Research at Dyson College is pleased to announce that eleven Pace University individuals have been selected to receive Jefferson Awards Bronze Medals for 20162017.

This year’s winners include students Angelica “Angie” Fabian, Kenesha Henry, Dylan Jusino, and Emerald Rodriguez. Faculty and staff include Tiffany Bermudez; Matthew Bolton, PhD; Shari Crandall; Marijo Russell-O’Grady, PhD; Natalie Sobchak; Tracy L. Van Ness; and Emily Welty, PhD.

Angelica "Angie" Fabian is a senior double majoring in advertising and integrated marketing communications and arts and entertainment management on the New York City Campus. Since elementary school, she has been volunteering with her community primarily with education. Wanting to continue the educational service she started at home, her greatest achievement during college has been completing more than 900 hours as part of AmeriCorps’ Jumpstart program at Pace. For her first 600 hours, she was the team leader for one of the partner schools. She led a team of five to seven college peers, focusing on language and literacy with three-year-old students to help them prepare for kindergarten. For the past year, she has served as the volunteer coordinator, creating events and recruiting, managing, and orienting more than 30 volunteers to serve 100 students in underprivileged neighborhoods. This past summer she primarily volunteered with New York Cares in their partnership with Governors Island’s Urban Farm completing animal care with goats throughout the four months. She is also an active Pace volunteer, volunteering with various programs and departments. She is always willing to volunteer for a good cause and manages to do that while working multiple jobs and completing her studies.

Kenesha Henry is an applied psychology and human relations major on the New York City Campus. Henry is an exceptional student dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in the community of people with disabilities. The history of people with disabilities is frequently of exclusion, if not isolation, from community life of society. Henry is engaged in helping young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities in inclusion opportunities in the community. She is a counseling mentor to young adults with autism disabilities at the mid-spectrum who do not have diplomas from high schools but individual education plans (IEPs) that are frequently limited in marketability. Her sessions are focused on generic life planning storytelling of the young adults with disabilities—who they were, who they are today, and who they would like to be in society—through innovative iPad and smart tablet technologies. The engagement of Henry in the lives of the young adults with disabilities is helping this marginal population to be fully inclusive participants in society by teaching practical productivity and presentation specific skills for pursuing semi-professional positions.

Dylan Jusino is a junior finance major on the New York City Campus. Since high school, he has dedicated his time to volunteering throughout New York City. Over the past year he has completed over 250 hours volunteering in the community. Jusino does this because he finds excitement from helping others. Jusino has worked as a financial literacy teacher to high school students in the Upward Bound program. He would prepare lessons and teach the students every Saturday. At the same time, he was an SAT tutor through New York Cares on a weekly basis, providing tips on how to improve the students’ scores. In the spring, he tutored high school students in math twice a week. He has volunteered with New York Cares in their partnership with Governors Island’s Urban Farm completing animal care throughout. He cared for the animals on a weekly basis and provided insight on the Urban Farm and the animals. In addition, he recently became a mentor to a 10-year-old boy as part of Children of Promise, NYC. Through this program, he is mentoring someone whose parent is incarcerated in the hopes of “breaking the cycle” for the child.

Emerald Rodriguez is a nursing major on the Pleasantville Campus. Ever since she was eleven years old, Rodriguez has been committed to community service. Her very first experience with service was working with the Disney Volunteers with helping give families food for their Thanksgiving holiday. Her true passion for service developed during college when she pursued opportunities to help and give back. For three years she has participated in Paint-a-School, which has given her the opportunity to give back to schools in the Bronx and Brooklyn and make their classrooms a bit more colorful. Throughout her years at Pace, she has done many service projects such as volunteering for the SLC Winter Formal, helping run the Cottage School Halloween Party, staining bird houses for owls at Tea Town, helping plan and lead an Alternative Spring Break, and any other opportunities she could get her hands on.

Tiffany Bermudez is a residence director on the Pleasantville Campus. She’s earned her bachelor’s degree in social science psychology from Dominican College and her master’s in counseling from Pace. She is passionate about the topics of social justice, civility, and diversity. Burmudez’s strong foundation of service began in 2010 when she started her journey at Dominican College. As a Catholic-based institution, a pillar of the college was service and there were many opportunities to give back to her community while learning the true meaning. As a student she participated in countless service projects including but not limited to, two Habitat for Humanity trips, three Midnight Runs (in which she helped organize), Rockland Meals on Wheels, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. When Bermudez began working at Pace, it was important to her to continue her involvement in service and to also educate her students. Burmudez has organized three Midnight Run trips where she has run clothing and food drives to take students to New York City and give to homeless people. Bermudez has also been a committee member of and site leader for Pace Makes a Difference Day. She is currently the chair for the Civility and Advocacy Committee and has put together a group of students and staff to organize Pleasantville’s first Civility and Advocacy Week. Being involved in and giving back to her community is a core passion of Bermudez’s and it is her mission to educate her students the importance of doing the same. 

Matthew Bolton, PhD, is a professor of political science and Emily Welty, PhD, is a professor of peace and justice studies, both on the New York City Campus. When they got engaged, Welty and Bolton dedicated their lives and marriage not only to each other, but to working to make the world a more peaceful, just, and sustainable place. As former aid workers—who worked for NGOs and UN agencies responding to the impact of conflict and disasters including Bosnia, Haiti, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa—they now serve the diverse student body of Pace. Welty directs Pace’s Peace and Justice Studies program and Bolton advises the Model UN team. Both teach classes that prepare students for public service and careers in advocacy, peacebuilding, and international development. In the classroom, they draw on their humanitarian experience and field research in conflict zones. Both Welty and Bolton have worked hard to place students in a variety of volunteer and intern positions in international NGOs in New York City. Welty leads the International Affairs Commission of the World Council of Churches helping faith-based communities engage in peacebuilding and development work, and serves on the board of directors for the Peace and Justice Studies Association. Bolton has served as an advisor to NGO campaigns conducting disarmament advocacy. Together they represent the International Peace Research Association at the United Nations, working on banning nuclear weapons and an array of other peace and human rights issues. They have been actively involved in nonviolent protest movements in New York City including Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter.

Shari Crandall is the associate director of residential training and development on the Pleasantville Campus. Crandall’s commitment to service emerged at 12 years old when she became a candy-striper. Through this experience she learned that community makes a difference in peoples’ lives and this foundation motivated all of her future service endeavors. Seeing first hand that loving parents alone could not meet the needs of their sick child built her mission in life, both professionally and personally. Crandall continued her volunteer journey at Pace by being a Pace Makes a Difference Day site leader,  participating in local community cleanups, and volunteering with the local children’s residential facility at JCCA. She also dedicates time to the Moms of Multiples organization. Specifically, she coordinated monthly lectures to help mothers of twins and triplets adjust to their unique and challenging situation. She also utilized this platform to advocate for a variety of social justice issues; such as nutrition, supporting individuals with learning disabilities, and challenging Common Core.

Marijo Russell O’Grady, PhD, is the dean of students on the New York City Campus. She received her bachelor of science and master of Science from State University College at Buffalo in art education with a concentration in art therapy. She worked in residential life during her undergraduate and graduate tenure at SUC at Buffalo. O'Grady worked at North Adams State College as a residence director, then moved to Rivier College in Nashua, New Hampshire, as the director of student activities/assistant director of residents. She moved to New York City in 1989 and began a PhD program in higher education administration at New York University while working full-time in housing and residential life as the coordinator of residential student development. Her dissertation was centered around racial identity theory and first year African-American students at predominantly white institutions and was completed in 1999. O'Grady has served as the dean for students at Pace since June 1998 and oversees the areas of Student Development and Campus Activities, Orientation, Housing and Residential Life, counseling services including disabilities and wellness, Multicultural Affairs, the Student Information Desk, and judicial affairs. Currently she serves as a member of the WTCHR Scientific Review Board and coordinator of the Challenger League.

Natalie Sobchak has been the director of Pro Bono Programs at PWJC for the past five years and is responsible for recruiting, training, and supervising volunteers—including attorneys, law students, paralegals, college and high school students, and non-attorney professionals—to support PWJC's attorneys and clients, who are survivors of domestic violence and elder abuse. In college, Sobchak received the M. Lee Chrisman Award for outstanding contributions to Boston University Bands and was selected to be one of 76 trombonists for the All-American College Marching Band in the Statue of Liberty Centennial Celebration. In law school, she received the American Jurisprudence Award in Criminal Justice and the Lung-chu Chen Award for Contribution to Human Rights, and she was selected to be the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Human Rights. Her first position after graduation was with the Office of the Appellate Defender, where she represented indigent convicted felons on appeal. Thereafter, she was employed by the federal court in Manhattan for 20 years, providing assistance to people who litigated their cases without the assistance of legal counsel. She received the Southern District of New York Achievement Award in 2006 and the Second Judicial Circuit of the United States Merit Award in 1991. She was hired as PWJC's first Director of Pro Bono Programs in 2011. Under her leadership, the program has grown to include three new volunteer projects. The number of volunteers has grown to a compliment of 45 individuals and the number of hours donated by volunteers has grown to more than 8,000 each year or the equivalent of $1.5 million. For the last 15 years, Sobchak has fundraised for the Annual MS Walkathon and served at a local Bronx soup kitchen while running this program.

Tracy Van Ness is an assistant clinical professor in the College of Health Professions, Department of Physician Assistant Education, on the New York City Campus. In April 2014, shortly after becoming faculty at Pace, her son, at the tender age of 7, was diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening autoimmune disease called Juvenile Dermatomyositis. His treatment is intensive and includes weekly chemotherapy injections as well as monthly hospitalizations for intravenous medications. Although there is treatment for this disease, there is no cure. That is when she realized that she is “determined to make a difference for (her) son and all those affected with this disease.” That same year, she joined the Cure JM Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on finding a cure for Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM) and Juvenile Polymyositis (JPM), collectively known as Juvenile Myositis (JM). She has participated in multiple fundraising events benefiting this cause and is currently the New York metro region chair to the inaugural “Walk Strong to Cure JM,” an annual fundraiser set to take place in May 2017. She has also spearheaded multiple projects for Cure JM. She has compiled and distributed folders of information and resources for those families newly diagnosed with Juvenile Dermatomyositis. She has witnessed firsthand the delay in diagnosis from the onset of symptoms to the time of diagnosis, which prompted her to compile and distribute information folders to pediatric providers in the New York metro area to increase awareness of this disease. She has generated a referral source of physicians with experience and expertise in this disease to local pediatric providers, and has done a number of talks on Juvenile Dermatomyositis to her community, her children's local elementary school, as well as the district's 504 committee. She continues to work clinically in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stony Brook Medicine. She is currently a doctoral student at Nova Southeastern University.

Known as the “Nobel Prize for Public Service,” the Jefferson Awards were established to recognize and honor individuals whose community service efforts best exemplify dedication to enhancing the quality of life in their community. Pace became a Jefferson Awards Champion in 2008.

Mary Ann Murphy, PhD, director of the Center for Community Action and Research and coordinator of the awards at Pace, says, “The quality of our award recipients is outstanding. This is manifested in the fact that in the seven years we have participated in the Jefferson Awards, two of our representatives (John Cronin ’10 and Lisa Bardill-Moscaritolo ’13) have won the national award for service. We are very proud of our Pace Community.”

To learn more about this year's Jefferson Awards recipients, visit the CCAR website.

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