Fredonia trio receives SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence

Pictured are Kerri Williamson with SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson and Fredonia Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services Cedric Howard.

Their academic concentrations are varied — spanning science, performing arts and foreign languages — but Zachary Jones, Brittany Sanford and Kerri Williamson share a very prestigious honor at the State University of New York at Fredonia. All three are recipients of the 2018 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.

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.

“I am immensely proud of these students, who have demonstrated academic excellence and dedication to enriching their campuses and communities,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson at the awards presentation on April 10 in Albany. “From research publications in industry journals to volunteering in hospitals and local clinics to holding leadership roles at their institutions, I am inspired by each student we recognize today, including Zachary, Brittany and Kerri from Fredonia. Congratulations to all of the students receiving this year’s award.”

Jones, of Grand Island, is a senior French adolescence education major with minors in Spanish and European culture studies. Sanford, of Lockport, is completing studies as a music education major and is an active member of the percussion studio. Williamson, originally from North Chili, graduated in December 2017 and with majors in biology and dance.

An aspiring teacher and linguist, Jones’ undergraduate studies and summer work experience with a student travel company based in Montreal have allowed him to travel to nearly 10 countries. Jones has studied abroad on numerous occasions, both during the academic year and in the summer. He was an American exchange student in France and Mexico and also served as an international trip leader directing high school programs in Costa Rica and French-speaking Canada.

Jones, who is president of Pi Delta Phi, the French national honor society, and the International Club, is enrolled in the Keeper of the Dream Advanced Leadership Development Program.

His campus involvement includes serving as an active board member of Fredonia’s International Club, an ambassador for Study Abroad and Global Student programs, an intern in the Office of International Education and the Office of International Student Services, a research assistant and collegiate French and Spanish tutor.

In addition to his studies, Jones is serving as a substitute teacher in three area school districts and as a private tutor to high school students learning how to speak French and international students on campus studying English.

Jones, who was recently honored in Albany as the recipient of the SUNY ACT Scholarship Award for Academic Excellence and Student Initiative, has applied for a Fulbright International Scholarship for the 2018-2019 school year to teach English in Luxembourg.

Sanford, of Niagara Falls, New York, has been fully engaged in the curricular percussion and Percussion Guild programs at every level. She has excelled in African drumming, song and dance, and has been an active member of the Student Association Gamelan Ensemble. Her Western percussion, the core of the School of Music percussion program, rates at the highest level.

As a first-year student, Sanford was enrolled in the honors program. She was awarded a Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of New York grant, which recognizes student academic excellence and student involvement in their communities, in two consecutive years, and the Laura B. Cole Scholarship through the Fredonia College Foundation for outstanding academic aptitude, financial need and/or personal qualifications.

Sanford, a Dean’s Scholar Award recipient, also received the foundation’s Marion Sonnenfeld, Jeanette Wheeler Mills, Louise E. Wilder, Francella Pattyson Widmer and Howard Marsh scholarships, all in 2017, which acknowledge academic achievements and musical talent. Outlets for her community service include Fall Sweep, Safe Halloween, Relay for Life, New York State School Music Association and Pathways to Music.

Sanford has been actively engaged in numerous student performance groups, including University Choir, Concert Band, Wind Symphony, College Symphony Orchestra, African Drumming Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble and World Mallets Ensemble. She has also served as a mallets instructor with the New Horizons Band.

Sanford excels in leadership, serving as president of the student Fredonia Percussion Guild and chair of the School of Music Student Leadership Council. As a unit head at the Girl Scouts’ Camp Seven Hills, Sanford assists young girls in developing courage, confidence and character through outdoor recreation activities, team-building and field trips.

After earning her undergraduate degree, Sanford plans to enroll in graduate study at Fredonia and ultimately teach music at the intermediate school level.

Williamson, of Rochester, New York., a Summa Cum Laude graduate, excelled in science and dance. She was a member of the Biology Club, Health Professions Club, Beta Beta Beta, the National Biological Honor Society, and Golden Key International Honour Society, and also belonged to the Fredonia Dance Ensemble. Williamson was also a biology tutor at the Learning Center, an instructor at the Aerobics Center and a student ambassador in the Department of Biology.

A study abroad experience in Dublin, Ireland, allowed Williamson to learn about another culture and her chosen field. As a research intern at a maternity hospital, she learned more about a medical specialty that she’s interested in and gained real-world research experience. She has also shadowed physicians in New York cities of Dunkirk, Rochester and Gates, and in British Columbia, and performed field work in the Bahamas.

Williamson was a resident assistant for seven semesters and held two positions on the Resident Assistant Advisory Board.

Currently enrolled in the Disney College Program, Williamson will enter the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University in July with a U.S. Army Health Professions Scholarship.

Other Fredonia finalists for the Chancellor’s Award were Peri Pearson, Noah Maciejewski, Nicholas Hlifka, Latrell Tyson, Kathleen Hayes, James Young, Hannah Koehler and David Trabold.