September 26, 2012

SUNY Empire State College’s Cristy Dwyer ’08, ‘10 Wins SUNY ACT Scholarship

Cristy Dwyer

‌(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Sept. 26, 2012) SUNY Empire State College School for Graduate Studies student Cristy Dwyer ’08, ’10, has received the Association of Council Members and Trustees of the State University of New York annual Award for Excellence and Student Initiative Scholarship.

“This scholarship recognizes your outstanding academic performance and extraordinary commitment to your campus and community. Your enrollment at Empire State College, attaining an associate and bachelor’s degree while working for the Alcoholism Council of New York, coupled with your dedication to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, were inspiring to our selection committee,” said Pierre Alric, president of ACT.

The $1,250 scholarship provides the recipient with a $1,000 award and $250 toward a donation to the charity of the recipient’s choice.

Dwyer will be honored by ACT at an upcoming event on Oct. 13.

“Cristy Dwyer’s determination and compassion, as demonstrated by her work with the most disadvantaged citizens among us, are truly remarkable,” said SUNY Empire State Acting President Meg Benke. “She is also about to earn her third degree from the college, a Master of Arts in Social Policy, and I am proud to count her among our many outstanding alumni. I am grateful to ACT for their recognition of Cristy’s contributions to society and her academic achievements.”

“For me, the academic experience at SUNY has been transformational. My now five-year association with Empire State College has not only afforded me the opportunity to realize my long-time goal of pursuing a college education, but has allowed me to pursue advocacy efforts and engage in a discourse with leaders on local, state and national levels,” said Dwyer. “Without question, the policy courses I have received at SUNY have given me the knowledge, self-assurance and confidence to feel worthy of a seat at the table. Last but not least, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the extraordinary support I've received from the faculty at ESC. Without their continuous enthusiasm and encouragement I would not be where I am today.”

“I met Cristy when she took my graduate courses Quantitative Methodology and Public Policy Analysis. She is unquestionably an exceptional master’s student, and the best one I have personally taught so far,” said Professor Roxana Toma of the college’s School for Graduate Studies and Dwyer’s faculty advisor. “Naturally, when the time came, I happily agreed to be her advisor on her master's thesis. I was eager to nominate Cristy for the ACT award, and even more so when I was asked to write a recommendation letter to support her application. I am gratified by the fact that Cristy's work has been recognized in so many ways at the college level and above, and I couldn't be more proud! The ACT award makes all the difference in terms of a student's sense of accomplishment, and raises the profile of all our students and of us. I will continue to do my best as an advocate and supporter for all my students, working with them to get them these kinds of public recognition, because awards like this are elevating us all at ESC.”

About Cristy Dwyer

Like most students attending the college, Cristy Dwyer's life’s experience shaped her academic goals.

Dwyer is a classically trained pianist and had a successful career in the music-production business working with artists such as the Rolling Stones and Frank Zappa.

She then transitioned to health care and worked for 12 years as a behavioral health-care provider at an inpatient substance-abuse facility at a midtown Manhattan hospital, serving as clinical director of rehabilitation services during the last seven years of her employment.

There she became an advocate for the underserved, a role she continues today.

In 2006, her life changed again when she attended the graduation of her husband, Hugo, at the college’s Center for Distance Learning and decided to earn a college degree.

Shortly thereafter, she enrolled at the college, earned her Associate of Science with a GPA of 4.0 in 2008 and a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in public-health policy and a 3.97 GPA in 2010 from the college’s Center for Distance Learning.

In addition, in 2010, Dwyer received the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, the highest student award SUNY bestows.

She also serves part time as a faculty course designer and educator for the Alcoholism Council of New York’s Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor Training Program, a position she acquired in 2007 when she became a full-time student at the college.

During her 2008-09 tenure as an academic intern in the Community Affairs and Constituent Services Unit at the Office of the Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, she gained an even greater appreciation for the broader public-health and social concerns facing many of the underserved.

In April 2012, she was appointed by Stringer to Manhattan Community Board No. 2, where she now serves on the committees for social services, education and environment, public safety and public health.

Dwyer also is an advocacy volunteer on behalf of intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals, serving as New York state coordinator for VOR, a national grassroots organization dedicated to ensuring the civil rights of individuals with profound and severe intellectual and developmental disabilities.

She has appeared before the state legislature to deliver testimony during its recent investigations of a widespread pattern of abuse and neglect as reported by The New York Times series “Abused and Used.”

She assisted in garnering bipartisan sponsorship of H.R. 2032, a bill authored by Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, designed to ensure that parents and guardians of profoundly and severely disabled individuals remain informed and, if they choose, are given the right to opt out of federally funded class action lawsuits that will determine where their loved ones will reside.

Dwyer was awarded the SUNY Graduate Diversity Fellowship in 2011. More recently she was honored to be a recipient of the college’s School for Graduate Studies 2012 Dean's Medal and the 2012 Roger Keeran Outstanding Scholarship Award.  Dwyer looks forward to graduating in Decemberwith her Master of Arts in Social Policy.

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Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications

518-587-2100, ext. 2918

David.Henahan@esc.edu

@SUNYEmpireState