April 26, 2018

Nandar W. Kerr Selected for Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence

Kerr Graduates this Spring with a Bachelor’s in Public Affairs

SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson, left, and SUNY Empire Officer in Charge Mitchell Nesler presented Nandar Kerr, center, with the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence at the award ceremony, held in Albany, N.Y.

A Brooklyn resident since 2013, Nandar W. Kerr, who graduates this spring with a bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs, a 3.85 GPA and a concentration in law and public administration, has received a Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, SUNY’s most prestigious student honor.

Before coming to the U.S., Kerr practiced as a public advocate attorney in her native country, Myanmar.

Advancing legal and democratic systems are among her goals. She plans to pursue an advanced degree in the international legal field, take the bar exam and practice law in the U.S.

“Going to college has allowed me to gain confidence,” says Kerr. “When I came to the United States in late 2012, I barely spoke English.”

She enrolled with SUNY Empire in the fall of 2016 and, while completing her degree, interned at New York Legal Assistance Group, a nonprofit legal organization, and worked part time as a work-study student at the college’s Manhattan location.

Today, she says, her fluent English “allows me to be part of the community.”

Kerr participates in the life of the college as a member of SUNY Empire’s 2017-18 Student Leadership Institute, a year-long program, which enables students to develop, enhance and explore their leadership abilities.

She also served as a member of the college’s 2018 Student Wellness Retreat planning committee.

Kerr volunteers with New York Cares, a New York City-based, nonprofit organization, which meets pressing community needs by mobilizing New Yorkers in volunteer service.

As a New York Cares team leader, Kerr donated more than 300 service hours, mostly in food distribution, and participated in more than 90 projects.

She serves as an “ambassador” to volunteers for the nonprofit organization and assigns jobs to volunteers, acts as a resource for supplies, experience, site safety and coordinates activities.

In 2016 and 2017, she was chosen to receive The President's Volunteer Service Award and has received letters of recognition from Presidents Barak Obama and Donald Trump for her work with New York Cares.

About The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence

Created in 1997, the award honors students who have demonstrated and achieved recognition for integrating academic excellence with accomplishments in several areas, including:

  • leadership
  • athletics
  • community service
  • creative and performing arts
  • campus involvement
  • career achievement.

Each year, campus presidents establish selection committees, which review nominations of exemplary students. Selected nominations are forwarded to the chancellor’s office and subject to a second round of review by a committee, which includes members of the chancellor’s office, the provosts office and other professionals at SUNY system administration. Finalists then are recommended to the chancellor for her determination.

Each award recipient receives a framed certificate and medallion, which is worn at commencement and other academic events requiring regalia.

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