October 25, 2011

2011 StAC Conference

Seventh Annual SUNY Empire State College Student Academic Conference Sets Attendance Record

Students Ray Ferarra and Michael Kaufman at the 2011 Student Academic Conference

Left to right: Students  Danny Ferreyra and Michael Kaufman chat at the 2011 conference.

(WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Oct. 15, 2011) – For two days in the fall a conference center in White Plains, New York, becomes the campus for SUNY Empire State College. The annual Student Academic Conference (StAC) combines elements of homecoming, convocation and academic symposium all rolled into two days.

This year, more than 200 SUNY Empire State College students, faculty, alumni and staff from across the state and around the world gathered for the seventh annual 2011 edition of StAC.

The keynote address of the conference was provided by Dr. Penny Jennings, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the college before going onto earn a doctorate from Northeastern University.  In addition, Jennings got her academic career started at SUNY’s Rockland Community College where she earned an Associate in Arts degree.

Dr. Penny Jennings at the podium delivers 2011 Student Academic Conference Keynote address

2011 keynote speaker Dr. Penny Jennings ’03 ’06 addresses the participants.

In her remarks, Jennings shared her story and how she found herself in dead-end jobs she did not like, although, she acknowledged, the pay was good.  Ambitious, determined and yet unhappy, Jennings set out to educate herself with the goal of improving her life.

She has more than succeeded.

Jennings was the 2008 recipient of the Woman of Distinction Award from the New York State Senate and she garnered the Distinguished Service Award from Rockland County in 2007.

Currently, Jennings is the CEO and executive director of Adults Caring for Teens, an organization she founded, and also is a newspaper columnist.  Jennings volunteers as a member of the RCC Board of Trustees and serves on the college’s School for Graduate Studies Dean’s Advisory Board.

Michael Mancini and Linda Hammel open the 2011 Student Academic Conference

Organizers Michael Mancini and Linda Guyette Hamell welcome participants to the conference.

Getting back to the conference, assistant to the dean at the Central New York Center, Michael Mancini, and director of academic support at the Hudson Valley Center, Linda Guyette Hamell, welcomed one and all and Hudson Valley Center Interim Associate Dean Robert Altobello provided opening remarks.

“Share your work, learn from others, interact and meet other learners who may ultimately become learning friends for the rest of your lives,” said Altobello.  “Special bonds are formed when we connect with other people who love the same things that we love.  So, please share, learn, enjoy and let the love of learning fill this building.”

HVC Dean Gary Lacy with former Dean Trullinger and Interim Associate Dean Robert Altobello

HVC Dean Gary Lacy, former Dean Bob Trullinger and Interim Associate Dean Robert Altobello meet up at the conference.

Thirty-two of the 165 students in attendance presented their research and scholarship on history, literature, anthropology, cultural studies, nursing and more.  Students from each of the college’s learning centers participated in the conference.

Hemyra Bostan, a Center for Distance Learning student, came all the way from Istanbul Turkey with her brother, and Altina Besimi, who studies at Tirana Albania, came from Kosovo.

Student Humeyra Bostan presents her paper at the 2011 Student Academic Conference SQ

CDL Student Hemyra Bostan, who traveled from Turkey to attend, presents her paper on an officer in the Ottoman Empire.

Bostan presented her paper, “Social Life in the Great Sahara Through an Ottoman Officer’s Eyes.”

In addition to the student presentations, college faculty and staff conducted workshops, such as “Academic Integrity and Avoiding Plagiarism” and “Public Speaking Without Tears.”

A faculty panel session, “Research Scholarly Work and the ESC Mentor,” also was held.

More than 16 college alumni attended and they participated in the alumni-organized workshop along with current students. College alumni also were well represented in the art show, the open mic session and the academic sessions throughout the conference.

Student Ivy Stevens-Gupta accepts a copy of her work from President Alan Davis at the 2011 Student Academic Conference as the overall winner

President Davis presents Ivy Stevens-Gupta, this year’s art show winner, with a copy of her winning entry.

Ivy Stevens-Gupta was this year’s art competition winner, and Raven Wolf, Rosanne Raneri and Daniel Mosner garnered honorable mentions.  Stevens-Gupta, a 2008 graduate from the college’s Central New York Center, and current student in the School for Graduate Studies, received a framed copy of her painting, “Field of Flowers,” from college President Alan R. Davis.

In addition to placing first in the annual art competition, Stevens-Gupta presented her paper “Exposed, Invisible or Empowered? Female Athletes in the Media.”

Academic scholarship and the fine arts were balanced by an open mic session where college students read poetry and prose, played musical instruments and sang.

The conference, which took place earlier this month, was a resounding success and the college is already looking to next year’s event.

The eighth annual conference will be held next year in Buffalo, and will be hosted by the Niagara Frontier Center, co-convened by Colleen Reedy and Jane Cudmore, and planning for the event is well underway.


2011 Student Academic Conference Open Mic night Bruce Cudworth plays alto Sax

Student Bruce Cudworth gets ready to wail on alto sax at open mic night.

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David M. Henahan, Director of Communications
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