Seventh Annual SUNY ESC Student Academic Conference Sets Attendance Record

By David Henahan, director of communications

December 28, 2011

Alan Davis & Ivy Stevens-GuptaFor two days in the fall, a conference center in White Plains, N.Y. becomes the campus for SUNY Empire State College. The annual Student Academic Conference combines elements of homecoming, convocation and academic symposium.

This year, attendance topped 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.

(Photo at right: President Alan Davis presents Ivy Stevens-Gupta, this year's art show winner, with a copy of her winning entry.)

Dr. Penny JenningsThe keynote address of the conference was delivered by Dr. Penny Jennings, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the college before going on to 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.

In her remarks, Jennings, at left, 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 garnered the Distinguished Service Award from Rockland County in 2007.

Currently, Jennings is CEO and executive director of Adults Caring for Teens, an organization she founded, and a newspaper columnist. She also volunteers as a member of the RCC Board of Trustees and serves on SUNY Empire State College’s School for Graduate Studies Dean’s Advisory Board.Michael Mancini & Linda Guyette-Hamell

At the conference, pictured at right, 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 the gathering 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.”

Danny Ferreyra & Michael KaufmanThirty-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.

 (Photo at left: Students Danny Ferreyra and Michael Kaufman chat at the 2011 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.

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.”

Hemyra BostanHVC Deans StAC 2011

(Photo above, left: CDL student Hemyra Bostan, who traveled from Turkey to attend StAC, presents her paper on an officer in the Ottoman Empire. Photo above, right: HVC Dean Gary Lacy, former Dean Bob Trullinger and Interim Associate Dean Robert Altobello meet up at the conference.)

A faculty-panel session, “Research Scholarly Work and the ESC Mentor,” also was held. More than 16 college alumni 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 academic sessions throughout the conference.

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

Bruce Cudworth, StudentIn 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.

(Photo at left: Student Bruce Cudworth gets ready to wail on alto sax at open mic night.)

The conference, which took place earlier this month, was a resounding success and next year’s event is already being planned.

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.