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June 8, 2020
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JP O'Hare

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Board of Regents Recognizes Student Scholarship Awardees, U.S. Presidential Scholars, a Teacher for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching About Holocaust and Human Rights and State Superintendent of the Year

Yonkers, East Ramapo and New York City Students from My Brother’s Keeper Communities Receive Vice Chancellor Emerita Adelaide L. Sanford Scholarships

Averill Park and Berne-Knox-Westerlo Students Receive Chancellor Joseph McGovern Scholarships

Webster Student Receives Regent Margaret Snow Vander Veer Scholarship

Long Island Student Receives Regent Emeritus Emlyn Griffith Scholarship

Clarence Student Named 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars Finalist

Alexander Teacher Receives Regent Emeritus Louis E. Yavner Award

Mineola Superintendent Recognized as Superintendent of The Year

The Board of Regents today recognized outstanding New York State students receiving Vice Chancellor Emerita Adelaide L. Sanford, Chancellor Joseph McGovern, Regent Emeritus Emlyn Griffith and Regent Margaret Snow Vander Veer Scholarships as well as New York’s 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program finalists at its June meeting. The Regents also honored two educators, the Regent Emeritus Louis E. Yavner Awardee, a teacher honored for contributions to teaching about the Holocaust and human rights, and the 2020 Superintendent of the Year.

“It is my absolute pleasure to celebrate these exceptional students and educators for their hard work and dedication,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “In this uncertain time, when we have seen so much ‘bad’ news, it lifts my spirits to be able to commemorate these wonderful accomplishments. Congratulations to you all.”

“These scholarships and accolades are well-deserved, and I congratulate each of our awardees and those we honor today,” Interim Commissioner Shannon Tahoe said. “Each has worked for years and shown commitment to teaching and learning in unique ways. I’m thrilled to add my best wishes for these achievements.”

Vice Chancellor Emerita Adelaide L. Sanford Scholarship

The Vice Chancellor Emerita Adelaide L. Sanford Scholarship is named after Dr. Adelaide L. Sanford, a long-time leader, scholar, activist, educator, community advocate and organizer. Dr. Sanford is the former Vice Chancellor of the Board of Regents and served on the Board for more than 20 years. She is also Honorary Co-Chair of the Work Group to Improve Outcomes for Boys and Young Men of Color, in recognition of her unwavering leadership and ongoing meaningful contributions to this effort.

The annual scholarship is awarded to My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Fellows and graduating high school seniors from a NYSED-recognized MBK community. Scholarship funds can be used to assist with tuition, fees and books, and will be awarded annually over four years while the student is enrolled in college.

Through the generosity of Dr. Adelaide Sanford, this year’s number of scholarship winners doubled to four students.

“The mission of MBK is to inspire, empower and connect young people to change the world and there are no better representatives of that vision than these students who are ready to move on to the next phase in their academic and life journeys,” Regent Lester W. Young said. “These students have worked hard to succeed and are passing on their knowledge by serving as mentors—truly the backbone of MBK. I congratulate them on this award and on their bright futures.”

"As America continues to wrestle with its identity and values, educators must endeavor to hold ourselves to the standards and ideals of our highest potential. We must turn these moments of crisis into endless opportunity. Our children deserve no less," Vice Chancellor Emerita Adelaide Sanford said. " I am so pleased and honored to help shape the futures of the four scholarship recipients."

John Sosa Aguilar is an MBK Fellow graduating from Yonkers Montessori Academy (YMA). He will attend Manhattan College in the fall with a major in Business and Administration. He is the YMA MBK President, an MBK Mentor and served in the YMA student government.

Denva Nesbeth, Jr. is an MBK Fellow graduating from Bedford Academy High School in Brooklyn who plans to study Computer Science at Dartmouth. He is President of the National Honor Society Chapter at his school and participated in Medgar Evers College STEP program. He also serves his community as a member of the Borough Student Advisory Council.

Valentina Rojas Abreu is graduating from Saunders Trades and Technical High School in Yonkers and will study Biomedical Sciences/Pre-Med at Pace University. She is a Yonkers Partners in Education Ambassador and Scholar, Empress EMT Cadet, and participated in Debate Club and the Sophie Davis Health Profession Mentorship Program.

Kiara Ekeigwe is graduating from Ramapo High School in the East Ramapo Central School District. She will be a Pre-Med major at Duke University in the fall. She ran Track and Field, is the Class of 2020 Secretary and Social Studies Honor Society Vice President. She also served her community as a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference Counselor.

Visit the Department’s My Brother’s Keeper website for details on the initiative.

Chancellor Joseph McGovern Scholarship

The Chancellor McGovern Scholarship provides two scholarships to assist deserving sons or daughters of State Education Department employees in obtaining a postsecondary education.

Michael Minehan is the son of Tina Minehan, a Supervisor in Educating Children with Disabilities, in our P-12 Office of Special Education in Albany. Michael is graduating from Averill Park High School and in the fall will attend Siena College with a major in Biology. He later plans on pursuing a career in dentistry and orthodontics.

Michael earned the position of starting center for the varsity football team and also participated in basketball, baseball, track, and bowling. He serves on the student-athlete advisory council and as produced award-winning artwork. Michael values helping others in his community, volunteering with a local food pantry and at a nursing home, where he provides companionship and laughter for the residents.

D’Nauticah Sterman is the granddaughter of Virginia Sterman, an Office Assistant in the Office of Career and Technical Education in Albany. D’Nauticah is graduating with an Advanced Regents Diploma from Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School. In the fall, she will attend Siena College as a Business major.

Her extracurricular activities include serving as the Sentinel for the BKW chapter of Future Farmers of America (FFA) and actively competing in the FFA National Convention in Syracuse. She is also a member of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), a Peer Mediator, and volunteers to assist individuals with special needs through the Night to Shine Prom. Despite losing her mother in 2014, D'Nauticah has maintained a focused outlook for the future. She prides herself on being involved with her community and being well respected by her friends and educators.

Regent Margaret Snow Vander Veer Scholarship With Additional Funds Provided on Behalf of Former Commissioner MaryEllen Elia

The Margaret Snow Vander Veer Scholarship is endowed by the Margaret Snow Vander Veer Trust Fund with additional funds provided on behalf of former Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and is awarded to a 2020 high school graduate who is a daughter or son of an employee of the State Education Department or the Board of Regents. 

McKayla Kardas is the daughter of Deborah Jean (Deb) Kardas, an Administrative Assistant in the Office of Professional Discipline in Rochester. McKayla is graduating from Webster Thomas High School in Webster. McKayla participated in Math League, Rotary Club, International Club, and Language Other than English (LOTE) National Honor Society for her continued study of Spanish.  She is also a varsity athlete, participating in the girls’ basketball team.

Regent Griffith Scholarship

The Regent Griffith Scholarship is endowed by a contribution from Regent Emeritus Emlyn Griffith and is awarded to a 2020 high school graduate who is a daughter or son of an employee of the State Education Department or the Board of Regents. This scholarship recognizes young adults for their involvement in community service.

Bryan Joseph is the son of Shibu Joseph, an Associate in Education Research in the P-12 Office of Accountability in Brooklyn. He is a graduating senior at Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park. He is an AP Scholar with Distinction and is a member of six honor societies. This fall, Bryan plans to attend Hofstra University to major in Electrical Engineering and minor in Computer Science. Bryan is involved in his school’s Green Club, Service Club, Key Club, and his Class Board. Outside of school, Bryan is an alter server for his parish and is an active member of the Boy Scouts of America Troop 298, where he earned the title of Eagle Scout. 

2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program Finalist

Grant GianGrasson from Clarence Central High School was named a finalist for the 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program and was nominated by the New York State Education Department.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selected New York’s 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars finalist from among a pool of extremely qualified candidates. In fact, the Presidential Scholar recognition is one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.  

Students chosen as U.S. Presidential Scholars receive a trip to Washington, D.C. in June and the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House. During their visit to Washington, scholars will meet important national and international figures, including government officials, educators, authors, musicians and scientists.

Regent Emeritus Louis E. Yavner Award

The Board of Regents today presented Alexander Central School District teacher Megan Wright with the Louis E. Yavner Teacher Award for her outstanding contributions to educating others about the Holocaust. The Board of Regents established the Yavner Teacher Award and the late Regent Emeritus Louis E. Yavner of New York City, who served on the Board from 1975-1981, funded the award, which recognizes teachers who have made outstanding contributions to teaching about the Holocaust and other human rights violations.

Ms. Wright has taught 11th and 12th grade at Alexander Middle-High School for more than 12 years. She promotes Holocaust education and awareness to her high school students by creating and teaching two English electives titled “World War II/Holocaust Literature” and “Post World War II Literature.” Ms. Wright has also organized multiple Holocaust survivors’ events in her district.

2020 Superintendent of the Year (Awarded by the New York State Council of School Superintendents)

The Board of Regents today recognized Mineola Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Michael P. Nagler who was named 2020 Superintendent of the Year by the New York State Council of Superintendents (NYSCOSS).

Dr. Nagler has been with the Mineola Union Free School District for 21 of his 33 years in education and served as its high school principal and deputy superintendent before becoming superintendent in 2009. He earned his doctorate in education from Columbia University.