In early April, State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher honored two Cayuga Community College students Faith Fanning ’13 of Waterloo, N.Y., and Brian Knapp ’13 of Fleming, N.Y., with the 2013 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. In recognition of this highest recognition by the SUNY system, Fanning and Knapp have each been invited to speak at the 59th Annual Cayuga Community College Commencement ceremony at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 19 in Spartan Hall, Auburn Campus, 197 Franklin St.
Faith Fanning will graduate in May with an associate’s degree in Liberal Arts: Humanities and Social Science. She began working on her college degree at age 15 with the goal of completing an associate’s by age 17 and learning what she might want to do in the future.
“I can say without any reservation that I have achieved both elements and so much more,” she said. “My family and I thought Cayuga would be a good stepping-stone between homeschooling and a four-year university, but I never thought I would be in the position I am. I just thought I was going to graduate with a degree, knowing more than when I started. I have been blessed with so many more opportunities.”
At Cayuga, Fanning has been involved with Phi Theta Kappa honor society and Tutor Club, and she has also served as secretary for the BASIC Club. Another big part of her college career she said was interning for English Professor Maryanne Felter in a first-year composition course. That experience confirmed her desire to be an English professor, and she expects to transfer to Hobart and William Smith Colleges as a double major in English and Writing and Rhetoric.
“My time at Cayuga has been so rewarding,” Fanning said. “I really found my direction; I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do with my life, at least in a more narrow sense, and being at Cayuga gave me the freedom to try different things without having to worry that I was wasting 50 grand a year or something like that. I feel really prepared to move on.”
Brian Knapp, a 2005 graduate of Union Springs Central High School, will graduate in May with an associate’s degree in Geographic Information Systems. He served as vice president of the GIS Club and as a student member of the President’s Cabinet.
When Knapp arrived at Cayuga after serving five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and sustaining a traumatic brain injury, his initial goal was simply to complete his degree. But within the first semester, he recognized that he could give voice to the concerns of veterans on campus and so, he founded the Veterans Club, serving as the club’s commander (president).
As he connected with campus faculty and administration, his role with veterans grew. Knapp took a work-study job in the Registrar’s Office, helping to assist other vets on campus with obtaining their educational benefits and establishing how-to-apply guides for the variety of benefits they may be eligible to receive. He also worked with campus and community members to create the CNY Veterans Higher Education Regional Consortium, a collaborative group of educational institutions, government agencies, and service providers for veterans seeking to facilitate advocacy, outreach, and resource- and information-sharing. Through his work at Cayuga, Knapp was invited to speak on veterans issues at national education conferences.
“We have made leaps and bounds for student veterans at Cayuga,” Knapp said. “Both the students and administration came together to assist veterans and listen to their unique needs.”
Upon graduation, Knapp will begin in his new position as Veterans Outreach Coordinator with U.S. Congressman Dan Maffei’s Office. “Long term, I would like to continue to help veterans,” he said. “The key is to enjoy what you do.”
The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence was created in 1997 to recognize students who have best demonstrated, and have been recognized for, the integration of academic excellence with accomplishments in the areas of leadership, athletics, community service, creative and performing arts, campus involvement, or career achievement.
Each year, campus presidents establish a selection committee, which reviews exemplary students. Nominees are then forwarded to the Chancellor’s Office and are subject to a second round of review. Finalists are then recommended to the Chancellor to become recipients of the award. Each recipient receives a framed certificate and medallion, which is traditionally worn at commencement.