“I'm really lucky and really grateful for all the opportunities and experiences I've been able to have.”
As an incoming freshman, Samantha Bolan ’13 of Endwell, N.Y., wasn’t sure where to find Turkey on a map. Now, the pages of her passport are nearly full, with stamps that identify a growing list of her international travel destinations — Turkey included. Costa Rica and most recently Ghana, in West Africa, are among the other places she’s visited over the years. In a variety of ways, Binghamton University and the generosity of donors who provide student aid helped get her there.Read More/Hide Text
Bolan’s freshman roommate, who is Turkish, introduced her to Turkey, its culture, customs and traditions. They traveled there together in summer 2008. Bolan went back in 2011 to participate in a study-abroad program, with support from the Dr. Israel J. Rosefsky Language and Culture Scholarship.
Bolan’s trip to Costa Rica also occurred in 2008, when she went there as part of a University and Habitat for Humanity project to build a library. She returned two years later with a group of students to teach English for a few weeks.
“I’ve always liked to help people. I really like different cultures,” says Bolan, a senior who’s majoring in anthropology and minoring in Africana studies and global studies. “I would love to be a travel photographer and writer. That’s my dream.”
Until then, she has worked on campus in the Financial Aid Services and Hinman College offices. She also chronicles her experiences abroad on a student blog run by the Admissions Office. She participates in the Nukporfe African Dance and Drumming Ensemble, as well as English Conversation Pairs.
“There’s so much going on, so much diversity,” Bolan says.
Although she continues to see the world and gain new perspectives through her travels abroad, the people closer to home, on campus, have made a strong impression, too.
“I love it because of the people. I met my best friends here,” she says. “I’m really lucky and really grateful for all the opportunities and experiences I’ve been able to have.”
Support also has come from numerous other scholarships, including the Binghamton University Forum Scholarship and the Robert Mancini ’80 Scholarship for Community Service.
“I can look back and say I had a really great college experience. It went above and beyond my expectations,” Bolan says.
“These scholarships have allowed me to take advantage of these four years.”
Connor D’Andria ’13 knew he was meant to enroll in Binghamton University. All the signs pointed to Binghamton: His grandfather, Joseph Cornacchio, is a Binghamton professor emeritus of computer science. His mother and father met as students on campus — mom, Karen D’Andria ’84, MBA ’87, studied management science; dad, Frank D’Andria ’85, majored in math. And, he grew up in Vestal, N.Y., where the University is located. “I looked at a bunch of different schools — Penn State, Buffalo — but the biggest reason I chose Binghamton is it’s a medium-sized school with a small- school feel,” D’Andria says. “I wanted to be able to make a difference and have an impact. I didn’t want to be trapped in a big school where I couldn’t make my mark.”Read More/Hide Text
D’Andria, now a senior majoring in industrial and systems engineering, has made great use of his time at the University. He credits hard work, good time- management skills and the financial support he’s received — for instance, he’s a recipient of the Floyd H. Lawson Engineering Scholarship — as factors contributing to his success as a student and leader:
- He has an almost perfect cumulative grade-point average: 3.99, just shy of a 4.0 because of one A– he received in an engineering course his sophomore year.
- He helps other students through his work as a peer advisor, resident assistant and undergraduate course assistant.
- He’s president of the Binghamton chapter of Alpha Pi Mu Industrial Engineering Honor Society and an active member of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society.
“College is not cheap,” D’Andria says. “It would have been very easy for me to live at home and save $11,000 a year. But with scholarships, as well as the RA position ... I don’t have to worry about getting an off-campus job or sacrificing on school in order to work.
“I’m not going to have these four years ever again in my life. These scholarships have allowed me to take advantage of these four years.”
What he will cherish most about Binghamton? The close friendships he’s made and the people he’s met from a variety of cultures and backgrounds, he says.
“College really is the only time in your life to try so many new things and meet so many new people,” D’Andria says. “That has motivated me to do all the things I’m doing — to learn not only in the classroom, but learn who I am as a person and grow as an individual.”
Off campus, he spent the past summer as an engineering intern at InnoSeat/Innovative Seating Solutions, a customized ergonomic chair design company in Buffalo, N.Y. D’Andria notes the company was co- founded by his uncle, Kevin Cornacchio, MA ’90.
D’Andria says he wants to continue to study engineering in graduate school and later become an engineering manager.
“There’s never a time where I’m not working hard, but I still make time to have fun,” he says.
“I hope one day I will be able to give back to the community . . . ”
Fredrick Omenya’s research could be used to create a new generation of batteries that store more energy, charge and discharge faster, and are safer to operate. Already, the work of this fifth-year PhD student in materials chemistry has enhanced the understanding of materials and processes involved in electrochemical energy storage in batteries. His research also has led to a fundamental understanding of olivine, one of today’s most important battery materials, says M. Stanley Whittingham, Omenya’s advisor and a distinguished professor of chemistry and materials science.Read More/Hide Text
The battery material is used to propel hybrid-electric buses, such as those traveling the streets of Broome County, N.Y., and elsewhere in the world. The material is also used by power systems for utility load leveling.
Doctoral students like Omenya often are actively involved in teaching and coursework during the academic year.
The Clifford E. Myers Summer Research Grant that Omenya received allowed him to focus his time and energy on his research over the summer — instead of worrying about making ends meet.
“It gave me much more time in the lab and allowed me to accomplish more,” Omenya says.
Whittingham, also director of the Institute for Materials Research, notes receiving the prestigious grant indicates the level of Omenya’s achievements — the grant goes to only one top student each year.
Other grants Omenya received also helped cover research costs and travel expenses to attend a conference.
“As part of my summer research, I was able to complete one part of my project and drafted a paper that just got accepted in the Chemistry of Materials journal,” Omenya says. “I hope one day I will be able to give back to the community by helping other students like me achieve their goals and dreams.”
Omenya, from Nairobi, Kenya, expects to receive his doctorate this spring.