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Student’s spirit aids campus, community

As one of 10 children, Michael Sokol learned at an early age to take initiative and embrace leadership positions.

“I had a lot of role models who were doing great things,” he said of seven older sisters and brothers who volunteered and did community service. “It was like, ‘They’re doing it. I should be doing it, too.’ It was never a chore for me.”

Sokol brought that spirit to Binghamton, where the 21-year-old senior from Scarsdale has made his mark as a fundraiser, event planner and mentor to other students.

As a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, Sokol has been instrumental in organizing the group’s annual keg roll. Last year, TKE raised $8,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation by rolling an empty barrel and jogging from Syracuse to Binghamton. The fraternity won an XCELsior Award for its effort. This year, Sokol hopes TKE can raise $10,000 for St. Jude Children’s Hospital when the keg roll takes place April 30.

Sokol also helped plan last spring’s Bearcat Day, which brought the community and students together in downtown Binghamton. As a member of Chabad, he has assisted with the Purim Carnival, Shabbat 1500 and Light Up a Life.

“When someone asks (for help), it’s really hard for me to say no,” the cinema major said. “Giving back is what life is all about. If you help others, good things will happen to you.”

 Sokol is helping other students as president of the Pre-Dental Association. The organization helps members prepare for dental school by inviting speakers to campus and going over interview techniques and the application process.

“It’s an outlet for students to come and experience the dental field,” said Sokol, who plans to attend dental school and become a pediatric oral surgeon. “I’m happy to be there for them.”

Sokol, an Educational Opportunity Program student who has a younger brother attending Binghamton and a younger sister planning to attend next year, credits EOP’s “family atmosphere” and its Binghamton Enrichment Program with helping him get acclimated to the University.

“That really jump-started my quest to finding out who I am and what I wanted to do at college,” he said.

Rebecca Kissling, a lecturer in the Chemistry Department, called Sokol “a positive force” who shows devotion to projects that benefit the community.

“Michael brings boundless enthusiasm and energy,” she said. “He is a great ambassador for Binghamton University.”

Sokol said he has worked to follow the adage “love your neighbor as yourself” during his time at the University.

“I’m the friendly face that says hello to everyone,” he said. “I’m going to be a dentist, so I’ll be smiling all of the time. In the worst weather of Binghamton, I wake up happy. … Every year and every day just gets better. The entire experience at Binghamton University has given me the opportunity to succeed and push my limits.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08