April 23, 2024
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Students recognized at gala for achievements inside and outside the classroom

Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger congratulates Flynn Anderson for being recognized with the Student of Distinction Award at the Binghamton University Student Awards Gala held May 2, 2022. Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger congratulates Flynn Anderson for being recognized with the Student of Distinction Award at the Binghamton University Student Awards Gala held May 2, 2022.
Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger congratulates Flynn Anderson for being recognized with the Student of Distinction Award at the Binghamton University Student Awards Gala held May 2, 2022. Image Credit: Seth Johnston.

Binghamton University is widely renowned for its academic rigor, but perhaps just as central to the University’s commitment to its liberal arts background — immortalized in the guiding philosophy adopted by Harpur College in 1950, “From Breadth through Depth to Perspective” — are the experiences students have outside the classroom, where they excel at rates just as impressive as in their academic endeavors.

To recognize the broad range of excellence exhibited by our students, the Division of Student Affairs hosted the Binghamton University Student Awards Gala on May 2, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in downtown Binghamton.

Exceptional students have been recognized through awards ceremonies in various formats for many years, but in 2019 Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Rose was inspired to revitalize the awards ceremony to better emphasize the value the University sees in recognizing outstanding students and the important part their contributions play in making the campus a vibrant community.

“We recognized some outstanding students,” said Rose, of the 2019 ceremony, “and yet the event just didn’t feel to me like it had the kind of significance that demonstrated how important we thought those students’ contributions were to the University. I wanted to bring this event to a much grander scale to recognize and demonstrate the importance of the contributions of the students who participate in student organizations, who serve as student employees and who otherwise enrich the lives of all of us on campus.”

Unfortunately the pandemic put these ambitions on hold, and in 2020 and 2021 the awards were presented via a video premiere on social media. This spring was the first time the gala has taken place in person, as originally intended. Also for the first time, the awards included a scholarship component, with winners receiving between $300 and $500. The majority of the funding was made possible through one-time donations to the Binghamton Fund for Student Life, while two of the awards were directly funded by private donors.

University staff and administrators and members of the Student Association executive board presented awards to 14 individual students, two student organizations and one staff member, honoring their contributions to the University and beyond.

In addition to the presentation of the awards, the gala featured a festive reception with hors d’oeuvres, a “flying B” ice sculpture, live music by the Harpur Jazz Conspiracy Quartet and Baxter the Bearcat dressed to the nines in a custom tuxedo designed especially for the event by the Theatre Department costume shop. Throughout the awards presentation, students cheered on their peers and enjoyed desserts and entertainment provided by the Hinman Production Company cast of Godspell and No Strings Attached, a student a cappella group.

The awards, in order of presentation, included:

  • Al Vos Excellence in Community Engagement (individual student)
  • Excellence in Community Engagement (student organization)
  • Excellence in Civic Engagement
  • Best All Around New Bearcat (first-year and transfer)
  • #BingPride Spirit Award
  • Resilience Award
  • Excellence in Fraternity and Sorority Life
  • Student Employee of the Year
  • Graduate Student Employee of the Year
  • Campus Recreation Employee of the Year
  • RA of the Year
  • Student Organization President of the Year
  • Outstanding Organization of the Year
  • Accomplished Graduate Student of the Year
  • Bearcat Award for Outstanding Service and Support (faculty, staff or administrator)
  • Student of Distinction Award

Molly Kildow, a student in the Master of Social Work program, was awarded the Accomplished Graduate Student of the Year award for her work supporting students in local school districts. As a graduate assistant in the Center for Civic Engagement, she supervises 21 interns and volunteers who serve in the Binghamton City School District. Also noted was her work with Judith Quaranta, associate professor in the Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences, which included contributions to the development of a pediatric well-being picture scale and co-authoring a manuscript, “Challenges Conducting Focus Groups with School-Aged Children in a Virtual Setting During a Pandemic,” which has been accepted for publication in SAGE Research Methods Cases.

“It is such an honor to receive this award,” said Kildow. “Through my position at the Center for Civic Engagement and my research with Dr. Quaranta on the pediatric well-being picture scale, I have learned so much about the Binghamton community, both on campus and off. These opportunities have helped me grow as a student, a professional and a community member. I am so grateful to Binghamton University and my mentors for these opportunities and this award.”

The final award of the evening was presented by President Harvey Stenger to an undergraduate student who has created a road map to success through academic achievement, extracurricular involvement and service to the University and beyond. This year’s Student of Distinction Award was presented to Flynn Anderson, a senior studying biomedical engineering and a first-generation college student.

“​​Flynn is truly a remarkable student — the best that Binghamton has to offer,” said Stenger.

Anderson was one of 10 students selected nationally for the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates, through which he participated in the prestigious Harvard Summer Research Program in Kidney Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He and his team bioprinted novel kidney nephrons, which may eventually go on to be used in drug therapy and even transplant surgery. He excelled in this work and was invited back for a supplementary winter experience, where he presented at a National Institutes of Health conference on the material. This experience was made possible for Anderson thanks to donor support for the University’s Student Support Services (SSS), one of the federally funded TRIO programs.

Anderson’s extracurricular campus involvement includes membership in the Binghamton University Nature Preserve Research Team and the Biomedical Engineering Society, teaching robotics to middle and high school students through the Science and Technology Entry Program/Upward Bound Math-Science Robotics Program, and serving as a peer mentor through SSS. In the community, he has worked with Binghamton Food Rescue and started his own business — Thread Cemetery Clothing — designing, printing, sewing and selling clothing derived from discarded fabric and second-hand materials. He also writes and performs slam poetry.

“Receiving an award like this not only means that my God is working through me, my support systems are there for me and that the University has faith in me, but that a low-income, first-generation student is capable of achieving just as much as anyone else,” said Anderson. “This award is a milestone and a reminder that hard work and kindness are not complex things — they come easy when you truly focus on what you love.”

Full descriptions of each award and a list of winners and nominees can be found on the Binghamton University Student Awards website.

Posted in: Campus News, CCPA, Watson