Four Mohawk Valley Community College students were selected to receive the 2020 Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence, the highest honor bestowed upon students by SUNY. They are: Annie Born of Westernville, Joseph Gendron of Sauquoit, Kupr Kuprian of Dolgeville, and Mariam Muya of Utica.

The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence honors State University of New York students who have best demonstrated their integration of academic excellence with other aspects of their lives, including campus involvement, leadership, athletics, career achievement, community service, and creative and performing arts.

Annie Born of Westernville is a dual-major in Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems and Engineering Science. She is an enthusiastic advocate of everything science and tech. In between labs, she is a Presidential Scholar, club activist, and natural-born leader. Born plans to pursue her degree in aerospace engineering upon graduation, and one day hopes to be a pioneer in research and logistics for spatial exploration.

Joseph Gendron of Sauquoit is a veteran and returning student majoring in Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems. He is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year colleges, and has made the President’s List. He is Vice President of the Unmanned Aerial Systems Club, a member of the Scholastic Sporting Clays Club, and participates in Student Congress. Gendron was an intern for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Urban Forestry Grant and presented his findings at the SUNY Applied Learning Conference. He also participates in numerous outreach initiatives, and is the recipient of numerous scholarships.

Kupr Kuprian of Dolgeville was a Theater major at MVCC. After graduation, he plans to transfer to Columbia University to earn his bachelor’s degree in theater. While at MVCC, Kuprian was an active Student Trustee, College Senator, teaching assistant, student employee, and founder of the News Writers Club. He is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and vice president of Leadership. Kuprian also wrote and produced plays for the JumpStart Program and Honors Program, and wrote and performed in the MVCC Learning Commons video.

Mariam Muya of Utica is majoring in Human Services. Muya, originally from Darsalam, Tanzania, was 12 years old when she first came to the U.S. and had never attended school. She was enrolled in English as a Second Language courses, and within two years learned how to speak, read, and write in English. Muya is president of the MVCC Muslim Student Association, and has done very well academically while being very involved on campus and in the community.

“These student nominees are some of the most exceptional individuals across The State University of New York System,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “They excel academically and go to great lengths to give back to their campus and community through their service. Their many achievements are a testament to their drive and hard work, which is enhanced by the support of their family, friends, and campus community. Their success is a source of great pride for us all. As we continue to adjust to these different times during the COVID-19 pandemic, the leadership skills these students possess can be used to support our communities and those who need them the most. As the country and New York State start to rebuild, their many talents that led to them receiving this distinction will help us all get through this and come out even stronger.”

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, SUNY campus presidents establish a selection committee, which reviews the accomplishments of exemplary students. Nominees are then forwarded to the Chancellor’s Office for 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.

Mohawk Valley Community College, established in 1946, is New York State’s first community college with a mission to provide accessible, high-quality educational opportunities for everyone. As the community’s college, MVCC is committed to student success through partnerships, transfer and career pathways, and personal enrichment. With campuses in Utica and Rome, MVCC is the region’s primary provider of college education, offering 90 degree and certificate options for its enrollment of 6,000 full- and part-time students. MVCC also serves an additional 6,000 people through its corporate and community education programs, and its campuses welcome more than 50,000 people annually for community events.


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