The 2017 Presidential Honors Scholars and SUNY Broome President Kevin DrummSUNY Broome’s Presidential Honors Scholars were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class, but they excelled – and continue to excel — in more than just the classroom.

They participate in extracurricular activities, such as clubs and sports. They hold down jobs and lend their hands to service projects that make their communities a better place. In short, they’re leaders – and the scholarship’s founders hope that they will use their talents to make Broome County a better place long after graduation.

“It’s nerve-wracking going into college and knowing there is going to be a bill. Knowing some people are generous enough to give their time and money to incoming students is very gratifying indeed,” said scholarship recipient Trisha Illsley, a Chenango Valley High School graduate majoring in Radiologic Technology.

By taking financial issues out of the equation, the scholarship helps Illsley focus on her studies and her future, she said.

The full-tuition scholarship began in the fall of 2007, funded initially by the Conrad and Virginia Klee Foundation and an anonymous donor, and was developed by former SUNY Broome President Lawrence Spraggs and former Broome Community College Foundation executive director Judy Siggins.

“It had a very specific goal in mind: Recruit our region’s top high school graduates, give them the opportunities they need to succeed and to shine, and help keep them in the area,” explained SUNY Broome President Kevin E. Drumm.

One of the major elements of a vibrant community is a healthy workforce, noted Judith Peckham, executive director for the Klee Foundation. That’s the intent behind the PHS program.

Currently, the scholarship is backed by nine Corporate Leadership Partners who have made a three-year commitment to annually provide a full-tuition scholarship for a Presidential Honors Scholar. They include Delta Engineers, Architects & Land Surveyors; William H. Lane, Inc.; LeChase Construction Services; Lockheed Martin – Owego; M&T Bank; Matco Electric Corporation; Mirabito Holdings; NBT Bank and NBT – Mang Insurance Agency. Community Bank, N.A., also provides support for the PHS program, as does the Dr. G. Clifford & Florence B. Decker Foundation and the Estate of Emil Calice.

SUNY Broome plays an important role in retaining area talent, noted Dr. Drumm. Nearly two-thirds of the college’s 50,000 alumni stay in their home region, becoming the workers, business leaders, parents and engaged citizens of both Broome County and Upstate New York.

“You could have attended college almost anywhere you wanted to go, but you made the smart choice and attended SUNY Broome,” he told scholarship recipients during the annual Presidential Honor Scholar reception on Oct. 17.

From SUNY Broome to Mexico and back 

Andrew Collyer speaks

Andrew Collyer speaks

Named a Presidential Honor Scholar in 2012, Chenango Forks graduate Andrew Collyer deeply appreciates the investment that donors made in his education. The connection between donors and scholarship recipients is a “sacred trust,” Collier said.

SUNY Broome was his first choice school because of the unique experience it offers, helping students transition to college life, he said. After a year, he transferred to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology in 2015. That fall, he headed to Mexico, staying for two years on a mission trip for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

“One of the big things I learned from this is that leadership is really about serving. A real leader is someone who gets down and serves all the people around them,” Collyer reflected.

Collyer is currently waiting to hear back from medical school, said Dr. Drumm, adding that doctors are in high demand in the Southern Tier; Lourdes alone is seeking to hire 46.

‘Grateful,’ ‘blessed’

For Nicholas Hayko, the words that come to mind when considering the Presidential Honors Scholarship are “blessed,” “grateful” and “really appreciative.” The Vestal High School graduate is also glad to see that his hard work in high school paid off – and achieved notice. The Engineering Science major’s long-term goal: transfer to the Rochester Institute of Technology to pursue automotive engineering.

So far, he has enjoyed his experience at SUNY Broome, he said. “I wouldn’t have started anywhere else. I love it here,” he said.

Megan Mau from Whitney Point opted to major in SUNY Broome’s challenging AA1 program, which tackles two years’ worth of academic credits in a single year. Her plan is to transfer to Binghamton University and become a teacher, which requires a master’s degree. She said she appreciated the fact that her SUNY Broome education is paid for through the scholarship, as well as the college’s small class sizes.

Mackensie Gravelin, a graduate from Sidney High School, said she was honored to have been awarded a scholarship funded by Mirabito, and excited about the prospect of becoming a Student Ambassador. Ambassadors are often the first faces that visitors see at SUNY Broome, conducting tours and other events on campus.

Thanks to the transfer of credits she took during high school, Gravelin is already taking classes in her major: Sports Studies. She plans on transferring to SUNY Cortland in two years, with the ultimate goal of becoming a physical education teacher.

Her coursework interests her, and she finds her professors inspiring, she said. She also found a home at SUNY Broome quite literally: in the Student Village.

“It’s a really great facility. The suites are gorgeous. It’s like living in your own apartment with five other people,” she said.

2017 PHS Scholars

The new recipients are:

  • Michael Angelo, Candor Central School
  • Vanessa Bongiorno, Maine-Endwell High School
  • Hannah Brown, Central Baptist Christian Academy
  • Shyanne Daye, Susquehanna Valley High School
  • Mackensie Gravelin, Sidney High School
  • Nicholas Hayko, Vestal High School
  • Shaylie Elaine Hollen, Deposit Central School
  • Trisha Illsley, Chenango Valley High School
  • Hunter Jordan, Whitney Point High School
  • Zachary Locke, Chenango Forks Central School
  • Megan Mau, Whitney Point High School
  • Tyler Mucci, Windsor High School
  • Meg Rossie, Chenango Valley High School

Stephie Safari, Johnson City High School