Every October, a select group of parents and students move into the Klee Center of the Decker Building and split up. Parents enter the tiered rows of chairs to sit in the audience. Students head to the front of the room to find their names taped to chairs that faces the crowd of family and donors, and nervously wait for the Presidential Honors Scholarship (PHS) Reception to begin. One reason this year’s event, held on Wednesday, October 12, 2022, was remarkable was the number of waiting chairs for the PHS students.
“I had to figure out how to make the space work with as many chairs as were needed. We’ve never had so many PHS students before,” remarked scholarship coordinator, Foundation Executive Assistant Amy Englehart.
Sydney Velez Mattiace, a Maine-Endwell High School graduate, told her donors, “This scholarship is extremely important to me because it will greatly help me to achieve the goals that I have worked so long and hard for. I value knowledge and have known from a young age that college was the path for me.” She hopes to become an environmental engineer one day. “I believe this field will bring me happiness and also allow me to add value to the modern world by bettering the physical world we live in.”
SUNY Broome chose nineteen PHS students from approximately forty-five applicants from Broome, Chenango, Delaware, and Tioga county high schools. These Hornets were selected because of their hard work and leadership, evidenced by their position in the top 10 percent of their graduating class and their extracurricular activities. Along with the prestigious title of Presidential Honors Scholar, SUNY Broome awarded students a certificate and, more importantly, a full-tuition scholarship for their two years at the College.
It also comes with responsibility – PHS students are expected to excel in leadership positions on campus, volunteering, and being active in clubs and other on-campus options.
A PHS Recipient Looks Back
The reception’s guest speaker was previous PHS recipient Nicholas Hayko (ES ’19). He brought up the idea of balance between academic and personal excellence as he looked back on his time at SUNY Broome.
As a high-achieving college student, Nick learned a vital life lesson. “It was the third semester at SUNY Broome, a very vigorous semester in the engineering science program. I was determined to earn another 4.0 GPA in my second year.” He recounted asking his microprocessor class professor about his grade before the official report card came out. “It was a wonderful class, but I got an A minus. ‘Oh no. My streak of perfection is over. The world is going to end,’” he joked, looking at the group of new scholarship recipients.
“I got so upset. And for what? An A minus is still an excellent grade,” he said. He continued, noting that – despite the ‘low grade’ – it had been a class where he had spent long nights in a workshop with his dad and worked alongside his friend Brandon to build his own pinball machine. “I got so caught up in the grade that all of my wonderful memories of building a successful pinball machine went ‘poof’.”
Deposit High School graduate Zoe Gifford said, “Not only do I feel absolutely blessed not to have the financial burden of paying for all of my college tuition, but I am extremely proud. I cannot wait to become a registered nurse and serve the community that I love so much. My mother and grandmother are both alumni of the SUNY Broome Nursing program. I am so excited to be entering the same program!”
After receiving the grade ‘bombshell,’ Nick went to tell his “tragic news” to Engineering Science & Physics Chair Robert Lofthouse. “He just smiled and said, ‘Doesn’t it feel better?’ The inner nerd and perfectionist in me couldn’t understand what he was trying to say. Professor Lofthouse went on, ‘You got it out of the way. You’re no longer perfect. Can you imagine the pressure you would put yourself under if you made it out of here with a 4.0? You would have wanted to do the same thing at your transfer school, and that would have been impossible.’ He was absolutely right,” Nick said.
He also encouraged students to take the time to apply for scholarships. “My mom always said, ‘Nicholas, you could potentially get paid a thousand dollars to write for an hour or two.’ It’s hard to argue with that logic.”
In his remarks, SUNY Broome President Kevin E. Drumm notes that the PHS program is a great way to reward academic hard work and hopefully retain more local talent in the community. He said, “Our graduates – including the young scholars who are here today – become the future employees, business leaders, parents, and engaged citizens of Broome County and Upstate New York. I have no doubt that every single one of you here today will do your part to make Broome County a great place to live and work.”
2022 PHS Recipients
The new recipients are:
- Mohammad Ansari, Johnson City High School
- Olivia Avery, Seton Catholic High School
- Dominique Boyce, Whitney Point High School
- Andrew Buckler, Windsor High School
- Alejandro Chavarria Gonzalez, Windsor High School
- Katiana Dallard, Union-Endicott High School
- Isabelle Dithrich, Chenango Valley High School
- Jordyn Dutcher, Chenango Forks High School
- Logan Everson, Susquehanna Valley High School
- Natalie Gagnon, Binghamton High School
- Zoe Gifford, Deposit High School
- Abigail Lyon, Harpursville High School
- Cecilia McDonald, Binghamton High School
- Georgia Novitsky, Chenango Forks High School
- DeLaney Painter, Vestal High School
- Audrey Schurter, Candor High School
- Ashleigh Turnbull, Newark Valley High School
- Delaney Vascoe, Waverly High School
- Sydney Velez Mattiace, Maine-Endwell High School
Mohammad Ansari, a Johnson City graduate, told his donors, “I would like to thank SUNY Broome so much for accepting me as a student and providing me with this scholarship. I am the first generation in my family to go to college, and I want to work hard and complete my education.”
The Presidential Honors Scholarship program has supported 194 scholarships since its launch in the fall of 2007.
If you want to learn more about SUNY Broome scholarships, please get in touch with the Foundation at 607-778-5182 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Graduating senior students from Broome, Chenango, Delaware, or Tioga County high schools who are interested in applying for the next round of Presidential Honors Scholarships may contact SUNY Broome’s Admissions Office at (607) 778-5001 or the Foundation.
Supporters of the PHS Program
At the reception, SUNY Broome also recognized the founding donors and corporate sponsors. Without their dedication to the College and leadership-level generosity, the PHS program would not be possible.
- The Conrad and Virginia Klee Foundation
- Estate of Emil Calice
- Dr. G. Clifford & Florence B. Decker Foundation
- Delta Engineers, Architects, & Land Surveyors DPC
- William H. Lane, Inc.
- LeChase Construction, LLC
- Matco Electric Corporation
- Mirabito Holdings, Inc.
- NBT Bank & NBT Insurance Agency
“This support is truly an investment in our community, not just SUNY Broome; I want to commend each of these organizations for being generous visionary partners,” Cheryl Kurosky (SC’ 76), Immediate Past President of the SUNY Broome Foundation, remarked at the event. She added, “Your belief in this program demonstrates your dedication to making our community a better place.”