The 2019 Presidential Honors Scholars and the donors who make the award possible
The 2019 Presidential Honors Scholars and the donors who make the award possible

As a Binghamton High School student, Alexandra Pourby assembled her list of dream schools – all four-year institutions, with Binghamton University at the top.

“When I first set my goal to attend college, SUNY Broome was not on my list,” she admitted.

When Binghamton University issued a rejection due to her SAT scores, she listened to an adviser recommend SUNY Broome. It turned out to be a smart move in multiple ways, as Alex qualified for the Presidential Honors Scholarship, allowing her to attend class tuition-free.

It also proved a pathway to her dream school, she told this year’s crop of Presidential Honors Scholars during an Oct. 16 reception.

At SUNY Broome, she majored in Business Administration and also became involved with campus life as a student ambassador, leading to a paid job in Admissions. Alex will graduate in May 2020 from Binghamton University’s School of Management, where she studies business with a concentration in marketing. Through connections she made at SUNY Broome, she also landed an internship at Modern Marketing Concepts, giving her a start in her chosen field.

Alumna Alexandra Pourby speaks to the 2019 PHS class
Alumna Alexandra Pourby speaks to the 2019 PHS class

An added plus for a business major: She is completing her bachelor’s degree with little financial debt, giving her the best start to her future, she said.

“The connections I made at SUNY Broome are lifelong. I gained confidence and became a student leader on campus,” she said. “I am thankful SUNY Broome helped me along my college journey.”

Honoring top students

Launched in 2007 with funding from an anonymous donor and the Conrad and Virginia Klee Foundation, the scholarship is funded by an array of community partners. These include the estate of Emil Calice; the Dr. G. Clifford & Florence B. Decker Foundation; Delta Engineers, Architects & Land Surveyors, DPC; William H. Lane, Inc.; LeChase Construction, LLC; Lockheed Martin – Owego; Matco Electric Corporation; Mirabito Holdings, Inc.; NBT Bank and NBT Insurance Agency, LLC; and Community Bank. Students had the opportunity to meet and connect with donors during the event, thanking them in person.

The Klee Foundation made the largest endowment in its history to establish the scholarship in 2006, noted Executive Director Amanda McIntyre. But the foundation is no stranger to the college; it made its first donation in 1961, back when the school was known as Broome Tech.

While the Southern Tier has its challenges, “the opportunities for growth and connection are only as limited as your ability to seek them out,” she told students.

Nine students received the scholarship this year: Zachary Adornato of Windsor, Ethan Baker of Whitney Point, Colette Chermak of Binghamton, Christopher Dattoria of Harpursville, Jacob Hotchkin of Bainbridge-Guildford, River McCumiskey of Greene, Benjamin Melby of Union-Endicott, Madison Mendolia of Seton Catholic Central High School, and Colleen Samsel of Chenango Forks.

They aren’t only the top of their high school class academically, said Cathy Williams, Executive Director of the Broome Community College Foundation. They’re also leaders outside the classroom, with extracurricular involvement ranging from scouting to clubs, churches and community organizations.

The scholarship program was specifically founded to recruit the region’s top high school graduates, give them the opportunities they need to success, and help keep them in the region long-term, said Dr. Penny Haynes, SUNY Broome’s Vice President for Academic Affairs and a college alumna herself.

“All of you here today are the future business leaders, professionals, parents and engaged citizens that our community needs to truly become a Valley of Opportunity for all,” she said. “The more local talent we bring to this campus, the more local talent this community will retain – and the better we will all be for that.”

That’s a message that Christopher Dattoria, the Presidential Honors Scholar from Harpursville, appreciates. The Sports Management major plans to transfer to SUNY Cortland and ultimately become a physical education instructor.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the kids here, especially locally, to keep them in the area,” he reflected. “And SUNY Broome is a good place to start, with its small class sizes. I’m really happy to be receiving this award.”

Benjamin Melby, a Union-Endicott graduate majoring in Computer Science, said the scholarship will both allow him to save money and pave the way for his ultimate transfer to a four-year school. Some of the universities he is considering include the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“I think of it more as a starting block to my career. It makes it a lot easier to get into the colleges I want to get into,” he explained.

The 2019 Presidential Honors Scholars
The 2019 Presidential Honors Scholars