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Big 30 Academic All-Stars get advice on shaping their identities at 28th annual banquet

Mon, Jun 12th 2017 11:00 am

 Written by Tom Dinki, Olean Times Herald

OLEAN — This year's Big 30 Academic All-Stars have had their share of successes and accomplishments the past four years, but the message they received at the 28th annual Big 30 Academic All-Stars Banquet was that they are still shaping their identity each and every day.

Alfred University President Mark Zupan, who served as keynote speaker of the event held Monday at Old Library Events, told students that education is the discovery process of identity.

"You've got some wonderful opportunities that await, and the impact you'll have on the world, don't underestimate," he said.

Zupan told the seniors that it doesn't matter where they go to college. What matters is what they make of the opportunity and whether a faculty member or mentor takes interest in them.

He said his own first year of college was miserable, but in his sophomore year he found a mentor in one of his professors.

"Finding that person made all the difference in getting a lot out of college and a lot out of life," he said.

Danielle Gilfert, a Wellsville High School graduate who just last year attended the banquet as an Academic All-Star, also told students the importance of building relationships with their professors.

"Professors do want to have discussions with students that go beyond the classroom," she said.

However she said while students have relied on their parents, teachers and coaches to shape their values, passions and beliefs to this point, ultimately they will have to be the ones to turn their values into actions. She said the first year of their college careers will be pivotal to shaping their identity as adults.

She spoke of her freshman year at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pa., where she said she learned it's crucial to meet people of different backgrounds and interests, yet be selective of friends. She told students it's important they find friends who will challenge them to be better people.

Scholarships were awarded to six students Monday night. Judges from Jamestown Community College and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, Pa. evaluated students' academics, as well as involvement, community service and work experience.

The six students to receive $750 scholarships were Michael Chapman of Hinsdale Central School; Emily Dillinger of Johnsonburg Area (Pa.) High School; Mark Miller of Otto-Eldred (Pa.) Junior-Senior High School; Anna Wray of Portville Central School; Luke Guyer of Ridgway Area (Pa.) Middle-High School; and Kelsey Chai of West Valley Central School.

Other members of the 2017 Big 30 Academic All-Stars are:

Kiley Kinney of Allegany-Limestone Central School; Elizabeth Grossman of Andover Central School; Grant Stephen of Archbishop Walsh Academy; Alyson Rotello of Austin (Pa.) Area School District; Michaela Pastorius of Belfast Central School; Joseph Gordon of Bolivar-Richburg High School; Buddy Miller of Bradford (Pa.) Area High School; Madison Harrier of Cameron County (Pa.) High School; Kathleen Jones of Cattaraugus-Little Valley Central School; David Rigas of Coudersport (Pa.) Junior-Senior High School; Evan Tucker of Cuba-Rushford Central School; Haley Saunders of Ellicottville Central School; Julia Hotchkiss of Fillmore Central School; Katherine Frascella of Franklinville Central School; Allison Sortore of Friendship Central School; Calli Burnell of Genesee Valley Central School; Brianna Burgess of Houghton Academy; Nicholas Grube of Kane (Pa.) Area High School; Gracie Hamilton of Northern Potter (Pa.) Junior-Senior High School; Saad Mirza of Olean High School; Grant West of Oswayo Valley Middle-High School; Ethan Darling of Pioneer High School; Howard Edgreen of Port Allegany (Pa.) High School; Annalise Boyer of Randolph Central School; Tiffany Nary of Salamanca High School; Victoria Thompson of Scio Central School; Katherine Treat of Smethport (Pa.) Area Junior-Senior High School; Madison Ewing of Wellsville Central School; and Ian Norton of Whitesville Central School.

To visit the Olean Times Herald Website click here.

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