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3 Honored With SUNY Chancellor Student Excellence Awards

3 Honored With SUNY Chancellor Student Excellence Awards

Chancellor's Awards Winners: Moskovits, Wagschal, and Zuhair

DATE: April 13, 2017

Achieved highest honors from the State University of New York

Ramapo- Yehudis Moskovits, Chaya Wagschal and Ummaikhair Zuhair earned the highest academic and personal distinction bestowed by the New York State university system. They were each awarded a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence at a ceremony in Albany on April 5.

Criteria for this award includes: academic excellence, leadership, campus involvement, community service, arts, athletics and/or career achievement.

Yehudis Moskovits felt she was not well-prepared for college academically, having previously attended an all-girls Orthodox high school. “Coming to RCC was a huge step into the outside world,” she said. “At first it was like a foreign planet.” She earned her high school equivalency while at RCC and achieved an exceptional 3.9 GPA as she pursued an AA Honors degree in Liberal Arts and Science: Humanities and Social Sciences. “Everyone has challenges to overcome,” she says, “but I prefer to focus on opportunities. I want to take responsibility for my future.”

She was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from Phi Theta Kappa as a Coca-Cola Leader of Promise Scholar, one of only 200 scholars nationally to receive this award. Her campus involvement and leadership service includes co-founding the Humans of RCC club to encourage and support students in developing conversation and friendship throughout our diverse student community. The group initiated a very successful new event at RCC, the “Meet and Eat,” which has offered all students a fun engaging venue to meet new people on campus and enjoy some international cuisine.

Moskovits shared her unique student perspective writing as one of the College’s bloggers, she served as a student ambassador, and she was an avid participant as an intern in RCC’s Multi-Media Production Center. She plans to continue her education and pursue a career as a physician, saying, “RCC prepared me for a four-year school, with its academic and social experience.” She considers Honors program mentors Dr. Katie Lynch and Dr. Thomas Butler to have been instrumental in her academic journey, saying, “The people in the Honors program are like family to me. It’s more than academics. They care about my future.”

Chaya Wagschal also had some academic catching up to do when she began at RCC. Starting with remedial level courses, she went on to earn her GED and ultimately achieved a very impressive 3.95 GPA in RCC’s rigorous Honors program. Now she is poised to receive her AS in Liberal Arts and Science: Mathematics and Science. “When you have to work hard for something, you appreciate it more,” she said. Deeply involved in Student Government, Wagschal developed and successfully completed a project to install a Global Gallery in the passage between the Cultural Arts Center and the Fieldhouse. The passage now displays the national flags for each country represented in the diverse student body at Rockland Community College.

Wagschal was a co-founder of the Humans of RCC club and co-organizer of their celebrated “Meet and Eat” events. She served as treasurer of RCC’s chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Students, and helped give voice to the student perspective as a blogger. Wagschal is pursuing her bachelor’s in Computer Science towards a career in software engineering. She credits the mentoring she received from Dr. Adessa Butler, as well as the support of the Humans of RCC club advisor, Abigail Hunte, for helping her achieve her goals.

“My education at RCC gave me the foundation that allowed me to apply to some of the top universities in this country and to feel confident taking on academic challenges,” she said. “In addition to growing academically, I made great connections, learned from my peers, theorized, researched, debated, presented, and wrote comprehensively.”

Ummaikhair Zuhair was away at school studying mechanical engineering at Penn State before she had to return home and help her family. She transferred to RCC and took on a tough schedule, balancing additional responsibilities like overnight care for her grandmother (in a nursing home), and working a full-time job in retail. It was difficult to keep up with schoolwork and at times she even considered dropping out of college.

Persevering, she found her way and built a strong path at RCC, getting involved with campus life and community service, co-founding the Center of Muslim Life religious office at the College and founding and serving as the first president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA). Zuhair organized multiple events on campus to share the richness of her faith, and MSA collaborated with other campus groups for interfaith activities. Under her leadership, the MSA engaged in fund-raising for local charities, with their bake sale raising more than $700 for Rockland Foster Care. Zuhair was selected to represent RCC at SUNYCON, the prestigious all SUNY conference.

She served in student government as vice president, was secretary of the Transfer Club and provided tutoring at RCC’s Reading and Writing Center. Zuhair was also selected to represent RCC at the prestigious SUNY conference, SUNYCON. She earned a solid 3.38 GPA and is set to graduate with an AS in Business Administration, with the goal of continuing towards a bachelor’s in Finance. Zuhair envisions a future career on Wall Street and hopes to eventually own her own business. She also achieved success at her full-time retail job and was promoted to assistant manager.  “When I started at RCC, I did not want to be here, but now, I do not want to leave!” she said. “The faculty helped me find the person that I now am, and motivated me to go further in life.”