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Three RCC Scholars Named Winners of SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence

Musical theater standout, paralegal whiz, athletic star qualify for top honor

DATE: July 12, 2018

RAMAPO, N.Y. – Rockland Community College students Kevin Lynch, Angela Ulysse and Shannon Thomas have been chosen as recipients of the 2018 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, the highest honor offered by New York’s state university system.

Lynch excelled in musical theater at RCC and studied history in RCC’s Study Abroad program at Cambridge University in England last summer. He hopes to obtain a bachelor’s degree in either history, musical theater or both, and would like to forge a career in the performing arts, primarily singing and acting. He overcame serious heart and chest ailments to maximize his innate talents. Lynch suffered from pectus carinatum, a malformation of the chest, which required use of a brace for 20 hours a day while he was in middle school. He also wore an apnea monitor as a newborn due to complications from premature birth, which restricted his breathing.

A student in RCC’s Sam Draper Mentor Honors Program, Lynch graduated in May with a 3.90 GPA and membership in Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year college students. He credits Professor Jodilynn Greico, coordinator of English skills, for sparking his intellectual development and encouraging him to apply for the honors program, whose personnel also were instrumental in his advancement. “RCC really has given me opportunities and helped me find abilities that I never knew I had before,” says Lynch, who’s also an accomplished trumpet player and children’s theater stage manager. “The school will forever be an important part of my development and path in life.”

Lynch is extremely proud of his service as a volunteer firefighter for the Nyack Fire Department, providing an outlet to “give back to the community.” He also treasures his participation at the WorldStrides Heritage festival in 2015, at which he earned a Maestro award for excellence in performance of music in a choral ensemble.


Ulysse made her mark in the college’s paralegal program, winning the Paralegal Studies’ 2017 mock trial competition as a defense attorney for a fictional student accused of first-degree murder and criminal hazing during a fraternity pledge period. She served as vice president of the Paralegal Club for two years and was recipient of the Paralegal Studies scholarship in 2017. Ulysse interned in the Rockland County Attorney’s Office Department of Law for five months in 2018 and has set her sights on a career in the law profession. She graduated from RCC with a 3.55 GPA and plans to pursue a bachelor’s in Liberal Studies/Legal Studies at SUNY Purchase.

Ulysse cited the positive influence of her adviser, Patricia Doucette-Szobonya, the Paralegal Studies chair, as well as all the professors in the Paralegal program. “They all get gold stars,” she says. Among her other achievements, Ulysse helped build homes in New Orleans with RCC’s Habitat for Humanity Club, served as vice president of the African Club, mentored young women in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and served as a crisis counselor for the Center for Safety and Change. “I have a genuine love for each experience,” says Ulysse, whose two older sisters Saskia and Kaleme are also RCC graduates. “RCC gave me a better voice and helped me figure out all aspects within myself.”

Thomas flourished in the classroom and on the volleyball court, posting a 3.88 GPA in the Sam Draper Honors Program and claiming a pair of National Junior College Athletic Association All-Academic berths—a second-team nod this year and third-team recognition last year. She led the Hawks to their first Mid Hudson Conference title in 13 years last fall, was a two-time conference MVP, a two-time first-team All-Region XV selection, and recipient of the 2016-17 SUNY Scholar-Athlete Award. She rated among the national leaders in several statistical categories the past two years.

Initially drawn to RCC for its top-flight volleyball team, Thomas found her academic sweet spot in the biology program, mentored by Professor Thomas Butler. She credits Butler, volleyball coach Erik Ellingsen, athletic trainer Diana Carey and all of her professors with having “a great impact on me and preparing me for the next stage in my life.” She intends to transfer to SUNY New Paltz to study biology and eventually wants to attend medical school and pursue her lifelong goal of becoming a doctor.

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