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

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

2019 SUNY Chancellor Student Award Winners: (l-r) Pinchas Kreizel, Solange Hybel and Zuzu Tadeushuk

Solange Hybel, Pinchas Kreizel, Zuzu Tadeushuk reap honors

DATE: March 26, 2019

ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. – Rockland Community College students Solange Hybel, Pinchas Kreizel and Zuzu Tadeushuk are the 2019 recipients of the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence, the highest honor offered by New York's state university system.

The Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence recognizes students for integrating academic excellence with other aspects of their lives, including leadership, campus involvement, community service, arts, athletics and/or career achievement.

Hybel, Kreizel and Tadeushuk are students in RCC's Sam Draper Honors Program and have earned membership in Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year college students. All are due to graduate in May with their associate's degrees.

Solange Hybel has weathered a challenging home life to make her mark at RCC. She has used art as an outlet for her personal struggles, finding expression in drawing or painting. She is president of RCC's literary and art magazine, Impulse, and was selected as an art education intern at the Children's Museum of the Arts in Manhattan during the summer of 2018. Her participation in the Teen Leadership program at the Edward Hopper House in Nyack, N.Y., led to the internship opportunity.

Hybel also authored a research paper on the unsustainability of factory farming that was chosen for presentation on the Environmental Science panel at the 2018 Beacon Conference for Student Scholars at Two-Year Colleges. She is vice president of the Honors Newsletter Club and maintains a 3.9 GPA. Hybel intends to major in art history at a four-year institution upon graduation from RCC.

“When I entered the Honors Program at RCC, I was greeted by a strong support system and an overwhelming, welcoming sense of community,” said Hybel, a Nyack High School alumna. “At RCC I have been consistently encouraged to challenge myself and have risen to meet those challenges. As an advocate of women's and poor people's rights, and mental health awareness, and as a passionate artist and art historian, I hope to develop a career that intertwines all of my ambitions.”

Pinchas Kreizel is a product of the insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Monsey, N.Y., which values religious studies over secular subjects like math and science. After completing his Talmudic studies at age 20, he entered the workforce as a prep cook in a catering company and rose to the position of head chef. Despite having no secular education past the eighth grade, he decided to pursue a college degree, first earning a high school diploma from Rockland BOCES and then enrolling at RCC, where he is taking his prerequisites as part of his associate's degree and plans to transfer to an institution with an agricultural science program for his bachelor's degree.

“I left a secure, well-paying job to pursue a dream that seemed impossible,” said Kreizel, who holds a perfect 4.0 GPA. “Once I began to study at RCC, my mind opened up in unexpected ways. I was exposed to many ideas about global issues, such as environmental problems and economic injustices, and I learned how to write and think about them in analytical ways. Most importantly, however, I learned that through my studies I can make a difference in this world.”

Kreizel has volunteered at various community farms in Rockland County and New Jersey and completed a three-month fellowship at the Adamah Educational Farm in Falls Village, Conn. He is social media manager for RCC's Organic Gardening Club, taking a lead role in revitalizing the campus garden, and is president of the Environmental Science Club, currently working on starting a composting initiative on campus. He is a mentor in the peer mentoring program at RCC and has served as secretary of the Disability Awareness Club.

Kreizel hopes to use his background in food to help solve global scale food issues, such as lack of inner-city access to fresh foods and feeding a burgeoning world population. “RCC has helped me expand my horizons more than I thought possible when I first signed up more than two years ago,” he said. “Thanks to RCC, I am well on my way to achieve my dreams of making the world a better place for the future.”

Zuzu Tadeushuk spent her childhood learning to play and explore through nature at the farm campus of the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., and later worked as an international fashion model for more than four years. She enrolled at RCC partway through her modeling career, as she was struggling with body dysmorphia. While at RCC, Zuzu conducted an independent study on the topics of body image and the thin ideal that broadened her perspectives and led to her abandoning her modeling career.

At RCC, Tadeushuk has excelled as a scholar. She was the recipient of the Maxwell Anderson Award from the RCC Foundation for a paper titled, “Sexual Harassment in Arthurian Legend: Assaulting Men, Slandering Women,” which offered a compelling interpretation of the female seductresses in two Arthurian poems in the context of the “Me, Too” movement. She also presented a paper at the 2017 Beacon Conference examining the political and financial crisis in her home school district of East Ramapo, N.Y.

Tadeushuk, a 4.0 student, serves as vice president of RCC's Impulse literary and art magazine and as a writer and designer for the Honors Newsletter Club. She intends to expand the essays from her independent study into a book-length project. “I hope to continue this research and writing, for I believe that destigmatizing body difference is an important step toward ensuring the empowerment of all people,” she said.

“Zuzu is the finest student writer and scholar whom I have ever had the privilege of teaching and mentoring,” said Katherine Lynch, Chair of the Honors Program and Associate Professor of English, whose teaching career spans 15 years. “As a writer, Zuzu exhibits an unparalleled degree of rhetorical sophistication … Her ability to synthesize theory with her own lived experience demonstrates both her creativity and sophistication.”

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