Fifteen students receive SUNY Chancellor’s Award

Individuals from UB posing with their chancellors awards.

UB recipients of the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence who traveled to Albany for a special ceremony on April 11 pose for a photo.

By UBNow Staff, originally published in UBNow

Published April 18, 2024


Fifteen UB students have been named recipients of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, the highest honor SUNY bestows upon its students.

The award, created in 1997, is given annually to recognize high-achieving SUNY students who also excel in such areas as leadership, community service, campus involvement or the arts.

Each year, selection committees from each SUNY campus consider nominees, who are then recommended to the chancellor’s office.

This year’s winners were invited to attend an awards ceremony April 11 in Albany.

UB’s recipients of the 2024 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence:

Shirley Bassarath

Shirley Bassarath of Clarence is a graphics design major who will graduate with a BFA in graphic design. A University Honors College scholar, Bassarath has been a College of Arts and Science ambassador, Honors College ambassador, Honors peer mentor and director of advertising for the Honors Student Council executive board. She also has worked at UB Sustainability, where she created murals for the office, as well as marketing materials for sustainable events around campus. Bassarath also worked for the Student Association, where she developed graphics and merchandise for the organization, as well as photographed their campuswide events.  

Sarah Bukhari

Sarah Bukhari of Grand Island will graduate with a BS in biochemistry. Bukhari is an undergraduate researcher who secured funding from the Experiential Learning Network and earned a micro-credential in mentored research. She is deeply involved in community engagement, serving as both the volunteer coordinator and vice president of the Association of Pre-Medical Students, largest student-run pre-health organization at UB. She was awarded a community engagement micro-credential and accumulated more than 500 volunteer hours. With dual roles as dance coach and social media coordinator for the Pakistani Student Association, Bukhari fosters a network of communities to embrace diversity and celebrate traditions.

Hannah Crittenden

Hannah Crittenden of Kenmore graduates with a BS/MS in occupational therapy. A University Honors College scholar, Crittenden has served as a orientation leader, student engagement ambassador, Alternative Break team leader, first-generation student peer mentor and teaching assistant for a graduate occupational therapy class. She is president of the Tau chapter of Pi Theta Epsilon, the national honor society for OT students, and a member of Alpha Eta, the national scholastic honor society for allied health professions. Crittenden has facilitated research with breast cancer survivors, focusing on the relationship between occupational engagement, quality of life, self-efficacy and psychological distress.

Cole Fredericks

Cole Fredericks of New York City graduates with a BS in psychology. Fredericks is a University Honors scholar and has served as a residence hall vice president, student affairs director for the Student Association, a teaching assistant for evolutionary biology and a volunteer counselor for a crisis hotline. A research assistant for both behavioral neuroscience and clinical psychology research labs, Fredericks has contributed to research on vasopressin deficiency impacting rat social communication and young adolescents’ friendships and victimization experiences. Fredericks plans to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology.

Dior Gillins

Dior Gillins of Wappinger Falls graduates with a BS in electrical engineering and a BA in media study with a production concentration. A University Honors College scholar and Dean’s List student, Gillins has been a student leader, student assistant grader, treasurer of the Women’s Healthcare and Wellness Association, and praise dance coordinator for the UB gospel choir. She also worked as a technical operations and engineering intern at CNBC and as a cloud production assistant intern at CBS Sports. In addition, she took part in a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates with the University of Michigan’s PICASSO program.

Brennan Gorman

Brennan Gorman graduates with an MBA and a BS in civil engineering and a minor in music performance. As president of the UB Residence Hall Association, Gorman started the award-winning. late-night talk show “Late Night at UB.” Gorman also played a pivotal role as the executive director of policy for the SUNY Student Assembly, advocating on behalf of SUNY’s 1.4 million students. An entrepreneur as well as a student, Gorman founded Bay Gull Productions to empower Gen-Z creators, and also co-founded Empowered Advocacy Network, a nonprofit dedicated to education reform.

Zanaya Hussain

Zanaya Hussain of Buffalo graduates with a BA in international studies and urban and public policy studies, and a minor in Chinese. She is a first-generation college student, as well as a University Honors College and Ronald E. McNair scholar. She is an ambassador and student liaison for the College of Arts and Sciences, representing the Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Program. Hussain serves as a board member for Open Buffalo’s Youth Action Social Justice Group, a facilitator for the Girl’s Club at the Westside Economic Development Initiative and a student coordinator for UB’s Asia Research Institute.

Samiha Islam

Samiha Islam of Rochester graduates with a BA in health and human services and statistics. She is UB’s second Harry S. Truman Scholar and a public policy and international affairs fellow. Samiha has conducted workshops on interfaith and multiracial coalition-building for thousands across Western New York, published research on noncarceral approaches to preventing hate crimes as a Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress fellow, and helped secure $150,000 in grants for prison reentry services. Samiha has also served as a diversity advocate, leading campus dialogues on privilege, politics and social justice.

Lea Kyle

Lee Kyle of Martville graduates with a BS in biochemistry with minors in physics and public health. A University Honors College scholar, Kyle has worked with the Student Association, UB Recreation, Student Engagement, and Tutoring and Academic Support Services (TASS). Kyle also is president of UB Rotaract, a volunteering club on campus, as well as a student researcher in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, working with Associate Professor Elizabeth Wohlfert on research focusing on the effects of chronic inflammation on muscle function due to chronic infection.

Jeremy Nguyen

Jeremy Nguyen of Pittsford graduates with a MPH with a concentration in epidemiology. President of the Epidemiology and Environmental Health Graduate Student Association, Nguyen is a teaching assistant for two undergraduate classes. He conducts research with the UB Maternal and Child Health Laboratory, contributing to the study of bean consumption on maternal and child health outcomes. He regularly volunteers for Buffalo General Medical Center, the Lighthouse Free Medical Clinic, and the Seneca Babcock Food Pantry.

Anoop Nilam

Anoop Nilam of Williamsville graduates with a BS in biomedical engineering and a BA in mathematics. A Pride of New York scholar in the University Honors College, Nilam has conducted nanomedicine research at UB, leading a project to develop a malaria vaccine. He has served in several leadership roles, including as president of UB’s Association of Pre-Medical Students, treasurer of UB’s Tau Beta Pi engineering honors society. He is a member of Compeer’s volunteer advisory board committee, leading mental health support recruitment. Nilam also has served as a teaching assistant for introductory and upper-level biology courses.

Bryan Renzoni

Bryan Renzoni of Amherst graduates with a BS in biochemistry. Renzoni is a University Honors College presidential scholar and an Honors College ambassador. A BioXFEL scholar, he has received multiple research internship positions and worked in two different laboratories, contributing to work on the development of novel organic and organometallic compounds with applications as cancer therapies. Renzoni has also served as a co-chair of the G14 Leadership Summit, president and executive advisor of UB ChemClub, and as assistant music director and music director of the Enchords, UB’s all-gender a cappella group.

Hannah Ruth

Hannah Ruth of Rochester graduates with a BS in architecture. A University Honors College scholar, Ruth has been an Honors College ambassador, student representative and peer mentor for the architecture department, vice president of Alpha Rho Chi, and treasurer for Impulse Dance Force. Ruth is working alongside UB faculty to improve soil-stabilized brick-production methods that are used to build structures for safe water access and sanitation in Africa.

Rachel Sanyu

Rachel Sanyu of Kampala, Uganda, graduates with a BS in pharmacology and toxicology. She is an Honors College scholar who has conducted oncology research at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and at Johnson & Johnson, where she earned the Inspire Spotlight Award. Sanyu worked as a student assistant in UB’s Office of Interprofessional Education and as an honors peer mentor. She is a founder of a health care app and is involved with the community through her work with Suubi Cancer Relief and Hillside Family of Agencies.

Anna Walsh

Anna Walsh of Spencerport graduates with a BS in biomedical engineering and a minor in biological sciences. An Honors College scholar and member of the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, Walsh has held positions as a teaching assistant, peer mentor and leader in the biomedical engineering society. She take part in numerous programs to support early exposure, mentorship and inclusivity in technical fields. Walsh created a team that teaches introductory STEM concepts in schools without active curriculum in these areas. She also interns in the cardiac rhythm management division at Medtronic.