(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Feb. 1, 2017)… A former professional actor and singer, two registered nurses, an IT professional, a counselor at a nonprofit organization and students who aspire to be an accountant, a physician’s assistant and a teacher are among the 2016 recipients of the Empire State College Foundation Adirondack Trust Co. Scholarship.
Established by The Adirondack Trust Company, this scholarship provides need-based aid to undergraduate or graduate students who reside in Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Montgomery, Saratoga, Washington, Fulton, Schoharie, Greene or Columbia counties.
“Like so many students who have come before them, this year’s Adirondack Trust Company Scholarship recipients inspire all of us at the bank by their hard work and determination to complete their SUNY Empire State College degree,” said Adirondack Trust Company Executive Vice President Charles V. Wait, Jr., a member of the Empire State College Foundation Board of Directors. “Supporting neighbors seeking to better themselves, their families and the communities where we all live and work is a privilege and a pleasure for all of us at the Adirondack Trust Company. On behalf of the Bank, I offer best wishes for continued success as the students advance their education and complete their college degrees.”
“Thanks to the generosity of The Adirondack Trust Company, so many SUNY Empire State College students have been able to complete their degrees and, in turn, realize their dreams and achieve their personal, professional and academic goals,” said Merodie A. Hancock, president of the college. “The Adirondack Trust scholarship is just one of so many ways the bank supports the community and I am very grateful for the bank’s long-standing and generous support of our students.”
About the Scholarship Recipients
Natalie Brown, of Red Hook, N.Y., returned to college after 30 years and a successful career as an actor and singer. A multi-year Adirondack Trust Co. Scholarship award recipient, Brown completed two years at the Boston Conservatory of Music.
When asked what she would do with her life if she were not an actor, Brown said, “I would become a therapist. It is the only other profession I imagined providing me with the same level of passion and purpose I had as an actor.”
She said that leaving a career she loved was a challenging and difficult transition, which, “… was not taken lightly and, as I have learned, is not for the faint of heart. However, I am in the final stretch with these two upcoming semesters and am exhilarated and eager to finish this chapter.”
In her final year of a Bachelor of Science in Human Development, with a concentration in developmental psychology, she said that she hopes to become a licensed therapist and pursue an advanced degree in psychology or social work.
“What world doesn’t need a singing therapist?” asked Brown.
She continues to act and sing when her schedule and school obligations permit. Brown also is the co-lead singer in a progressive rock band where her “spousal equivalent” plays keyboards. The band plans a tour next summer.
In a letter of appreciation to the bank, Brown wrote, “In closing, I again wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude for the generosity of the scholarship. Being a recipient two years in a row is more than I could have imagined. It is my fervent desire to live the next chapter of my life helping people become their better, more authentic selves.
“Thank you for making my ‘second dream’ come true.”
Larry Crandall of Glens Falls, N.Y., works as an asset control manager and, after completing a Bachelor of Science in Business, Management and Economics, plans on working for an accounting firm and then opening his own practice.
Crandall, the 48-year-old father of a daughter in the second grade, credits his partner in life, who completed a bachelor’s in Business Management and Economics from the college, for inspiring him, “She is the biggest reason that I chose Empire State College to further my studies.”
Having never attended college before, he enrolled at SUNY Empire at the age of 45.
“Things have not always been easy, raising and providing for our daughter. But, it is because of companies like yours and people like you, that I have continued and will keep on going toward that goal of continued education,” Crandall wrote in a letter of appreciation to the bank.
“I would like to sincerely thank you and the Adirondack Trust Company for the scholarship award,” wrote Crandall. “With this, I will continue my pursuit of finishing my degree. I also hope this will provide an example to our daughter of the importance of the educational experience.”
Aerielle Jasper of Corinth, N.Y., works as a teaching assistant at Corinth Elementary School and as a respite worker and skill builder for emotionally disturbed children.
Jasper’s goal is to become an elementary school teacher after completing a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development, with a concentration in early childhood education.
“I absolutely love working with children and can’t wait to further my education so I am able to help them even more,” said Jasper.
Her husband, Kevin, a U.S. Army veteran, is medically retired due to a traumatic brain injury he suffered during his service.
The couple have an 8-year-old daughter, Chloe.
Jasper said that it was hard to complete as much school as she had wanted during the two years Kevin transitioned between hospitals.
In her letter of appreciation to the bank, she wrote, “This scholarship will help to lift the burden of paying for books and tuition. It will also help me not to have to work as much and to be able to spend more time with my daughter and husband.”
A registered nurse and resident of Watervliet, N.Y., Monica Kiani is enrolled in the college’s School of Nursing’s RN to B.S.N. program.
Kiani’s professional and academic interests include critical care, the hospital operating room, nurse anesthesia and nursing education.
Her career goals are to be a critical care nurse and nurse anesthetist.
“I am grateful for being chosen to receive the Adirondack Trust Company Scholarship for use toward my bachelor’s in nursing at Empire State College,” said Kiani.
In order to further her interests and achieve her career goals, she said she plans on continuing her nursing education after completing her RN to B.S.N.
“I am grateful for being chosen to receive the Adirondack Trust Company Scholarship,” Kiani wrote in a letter to the bank. She also wrote that the scholarship award not only goes a long way to financing her education, but that it also encourages her to complete her degree.
Ryan Lynch works as a registered nurse at St. Peter’s Hospital, Albany, N.Y., and lives in Albany. He is on track to complete an RN to B.S.N. and graduate this spring.
After graduation, Lynch said he plans to advance his nursing career in either critical care or cardiology.
“My studies at Empire State College and this scholarship will enable me to achieve this goal,” Lynch wrote in a letter to the bank. “Thank you for your generosity and commitment to education. For this, I am forever indebted to you.”
Leonard McGeary, of Middleburgh, N.Y., works in information systems for the SI Group and studies to complete a bachelor’s of science with a concentration in information sciences.
The married, 38-year-old father of two special needs children, decided to return to complete his degree two years ago.
He said that he learned the value of a bachelor’s degree “the hard way” after finding himself out of work for the first time in 10 years.
Certain his 18 years of experience in the IT field would enable him to land another good job, he said he discovered this was not the case at all.
“I found that most jobs required a bachelor’s degree no matter the experience of the candidate,” said McGeary. “Luckily, I was able to find a position with a great company; however, I decided that I would not be shut out of a position ever again due to my lack of a degree.”
McGeary said that his two children struggle daily in school due to their condition and he tries to set a good example for them by working hard to achieve his goals and teaching them the importance of a quality education. He said he has been able to maintain a 3.98 GPA during his last two years with SUNY Empire.
McGeary shared that he also has a part-time job in addition to his full-time position and his commitment to completing his degree.
He acknowledges all his commitments carry with them sacrificing family time and sleep but, he said he is, “confident that the long-term advantages of the education I am receiving at Empire will be more than worth the sacrifice.”
In expressing his appreciation in a letter to the bank, McGeary wrote, “I would like to thank you and your organization for setting up and funding the Adirondack Trust Company Scholarship. I was extremely surprised to receive a letter stating that I was the lucky recipient of such a generous scholarship.”
Sarah Smith, a resident of Gansevoort, N.Y., and married mother of two children, ages 8 and 6, works at the Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council as a peer counselor in the women, infants and children department.
Smith said she began her college journey many years ago and had to stop out many times because of financial constraints.
With one year remaining to complete her bachelor’s in Community and Human Services, she became concerned – again for financial reasons – that she would again have to postpone her education.
Receiving a scholarship, Smith said, made all the difference between dropping out and graduating in 2017.
In her letter of appreciation to the bank, she wrote, “I am writing to let you know how appreciative I am for your scholarship, which will allow me to continue my studies at Empire State College.”
After graduation, Smith said she plans on advancing her career in working with families in larger and more varied ways, serving her community to the very best of her ability.
Amanda Talavera, a resident of Troy, N.Y., and single mother of two children, is in the final term of a Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with a concentration in biology.
Talavera indicates that with the anticipated completion of her degree, she has been able to apply to the physician assistant program at Albany Medical College.
She also has job offers from an international pharmaceutical company and from New York state.
Talavera is grateful to have options and attributes them to a degree from SUNY Empire State College.
She has not always been so fortunate and, after giving up full time employment, she said she continues to struggle, “We have been homeless, starving and everything in between, but I persevered and never gave up hope or my faith in God, and here I am.”
Talavera attributes her ability to persevere and complete her degree, in large measure, to the scholarship from the bank, “I am so very grateful for this scholarship, as it allows me to complete my degree with much less of a burden on my shoulders,” she said.
In expressing appreciation to the bank, Talavera wrote, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making the financial strain of schooling less of a burden for me. I greatly appreciate what you do for the community by helping others to further their education so that they can be productive members of society.”
About The Adirondack Trust Company
The Adirondack Trust Company is an independent, locally owned and operated, community bank offering a wide variety of business and personal financial services. The bank has more than $1 billion in assets and 12 branch offices.
The bank offers banking, trust, insurance, and investment management services, and originates residential and commercial real estate mortgages, as well as commercial business loans, throughout its primary market area.
Bauer Financial, which has been analyzing and reporting on the financial condition of the nation’s banking industry since 1983, rates the bank as a 5-Star/Superior institution, Bauer’s highest rating. The Adirondack Trust Company is an “Exceptional Performance Bank” for securing a 5-Star rating for 40 consecutive quarters or longer.
More information about the bank is available at AdirondackTrust.com.
About the Empire State College Foundation
During the college’s 2016 fiscal year, the Empire State College Foundation provided $1.75 million to directly benefit students, implement collegewide initiatives and to support research and assist with faculty and staff development.
Last year, more than 2,500 alumni, employees and friends partnered with the college by making a gift in support of the work of the foundation.
Need-based student scholarships comprise the most significant use of foundation funds. During 2015-16, the foundation distributed more than $782,155 to support 835 students living across the state.
Of the more than 800 students receiving financial support from the foundation last year, 237 of those were at risk of being unable to complete their degrees because of dire financial circumstances and were awarded nearly $200,000.
The foundation also sponsors a no-interest loan program for students, in the form of an advance of $500 per term on a student’s financial aid funds for education expenses. These funds are offered by the foundation for education expenses at no interest, with guaranteed repayment. More than $1 million is loaned to students through this program each year.
In addition to donor-established scholarships, emergency funding and foundation-subsidized loans, a fund of $25,000, which includes matching funds from SUNY, was distributed solely to students from historically underrepresented populations, which further demonstrates the college’s ongoing commitment to expanding access and increasing completion diversity, equity and inclusion.
About SUNY Empire State College
Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates nearly 19,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, 34 locations across the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.
The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students’ average age is 40.
Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.
In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.
Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and coursework on site, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.
Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.
The college’s 78,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.
The college was first established in 1971 by the SUNY Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY system from 1970 to 1977. Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
More information about the college is available at www.esc.edu
Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications, SUNY Empire State College
518-587-2100, ext. 2918