State University of New York Chancellor John B. King, Jr. awarded SUNY Sullivan students Haddy Gai ’23 and Roxanne Dastparvardeh ’23 SUNY’s highest honor for academic excellence and leadership in a ceremony April 24. Gai and Dastparvardeh were among 193 students from 63 campuses to be awarded the 2023 Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence (CASE), which recognizes students for their outstanding achievements throughout their SUNY experience in areas including academics, leadership, campus involvement, community service, and the arts.
“There is a place at SUNY for every New Yorker, and each of the students recognized today is an example of our extraordinary student body and their rich and diverse ‘SUNY stories,’” said Chancellor King. “Student success is at the core of everything we do, and I am honored to celebrate students from 63 SUNY campuses who are receiving this year’s Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence. Every student can find their community at SUNY, and I congratulate each of the CASE winners for making the most out of their college experience.”
Dastparvardeh, a criminal justice major from Hurleyville, is President of SUNY Sullivan’s Student Government Association (SGA) and is involved in numerous student activities, including theater productions, and Phi Theta Kappa. She is a founder of the College’s Art Club. Gai, a Liberal Arts major from Fallsburg, is SGA Secretary, involved in numerous clubs, including Art Club and Phi Theta Kappa. She is a founder of the College’s Black Student Union.
“I was excited,” said Dastparvardeh, who said receiving the Chancellor’s award was the realization of all her hard work and accomplishments. She said her number one goal is to attend Syracuse University, and that she was grateful for her time and experiences at SUNY Sullivan, especially her work with the SGA. “I would recommend SUNY Sullivan to anybody. It was a huge growing experience for me. It definitely changed me.”
Gai, who plans to attend SUNY Albany in the fall to study business management, said SUNY Sullivan gave her the opportunity to take time decide what she wanted to study.
“I think a place, big or small is what you make of it,” said Gai, whose brothers attended SUNY Sullivan and encouraged her. “I really got involved and I made great friends here who influenced me and made me what to be better. I was able to create what I wanted here.”
Haddy Gai is a Liberal Arts and Sciences from South Fallsburg and is Secretary of the Student Government Association. At age 11, Haddy’s family emigrated from the small African country Gambia to Fallsburg. She had an adequate grasp of the English language; however, due to her heavy African accent, it was difficult for others to understand her. She navigated increasing her English skills while not losing her love for her native language. She speaks Mandinka, Wolof, and English fluently. Haddy is a first-generation college student and a legacy student, as two of her brothers are SUNY Sullivan alums. Though Sullivan was not her first choice, Haddy is now its most prominent champion, sharing with others her life-changing experiences at Sullivan.
Roxanne Dastparvardeh is a Criminal Justice major from Hurleyville and is President of SUNY Sullivan’s Student Government Association. Roxanne grew up in an underserved community in the Bronx. Raised by her Iranian father and her mother, who emigrated from the Dominican Republic, Roxanne recognized the pressure to become successful early on. At 12, her family moved upstate to Monticello, an unfamiliar place. Roxanne successfully adapted by becoming actively involved in school and community. The pandemic allowed Roxanne to reflect on herself and her goals, including attending college. SUNY Sullivan was initially outside Roxanne’s plan, but once she became a student there, she has been a dynamic leader and student advocate.
About SUNY Sullivan
SUNY Sullivan is the leader of innovative higher education and a catalyst for workforce development throughout the Sullivan Catskills and beyond. Our diverse community cultivates personal growth and professional advancement, preparing students for success in a sustainable and interconnected world. A forward-looking, top-tier community college in New York, SUNY Sullivan offers over 40 degree programs, certificates, and micro-credentials for learners at all levels of their educational goals. We value critical inquiry and creativity while supporting our students in a culture of inclusion and respect. For more information, visit sunysullivan.edu.
May 3, 2023.