Cornell student awards benefit local human service agencies

Five Ithaca-area human services agencies are benefiting from the philanthropic spirit of Cornell University students. EcoVillage, the Displaced Homemakers Center, the Ithaca Youth Bureau, the Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC) and The Partnership are receiving $12,500 in financial support from Cornell Tradition Fellows.

Each year a handful of Cornell Tradition Fellows are honored for their community service with a $2,500 Senior Recognition Award, which is then donated to either a non-profit agency or used to establish a one-year fellowship at Cornell. This year, several Fellows have chosen to support Ithaca-area human services agencies.

Jaime Luis Torres of Central Islip, N.Y., who graduates in December with a degree in biology, split his award between the Youth Bureau's One-to-One program and GIAC's Esperanza program for Latino youth.

"Up until now, I've given them my time," Torres said. "This award makes it possible to support these organizations in another way. It makes me feel good to be able to offer them some financial support."

Torres said his philanthropic spirit was fostered during his youth when his parents often gave to others when it meant going without for themselves. "My parents were always there for someone who was in need," he said. "We gave our toys to those who didn't have any. It's just a part of me to give something back to the community."

Tracy Elizabeth Connor of Endwell, N.Y., contributed her award to the Displaced Homemakers Center Scholarship Fund.

"I decided to support this cause because there is such a need for funding for education, especially in light of recent federal and state cutbacks," said Connor, who volunteers about 15 hours a week for the Displaced Homemakers Center.

Sandra Hill of Displaced Homemakers Center said Connor's beneficence makes it possible for the center to continue helping women gain economic independence. "This fund helps with transportation, child care costs and some household expenses, so a woman can have the opportunity to get an education or enter the job market to assist in her desire to be self-sufficient," she said.

"It's all about instilling that philanthropic spirit at Cornell," said Janiece Bacon Oblak, director of Cornell Tradition, which this year awarded $27,500 to students who, in turn, directed the money to the human services community. Since the Senior Recognition Award program began in 1989, Cornell students have supported human services agencies and fellow students to the tune of $195,000.

The 1996 Cornell Tradition Senior Recognition Award winners, their majors and their designated award recipients are: " Katherine Alexander of Lake Stevens, Wash.; communication; EcoVillage (Ithaca, N.Y.) and Green Corps.

  • Jessica Rose Cattelino of Saxon, Wis.; college scholar; Theatre North (Ironwood, Mich.).
  • Jen┼Że Chizick of Lyndonville, N.Y.; ecology; American Field Service.
  • Stephanie Marie Cockerl, Brooklyn, N.Y.; architecture; fellowship for a Cornell student majoring in architecture.
  • Tracy Elizabeh Connor of Endwell, N.Y.; psychology; Displaced Homemakers Center Scholarship Fund (Ithaca, N.Y.).
  • Aileen Maray Gariepy of Scranton, Pa.; biology and society; a fellowship, named for her mother, for a Cornell student working in the field of education.
  • Neil Giacobbi of Syracuse, N.Y.; industrial and labor relations; The Partnership (Ithaca, N.Y.).
  • Troy W. Gras of Victoria, Texas; materials science and engineering; a fellowship for a Texas resident who is a non- traditional Cornell student.
  • Katrina James of Carteret, N.J.; human service studies; fellowship for an African-American Cornell student majoring in human service studies.
  • Jaime Luis Torres II of Central Islip, N.Y.; biology; Ithaca Youth Bureau and the Greater Ithaca Activities Center.