Four students to receive SUNY Chancellor's Awards

Four seniors in Cornell’s contract colleges have been selected to receive the 2020 State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.

The recipients: Talia Bailes ’20, from the College of Human Ecology; Malikul Muhamad ’20, from the ILR School; and Rosemary Glos ’20 and Amrit Hingorani ’20, both from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The annual awards honor students with a demonstrated ability to integrate “academic excellence with other aspects of their lives, [such as] leadership, campus involvement, athletics, career achievement, community service or creative and performing arts,” according to SUNY. In all, 214 students throughout the state university system were recognized this year.

Bailes, a global and public health sciences major from Cincinnati, “is a standout scholar, leader, teacher, performer and member of her campus, local and global communities,” said Julia Felice, associate director of undergraduate studies in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, in her nomination letter.

A dancer-choreographer in Ithaca’s Pandora Dance Troupe, Bailes founded the Ithaca-based dance and literacy program Ballet and Books, guiding a team of more than 90 children and 50 young adults. She has engaged community and national partners, won funds for national expansion and initiated a formative program evaluation.

Bailes has excelled in a rigorous academic program with additional pre-medical requirements. She serves on the Global Health Student Advisory Board, has received the College of Human Ecology’s Florence Halpern Award and took first place in Cornell’s Global Health Case Competition.

Felice cited “her exemplary work ethic, self-motivation, drive for fuller understanding and deep sense of responsibility to learn well, so as to best pull people up from hardships.” 

Glos is a plant sciences major minoring in botanical illustration. Her family operates a small organic farm in Berkshire, New York. Her studies concentrate on plant evolution and systematics.

“She is the most purely motivated student I have ever worked with, constantly eager to learn a new concept, technique or method or apply something she recently learned in new and innovative ways,” said her adviser, Chelsea Specht, the Barbara McClintock Professor of Plant Biology.

A research assistant in Cornell Climate Resilient Farming Systems, Glos received an Engaged Opportunity grant for fieldwork and independent outreach in the Surinamese rainforest. 

“Her flexibility, genuine eagerness, and proficiency in a wide variety of techniques enable her to participate in multiple projects and make her a valuable member of our research community,” Specht said.

Glos mounted a recent botanical illustration exhibit at the Tompkins County Public Library; led a project in 2018 creating new interpretive signs for the Mundy Wildflower Garden at Cornell Botanic Gardens; and has worked with local youths and children as a tree-climbing instructor and roller derby head coach.

Hingorani is a dual major in nutritional sciences and biological sciences. The Brooklyn resident balances a course load also spanning four minors (global health, business for life sciences, South Asian studies and infectious diseases) and pre-medical requirements, with “a long list of intensive endeavors in research, teaching, mentorship, athletics and community service,” his nomination stated. “Amrit excels in and prioritizes these roles and, through them, has directly or indirectly improved the lives of countless people in and outside of Cornell.”

He created life sciences enrichment activities for high school students in preparation for a service-learning trip to Colombia, where he gave lectures in Spanish and taught students how to take pulse and blood pressure measurements for themselves and their family members.

“Amrit engaged with the high school students at every level, from academic to social and personal – he inspired them,” said professor of psychology Tim DeVoogd, who coordinated the trip.

Hingorani also helped set up animal care clinics and worked with a medical brigade in Peru, and he taught elementary math and English on a service learning trip to India. He has co-authored nine peer-reviewed publications and presented at 10 conferences.

Muhamad is a first-generation transfer student from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and an Indonesian refugee. He came to the ILR School at Cornell in 2017 “and immediately became involved in the life of the school,” his nomination from the ILR Student Experience team stated.

The nomination cited him for academic excellence, leadership and campus involvement, including Cornell Welcomes Refugees, working with peers and community partners; and the Islamic Alliance for Justice on campus. He also is an ILR admissions ambassador and president of the ILR Global Affairs Club.

Muhamad also is an ILR Global Scholar, an academic distinction given to less than 5% of his class. He spent six weeks applying his classroom learning in Mysore, India, and assisted a labor lawyer in introducing labor arbitration and alternative dispute resolution to the country. He attended court hearings, interviewed factory workers and managers, researched arbitration around the world, and wrote case studies and documentation as tools to build the field.

SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson sent congratulatory letters to all of the honored students, and informed them that in-person award ceremonies originally planned for April 22 in Albany will be rescheduled as a virtual event. Awardees also will receive a certificate and a medallion to commemorate their selection.

“You stand out among the more than 415,500 students pursuing degrees at SUNY, a reflection of your hard work and dedication,” Johnson wrote.

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Lindsey Knewstub