May 19, 2008
Both are NCAA Division I lacrosse standouts at the University at Albany. Both are excelling in the classroom, garnering 3.8-plus GPAs in the University's competitive School of Business. Both are looking to begin their careers in New York City after commencement. Both are humanitarians, devoting time to Habitat for Humanity.
They are also twins. This is sibling rivalry at its best.
"Right out of the womb, we were competing for something," said Mike, who -- along with his brother -- is from Putnam Valley, N.Y. "Steve has definitely driven my competitive nature."
And, vice versa. It's no secret they use their rivalry to excel. Both recently received the University's highest athletics honor, the Great Dane Award for Excellence in Academic and Sports Achievement. Competing is what stirs the passion in this duo -- inside the classroom and out.
Mike garnered 65 career points as a UAlbany lacrosse midfielder and was on ESPN The Magazine's District All-Academic Team last year. Not to be outdone by his brother, Steve -- also a midfielder -- has twice been voted to the All-America East Second Team in lacrosse.
"Academics have made us appreciate the importance of preparation on and off the field," said Steve.
It's worked for their career aspirations, as well. Taking advantage of the opportunities at UAlbany, Mike completed an internship with the professional service firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, while Steve opted for an internship with the financial services firm Morgan Stanley last summer.
Their career paths will likely branch out, as well. Drawing on the strong academic foundation the School of Business provided, Mike will seek a job in sales and trading, while Steve will pursue a job in finance after graduation. Still, both have common goals for their future -- MBAs and lacrosse.
And, of course, continuing their sibling rivalry.
Isaura Olivares of Brooklyn, N.Y. -- After graduation, Isaura will participate in UAlbany's highly competitive doctoral program in clinical psychology. She plans to study how resiliency plays a role in the lives of ethnic minorities who succeed in the face of adversity. It seems an appropriate career path, given the hard times Isaura has faced in her own life.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Isaura's family moved to the U.S. in 1993. It was a difficult transition, especially for her parents, who had to overcome a daunting language barrier. They did so with the help of Isaura and her sisters, who became their teachers.
From early on, Isaura has maintained a strong work ethic, which she displayed at the University at Albany, where the undergraduate experience has offered her a multitude of opportunities. And she's embraced them, becoming president of the National Honor Society in Psychology, a resident assistant, a counselor and resource trainer for the Middle Earth Peer Counseling Program, as well as working in three research psychology labs. Isaura, a winner of the University's Spellman Award for Academic Achievement, is graduating magna cum laude.
Zakhar Berkovich of Staten Island, N.Y. -- Zakhar is graduating from the University's inaugural Honors College with a double major in biology and Judaic Studies. Confronted with limited opportunities and religious intolerance in Belarus -- a former part of the Soviet Union -- Zakhar and his family moved to the U.S. in 2001. While the greatest challenge for him was leaving friends and some family behind, moving to America -- and becoming a student at UAlbany -- opened a world of opportunity for him.
Zakhar has made the most of his experience at UAlbany, where he served as vice president of the University's Hillel. As a member of the crew team, Zakhar led the effort to raise funds for a new boat, named after former UAlbany President Kermit L. Hall. He was recognized with the UAlbany Spirit Award and the Residential Life Outstanding Achievement Award. He also serves the community by volunteering emergency medical technician, building on plans to become a paramedic. While Zakharís long-term goal is to become a physician, he decided to delay medical school for about two years so he can earn a masterís degree in Educational Administration at UAlbany.
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