Eight UAlbany Students Win 2024 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence

Seven students in professional attire stand holding award certificates and smile for a picture with UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez and Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Christakis in a conference room.
Winners of the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence pose for a picture with UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez (left) and Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Christakis (right). (Photo provided)

By Bethany Bump

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 16, 2024) — Eight UAlbany students were recognized Thursday with the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, the highest award the State University of New York bestows upon a student.

Nearly 200 scholars across the 64-campus system were selected to receive awards this year, which acknowledge students for outstanding achievements and excellence within academics, leadership, campus involvement, community service and the arts.

Chancellor John B. King, Jr. presented winners with a medallion at an awards ceremony at the Albany Capital Center. UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez and Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Christakis were also in attendance to congratulate students.

This year’s UAlbany recipients are:

Eva Alvarez Ero

A woman with long black hair wears a black top and smiles for a portrait against a gray backdrop.

Eva Alvarez Ero, a senior political science major from North Babylon, has plans to go to law school after graduation to pursue a career in higher education law. 

During her time at UAlbany, she served as a student activities specialist, Purple and Gold Ambassador and orientation leader.

“UAlbany has meant the opportunity to rediscover who I was and what my purpose was,” Alvarez Evo said. “During most of my positions, I was able to connect with and inspire so many different people that I was able to grow personally as I contributed to the campus community.”

Jillian Benedict

Jillian Benedict, of Akwesasne, will graduate from UAlbany this spring with a master’s degree in criminal justice and plans to go to law school next to study Indigenous law and policy.

A young woman with long brown hairs wears a blue halter top and smiles for a picture in front of a sweeping green vista.

Her interest in the field flourished during her time as an undergraduate at UAlbany, when she co-founded and served as the first ever president of the Indigenous Student Association at UAlbany. In that role, she steered and organized objectives to achieve diversity, equity and inclusion for Indigenous students on campus and pushed for initiatives focused on acknowledgment, academic enrichment, celebration and sustainability.

Today, Benedict serves as the graduate advisor to the organization in hopes of leaving a legacy for generations of Indigenous students to come.

"My time at UAlbany has been transformative, not only shaping my academic knowledge, but also my personal growth and development,” Benedict said. “I've had the opportunity to delve deep into subjects I'm passionate about, discovering new perspectives and ideas that have broadened my understanding of the world. It has also been marked by moments of resilience. I've embraced many challenges as learning experiences and used them to fuel my determination to succeed. However, I couldn't have achieved anything without my supportive community of peers and mentors who have inspired and encouraged me to strive for excellence."

Michael Bratslavsky

A young man with short light brown hair smiles in a suit jacket and tie on the UAlbany campus.

Michael Bratslavsky graduated from UAlbany’s biology honors program in December 2023 with a minor in chemistry. The Syracuse native will spend the next year pursuing a master’s degree in biotechnology before heading to medical school in 2025.

“It has been my dream to ultimately become a physician, actively pushing the field of medicine forward through the application of research and health science technologies,” he said.

While at UAlbany, Bratslavsky served as president of the club swim team, vice president of the Five Quad Volunteer Ambulance Service and a student researcher in the Sammons Lab.

“I've learned that the journey is filled with hard work and painstaking effort, but counting my blessings and keeping in mind all of the good around me makes the journey much more manageable,” he said.

Chai Kam

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Chai Kam, of Albany, will graduate this spring with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. They plan to attend Albany Medical School in the fall with hopes of eventually becoming a doctor.

Kam gained experience in the field working for Five Quad Volunteer Ambulance Service, holding the positions of crew chief, field training officer, driver and conference coordinator. Kam also served as an undergraduate researcher for the Halvorsen Lab at the RNA Institute, and was a tenor in the UAlbany Chamber Choir.

"My time at UAlbany has been transformative, shaping not just my academic journey but also fostering personal growth and resilience,” Kam said. “Through the challenges and triumphs, I've learned the value of perseverance, collaboration, and embracing diversity. UAlbany has provided me with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills, but more importantly, it has instilled in me a sense of curiosity and a passion for lifelong learning. As I move forward, I carry with me the lessons and experiences from UAlbany, knowing that they have prepared me well for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead."

Jude Klein

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Jude Klein, a senior from Yonkers, transferred to UAlbany in 2022, majoring in history and political science. After graduation, they will head to Albany Law School to pursue a Juris Doctor degree.

While at UAlbany, they served as student assistant for scheduling and operations for UAlbanyGO, peer advisor in the Academic Support Center, and secretary, committee chair and vice president of the club Democracy Matters.

“Since transferring to UAlbany in 2022, I have been so lucky to be part of such a wonderful community of student leaders,” Klein said. “UAlbany has shown me that a college experience goes far beyond the classroom by emphasizing the importance of campus involvement. It has also introduced me to a city that I am so happy to call my new home and I cannot wait to begin attending law school in Albany in the fall!”

Shannon Morgan

A young woman with long curly red hair wears a black shirt and smiles for a portrait against a gray backdrop.

Shannon Morgan, a senior from Lynbrook, will be staying at UAlbany after graduating this spring with a bachelor’s in digital forensics and informatics to pursue her master’s in cybersecurity.

During her time at UAlbany, she was head student ambassador for the Information Security and Digital Forensics Department, president of the Digital Forensics Association, and classroom technology support student assistant shift lead for UAlbany’s Information Technology Services.

"My experience at UAlbany over the last four years has been completely transformative, shaping not only my academic journey but also my personal growth,” she said. “Through its diverse opportunities and supportive community, I've developed invaluable skills and forged lasting connections that I will be forever grateful for. UAlbany has prepared me to embrace challenges with resilience and confidently pursue my aspirations with determination.”

Biancamaria Scricco

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Biancamaria Scricco, a senior from Port Jefferson Station, will also continue on at UAlbany after graduating this spring. The political science and English major will pursue a master’s in public administration and policy, with plans to eventually go into the field of policy analysis.

She gained critical skills in that area while working as a research intern for the Rockefeller Institute of Government, analyzing and coding state legislation on per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances.

Scricco also served as a Writing and Critical Inquiry peer tutor teaching students methods to writing, research and inquiry; a community assistant for student engagement for the World of Politics Living Learning Community; and a student leader for the RED Bookshelf, an Albany nonprofit that inspires children to read.

“UAlbany has taught me that embracing discomfort and taking risks are essential to grow, learn and succeed,” she said.

Alexis Weber

A young woman with short curly black hair wears a black top, black choker and a necklace and smiles for a portrait against a gray backdrop.

Alexis Weber, of Jacksonville, Fla., is a fifth-year PhD student studying analytical chemistry and chief operating officer at SupreMEtric, a materials authentication company and UAlbany startup founded by Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Igor Lednev in 2019.

Lednev brought Weber on board in 2021 to help develop novel methods for forensic applications based on laser spectroscopy and advanced statistics. After graduation, Weber will serve as CEO of the company.

“Our mission is to streamline the forensic analysis of biological stains by creating a universal nondestructive method for detection, identification and analysis of all main body fluids,” she said.

Weber has pursued many interests while at UAlbany, becoming involved in the Society for Applied Spectroscopy Student Chapter, the Coblentz Society, and playing and watching Dungeons and Dragons.

"My time at UAlbany was not what I expected, it was more. I was offered numerous opportunities to grow and I tried to take everyone and that has gotten me where I am today."