First Unity Award Scholarships, Prizes Awarded This Evening

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 9, 2015) -- UAlbany will present its first Unity Award scholarships and prizes at the Interfaith Unity Dinner and Awards ceremony tonight, December 9, at 6 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom.

Under the theme of Sustaining Unity, the event will highlight scholarly diligence, peacemaking, inclusiveness, social action, and compassion. Students who have demonstrated these characteristics throughout the semester will be recognized.

“This event is a wonderful example of students’ desires to engage in meaningful interactions with one another across many dimensions of diversity, including but not limited to, faith and spirituality,” said Ekow King, director of the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement.

Included among the list of participants are:

• Art of Living Director Nikhil Jain

• Cornerstone Campus Ministry President Alexis Lima

• Hillel Israel Fellow Aviv Zommer

• Hillel President David Schnall

• Student Association Intercultural Student Engagement Spiritual Director Olivia Roberts

• Muslim Student Association President Khalafalla Osman

• Newman Catholic Association President Jordan Zavensky

• College of Saint Rose Better Together Facilitator Priscilla Ly

• UAlbany Peace Action President Michelle Decampo

• UAlbany Advisement Services Center, James Parker

• Union College Better Together President Gianluca Avanzato

While the scholarships and awards are new, the Interfaith Unity Dinner has a long history on the UAlbany campus. Organized by the UAlbany Interfaith Coalition under the leadership of its president, Derek Healey, and co-sponsored by the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement, the Interfaith Center, University Auxiliary Services and Student Association, the dinner still serves as a reminder of the power of faith as a unifying force in a climate that is increasingly divisive.

The first Interfaith Unity Dinner was held at UAlbany in 2001 by the newly organized Interfaith Council, a student council made up of leaders from a variety of faith traditions who were interested in coming together to celebrate the share spiritual connections among students of different faiths. Council Chair Harriet Roffe worked with Jennifer Anderson and King to solicit support from the various faith groups on campus. The event was small, but extremely successful.

Fourteen years later, the Unity Dinner is a mainstay tradition at the University.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciencesbusiness, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.