Mentoring Began to Change a Life

SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence winner Habeeb Famuyide

Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence winner Habeeb Famuyide, whose chief motivation at UAlbany became contributing to society.

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 18, 2016) — Habeeb Famuyide was a B-average student in high school. He didn’t win any major awards or receive college scholarship offers. Just a nice young man on his way to a solid but unspectacular college experience.

But something changed for Habeeb at UAlbany.

“It was the first time I encountered mentors, and seeing the way they worked and hustled inspired and motivated me,” said Habeeb, who began compiling academic and leadership honors at the University from his freshman year on. Now a senior, his undergraduate career culminates with a 2016 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. A job awaits him as a financial analyst for Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York City.

The Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence is the highest honor bestowed upon a student by the University. Nominations are sought for students who have best demonstrated and been recognized for their integration of academic excellence with other aspects of their lives, including leadership, campus involvement, community service, athletics or career achievement. Habeeb will be honored at a recognition ceremony on April 5 at 2 p.m.

As outstanding as his academic achievements have been — including four Spellman Academic Achievement Awards; five scholarships; membership in Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honors society in the study of business; and credit as lead researcher on a SUNY-approved project in finance — Habeeb has accumulated an impressive record (too long to fully list here) of leadership and contributions to those around him.

He joined the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) his freshmen year and was its president the last two years. Through NABA, he orchestrated a Day of Giving last spring, which provided blood and clothing donations in coordination with Residential Life and the American Red Cross. He worked with UAlbany’s Minority Association of Pre-Med Students and Campus Recreation to create a charity basketball tournament and barbeque to benefit Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society. And, through NABA, he also successfully brought recruiters from elite financial services to campus in the spring of 2014.

Within the Student Association, he served several leadership roles, including chief of staff. He was a student representative on the Dean’s Leadership Council in the School of Business. He was a founding executive board member of the Fashion Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs on campus. He was both a tutor and resume critic for accounting students on campus and a tutor and mentor for children at Pine Hills Elementary School. He was recognized for community engagement a year ago by St. Paul’s Methodist Church in his hometown of Inwood.

“My goals have always centered around giving back to society,” said Habeeb. “I'm a few months away from becoming a full-time professional, and would like to use that platform to help as many students obtain similar job/internship opportunities to the ones I was exposed to. That is my focus now, and will be for the next few years.

“My long-term goal, however, is actually something I haven't told too many people about. Over the course of my college experience I've been fascinated with culture and learning more about my Nigerian heritage. There are so many opportunities in Africa which call for improvement — creating sound infrastructure and a robust economy are at the top of the list. I hope that I'm in a position one day to help implement the changes that will really propel the continent.”

Habeeb acknowledges that community service and campus involvement took a little away from a cumulative average that will nonetheless leave him graduating magna cum laude. “Yes, I had to compensate slightly when I got heavily involved, but I was still able to excel in the classroom. More importantly, I felt my experience outside the classroom is where I learned the most.”

Because of that, he is very grateful for the opportunities he found at UAlbany. “I think this University allows you to blossom into who you're meant to be. Your college experience is based on how you mold it. There are so many paths you can take, but it really boils down to you taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible.”

That is the message Habeeb seeks to impart to others the rest of his life, particularly to young students of his race. “I embrace the role of someone African-American students can look up to,” he said. “At UAlbany, I made sure I was well attuned to the issues of the African-American community. As president of a black student group, that was part of my responsibility.”

He added, “I especially try to encourage many of the younger black students to challenge themselves when it comes to the School of Business. The program is rigorous, but the rewards and job placements are unmatched. Our business school needs more African-American students, and I hope that students can look to me as an example of the excellent education and career pathway in business that’s possible for them here.”

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About the University at Albany
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.