Merited Praise

Editor’s Note: UAlbany no longer offers the Merit platform

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 16, 2016) — Two University at Albany students are witnessing firsthand the merit of networking.

Senior Felix Abreu and freshman Camirr Sanders are interning with Merit Pages Inc., an Albany-based web platform. Merit promotes student success by offering students from participating colleges customized personal pages, detailing education and professional achievements, much like a resume. The Merit pages can be shared with hometown newspapers, high schools, state legislators, family, friends and prospective employers.

UAlbany Students Camirr Sanders, top, and Felix Abreu
Camirr Sanders, top, a freshman planning a double major in computer science and cyber security, is a Merit intern. Senior Felix Abreu, bottom, plans to start his own technology company, and maybe go into politics.

Abreu and Sanders, both computer science majors, are working with Merit’s software development teams.

Merit found these two students by using its own service. In a test designed to show employers how effective Merit could be for finding interns or full-time employees, Merit posted an internship opportunity for students at UAlbany, which became the first SUNY institution to adopt the system at the start of the fall 2016 semester. Several students responded to the opportunity, and Abreu and Sanders were ultimately chosen.

“If UAlbany hadn’t created their Merit pages and if they hadn’t added their own activities to their pages, we never would have discovered either of them,” said Jason Fox, Merit co-founder and UAlbany alum.

Fox said that since Sanders is relatively new to computer science, he will split his time at Merit between their engineering and user experience teams until he is up to speed with software development. Abreu is working with the engineering team on software projects and developing the Merit Pages website.

“We’re asking our interns to do meaningful work on real projects with a professional team,” said Fox.

In addition to his software development work, Abreu is working with Sanders as a mentor, an opportunity Abreu is excited to embrace. He said he hopes to help Sanders through many of the same issues and concerns that he faced himself as a freshman computer science major, and giving him advice on how to succeed as a UAlbany student and as a member of the STEM field.

“I feel like that’s extremely important, mainly because we don’t tend to have a lot of resources available to us, to actually guide us specifically in our field,” said Abreu. “And I say ‘us,’ I’m referring to minorities. You know, we’re pretty much underrepresented in the STEM field… I feel like I’ve taken it upon myself to serve as a resource to individuals like myself that would like to pursue this field, but are afraid because of the lack of resources available to them.”

This internship is the latest in a long list of activities Abreu has undertaken as a student at UAlbany. After transferring to UAlbany from St. John’s University in the fall of 2013, Abreu joined his first student group, Fuerza Latina, where he would eventually become a member of their programming committee and dance troupe. He went on to join the Phi Iotta Alpha fraternity, served as the vice president of the Latino Greek Council, became a resident advisor for Alumni Quad, and worked with the Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence. In spring 2015, Abreu successfully ran for the Student Association senate representing the Applied and Natural Sciences Department. Since the start of the Fall semester, Abreu has been Student Association President.

Abreu hopes one day to start a business providing technology services, from websites to transaction software, to help companies reach their highest potential. He also likes the idea of getting into politics.

Sanders’s plans to double major in computer science and cybersecurity, and hopes to become a cybersecurity specialist. He also wants to become proficient in at least eight languages, and his Merit page currently lists him as versed in English, Chinese and French.

“They are both bright, energetic, hardworking students,” said Fox. “And from what I understand, they are also among the first in their families to go to college.”

"I am so pleased that Felix and Camirr have the opportunity to intern with Merit and can witness first-hand the impact that an innovative, local start-up can have on higher education and, more importantly, on their University,” said Michael Christakis, vice president for Student Affairs at UAlbany. ‘They are gaining invaluable skills that will undoubtedly contribute to their professional development and success.”

UAlbany students can search for, and personalize their own Merit pages at www.ualbany.meritpages.com.

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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.