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Middle Earth Students Win National Awards in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention

Contact: Lisa James Goldsberry (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 15, 2004) -- The University at Albany's Middle Earth peer counseling students received national honors for their work in alcohol and drug prevention at the BACCHUS and GAMMA Peer Education Network National Conference held November 11-14 in Chicago. UAlbany won a total of four awards, more than any of the 88 competing colleges and universities. In addition, two UAlbany students were elected to national office.

The focus of the BACCHUS and GAMMA network is alcohol and other drug abuse prevention at the college and university level.

Vice President for Student Affairs James P. Doellefeld said, "Middle Earth's wonderful work is again recognized for excellence at the national level. Middle Earth is a vibrant student organization that deals with important peer issues of drug and alcohol prevention."

UAlbany students were awarded the following awards:

  • Award for Excellence in Peer Educa­tion for a College or University of 12,000 or more students ($300 prize)

  • Outstanding Program - for Dance-athon 2004 ($100 prize)

  • Outstanding School Exhibit - First Prize ($150 prize)

  • Outstanding Student - Christine Fan, a December 2004 UAlbany graduate

In addition, Mahaliel "J.R." Bethea and Aliya Makki each were elected to serve as officers of the national organization. Bethea (also president of UAlbany's Student Association) was elected as a student trustee and has thus won one of two student Board of Trustee seats in the BACCHUS and GAMMA national organization. Makki was elected regional representative for the states of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, as well as Canada.

M. Dolores Cimini, director of the Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program, said, "I am honored to have the privilege of working with the talented and dedicated students of the program. They are truly exceptional in their efforts to help and support their peers, and to communicate prevention messages both at UAlbany and beyond."

Middle Earth will donate all of their monetary prizes to the Kimberly E. Esterman Memorial Scholarship Fund. Funding for the students' trip to the Chicago conference was provided by the Dominion Foundation.

The Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program recently received a $10,000 gift from the Dominion Foundation to disseminate prevention initiatives materials to colleges and universities throughout the United States.

In addition, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recently awarded the University at Albany $850,000 to research interventions that prevent or reduce alcohol-related problems among college students. Cimini and Matthew P. Martens, assistant professor of educational and Counseling Psychology in the School of Education, will study "The Effects of Peer-Facilitated Alcohol Interventions."


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