The most powerful story at the annual Celebration of Student Achievement, sponsored by the Women's Studies Program, did not involve a project or an internship. Rather, it was about one student's resilience in the face of catastrophic illness.
Rajwant Sandhu transferred to The College of New Rochelle as a sophomore majoring in biology and chemistry. She had a GPA of nearly 4.0, an RA, and active in student organizations -- the future was bright. Until she suffered a heart attack in the summer of 2011 that required multiple surgeries, including a heart transplant, and even caused a stroke. She left school for a year, and went through months of therapy.
Thanks to the support of her family and friends, a boyfriend who is now her husband, and her own perseverance, Sandhu, who called her talk "A New Birthday," returned to CNR as a full-time student in the fall of 2012 and is set to graduate this May. Faculty and fellow students applauded her story with a standing ovation.
Other honorees, nominated by faculty, were:
Cera Alber SAS'13, Art Therapy -- Alber's senior show, Unveiled Realms, was exhibited in Mooney Center in January and February of this year. Using branches to creat pathways, Alber's installation sought to turn the hallway space into a portal to a different dimension. Viewers were invited to interact with the exhibit by writing their thoughts and attaching them to the installation.
Monica Alvarez SAS'13, Studio Art -- Alvarez was an intern for design firm Funny Garbage in the spring, working on websites. "It was an amazing experience," she said. "It helped me to branch out as a person." Alvarez also discovered a new appreciation for digital artwork.
Anna Stavropoulos SAS'13, Studio Art -- Stavropoulos' senior show, "The Next Level: A look into the art of game design," is currently on display in the Mooney Center Gallery. "I feel that video games are becoming an incredible medium for new artists to reach their audience," she says. Stavropoulos seeks to show how the art-making process is influenced by gaming.
Alvarez and Stavropoulos also presented a lecture portrayal of women in video games and comic books.
Denise Dailey SAS'14, Chemistry -- Dailey took part in the Summer Undergraduate Mentorship Program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Hispanic Center of Excellence, shadowing a clinical pathologist and an opthalmologist. She also researched autism in Hispanic populations.
Sonia Daniel SAS'13, Victoria Yeboa SAS'13, Elida Acosta SAS'13, Social Work -- On March 5, the Social Work senior seminar class traveled to Albany to advocate for the DREAM Act, legislation that provides a path to American citizenship for undocumented youth.
Amelia Ellis SAS'14, English -- Ellis sang two songs, including an original composition, accompanying herself on guitar.
Missiel Munoz SAS'14, Biology -- Munoz took part in the Summer Undergraduate Mentorship Program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Hispanic Center of Excellence. She worked with medical professionals and, with fellow interns, undertook research into the prevalence of gastic cancer in Hispanics and African-Americans.
Sarah Rodriguez, History -- Rodriguez developed a series of lessons on the Lenape tribe of the Hudson Valley. She hopes to use the curriculum, which has been aligned with new Common Core Standards, for her future classroom.
Jasmine Sukhram SAS'13, Political Science and Sociology -- Sukhram's senior research project is an attempt to better understand why many Americans choose not to register as organ donors. She found family and religion were minor factors to survey respondents, and that most were instead mistrustful of the health care system.
Zuleimarie Valle, Biology -- Valle, who hopes to become a doctor in cardiac pediatrics, interned with anesthesiologists at Vassar Brothers Mendical Center and with cardiologists at The Heart Center in Poughkeepsie.
Rubab Ali, Bojana Demirovic, Thereasa Nwankwo -- The three took part in a mock tribunal for a class called Global Perspectives on Women's Rights. They prepared "personal" testimony, based on actual events, personal accounts, and other research about human rights abuses around the world.
(Photo: Rajwant Sandhu shows photos from her wedding.)