Student Stories

Kelly Glowny

Kelly Glowny, 2021 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence

Kelly Glowny has earned a bachelor of science in childhood education with a mathematics extension, attaining a 3.97 GPA while participating in the rigorous Muriel A. Howard Honors Program.

An aspiring mathematics teacher, Glowny is an active and engaged student leader. She continually pursues opportunities to build her skills, participate in new experiences, and contribute to her community. Her insatiable curiosity and passion about both science and the art of teaching and her joy in engaging with colleagues and children is evident every day.

Glowny has conducted numerous research projects that she has presented on campus, locally, and nationally. The first, supported by an Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship, examined access to opportunity for students across Western New York. She presented her findings at the Student Research and Creativity Conference, the Professional Development Schools (PDS) annual conference, and the National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) conference. This led to subsequent research on opportunities and access local children have for play.

She cofounded and serves as president of the Future Teachers Club at Buffalo State College, a student-led group that provides networking, professional development, volunteer, and leadership opportunities. She has participated in the International Professional Development Schools (IPDS) programs in Chile and Italy and shared her experiences as an IPDS student ambassador. She became a face of the program, attending all events and assisting with programming. In addition, she is a fellow in Sophia’s Legacy, the social justice fellowship of the college’s Anne Frank Project.

The recipient of numerous merit-based scholarships, she has also earned an Undergraduate Travel Award, an Early Undergraduate Research Opportunity, and an Undergraduate Small Grant Award. She has been inducted into Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education, and has participated in numerous service-learning experiences that benefited the community.

Alia Williams Headshot

Alia Williams, 2021 Newman Civic Fellowship Recipient

Alia Williams is a junior working towards her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Childhood Education. During her time at SUNY Buffalo State College, she has exhibited a passion for diversity and inclusion in education that has led to her being named a Newman Civic Fellow. This prestigious fellowship is awarded to student leaders across the country who have demonstrated the ability to take social action and make a change in the community.

Williams is committed to give back to the Buffalo community, as proven by her involvement in a number of volunteering programs. In her freshman year, she participated in Bengals Dare to Care Day, then continued to serve the community as a member and treasurer of Tha Ink Club, a student-run organization at Buffalo State that focuses on social awareness and community service. Tha Ink Club works with the Salvation Army and local nursing homes, among other local groups. In addition, Williams has tutored both first-year college students and elementary schoolers around Buffalo, proving her dedication to provide equal learning opportunities for all students.

Studying Early Childhood and Childhood Education, Williams recognizes the impact she can have on her future students—her professional goal is to become a teacher who is also a role model for African-American students. She believes that education is the first step to equality and wants to foster a learning environment in which all students are included, no matter their appearance, background, or experiences.

As she works toward becoming a certified educator, Williams recognizes the extreme importance of diversity and inclusion in the classroom. She is a passionate and determined young community leader whose endeavors in the Buffalo community will continue to inspire others.

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Christine Garas, 2020 President's Medal for Outstanding Graduate Student

Christine Garas has earned a master of science in education in the literacy specialist (birth–grade 12) program, attaining a 4.0 GPA. She has distinguished herself throughout her undergraduate and graduate studies at Buffalo State College through her relentless pursuit of excellence, her unmatched devotion to education and literacy-related service, and her success as a leader at the local and national levels.

Garas has engaged in numerous scholarly activities. She has conducted research locally, nationally, and internationally and presented her results at four national and seven local conferences, including multiple presentations at the National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) Conference. Her research has focused on the use of music as a tool for second language instruction, among other topics. She was awarded the 2019 Emerging Leader Award by NAPDS.

She has embraced international professional growth experiences by participating in International Professional Development Schools (IPDS) trips to Santiago, Chile, and Torremaggiore, Italy, to widen her knowledge of teaching strategies. As the graduate assistant in the Elementary Education, Literacy, and Educational Leadership Department and the Professional Development Schools (PDS) Consortium at Buffalo State, she helped coordinate conferences and meetings, mentored undergraduate students in their research, and recruited prospective new PDS members.

She has served in a variety of leadership positions on campus, including as president of the college’s chapter of the Student Council for Exceptional Children, vice president of Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education, co-leader and facilitator of the edTPA Jump Start program, and graduate student representative on the Teacher Educational Council. She has volunteered with the Anne Frank Project and Bengals Dare to Care Day. She is a passionate and capable young leader who uses her natural talents and acquired skills to inspire others.​

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Rakia Akter, 2020 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence

Rakia Akter has completed her bachelor of science degree in childhood education (grades 1–6) in social studies, attaining a 3.88 GPA while participating in research, international experiences, and social justice initiatives. Highly motivated, she continually challenges herself and was accepted into Buffalo State College’s 4+1 pathway to begin her master’s degree in TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages).  A dean’s list student throughout her college career, Akter was inducted into Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education. She participated in a Myanmar study-away program, conducting an analysis of classroom engagement techniques at a partner school in Yangon, Myanmar.

Rakia Akter is an extremely dedicated student and new teacher who is motivated to learn and serve. She possesses an innate curiosity that has driven her to build an understanding of pedagogy through study and research.

During her time at Buffalo State, Akter has sought multiple research opportunities. After working with Burmese children as a substitute teacher aide at Elmwood Village Charter School, she was inspired to join the Myanmar study-away program sponsored by the Creative Studies Department. She conducted an analysis of classroom engagement techniques at a partner school in Yangon, Myanmar, and presented her findings at Buffalo State’s Professional Development Schools (PDS) Conference and Student Research and Creativity Conference, as well as the 2019 National Association for Professional Development Schools Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Later, she earned an undergraduate summer research fellowship to identify strategies to support the education of Burmese immigrants.

Because of her experience, expertise, and commitment to the refugee community of Buffalo, Akter was named an International Professional Development Schools (IPDS) student ambassador and a social justice fellow for the Sophia’s Legacy conference, sponsored by Buffalo State’s Anne Frank Project and School of Education.

A dean’s list student throughout her college career, Akter was inducted into Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education. She is a dedicated, hardworking, and knowledgeable student who has educated herself in order to educate others.