MIDDLETOWN - On a night when SUNY Orange recognized those scholarship recipients among its new and returning students during its annual Scholarship and Awards Ceremony in Orange Hall Theatre, the College also took an opportunity to showcase one its greatest scholarship benefactors, former Dean of Students George Shepard.
As part of its annual Fall awards ceremony, the College asked Jack McMahon, a 1953 SUNY Orange graduate who also worked alongside Shepard at the College and is a past chair of the Board of Trustees, to speak about the impact Shepard had upon students during his 32 years at the College. McMahon also explained to the audience that through his estate - Shepard passed away in January 2011--the former dean was able to endow a series of scholarships, seven of which were awarded Thursday evening.
"George was an icon, and a legend in his own time," McMahon said of Shepard. "He cared about the students and, as the College grew, he saw to it that they were not just a number. But perhaps George’s greatest legacy is the tens of thousands of Orange County Community College alumni ... who are making lives better for themselves, their families and their communities."
Shepard, who was 92 at the time of his passing, had included the College in his estate planning and had indicated his desire that the money be used to establish a series of student scholarships. His estate donation of $751,000 was among the largest ever received by the College, and is the largest single scholarship contribution on record at SUNY Orange.
Thursday’s event, hosted by the SUNY Orange Foundation in conjunction with the College’s scholarship committee, once again drew a sizeable crowd to Orange Hall Theatre. The College’s wide array of academic, community service and athletic scholarships were distributed by Dr. William Richards, SUNY Orange president, and Derrik Wynkoop, second vice chairman of the SUNY Orange Foundation Board of Directors.
"A scholarship, no matter the amount, can have a significant impact on the life of a student," student Amanda Quintana, a second-year Honors Program, explained to the audience. "It can mean several different things. It may mean not having to worry about paying for our books. It may mean being able to take a couple hours off of work a week to focus on our studies. It may be the reason a student is able to attend and experience college. No matter what the exact meaning is to a student, though, this difference can make the college experience that much better.
"For me, receiving a scholarship has driven to me to strive for bigger and better things," she added. "Receiving this scholarship has literally meant that I will have less of a financial burden, but it has done so much more than that. Receiving the scholarship meant that someone acknowledged the dedication and hard work that it takes to succeed in college. It meant that someone else understood that it is not always easy, and that they wanted to lend a helping hand. This helping hand, YOUR helping hand, is pushing me to exceed my limits and chase my dream."
Among the 117 students honored, Sugar Loaf’s Peter Stika was the evening’s standout, walking away with four awards for his exploits in the College’s music program. Five other students (Middletown’s Tina Antoniades, Cuddebackville’s Moriah Brock, Newburgh’s Krista Drouin, Middletown’s George Ponzoni and Warwick’s Edward Tapia) each copped three scholarships.
In this latest scholarship cycle, SUNY Orange granted a record $241,200 in scholarships via the Educational Foundation. Typically, incoming and returning students are recognized during the Fall Scholarship and Awards Ceremony while graduating students receive their scholarships in May, just prior to Commencement. The vast majority of SUNY Orange scholarships are funded through the generosity of donors and friends of the College.