Anthony Arnone | April 26, 2023

Graduating Student Leaders Earn Top Honors

Meet the Class of 2023 graduates who have been honored with the University’s most prestigious student awards.

Karen Blank and President Heidi Macpherson at the Honors and Awards Ceremony

A number of graduating students have been recognized for their outstanding achievements during the final weeks of their time at SUNY Brockprort. Karen Blank, Hunter Czajkowski, and Blake James received the University’s highest honors.

The Class of 2023 will continue its celebrations at in-person commencement ceremonies on:

  • Friday, May 12 from 9 am – 12 pm: School of Education, Health, and Human Services Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement Ceremony
  • Friday, May 12 from 2 – 5 pm: School of Arts and Sciences and School of Business and Management Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement Ceremony

President’s Citation Award

The University’s highest award recognizes a graduating senior who has demonstrated outstanding scholastic merit (a GPA of at least 3.75), a strong record of co-curricular activities, significant contributions to the University and community, and evidence of professional promise.

Karen Blank

Karen Blank

Blank is the epitome of a lifelong learner. In 1993, she graduated with an Associates of Applied Science. She went on to work for the YMCA of Greater Rochester for over 22 years before retiring in 2021.

Blank returned to higher education to earn a bachelor’s degree in public health. Mindful that her nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren were “watching” her, she finished her undergraduate program with a 3.77 GPA.

Blank is a member of the Eta Sigma Gamma Honor Society, volunteer at the Hilton United Methodist Church, and research assistant to Dr. Darson Rhodes, Dr. Godfred Antwi, and 2023 Graduate Distinguished Scholar Award winner Hunter Czajkowski.

Blank hopes to leverage her degree to work as a consultant in public health, possibly for the University of Rochester, YMCA of Greater Rochester, and/or the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors.

Graduate Distinguished Scholar Award

This award recognizes an exceptional graduate student with a record of outstanding academic work and scholarship. To be considered for the award, a nominee must be a graduating master’s level student with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.85 and outstanding scholarship or creative activity in their field of study.

Hunter Czajkowski

Hunter Czajkowski

Czajkowski earned her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with a 4.0 GPA in 2022, earning the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. In 2023, she will graduate with 4.0 GPA from the Master of Public Health (MPH) graduate program.

Czajkowski is the Vice President of the Public Health Club, Treasurer for the Pre-professional Health Club, a pole-vaulter for the Varsity Track team, and a volunteer for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the University of Rochester. She represents the pinnacle of academic excellence, landing on the President’s List (Fall 2019-Fall 2020) and on the Dean’s list with Honors (Fall 2020 and Spring 2021) as an undergraduate.

Czajkowski has published nine orthopedic research projects through her involvement with Tri-County Orthopedics. She is currently working on two research projects with the Department of Public Health, including the President’s Citation Award winner, Karen Blank.

Upon graduating, Czajkowski will be applying for medical school with the hopes of starting her medical program in Fall 2024 and using her MPH in the interim.

Marion Schrank Student Leadership Award

This award is the pinnacle of student leadership awards at SUNY Brockport. It recognizes an outstanding student who demonstrates a record of exemplary leadership, scholastic achievement, and commitment to the University community through various modes of involvement, including campus organizations, leadership positions, peer mentorship, engaged learning, and community service. Recipients of this award exemplify integrity and civility, demonstrating a commitment to citizenship, and the creation of an inclusive Brockport community.

Blake James

Blake James

James is a major in criminal justice with a minor in African and African American Studies. He has consistently demonstrated academic excellence, earning recognition on the Dean’s List, Dean’s List with honors, and acting as a member of Alpha Phi Sigma (Criminal Justice National Honor Society).

James has been a campus leader through various student organizations such as Talon Academy, Track and Field, Student Advisory Board, African Student Union Dance Team, Brockport Social Media Content Team, the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Student Advisory Board, Brockport Student Government, and Men of Color.

James has worked closely with the Intercultural Center, contributing to the Umoja Ceremony, the Golden Eagle Experience, and much more behind the scenes to support his community. He has been instrumental in reigniting efforts on campus to connect our students of color to the campus police and vice versa for the first time in three years.

James has made a significant impact on our campus community. He inspires, transforms, and bridges in ways that will benefit him and others throughout his life. In the future he hopes to attend law school and is interested in practicing intellectual property.