Adult Student Wins Statewide Award

Amy Kremenek, Christopher Callahan, Judy Davison

Tompkins Cortland Community College student Christopher Callahan has been honored with the Continuing Education Association of New York (CEANY) Charles A. Burns Outstanding Adult Continuing Education Student Award. Callahan is the first Tompkins Cortland student honored with the statewide award. He was announced the winner at the CEANY annual conference in Monticello last month.

A business administration major who is taking classes part-time while working a full-time job, was nominated for the award by three people at the College. “Upon becoming aware of this program, I immediately thought of Christopher as he embodies the criteria for the award: persistence, drive and success in overcoming obstacles to achieve their educational goals,” wrote President Amy Kremenek. Having met Callahan during a series of focus group meetings on campus, and learning that he worked the overnight shift at a local manufacturer and took classes during the day, she was impressed by his dedication. ”He said he came to the focus group that evening, which meant that he was likely forgoing some much-needed sleep, because he wanted to personally share with me how much TC3 means to adult students like himself who did not have the opportunity to go to college the first time,” wrote Kremenek. “He was emphatic that despite the obstacles, he was going to graduate with his degree, and that he brought his son, who didn't think he wanted to go to college, with him to the focus group so that he could see why it was so important for him to go. It was a conversation that I have never forgot.”

Professor Sophia Georgiakaki also wrote in support of Callahan’s nomination. She had him in a 9 a.m. class and marveled at his commitment to his education. “After a full night’s shift, he was willing to stay and engage with his peers and me, asking thoughtful questions and volunteering answers frequently,” Georgiakaki wrote. “Chris understands the value of education and proves it every day.”

Of the many positive qualities Assistant Professor Janita Moricette wrote about in her nomination letter, it was Callahan’s thirst for learning and the way he shared his experiences in class that stood out. “His classmates were enlightened and with every passing class I watched Chris grow as a student and as a person,” wrote Moricette. “Chris personifies distinction, resiliency, dedication, and a stubbornness that drives his determination. The goals he now sets for himself, he pursues with a vigor and power that are second to none.”

The Charles A. Burns Outstanding Adult Continuing Education Student award carries with it a $2,000 scholarship. CEANY is a statewide organization with more than 500 members representing all public higher education across the state, including both SUNY and CUNY two and four-year institutions.

Photo: TC3 President Amy Kremenek, Christopher Callahan, Board of Trusteees Chair Judy Davison