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2017 SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence

portrait of Yehides MoskovitsYehides Moskovits was ill-prepared for college when she enrolled at RCC out of an all-girls Orthodox high school. “Coming to RCC was a huge step into the outside world,” she said. “At first it was like a foreign planet.” She earned her high school equivalency while at RCC and adapted exceptionally well to her educational environment, posting a 3.9 GPA as she pursues an AA Honors degree in Liberal Arts and Science: Humanities and Social Sciences.

“RCC prepared me for a four-year school with its academic and social experience,” she said. “Everyone has challenges to overcome, but I prefer to focus on opportunities. I want to take responsibility for my future.”

Moskovits was one of 200 community college students nationwide to receive a $1,000 scholarship from Phi Theta Kappa as a Coca-Cola Leader of Promise Scholar. She co-founded the Humans of RCC club, which gathers and shares stories of students of diverse backgrounds, establishing communal bonds between previously unconnected individuals. Their most successful event, “Meet and Eat,” featuring a speed-dating style of meeting people and international cuisine, drew a record total of more than 120 students.

Moskovits served as a student blogger for Campus Communications, a student ambassador, and an intern in the Multi-Media Production Center. She intends to transfer to a four-year school and pursue a career as a physician. Instrumental in her academic journey were Honors program mentors Dr. Katie Lynch and Dr. Thomas Butler. “The people in the Honors program are like family to me. It’s more than academics. They care about my future.”


portrait of Chaya WagschalChaya Wagschal, like Moskovits, had some catching up to do entering RCC. She obtained her GED during the first semester and, starting with remedial courses, made tremendous strides academically, earning a 3.95 GPA in the Honors program. She is poised to receive an AS in Liberal Arts and Science: Mathematics and Science. “When you have to work hard for something, you appreciate it more,” she said.

Deeply involved in the Student Government Association, Wagschal initiated an SGA project, Global Gallery, decorating the hallway from the Cultural Arts Center to the Fieldhouse with flags of countries representing RCC students and a student-created mural.

Wagschal was a co-founder of the Humans of RCC club and co-organizer of the “Meet and Eat.” She also served as treasurer of RCC’s chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Students and as a student blogger. She hopes to earn a bachelor’s in Computer Science and launch a career in software engineering. She credited her Honors advisor, Dr. Adessa Butler, with offering invaluable academic and general guidance, as well as the support of Abigail Hunte from Campus Communications for extracurricular activities, and her professors for their academic nurturing.

“My education at RCC gave me the foundation that allowed me to apply to some of the top universities in this country, and to feel confident to take on academic challenges,” she said. “In addition to growing academically, I made great connections, learned from my peers, theorized, researched, debated, presented, and wrote comprehensively.”


portrait of Ummaikhair ZuhairUmmaikhair Zuhair transferred to RCC from Penn State, where she studied mechanical engineering. She nearly dropped out of RCC when it proved too great a struggle to keep up with her studies while working full-time in a retail store and providing overnight care for her grandmother in a local nursing home. One professor expressed concern that she was falling asleep in class. She persevered, and told her professor that she wanted to continue to attend and prove that she was a good student. She overcame the restrictions of challenging work and family obligations to thrive in the classroom and make a difference on campus. When her grandmother passed away in 2015, Zuhair was able to apply herself more fully to her academic work.

In an effort to strengthen campus diversity and to expose the college community to the richness of her faith, Zuhair founded and is president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), and co-founded the Center of Muslim Life religious office. The MSA organized a bake sale that netted more than $700 for Rockland Foster Care, and collaborates with other faith-based clubs on campus for interfaith activities.

Zuhair was selected to represent RCC at SUNYCON, a prestigious SUNY conference. She is vice president of RCC’s Student Government Association, secretary of the Transfer Club, and a tutor in English at the Reading and Writing Center. She has also risen to assistant manager in her full-time retail job.

Zuhair holds a 3.38 GPA and is set to graduate with an AS in Business Administration. She plans to earn a bachelor’s in Finance and envisions a career on Wall Street, and eventually owning her own business. “When I started at RCC, I did not want to be here, but now, I do not want to leave!” she said. “The faculty helped me find the person that I now am, and motivated me to go further in life.”


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