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Shining a Spotlight on the 2022 Prestigious Panthers

By Kurana Doobay

October 12-16, 2022, marked the dates of the 6th Annual Spirit Weekend hosted by Adelphi. What’s a Spirit Weekend without some school spirit?! This year, Adelphi’s Spirit Court was made up of Brei Snyder, Caio Gomes, Carmilia Moise, Reilly Fortune, Gabriel Silva, Christina Korotki and Mylo Fishemran, along with the four Prestigious Panthers.

The Prestigious Panther award is one of the greatest honors an Adelphi student could hope to achieve during their time here. To be considered, a student must possess qualities of dedication, commitment, pride, passion, leadership and tons of school spirit all while keeping their grades in check.

This year, the four students recognized included seniors Miguel Velasquez, Jende Uy, Jonay Jackson and Kelly Andruezzi. For these Panthers, being at Adelphi is so much more than simply being a student; it has become a part of their identity. They are mentors, role models, leaders, and at the end of the day, our friends.

Here is a look at what makes each of these Panthers special, and why they truly deserve the title Prestigious Panther.

Andreuzzi’s favorite picture of themself. Photo by Kelly Andreuzzi

Kelly Andreuzzi: Brown and Gold… And Green

Kelly Andreuzzi, a senior environmental science major with a minor in ethics, law and justice in the 4+1 Program for a masters in environmental studies, said, “I think of myself as a very passionate person. I have a few interests that I hold close to my heart, which I remain committed to.”

One of these is the reason they chose Adelphi. “Even before college I knew I wanted to be in an environmental program. Throughout high school, I had an interest in fighting climate change and making a career out of it.”

Here at Adelphi, Andreuzzi has been actively contributing to the fight against climate change through serving as president of the Environmental Action Coalition (EAC). The organization works to promote education, sustainability and environmental equity for all through participating in a variety of volunteer opportunities and engaging in community action on Long Island.

Andreuzzi said, “I am extremely proud of the work I have done with the NY Renews and the Long Island Progressive Coalition and the Environmental Action Coalition. I am proud to be a part of such amazing communities that take action to promote climate justice in our community, in New York State and beyond. Through these organizations, I have helped support climate and environmental justice legislation that supports renewable energy, green jobs, reducing waste and pollutants and dedicating funding to disadvantaged communities.”

In this way, Andreuzzi has been spreading their influence outside of Adelphi into the neighboring communities and New York State as a whole. Andreuzzi is completely committed to their fight against climate change and refuses to give up. They said, “For me, the promise of one day making the world a better, sustainable, more just place keeps me motivated to keep going. I have always tried to leave every space with a positive impact.”

Andreuzzi is fairly busy on campus; besides being president of EAC they are also a research assistant for Susan Kilgore (assistant professor of Environmental Studies and Sciences), director of finances for the Feminist Alliance, a Peer Assistant Leader, a first-year community action program leader, a member of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance, a member of Students Beyond the Binary and a volunteer for the community garden and Panther Pantry.

As a result of their involvement, Andreuzzi shared “Adelphi is a community that has helped me feel not only accepted but welcomed. As a queer person it can sometimes be difficult to find a place where I feel welcomed unconditionally. I am happy to call Adelphi a home.”

While Andreuzzi makes it all look easy, they also find themselves encountering struggles outside of their academic and social life.

“A personal struggle of mine has been with anxiety and depression,” they said. “I am happy to be in a better place now, mainly thanks to my amazing support systems that include my close family and friends.”

While they spend so much time contributing and committing to the Adelphi community, when they take time for themselves, they shared, “One thing I do to take care of myself is to devote a destressing hour before bed. As an introvert, I need a bit of alone time to recharge after the day.”

To fellow students, Andreuzzi shared, “My biggest piece of advice is to find a life passion. It does not have to be something specific; it can be as simple as trying to be positive every day. Find that passion and commit to it, love it and never lose it.”

After graduating in 2023, Andreuzzi has even greater goals to leave their impact on the planet. They said, “Ideally, my career goal would be in a position where I am writing environmental policy bills or managing the environmental policy for an area or region.” Adelphi is only a small place compared to all the other places where Andreuzzi will make a difference, so go pay a visit to them at the next EAC event.

Miguel Velasquez performing at Greek Sing 2021. Photo by Miguel Velasquez

Miguel Velasquez: A Leader Making Leaders

Miguel Velasquez’s leadership qualities are almost contagious. “I had a lot of people make a massive difference in my experience, so I’ve been inspired to do the same for other people,” he said. They were passed down to him and now he is actively working on passing them down to others.

Velasquez, a senior history major in the STEP Program also enrolled in the Levermore Global Scholars Program, defines himself as ambitious, supportive and grateful. “I set a lot of goals for myself and I know a lot of things are possible if I work towards them and learn about how I can get there,” he said. “I have dedicated a lot of time towards supporting other students through the different leadership roles I took on at Adelphi.”

Velasquez is involved in several clubs and organizations including being a resident assistant in Waldo Hall, as well as a brother of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity and a member of The Future Teachers Association. He also holds the position of president of the InterGreek Council that oversees all Greek organizations on campus and is the vice president of finance for the Student Activities Board. He is also a peer assistant leader, a student worker for the Center for Student and Community Engagement and a social media intern for the @applyadelphi Instagram page. He was also recently elected as senior class president for the class of 2023.

Velasquez’s main goals are selfless; they all surround the desire to help and support others. “Whether it was helping a resident with learning about how to adapt in a new environment far from home or teaching one of my PAL mentees how to register for classes, I have tried to support many students through different things they navigate in their experience,” he said. “I am also someone who has dedicated a lot of time to different communities on campus and try my best to support various programs, campus initiatives and events my peers work hard to put together.”

Velazquez never fails to include everyone, no matter who they are or how different they are from him. His desire to help others has been inspired by those who have helped in.

“I am grateful because I recognize that it takes a village,” he said. “My parents have worked hard to get their kids through college, and I would not be here without them. I have many friends and chosen family who guided me and I learned so much from them. I am grateful for all the people I met here, how they contributed to my growth and my experience. I would not be where I am or be the person I am without the mentors I have had in terms of other students and staff at AU.”

With all of his achievements, Velasquez never fails to remember where his family came from, and he takes great pride in his roots. He shared, “My parents came to America with the goal of providing for their kids, and I am one step closer to being able to take care of them. I am so grateful for what they have worked so hard to give me, and when I graduate, it will prove that their sacrifices have been worth it.”

He has not only made his parents proud through his efforts and achievements, but Velasquez is incredibly proud of his parents, particularly his mother. He said, “My mom is the biggest inspiration and drive to push through. She is the strongest person I know and I think of her when things get tough for me. I think about what she’s been through and how she didn’t give up for her kids, so it drives me to get through things.”

Velasquez himself has served as a role model and mentor at Adelphi, and he hopes to continue to have a positive impact on those around him, even after his time here is up. When he graduates in 2023, Velasquez said, “I want to be a high school history teacher and work with neurodivergent students.”

Everywhere he goes, and in everything he does, Miguel Velasquez is a leader leaving a legacy. At the end of the day, Velasquez said with a laugh, “Napping is also very important to me!”

Jende Uy with her Prestigious Panther award in October. Photo by Jende Uy

Jende Uy: A Golden Ball of Sunshine

Jende Uy, senior biology major on the pre-med track with a minor in forensic anthropology, defines herself as “positive, active and radiant.”

“Positivity is contagious so I always try to be that person for people,” she said. “I am always on the go or moving around either to a meeting, practice or just because I want to. I believe that I am radiant because I like to spread positivity and I have been told that that positivity radiates out of me.”

Uy, who is an out-of-state student from Redlands, California, came to college at the age of 16 as she was homeschooled in high school and had the chance to graduate early. She said she chose Adelphi because, “of the leadership and community service.”

Uy can be seen running all around campus, from place to place throughout the day. She is a member of the National Residence Hall Honorary and Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Society, the vice president of Gamma Beta Phi National Community Service Honor Society, lobby chair of the Student Activities Board, a student supervisor at Campus Recreation, a peer assistant leader, a first-year community action program leader, as well as a member of Women’s Club Soccer and Club Volleyball – definitely living up to the way she describes herself as “active.”

Uy is easily able to find balance in all she does because she genuinely loves being a part of the Adelphi community. “Because I chose to do and be part of things that I enjoy, I see all of it as my social and personal life,” she said. “I always say, ‘Do what you love and love what you do,’ which is why I enjoy being part of everything I am involved in. I balance everything by reminding myself of why I do it and how much joy I get from it.”

And for her, it paid off! When Uy received the honor of Prestigious Panther, she said, “It felt like all my hard work finally paid off. It felt as if everything that I have worked on and for this university has shown. It felt great to finally have something to show my parents what I have accomplished during my time here away from them.”

In doing so, not only has she made her family and the Adelphi community proud of her, but she is rightfully proud of herself. “I can truly say that I am most proud of myself; proud of where I am today, who I am, and how I have grown, not only since my freshman year, but also as a human. I have learned so much from being a first-generation American and a young, out-of-state student from California,” she said.

When she graduates in 2023, Uy will be continuing her education at Adelphi in the 4+1 masters program and then move on to medical school.

Through her positive attitude, Jende Uy radiates a type of light that makes the California sunshine she grew up in look dull.

Jonay Jackson flashing a smile. Photo by Jonay Jackson

Jonay Jackson: Putting Her Best *Paw* Forward

Prestigious Panther Jonay Jackson believes that “you truly never know what can happen until you try. I never would have known that any of this could be possible had I not put my boldest foot forward.” Regarding her time as a Panther, one could say she has put her best paw forward.

Jackson, a senior business management major from Brooklyn, said, “I came from an enormous high school with over 6,000 students. Having had that experience, I knew I needed a change going into college. I actively sought out a small university where I could stand out, feel seen and experience true community.”

And that she did. She proudly said, “I have learned that positively impacting others, whether 100 people, 10 people or even just one person, is one of the most fulfilling things a person can do.”

Jackson is currently involved in the Panther Pantry as a volunteer coordinator. She is also a Willumstad Leadership Scholar, a resident assistant in Residence Hall A, a member of National Residence Hall Honorary and the Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Honor Society, as well as an ambassador for the Greenwood Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing black and brown students with the financial service industry.

Jackson said, “With every involvement on and off campus, I strive to positively impact others in meaningful and memorable ways.”

Along with the Prestigious Panther award, Jackson has also been recognized with other honors, including at the Spring 2022 Adelphi Film Festival with the Best Editing Award and at the Spring 2022 Brown & Gold Awards with the Emerging Leader Award and the President’s Student Leadership Award.

Despite her array of achievements, Jackson shared that she sometimes has a hard time believing in herself and finds herself falling victim to imposter syndrome. Even when she was up on stage in front of her peers about to receive her Prestigious Panther plaque, she said, “I had already pre-determined that I wouldn’t be a Prestigious Panther, even before any of the names were called. I realized that whether I became a Prestigious Panther or not, I had come far. I felt humbled to even be associated with such inspiring individuals. It was incredible to have been given this honor, along with an opportunity to inspire other students to achieve greatness.”

She also recalled, “Fun fact, I was at a dinner with Dr. Christine Riordan the night before the Carnival!”

Jackson is greatly inspired and motivated by her mother. “My mom is my greatest motivator,” she said. “She has worked incredibly hard to get to where she is now and to provide me with the life I live today. I have always been inspired by her resilience, her drive and her kindness. She has taught me the value of putting love and intention behind everything you do.”

Jackson herself reflects these character traits and strong values.

To other students, Jackson advised, “Get involved early and try something new. As someone who came to Adelphi during the pandemic, it was difficult to integrate myself into the community at first. I’m naturally an introvert, so I had to push myself out of my comfort zone. I attended events, I joined clubs, and said ‘yes’ to every opportunity that presented itself to me, even if it felt intimidating.”

Adelphi will have Jackson for an extra year as she will be staying to pursue an MBA, with a specialization in finance. After graduating, she hopes to work at asset management firm Janus Henderson Investors in Denver, Colorado.

Until then, she’ll continue to put her best foot – paw – forward.

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