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Sonia Seth: SUNY Chancellor’s Award Winner

Biology major and Chemistry minor Sonia Seth is one of two who earned the honors.

The SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence acknowledges students for outstanding achievements that have demonstrated the integration of SUNY excellence within many aspects of their lives in areas such as academics, leadership, campus involvement, community service, or the arts. It is the highest honor bestowed upon a student by the University.

With plans to pursue an MBA and an MD, Sonia Seth ’23 hopes to help others fight chronic disease.

Sonia Seth
 is a Biology major and Chemistry minor with a 4.21 GPA. Seth is enrolled in the Upstate Accelerated Scholars Program, with a goal of continuing to medical school to earn an MD.

But that’s not all.

Big Plans Ahead

Because Seth has completed her undergraduate degree in only three years, she’s using the extra year between Purchase and the beginning of her medical studies at SUNY Upstate Medical University to attend the Yale School of Management to earn an MBA.

Using her own experience with dietary interventions as inspiration, she plans to help others combat chronic disease.

“With diet and lifestyle changes, I reversed my pre-diabetic diagnosis and have inspired those around me,” she says. “Through my passion for ‘food as medicine,’ I am committed to helping my community and the world at large fight against the chronic disease epidemic.”

Although her approach will apply an entrepreneurial mindset.

“Eventually, I aspire to launch an organization that uses digitized and personalized medicine to empower individuals with the nutritional knowledge and action points needed to prevent disease.”

Close up of Sonia Seth '23 at work in the lab.

Hands-On Learning

Seth has made the most of her three years at Purchase. She’s been heavily involved in research and worked part-time as a lab technician at Burke Neurological Institute.

Volunteering for the campus Food Pantry, Seth initiated a partnership with Trader Joe’s to acquire a donation of high-quality, nutritious goods for the campus community.

“My time with the food pantry has been extremely rewarding.”

She’s also been an integral part of the Global Scholars program, even helping to shape the program itself by participating in work groups to create content for the Global Scholars seminar and offering input on program requirements. 

Most notably, she organized and led an invited talk with a courageous female physician from Sierra Leone, Dr. Glena Davies.

“Sonia’s preparation with the speaker in advance, her thoughtfulness and gentle but precise questions carried that unforgettable encounter,” says Anne Kern, Dean for Global Strategy and International Programs. “Dr. Davies has stayed in close touch with the program ever since.”

Seth also co-led and contributed to the design of the Peer Mentor Program and participated in an intercultural dialogue training program called Soliya Connect to improve her ability to engage in civil dialogue with people very different from herself.

“I feel like I have really been able to sharpen my skills in intercultural communication. I have loved being a part of this wonderful cohort of students,” says Seth.

Kern is a staunch believer in Seth’s future.

“As she moves on to graduate and medical studies, Sonia will be poised to gather together other brilliant, gritty idealists like herself to do the hard work of creating targeted nutrition and medicine to support the microbiome available to a wide range of people worldwide, not only the privileged few.”

And what does Seth love most about Purchase?

“The faculty at Purchase have provided me with tremendous support and mentorship throughout my time in undergrad, and I am so grateful for such amazing and invested professors! “ 

SUNY Chancellor John King, Sonia Seth '23 holding a certificate, and Director of the School of Natural and Social Sciences Rudolf Gaudio.

We also congratulate Hannah Kaebnick ’23, the second Chancellor’s Award winner.