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The 2024 SUNY Chancellor’s Award Winners

Purchase proudly announces this year’s winners of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence: Caitly Dominici and Sara Richter.

Congratulations to our 2024 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence recipients, honored at a ceremony by State University of New York Chancellor John B. King, Jr. in Albany on April 11, 2024.

Among 193 students from 62 campuses who received SUNY’s highest honor for academic excellence and leadership were Caitly Dominici ’24, graduating from the Psychology BA program with a minor in Sociology, and Sara Richter ’24, a dual major earning a BFA in Dance and a BA in Anthropology.

  Caitly Dominici

Last year, Caitly Dominici ’24 was named one of the first recipients of a $4 million scholarship program to support underrepresented students entering or enrolled in mental health degree programs at SUNY and CUNY schools, made possible by a federal grant awarded to the New York State Office of Mental Health.

Caitly Dominici '24 Holds Award Certificate on blue background

As a result, Dominici worked on two research projects this year, the Senior Project required for Purchase and a second required for the scholarship.

“Her Senior Project aims to characterize the development of racial prejudice in young children, as well as how parents think about their children’s racial biases. Her internship project aims to understand how children from marginalized backgrounds think about the structural barriers they face,” writes Assistant Professor of Psychology Rebecca Peretz-Lange, PhD, who oversees both research projects.

For both, Dominici independently collects data from child participants around the country over Zoom.

Dominici’s lived experiences in a low-income neighborhood witnessing systemic social, economic, and educational disparities have fueled her career goal—to attend graduate school for social work so she can return to her community and play a role in making change.

“These lived experiences have taught me that the child welfare system needs to be more sensitive to racial inequalities that inform their standards of negligence. The system must assist families of color with support services rather than placing the burden of responsibility solely on them and proposing the removal of a child as a solution,” writes Dominici.

Wider Campus Impact

Previously, Dominici earned the “Outstanding Junior” award from the Psychology department, decided by faculty vote, and has held several leadership roles on campus, such as a Learning Assistant for Research Methods 1 and Research Methods 2—two of the most challenging courses in Psychology—a Peer Mentor through the EOP program, and a Health Promotion Peer Mentor through the Prevention and Wellbeing Program. She’s also a Resident Assistant in The Olde.

“It is very rare that I meet a student as driven as Caitly,” says Peretz-Lange, who describes her as “immensely self-motivated, intellectually curious, and professionally driven.”

Caitly plans to attend graduate school to study childhood and adolescent clinical psychology with a long-term goal of establishing a non-profit organization to help people of color and residents of low-income neighborhoods gain access to resources in mental health and wellness.

  Sara Richter

Sara Richter ’24, from Naperville, IL., will graduate with a BFA in Dance and a BA in Anthropology.

SaraRichter '24 Holds Award Certificate
Richter joined the Global Scholars program in the inaugural 2020 cohort and has remained active since then, serving as the longest-standing Teaching Assistant in the Global Scholars seminar with one other student.

The Purchase College Global Scholars Program is a four-year co-curricular program designed to bring together like-minded students from across academic areas to develop skills in intercultural communication and create a forum for globally focused, interdisciplinary collaboration.

Dean for Global Strategy and International Programs Anne Kern admires the role Richter played in shaping the program and her willingness to accept every challenge presented, all while juggling the academic demands of two degree programs and a potentially career-ending foot injury. Richter served as…

  • assistant to the Conservatory of Dance’s Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Marcel Gbeffa
  • worked as an International Orientation Leader in the summers of 2022 and 2023
  • co-led a small delegation of Global Scholars to the United Nations headquarters in New York City to meet and speak with the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed
  • co-led a Zoom breakout group composed of campus leaders and staff in a workshop on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals featuring John McArthur, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution
  • selected by the facilitators of the Soliya Global Exchange Connect Program to participate in their advanced training course to become credentialed as a facilitator herself

The Synergy of Dance and Society

Richter’s motivation for joining the Global Scholars program is tied to her passion for dance and its global societal roots.

“I dream of one day traveling the world, learning all the indigenous dances that have paved the way for modern contemporary dance. Most importantly, I strive to be a citizen of the world and to embrace myself in societies that are not my own.”

Associate Professor of Anthropology David Kim explains how Richter’s research in anthropology demonstrates the vibrant connection between the arts and social sciences.

“Dancers have always made fine ethnographers—Sara is a part of this rich history,” Kim writes.

“Their honed awareness of the body in space gives them a unique perspective on people and the environments they inhabit. Sara’s own work reflects this, as her research examines how people are entwined with social forces—aesthetic, cultural, and historical. The arts and social sciences enrich one another through experimentation and practice. Her work most excellently captures this synergy.”

In the summer of 2023, Richter traveled with a Purchase College study abroad program to Northern Ireland. Assistant Professor of Playwriting Peggy Stafford led the Socially Engaged Art Making in Northern Ireland program.

“Sara Richter is bright, curious, and invested in the world around her. Sara challenged herself to create a dance that was at once relevant, and refreshingly spectacular and powerful. A natural leader and community-builder, Sara brings light and laughter into every room she enters,” writes Stafford.

The impact  Sara has made across the college has been incredibly positive, according to Kern.

“Sara is simply extraordinary, both as a student artist-scholar and human being.”

Chancellor’s Awards

The 2024 Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence (CASE) recognize students for outstanding achievements throughout their SUNY experience in areas including academics, leadership, campus involvement, community service, and the arts.

“There is a place at SUNY for every New Yorker, and each year we come together to herald and celebrate the achievements of a diverse group of some of SUNY’s most accomplished students,” said SUNY Chancellor King. “It is my honor to celebrate the achievements of the nearly 200 CASE awardees as they inspire others and illustrate what is possible with a SUNY education.”

This year’s keynote speaker, Saad Hajidin, a 1988 SUNY Potsdam graduate, is the founder and creative director of inPhorm, an international designer, active, and lifestyle brand dedicated to sustainable production and empowering responsible consumers to choose products that are eco-forward.

SUNY Chancellor John D. King, Caiityl Dominici '24 holding award certificate, Purchase President Milagros Peña.

SUNY Chancellor John D. King, Sara Richter '24 holding award certificate, Purchase President Milagros Peña.