Focusing on students and their needs as a way of paying tribute to her family perfectly fits Linda Panarites Sweeting’s sensibilities regarding philanthropy. A 1975 graduate, she has been making gifts to SUNY Oswego’s annual fund and volunteering as a reunion gift organizer over the years, but always “hoped to do more.”
When she consulted with her husband and her brother about honoring departed family members through an endowed scholarship, they were of one mind in creating a fund that would provide financial assistance to one entering student each year. That student would come to SUNY Oswego from Spencerport or Hilton, alternately, and would personify the values of the Panarites and Sweeting families.
Sweeting spent her career in the alumni and development office at SUNY Brockport, where she saw the “difference a gift could make in the lives of the student and the donor.” She says she always wanted to make a gift to Oswego that went beyond supporting the annual fund, and she was inspired in philanthropy by coworkers, especially Brockport faculty member emeritus Frances Moroney Whited ’44.
“I valued my time at Oswego and the education I received as a student,” Sweeting says. “Now, I completely admire and trust the people in the Office of Development, and I really like the direction Oswego is going in terms of academics.”
Sweeting says her father’s people came to America from Greece, and even though they all valued education, only one of the siblings had the resources to complete a college degree. The Panarites-Sweeting Family Scholarship will ensure that the selected student will have access to higher education without incurring crippling debt.
“When we talked to professionals at Oswego, we said we didn’t want to put a lot of restrictions on the choice of the recipient,” Sweeting says. “But when we met Bianca, the first recipient, and her family, we felt as if she had been hand picked for us.”
—Linda Loomis ’90 M ’97
SUNY Oswego has partnered with the National Action Council on Minorities in Engineering to award scholarships starting this fall to
increase enrollment in engineering fields for students from underrepresented groups.
As part of multiple efforts to boost interest among talented minority students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, Oswego will team with NACME to provide up to 10 awards this fall at the level of Presidential Scholarships—$4,700 a year for up to four years—to students interested in engineering from high schools and academies that take part in NACME’s pilot STEM Integration Model.
President Deborah F. Stanley and NACME President Irving Pressley MacPhail signed an agrement last summer to formalize the college’s participation in NACME’s STEM Integration Model.
Oswego is the only four-year SUNY institution taking part in a series of national pilots that, in the New York/New Jersey region, includes Cornell University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Syracuse University and at least five others.
“We are very hopeful that we are going to attract a pool of highly talented, creative and diverse applicants to the STEM fields as a result of our new affiliation with NACME,” Dan Griffin ’92, M ’00, interim director of admissions at SUNY Oswego, said.
While NACME is known as the nation’s largest private source of scholarships for underrepresented minority men and women in engineering, the new NACME pilot program invites select high schools, colleges and universities, along with corporations, to form a network committed to increasing the number of minority engineers in each region of the country.
NACME’s STEM Integration Model aims to build a continuum of minority interest in engineering fields starting in middle school and progressing through high school, college and graduate school to jobs in such partner companies as AT&T, Bristol-Myers Squibb, IBM and Merck.
SUNY Oswego is building a comprehensive infrastructure of opportunities for undergraduates in STEM fields, including scholarships, grants and offerings in software engineering and, starting this fall, in electrical and computer engineering inside the $118 million Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation.
NACME is interested in placing students in engineering careers and in particular providing them with an international experience, which is often difficult to achieve in engineering curricula.
MacPhail was very interested in SUNY Oswego’s Global Laboratory as a program to give more NACME engineering students across the country international experiences, principally in the petrochemical industry. Oswego has a strong connection in Brazil, at a lab that works on petro-geological modeling. Benjamin Valentino ’13, a student in a summer Global Laboratory program, worked in the lab.
Since then, admissions counselor Christie Torruella Smith ’08 has visited most of the seven high schools and academies in this region’s NACME pilot program: Albany High School, Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy, City Polytechnic High School, Construction Trades Engineering and Architecture High School, John E. Dwyer Technology Academy, Manhattan Bridges High School and Rochester STEM High School. The partnership includes at least four community colleges in the region as well.
“With the new science facility, the Possibility Scholarships, the new major in electrical and computer engineering and another in software engineering— it’s the perfect time to reach out to those schools,” Smith said. SUNY Oswego’s Possibility Scholarship program puts STEM programs within reach of socioeconomically challenged students.
SUNY Oswego offers several other opportunities for high school students to engage with the college and its science faculty, from the Summer Science Immersion Program to the GENIUS Olympiad global environmental competition.
JAMES F. OKONIEWSKI ’72 FEELS strongly about two things – his love for his hometown of Fulton and the Oswego County area, and his belief that mathematics is a key subject for success in life.
He decided to act on those convictions by establishing a scholarship for students from Fulton’s G. Ray Bodley High School, his alma mater, to attend Oswego and study math. His gift of $50,000 will endow a scholarship for a Bodley graduate with financial need, majoring in mathematics or in education with a concentration in math. The first scholarship will be awarded for the 2013-14 academic year, and it is renewable, provided the recipient meets certain academic standards.
“I’m trying to counteract the feeling out there that the study of mathematics is not that important,” Okoniewski said. “Math is clearly important in analyzing any situation.”
He pointed out that if people were better able to analyze the risks versus the return on their investments, it would benefit, not just individuals, but the economy as a whole.
It’s a strategy he used to build a successful real estate business by analyzing the value of his property investments.
Now he would like to share his success with students from his hometown school, where his cousin Joseph Sczupac was chair of the math department. Francis Godici was a Bodley math
teacher who influenced Okoniewski.
Okoniewski’s roots run deep in Fulton, particularly in its Polish community. He was the youngest president of the city’s Polish Home, a post he held in his teens during the 1960s. “When I was younger I hung around adults more than kids my own age, so that is when I joined the Polish Home,” he explained.
As an Oswego student, he took his love for his ancestral homeland one step further and studied one summer in Poland at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University, thanks to encouragement from Professor Emeritus Joseph Wiecha to apply and win a Kosciuszko Foundation fellowship.
Okoniewski shared his Polish heritage by starting a Polish language affiliation club at the college, holding a book drive to raise money to buy Polish literature for Penfield Library and bringing the first polka band to Oswego State.
He became a DJ at the student radio station WOCR and his talent was recognized by WRVO station manager Bill Shigley, who invited him to go on air at the public radio affiliate.
His other mentors were in the math department, including Professors Emeriti Richard Orr and John Daly.
Now the influence comes full circle, as with his generous endowed scholarship, Okoniewski reaches out to help generations of Oswego college students to come. l
— Michele Reed
THEY MET WHILE WAITING IN LINE AT THE DEAN’S OFFICE IN SHELDON HALL and fell in love at Oswego. Now, decades after that meeting and after 50 years of marriage, Ed ’62 and Janet Albreght Heinrich ’63 have made a special Reunion gift that will endow a scholarship fund for education majors.
“I started talking to Janet and cut the line,” Ed said. They dated a few times, but no real sparks until senior year when Ed asked Janet to iron a white shirt for him. He was desperate for help, so Janet ironed that shirt and the couple warmed to their new love.
Ed was president of the Class of 1962 and of Delta Kappa Kappa, and worked as a bus driver for the athletic teams. Janet was a member of Alpha Sigma Chi and the Catalina Club. Both went on to become teachers, and Ed spent 14 years in administration.
Along with Col. Jack James ’62 USMC (Ret.), Ed co-chaired the Class of 1962 Reunion giving committee. The 50th Anniversary Class of 1962 won the 2012 Reunion Participation Cup for a record-setting percentage of donors, with 147 donors or 48.5 percent of the class chipping in to raise $37,620.23.
Ed and Janet made a special Reunion gift to endow a scholarship for elementary education or technology education majors. Because Ed attended Oswego on the G. I. Bill, they would like the recipient to be a veteran.
“It is essential that we get the best into the classroom,” they said. The generous support of Ed and Janet Heinrich means that generations of the very best students will have the opportunity to become the best teachers of tomorrow.
To make a gift in honor of your special Reunion, contact the Oswego College Foundation in 215 Sheldon Hall or call 315-312-3003.
An alumnus who was the first in his family to have a passport and had his life changed by a study abroad experience through Oswego has made a generous gift to the college to pass on the opportunity of international experience to current and future students.
He started his adult life homeless, and entered the Army to get a roof over his head. But when U.S. Army Spc. Yasser Richard ’13 saw a barefoot child in threadbare clothes on a street in Kabul, Afghanistan, he knew how lucky he was. He promised himself that he would dedicate his life to helping people escape a life of poverty.
When she was a young mother, divorced from her first husband, Pam Delfino ’10 wished she had had the opportunity to complete the college education she started before her marriage. “I cleaned houses, because I had no skills to fall back on,” she says of the struggle to support her young family.
The late David “Agarn” Crisafulli ’81 titled his autobiography Good Enough.
A close friend and former baseball teammate wants his legacy to be much more than good enough. Richard Lashley ’80 spearheaded the David “Agarn” Crisafulli ’81 Fund, in collaboration with former coach Walter Nitardy and current skipper Frank Paino.
When Mike Waters ’70 was a struggling veteran and a SUNY Oswego student, he always worked a job or two to get by. Now he is offering today’s student-veterans a scholarship aimed at helping them fulfill their collegiate dreams.