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Homer Native Among Four Cortland Students Earning SUNY Chancellor’s Award

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Four SUNY Cortland seniors have received the 2019 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, the highest student honor in the entire 64-campus SUNY system.

In all, more than 200 students were selected from among the more than 420,000 enrolled in the system.

Cortland’s award recipients are:

  • Matthew Norris, an exercise science major from Homer, N.Y.
  • Alexandra Fischer, an inclusive childhood education major, with a concentration in English language arts, from Hopewell Junction, N.Y.
  • Olivia Lindsay, a sport management major from Bronx, N.Y.
  • Phoebe Sullivan, a speech and hearing sciences major from Halesite, N.Y.

The award is presented to students within the SUNY system who have been recognized for their academic success and have excelled in other aspects of their college lives as well. This includes any leadership roles, campus involvement, athletics, career-related pursuits, community service, or achievement in the arts, among other accomplishments.

“Today’s award recipients emerged from their campuses this year as the top scholars, athletes, performers, and achievers, as well as a tremendous source of inspiration,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “The students being recognized today made the choice to be leaders on their campuses, prioritize their studies, and serve their communities.”

More about Matthew Norris from SUNY Cortland:

Norris always knew he wanted to help people. He never realized how much of an impact he would make during his college career.

A member of SUNY Cortland’s wrestling team, Norris served as president of SUNYAC’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). As president, Norris represented student athletes from all 10 SUNYAC campuses and conveyed their needs and concerns to SUNYAC administrators. He tasked each of the 10 SUNYAC member schools to develop ideas for different events. At SUNY Cortland, Norris created Mental Health Mondays, where athletes could have a safe place to relax and talk. The first Monday, they were introduced to the Counseling Center, where they could find someone to talk to about mental health issues.

Norris attended the NCAA Division III national conference in Orlando, Fla., in February and had the opportunity to speak about the programs the SUNYAC SAAC sparked, including Mental Health Mondays.

“That was my favorite moment this year, because the presidents of Division III schools were looking to me for advice” he said. “I spoke up on mental health and some other changes.”

Norris played high school sports including football, baseball, track and wrestling. At SUNY Cortland, head wrestling coach Brad Bruhn chose Norris after his freshman season for a role as Cortland’s wrestling SAAC representative. He then was nominated to be the College’s overall representative for SUNYAC SAAC, where he served as vice president and later president.

Norris maintained a GPA in the top 10 percent of his class and is a member of the interdisciplinary academic honor society Phi Kappa Phi, the Chi Alpha Sigma National College Athlete Honor Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success Honor Society.

Norris’ career goal is to become a physical therapist. He will attend graduate school at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y.

“I’m really big on wanting to help people and just seeing the effect they (physical therapists) have on people is awesome,” Norris said.

His mother, Laura Norris, survived cancer and was assisted in her recovery by physical therapists. His father, Mike Norris, also was helped by physical therapists while dealing with his own health issues. Seeing how they served his family has inspired him to do the same for others.

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