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Honor Roll / Recognizing the accomplishments of Western New Yorkers

Cynthia Skrzycki, a Buffalo native and former Buffalo News business reporter, has received the 2012 Tina and David Bellet Teaching Excellence Award at the University of Pittsburgh.

Skrzycki, senior lecturer in the Department of English, joined the English department faculty in 2003 as a journalist-in-residence. She earned a bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College in 1976 and a master's in public affairs and journalism at American University in 1980.

The Bellet teaching awards recognize outstanding and innovative undergraduate teaching in arts and sciences.

Skrzycki received a cash prize of $5,000.


Donna Saskowski, executive director of Genesee ARC, was named Geneseean of the Year at a recent Genesee Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony.

Saskowski, who was cited for her humanitarian and volunteer efforts, heads an agency with a $12.5 million budget and 280 employees, many with handicaps. For years ARC has collected city residents' trash each week, using individuals who might have difficulty finding jobs.

At its 40th annual honors event, the chamber also recognized Graham Manufacturing Co. as Industry of the Year. The company has been in Batavia for 70 years turning out vacuum and heat transfer products for gas, oil and electrical companies.


Brice P. Beathley, a member of Boy Scout Troop 237 at Macedonia Baptist Church, has attained the rank of Eagle Scout.

Brice, 16, has been involved in scouting since first grade. For his Eagle Scout leadership project, he reorganized and restocked the Troy Davis Clothing Room with clean, gently used clothing for Back to Basic Ministries for men and women who are re-entering society after incarceration. He continues to work with churches, fraternal organizations and other groups to keep the room stocked with needed items.

Brice, a junior at Hutchinson-Central Technical High School, is majoring in electrical engineering. He is active in several clubs, including the Audio-Visual Club, and is the audio-visual coordinator for New Bethel Community Church.

The award presentation will be held April 28 at the UAW Hall Region 9 in Amherst.


Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul announced that five Western New Yorkers will receive the Fulbright Award for the 2011-2012 academic year.

Dr. Diana Aga, a scholar of chemistry at the University at Buffalo, will study in the Philippines. Dr. Ali Ait Si Mhamed, an education scholar at Canisius College, will study in Latvia. Sana Maheshwari, a student at Cornell University, will study medicine sciences in India. Alyssa Pantano, a student at Nazareth College of Rochester, will participate in an English teaching assistantship in Argentina. Melissa Schindler, a student of interdisciplinary studies at the University at Buffalo, will study in Brazil.

"Western New York has some of the finest educational institutions in the country, which is why it is no surprise to see students and scholars from our region being chosen for this prestigious program," Hochul said.

The Fulbright program was established in 1946 through legislation proposed by Sen. J. William Fulbright, following World War II. The program was created to provide mutual understanding of the U.S. and other cultures around the world.


VA Western New York Healthcare System last week honored its volunteers during National Volunteer Week.

The Buffalo facility recognized Richard Fronckowiak and Ricky Kuhn, both of Buffalo for their milestones of 17,500 hours and Barbara Hall of Amherst, 15,000 hours at its volunteer recognition luncheon held Wednesday at Hearthstone Manor, Depew.

The Batavia facility recognized Emerson Campbell of Batavia for 15,000 volunteer hours and Eric Naegly of Batavia for 7,500 hours at an awards dinner held Thursday at Bohn's Restaurant, Batavia.

VA volunteers from both sites performed a total of 125,707 hours of service during fiscal year 2011.


Leadership Buffalo will present awards at its ninth annual Values Award Luncheon on May 3 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. The Value Awards honor members of the community for service, diversity, inclusion, openness to change and community impact.

Recipients are Dennis Elsenbeck of National Grid (Service Award), Joseph Hanna of Goldberg Segalla (Diversity Award), John Koelmel of First Niagara Bank (Openness to Change Award), Sister Sharon Goodremote of Catholic Charities (Inclusion Award), and Michael Cropp of Independent Health (Community Impact Award).

The Values Award was originally established to recognize leaders that best exemplified values of Leadership Buffalo.

Leadership Buffalo is a nonprofit community organization dedicated to uniting and developing existing and emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.


University at Buffalo Police held its fourth Citizens Police Academy graduation at the university's South Lake Village Community Center earlier this month, honoring 21 participants who received certificates for successfully completing the eight-week program, which began Feb. 15.

UB Citizen Police Academy 2012 graduates are: Jennifer Van Laeken, assistant director of admissions, UB School of Management; Ann Marie Landel, customer support analyst, Computing and Information Technology; Erika Grande, staff assistant, University Police; Cynthia Todd, production coordinator, UB Office of Communications; Tracey Eastman, marketing coordinator, UB Office of Student Affairs; Sara Cuomo, assistant complex director, UB South Lake Village; Blair Boone, writer, Onewriter; Jennifer Chazen Konshin, director, UB Graduate Student Services; Chris Bragdon, adviser, UB International Student Services; Starlynn Ferguson, UB instructional support associate; UB students Danielle Canazzi, Michael P. Daly, Megan Moravec, Ronald L. Wood, Dominic Baratta, Adam Turton, Shawn Wang, Nicole Donovan, Richard Donovan and Cheow Soon Chia; and Medaille College student Carrie Stahura.

The academy is held in an interactive setting, where students receive instruction by university police and other public safety professionals.


The Canisius College Alumni Association will present Amherst resident Melissa Bekelja Wanzer with its 2012 Kenneth L. Koessler Distinguished Faculty Award during spring honors convocation May 18 in the Montante Cultural Center. The award recognizes one faculty member for teaching excellence and outstanding contributions to the academic world.

Wanzer, a professor of communication studies, joined the Canisius College faculty in 1997. She holds a master of arts degree in communication studies from Syracuse University and a doctor of education from West Virginia University.