Three New Award Winners from CUNY Baccalaureate

The 2013 recipients of three CUNY BA awards generously funded by alumni and other friends of CUNY BA, the University’s individualized degree, are announced below. Each student is shown here with his/her area(s) of concentration and home college. The awards range from $250 to $1000. (Recipients of the HT Chambers Memorial Award, the Memorial Scholarship for Students in Education/Human Services, and the Harriet Brows Scholarship for Social Change will be announced next week.) Congratulations to these recipients.

The 2013 Sheila and Helena O’Donoghue Award for Social Justice

Ahn Nguyen, Communication for Public Causes, Baruch College

Ahn Nguyen is from Vietnam. She credits her mother for working to provide her with an opportunity to pursue her dreams and inspiring her to be an advocate of social causes. Ahn started a project called Make Agent Orange History during her senior year in high school in Washington D.C., when she realized that there were millions of Vietnamese affected by Agent Orange — the deadly herbicide used by American troops during the Vietnam War — that had not received compensation for the harm done to them. Through this project, she reached out to non-profits to raise awareness and funds to support Vietnamese victims. She has since worked on projects ranging from creating public service announcements for a homeless shelter to contributing to Katrina relief efforts in New Orleans. She considers herself “an amateur” in the realm of social improvement, “someone who does something for the love of it.” Her academic plan of study clearly involves her dedication to social justice.

The 2013 Daniel E. Smith Scholarship for a Returning Woman

Kanchan Paser, Socio-Psychological Dimensions, Brooklyn College

Kanchan Paser is a retiree returning to Brooklyn College to finish her undergraduate degree. Lack of financial resources and support prevented Kachan from completing her degree for many years while she raised two children on her own and sent them to college. When she did return to her own degree program, she attended Borough of Manhattan Community College where she was awarded the BMCC Foundation Scholarship, was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, and graduated with honors. This was her first step towards obtaining a college degree, and after obtaining her CUNY BA degree she plans to go on to complete a Masters in Social Work. She is interested in environmental effects on peoples’ psychology, primarily in regard to domestic violence, and plans to pursue her MSW to address these issues.

The 2013 Dina Arjani Scholarship for Careers in Education

Tyler Alterman, Communications Design / Cognitive Science, Hunter College

Tyler Alterman plans to pursue a Ph.D. and ultimately an academic career in cognitive science. He has done design work for education non-profit and aspires to be a public-minded professor that improves cognitive science literacy. He has received many honors including a Goldsmith Fellowship and a Smith Fellowship, he has worked on a book with Columbia’s Earth Institute for Environmental Sustainability, presented socially relevant cognitive science at Occupy Wall Street and several symposiums, and created a performance piece with theater director, Crichton Atkinson discussing the psychology of language and symbolism. In the course of his work in cognitive science, he has realized that his favorite part about running an experiment was after the procedure, when he had an opportunity to explain the experiment to participants. Inspired by this and his observation of the public’s interest in his work, he began the design and planning process for an education station that he calls “The Think Tank.” He has raised more than $20,000 to fund a vehicle to teach the public about cognitive science. He describes it as “a fully-function laboratory-on-wheels” that will “drive to elementary and high schools where mobile researchers will teach students and citizens about the science of the mind.”

CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies (CUNY BA) is CUNY’s university-wide individualized bachelor’s degree where students work one-on-one with faculty.

PRESS CONTACT: Beth Kneller,