Macaulay Honors College announces 2016 William R. Kenan Scholars
Prestigious scholarship is awarded to four outstanding student leaders committed to public service
New York, NY – (February 14, 2014). In the aftermath of September 11, the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust made a generous pledge and created an endowment to promote a new generation of leadership in New York City. The William RKenan Scholars Program was founded to enhance honors education at CUNY by sponsoring a group of outstanding Macaulay Honors College students who have demonstrated an early commitment to service and civic engagement.
The goals of the William R. Kenan Scholars Program at Macaulay Honors College are threefold: to incubate and foster social vision and courage; to build identity and intention as agents of change; and to draw meaningful lines of connection between scholarship and the communities in which we live. The program offers unique experiences and opportunities with the aim of fostering each student’s individual gifts—as well as encouraging cooperative endeavors—and preparing them to make substantial contributions in their chosen fields after graduation.
Macaulay’s Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Mike Lamb, says of the new cohort, “This is a truly remarkable group of students. This program is founded upon the principle of creative leadership—whereby students are empowered to generate and direct the course of their studies and community engagement. We can’t wait to see what these new Scholars create.”
The Class of 2016 William R. Kenan scholars include: Sophia Curran, Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College, Suprita Datta, Macaulay Honors College at City College, Ilana Gelb, Macaulay Honors College at Baruch College, Sharon Richardson, Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College.
Sophia Curran ’16 (Hunter College) Her eagerness to travel, and journeying itself, have long convinced Sophia that homes are determined less by a meeting of lines on a map and more by the way of one’s breathing in a place. Still, she feels committed to making New York, her home for the time-being, a safer and more vibrant community to live in. A lover of music, film, art and writing, she hopes to promote greater intentionality in some of the city’s most promising venues.
Sophia is double-majoring in English and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies and is currently working to start an inclusive discussion group that explores how the institution of gender impacts everyone. With words and through creative expression, Sophia believes she can change the world—if only one friend, family-member, lover, teacher, classmate, coworker or stranger at a time.
“Merely being told you show promise in social justice—which is what the Kenan Scholarship means to me—greatly magnifies one’s ambition and commitment to their community. I am grateful to the Kenan program for reminding me that this kind of work is still valued, and I am looking forward to fulfilling my role as a community steward!”
Suprita Datta ’16 (City College) Born in Calcutta, India, Suprita immigrated to this country with her parents and older brother when she was five years old. She was raised in the Bronx and attributes her love of Hispanic, Jamaican, and Italian cuisine to the neighborhoods she grew up in.
Suprita is a pre-med student pursuing an International Studies major, with a focus on conflict stabilization. She hopes to work in global healthcare policy in post-conflict and developing societies. This past summer, she traveled with Macaulay’s Global Brigades chapter to Panama in order to provide healthcare to indigenous communities.
Ilana Gelb ’16 (Baruch) Before enrolling at Macaulay, Ilana took a gap year and traveled to 9 regions of the world to study communities and sustainability. Through this experience, Ilana developed a passion for environmental sustainability, human rights, and community development.
Ilana’s interest in public service through government led her to take an active role in Student Government as Vice Chair of the Sustainability Committee, and on the University Committee of the CUNY Baccalaureate governing board. At Macaulay, Ilana is an organizer of CUNY FoodFEST, CUNY’s annual food justice festival. She is also President and Founder of the new anti-human trafficking club, Avasara. Ilana is pursuing human rights work through an internship at H
IAS, a voluntary refugee assistance agency. She visited South East Asia this past summer to volunteer with various organizations such as Guria, an anti-trafficking organization in India, and the Grameen Bank, the Nobel Prize winning “Bank for the Poor” in Bangladesh. During this trip, Ilana filmed a documentary on women’s rights and international aid. Although her academic focus is not in the arts, Ilana remains fervent about using creativity and art as a catalyst for social change.
Sharon Richardson ’16 (Brooklyn College) Homeschooled with her older sisters for the first years of her life, Sharon moved on to the Renaissance Charter School where she developed a love of the arts – taking a variety of vocal, dance, art, music and drama classes. In addition, a close-knit, arts-oriented, church community helped foster Sharon’s love for all things musical. Since age six, she has participated in the dance ministry and continues to choreograph and dance with them today.
While Sharon’s major is still undecided, she is working towards a double major in music and something else humanities-based. She loves rectifying social injustices through community service and works at her local food pantry, Lawrence Nursing Home and a preschool for at-risk 3-5 year olds. More than anything, she loves the time she spends with children and the look of amazement when they truly understand something new. Sharon is certain that whatever she does in life it will include children; protecting them, teaching them, or simply caring for them.
“I hope the Kenan Scholarship can provide me with the resources to accomplish my dreams and more. It can help me to connect and network with mentors in the fields I would like to work in. I plan to change the world one child at a time.”
About Macaulay Honors College
Macaulay Honors College at The City University of New York offers exceptional students a uniquely personalized education with access to the vast resources of the nation’s largest urban university and New York City itself. Selected for their top high school records and leadership potential, Macaulay students receive a full-tuition scholarship, a laptop and technology support, and a $7,500 Opportunities Fund to pursue global learning and service opportunities. A Cultural Passport provides access to museums, libraries, and other treasures around New York City. Macaulay students enroll in one of eight CUNY senior colleges (Baruch, Brooklyn, City, Hunter, John Jay, Lehman, Queens and Staten Island). For more information, see macaulay.cuny.edu.
Contact: Grace Rapkin,