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St. John Fisher College Announces Award Winners at “Road Less Traveled” Event


On Thursday, March 22, the annual “The Road Less Traveled” event took place at St. John Fisher College, with an awards ceremony honoring individuals who fight for peace and social justice in the community.

The Jennifer Koon Courage Award is traditionally given to one student and one community member who strive to make the world a better and more peaceful place. The award is made possible thanks to the Jennifer Koon Peacemaking Fund, which was established in memory of Jennifer Koon by her parents after she was tragically murdered during her sophomore year at Fisher in 1993. The Fund is aligned with the Peace and Social Justice Studies Program, and is used to support educational lectures, workshops, and other peace-related activities, as well as the awards.

This year, Jennifer Lyn Dietrich ’13 was awarded with a Special Certificate of Recognition, and Mohammed Husain Bawany ’13 received the Courage Award.

Dietrich, an English major, works with people who live with physical disabilities, helping them live more independently. In addition, she is a licensed massage therapist helping people heal, relieve stress, and create a stronger mind-body connection. She also volunteers as a senior staff member at LifeStream Rochester, a leadership development and personal growth seminar program.

Bawany is a double major in biology and religious studies, with a minor in chemistry. He is a Science Scholar with a 3.93 GPA, which regularly lands him on the dean’s list. In addition to his many academic accomplishments and extracurricular activities, Husain has been an outstanding leader in interfaith initiatives and community service in Rochester, acting as a speaker, panelist, community volunteer, and mentor to young people.

Road Less Traveled

Husain Bawany, Fr. Graf, and Husain's family at the dinner.

The community recipient of the Courage Award was Emeterio M. Otero, Ph.D., Executive Dean at Monroe Community College’s (MCC) Damon City Campus.

Born in Cataño, Puerto Rico, Otero immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was just three years old. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and Spanish from St. John Fisher College, a master’s degree in counselor education from SUNY Brockport, and a Ph.D. from SUNY Buffalo. In 1982, he began his career at MCC. During his tenure at the college, he has served as assistant director of admissions, assistant dean of admissions, and dean of students. Otero is heavily involved as a board member of numerous non-profit organizations in Rochester. He also hosts and produces a local television program, “Revista,” for the Latino community, and has an extensive résumé full of volunteer work.

Road Less Traveled

Tabita Torres from the United Way is speaking with Dr. Emeterio "Pete" Otero.

The Peace and Social Justice Spirit Award was established in 2006 to recognize Fisher alums who have lived their lives embracing the values of “goodness, discipline, and knowledge,” and dedicating themselves to a life of intellectual, professional, and civic integrity, in which diversity and service to others are valued and practiced. This year, the award was given to Patrick E. DiLaura ’84, Chief Human Resources Officer at Klein Steel.

DiLaura’s professional career and personal calling exemplify the core values expressed in Fisher’s mission and creed. A life-long student, he received his bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, from Fisher, a master’s degree from Central Michigan University, and most recently, a master’s degree from St. Bernard’s School of Ministry and Theology. DiLaura is a Permanent Deacon for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, currently serving the pastoral needs of 5,600 members of the Church of the Transfiguration in Pittsford. In addition to organizing and leading regular spiritual retreats, he works with veteran’s groups and non-profit organizations, the Rochester City Schools summer reading programs, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and participates as a board member of several colleges and non-profit organizations.

The keynote speaker for this year’s Reverend Joseph A. Trovato Lecture Series was Sister Grace Miller, Founder and Director of the House of Mercy. Sister Miller presented, “Acceptance and the Courage to Change: Encountering the Invisible Poor of Rochester.” Since 1985, Sister Miller, the Sisters of Mercy, and a small and dedicated staff, have provided food, clothing, shelter, medical assistance, and many other vital services for the poorest people in Rochester at the House of Mercy. When asked how many people the House has helped since its doors opened, Sister Miller had trouble answering.

“This is a hard question to answer since we help every person who comes to us for help. We take time to listen to their problems and work with them until their problems are resolved. This could take hours, days, months, or even years. We never give up on any person,” she said.

Road Less Traveled

Fr. Joe Lanzalaco sharing a laugh with Sr. Grace Miller (center) and friends and staff of the House of Mercy.

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