Mariangelis Gonzalez '23
First Generation Scholar
Rochester native Mariangelis Gonzalez is an active member of the campus community and feels “thankful” to be a part of the First Generation Scholarship Program. The School of the Arts graduate is exploring Fisher’s biology, Spanish, and political science programs.
Outside of the classroom, Gonzalez is a member of the Student Government Association, Fisher CRU, the Latino Student Union, Pre-Health Club, and Political Action Club. She is also an active volunteer at the American Red Cross and her church.
Gonzalez says that the First Generation Scholarship Program provides opportunities to develop as a leader and be a part of something larger than herself. In her first semester at Fisher, she has already met “amazing people,” and feels supported by the Fisher and “First Gen Family.”
Yilmaz Ates ’19
Yilmaz Ates ’19 made the most of his college experience, saying it’s been a time of transformation, independence, and excitement.
“Take the opportunities that Fisher offers,” he said. “Some of the best friends and memories I have made were because I took every opportunity offered to me. I can proudly say that I do not regret the decisions I have made while being a student at Fisher.”
For Yilmaz, a native of Carthage, New York, those opportunities have led to involvement with Colleges Against Cancer, where he organized Fisher’s Relay for Life event. He also spent three years as a member of the Orientation Team, and it has led him to Kingston, Jamaica, where he volunteered with a weeklong youth camp.
As a First Generation Scholar, Yilmaz had the chance to serve the Rochester community, working in a school setting and volunteering at area nonprofits. A nursing major, Yilmaz capped off his college career with a trip to Kenya to complete his nursing preceptorship.
Hannah Batten ’20
English and Media and Communication Major
“Try everything!” That’s Hannah Batten’s approach to college. The English and media and communication major is a member of the Orientation Team, works as a tutor in the Math and Writing Center, and serves as the vice president of the newly founded Fisher Alpine Ski Team.
You’ll probably see her most often, though, on stage performing with Fisher’s a cappella group, Drastic Measures, or with the new All College Choir.
“Take advantage of all the activities Fisher puts on and all of the resources Fisher provides,” Hannah, a Syracuse, New York native, advises. “You'll never know what clubs or events you're interested in until you try!”
One thing Hannah loves most about Fisher? The supportive community.
“Whether it's professors, RAs, students, or anyone else here at Fisher, everyone wants to see you succeed,” she says. “We've got your back, so don't be afraid to ask for help!”
Rian Conover ’21
Friendships. Opportunity. Home. Those are the words Rian Conover ’21 says most describe her first year at Fisher. A nursing major with a Spanish in health professions minor, the Clifton Springs, New York native has forged friendship through involvement in the Teddi Dance for Love and intramural volleyball team.
Calling Teddi the “must do event” of the year, she loves the 24-hour dance marathon because everyone is happy and upbeat, and it benefits families who have been touched by childhood cancer.
With an open mind and a “get involved” attitude, Rian stays busy as a Service Scholar and plans to study abroad in the spring 2019 semester.
Her advice for freshmen is to communicate with those around them.
“College is all about becoming an adult and you must advocate for yourself in order to have an amazing experience,” she says. “Keeping an open communication mindset will benefit you in so many different ways!”
Robert Markwick ’19
Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, and Philosophy Quadruple Major
With an ambitious four majors, Robert Markwick ’19 spends his time on campus studying physics, mathematics, computer science, and philosophy. Oh, and he’s minoring in economics, too.
Robert has taken every opportunity to immerse himself in the subject matter, serving on the executive boards of the Physics Club, Math Club, and Robotics Club. He also had the opportunity to travel to Chicago, Illinois in fall 2017 to attend the Mathematical Association of America’s MathFest, as a member of the math honor society Pi Mu Epsilon.
In addition, Robert, who lives in Pittsford, New York, spent summer 2018 as a Science Scholar, gaining experience in theoretical physics before he applies for doctoral programs in the discipline. Working with faculty mentor Dr. Krsna Dev, visiting assistant professor of physics, Robert is studying the stability of spherically symmetric charged objects. While he finds some aspects of the work relatively easy, others are time consuming and challenging as he finds an approach that works.
“The program has helped me to understand the process of research, and has helped me to understand how to best focus my mindset during my senior year as I prepare for graduate school,” he says. “I find it beneficial to talk to students doing research in the other sciences to see what their research involves. It also helps me to better communicate my research to a general audience.”
James Nguyen ’19
First Generation Scholar
Rochester native James Nguyen volunteers because he says it gives him a sense of purpose. Giving back and impacting the community where he was born and raised is one of the reasons that volunteerism and service are such a big part of his life. Whether in large ways or small, James says that it truly doesn’t matter how he is able to help people. Rather, if he is able to positively affect the life of at least one person, it makes everything worth the effort.
The legal studies and political science major spreads his love of volunteering throughout campus in a variety of ways. He is the president of Students Who Advocate Volunteering and also serves as a Teddi Committee Hug Team member. One of his service sites includes the American Red Cross Youth Leadership Program. When he is not busy volunteering, he participates in the College’s Asian Student Union and had previously served as a resident assistant in Keough Hall.
James says that the scholarship has not only provided him the opportunity to attend Fisher, but has afforded him the chance to grow as a student.
"Not only have I met great people through this program, but along the way, I've learned important values and lessons I will keep with me when I graduate. I take extreme pride in being a First Generation scholar as I've learned the value and possibility in becoming a leader among my peers," he said. "Everyone starts somewhere on their journey towards greatness. For me, it started with the First Generation Scholarship."
Dr. Whitney Rapp
Associate Professor, School of Education
Dr. Rapp came to Fisher full-time in 2002 after serving as an adjunct instructor in 2001. She was immediately attracted to the collaborative, close-knit community here, and was impressed by how well the faculty and staff across campus knew each other and worked together, and how well they knew the students.
She calls Fisher a "nurturing place to be a faculty member," having found many opportunities to collaborate with colleagues as well as opportunities to continually improve and develop new courses, programs, and teaching methods.
Having had many students stay in her mind through the years, she recalls one student in particular who questioned things in a way that no student had questioned her before. Those questions challenged her to articulate her own experiences and the evolution of her dedication to full inclusion of all students.
"My job was not to change his mind or tell him my way was right, but to offer him a new perspective to consider," she says. "He was open to that new perspective and considered it deeply. We are both better teachers for it."
Rapp is continually awed by the endeavors and accomplishments of the education students, noting that Fisher is a place for students to get involved, be challenged, and grow.
Dr. Todd Sodano
Assistant Professor, Media and Communication
A native of New Jersey, Dr. Sodano not only received his education in upstate New York, but decided to be an educator in the region as well, right here at Fisher.
The small classes at Fisher attracted him the most, since that affords him an opportunity to get to know his students and, in turn, they have an opportunity to get to know him.
Sodano teaches in the Media and Communication Department, but takes advantage of (and appreciates) events that happen in the broader Fisher community, including Fisher Players performances and the Teddi Dance for Love.
He summarizes the "Fisher student" as a respectful, hard-working individual who is interested in being active on campus and getting to know his or her professors. Sodano credits two Fisher students, who both moved to New York City to work in television after graduation, for inspiring him to continue to find opportunities for students who wish to work in the industry he cares for so passionately.
Ranita Williams ’20
Inclusive Adolescence Education
For Ranita Williams ’20, St. John Fisher College is all about family. Her grandmother attended Fisher in her late 40s, earning a degree in education, and often brought Ranita to campus with her.
“My grandmother loved Fisher and Fisher accepted her with open arms. I knew I could feel the same Fisher family love that she once felt and still feels,” Ranita recalls. “I knew here I could begin to cultivate myself to become not only a better person but a better leader in the world.”
For Ranita, developing as a leader means diving head first into student life on campus. She’s president of the Class of 2020, the recruitment and retention leader for the Commuter Council, and was a member of the Orientation team. That’s all in addition to pursuing a degree in inclusive adolescence education with a concentration in American studies.
With her passion for student life, it’s no surprise that her favorite spot is the Campus Center.
“It’s where everything happens. It’s where your friends meet up, it’s where you find out about events, it’s where you meet new people and find new clubs,” Ranita says. “In a way, the Campus Center is almost the heart of the campus, because without it Fisher would not be the same.”