Meet Our Student Ambassadors

Geneseo Student Ambassadors collaborate with community members in locations as close as the villages of Geneseo and Mt. Morris and as far away as Haiti, Nicaragua, Nepal, and Senegal. Uniting their work is a spirit of inquiry, creative problem solving, and attention to advancing SUNY Geneseo’s commitment to the public good. Learn more about the application process.

2018 Ambassadors

Scott WilliamsCatherine FedorGrant Grieble Frank Vafier ’74 Ambassador in Leadership
Scott Williams (Junior), Catherine Fedor (Junior) & Grant Grieble (Junior) Sustainable Energy Education through Demonstration (SEED). SEED brings educational programming on sustainability to students at Geneseo Central School. Under the mentorship of Geneseo’s Distinguished Teaching Professor of Physics, Stephen Padalino, Scott, Catherine, and Grant will work directly with students at Geneseo Central School to explore anthropogenic climate change and environmental degradation, different forms of renewable energy, and sustainability initiatives in Livingston County. The program will include classroom demonstrations, discussion, and hands-on design work intended to engage students in issues relating to sustainability and to create a greater connection between the college and students in the local school district.

Eric MacalusoFrank Vafier ’74 Ambassador in Leadership
Eric Macaluso (Junior) Community Medicine and Global Health. Through this project, Eric will be working with the global nonprofit Child Family Health International in Guayaquil and Puyo, Ecuador as part of the “Community Medicine: From Rainforest to Coast” program. This program will allow Eric – who is also a volunteer EMT in Geneseo – to work in healthcare clinics, malaria eradication centers, rural and suburban healthcare centers, and with an indigenous community in the Amazon. As part of the service component of the project, Eric will also be teaching CPR and first aid classes, and donating first aid materials to the communities with which he works.

Abigail RitzJames Houston ’80 Ambassador in Innovation
Abigail Ritz (Junior) A New Deal for Humanities Research at SUNY Geneseo. This project is intended to strengthen the relationship between SUNY Geneseo and the New Deal Gallery in Mount Morris, NY. The New Deal Gallery, which operates under the Genesee Valley Council on the Arts, houses over two hundred works of art created under the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. With her ambassadorship, Abby intends to create an online project that will make the collection more publicly accessible and assist in the gallery’s efforts to conserve these historical works of art. The digital project will include in-depth research on a selection of paintings and will explore the historical context in which they were created. All research and work done through this project will connect to SUNY Geneseo’s Open Valley digital project (

Stephen Mott Community Advocates Ambassador in Community Engagement
Stephen Mott (Senior) The Deck Hockey Leadership Club. In an effort to address the limited availability of youth recreation activities in Livingston County, Stephen’s ambassadorship is intended to build a deck hockey club at Dansville Junior/Senior High School. Seventh and eighth grade students from diverse backgrounds will be taught the game of deck hockey – a version of ice hockey played on a hard surface – through mini games, skills development, and education sessions. In a relaxed, fun, and engaging environment, students will learn about the importance of participating in healthy activities and other recreational opportunities.

Lorenzo RodriguezProvost’s Ambassador in Diversity
Lorenzo J. Rodriguez (Senior) Healthcare in Bulgaria. During the summer of 2018, Lorenzo will be conducting an ethnographic study of health care quality and access in the Capital Region of Bulgaria. Based on summer field research in Bulgaria facilitated by overseas partners including The Pink Foundation, the project will include qualitative and quantitative methodological research that assesses local health care structures and resources. The results of this research will be incorporated into a senior capstone project and academic conference presentation focusing on medical anthropology.


Leah ChristmanJohn A. ’87 and MaryGrace ’84 Gleason Ambassador in Student Affairs
Leah Christman (Senior) Dining Across the Decades: Bridging the Generation Gap.
The intention of Leah’s ambassadorship project is to link college students and area senior citizens through one of life’s most universal pleasures: food. The ambassadorship creates opportunities for college students to work with community members in preparing recipes typical of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s and stage community dinners. Through the cooking and dining events, Geneseo students and local residents will be able to enjoy each other's company and learn about each other's experiences. By facilitating engaging conversation between generations, this ambassadorship seeks to build mutual respect and trust across the generations in an informal, fun, and tasty way.

Picture of Tyson EmpeyEdward Pettinella ’73 Ambassador in Business
Tyson Empey (Senior) Blockchain in the Classroom.
Many large accounting organizations and the big four accounting firms have weighed in on the possibilities of using the technology that supports crypto-currencies, or “blockchain” as a way to make accounting safer. One prediction by the 2017 World Economic Forum is that 10% of global gross domestic product (GDP) will eventually be on blockchain. With this potential growth in the use of blockchain comes the question: are we ready for it? Tyson’s research project attempts to answer this question through surveys of accounting students, professionals and academics. The results of Tyson’s research will provide much needed information to accounting faculty and demonstrate how the training and education of future accountants can address the challenges of innovations in blockchain technology.

CAS Ambassador in Entrepreneurship
Photo Juan Sebastian JimenezJuan Sebastian Jimenez (Senior) BlueRescue. This ambassadorship extends work begun by a team of students in Geneseo’s VentureWorks Entrepreneurship Program. BlueRescue is a digital product designed to give firefighters and other first responders real-time access to building plans and other structural data during emergency response situations. Sebastian’s ambassadorship helps move BlueRescue from concept to design. This work has the potential to create a powerful tool that will help first responders see where they are going, decrease response time, and potentially save lives. For more information visit:

Helen WarfleGérard Gouvernet Ambassador in French Language and Culture
Helen Warfle (Junior) Translation of African Francophone Novels to English: How Does the Meaning Change? 
For her ambassadorship, Helen will conduct summer research in Senegal on the novel Une Si Longue Lettre by Senegalese author Mariama Ba. Originally written in French, the novel deals with the complex subjects of feminism and its relation to polygamy in an African Islamic society. The purpose of this research is to study how the English translation of the novel deals with the cultural differences between an Islamic francophone country and a Western English speaking audience. The ambassadorship supports a larger research project that grapples with questions of how cultural nuances can get lost in translation and what translators can do to be sensitive to cultural differences.

Pema SherpaEddie Lee ’76 First Generation Ambassador
Pema Sherpa (Senior) The people of Nepal face significant challenges in accessing healthcare. Children’s health in particular is often neglected due to limited medical resources, vast income disparity, and lack of advocacy. This project will work with local healthcare providers in Nepal to study and plan for delivery of comprehensive medical services to disadvantaged children in underserved areas. Working with Kathmandu Model Hospital and ReSurge International Surgical Outreach Program, Pema – a student planning to enter the field of medicine – will shadow Nepalese healthcare providers, volunteer in local communities, and advance her understanding of global healthcare challenges abroad.


Past Ambassadors


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