Geneseo Names the 2021 Student Ambassadors

Students walk across the College Green walkway in winter.

Students walk past the College Green and the Integrated Science Center. (SUNY Geneseo/Keith Walters '11)

The College recently named the 2021 student ambassadors, who will each lead and complete various initiatives they feel are important in the areas of health, gender equality, arts promotion and preservation, identity, or science communication.

"Thanks to generous contributions of alumni and other donors to the College, the Ambassador Program allows students to share what they're learning in the classroom in order to help communities in the Genesee Valley and as far away as the other side of the world," says Lytton Smith, associate professor of English and creative writing and director of the Center for Integrative Learning.

The Geneseo Student Ambassadorships are $3,500 awards that support student-designed projects that combine independent learning, innovative approaches to problem-solving, and community-based action to make lasting changes to communities in and beyond Geneseo and found paths forward for their own lives. Ninety-five students have been named ambassadors since 2012.

Meet our newest ambassadors and learn about their projects, which will be completed in May 2021:

Benjamin MichalakCommunity Advocates Ambassadorship in Community Engagement: Benjamin Michalak ’21
Advancing the Arts: Creating an Archival Site for Perry, N.Y.
Ben will create a website that houses in-depth research on Perry’s past and present artistic traditions and commitment to the arts, which will also promote the town’s current cultural efforts. The Perry Main Street Association has worked to stimulate growth in the arts through community programs and initiatives to attract potential residents and visitors of Letchworth State Park. Research and work done through Ben’s project will connect to SUNY Geneseo’s Fall 2020 Open Valley digital project ( and future courses, connecting students to the area’s history and future.

Margaux CarmelThe Ambassadorship in Diversity: Margaux Carmel ’21
Identity and Education: Creating Opportunities for Western New York Teens
Margaux’s ambassadorship focuses on the importance of social identity formation for teenagers in high school. Margaux will lead a workshop series at LeRoy Junior/Senior High School that will touch on all aspects of the self-defining identities we hold in our society but place an emphasis on gender and sexual identities. Margaux will also research teenagers’ understanding of feminist and queer theory for their senior capstone project. Margaux feels the project will give teenagers resources for understanding social identities that they didn’t have when they were in high school. 

Nima Sherpa portraitThe John A. ’87 and Mary Grace ’84 Gleason Ambassadorship in Student Affairs: Nima Sherpa ’21
CheerfulSmile: Literacy on Oral Health Care in Nepal 
Nima’s project, CheerfulSmile, promotes the importance of dental hygiene in rural communities of Nepal by providing preventive techniques to improve oral health. CheerfulSmile is a school-based dental prevention program that demonstrates the effectiveness of preventive oral care to rural communities whose residents typically lack resources and adequate information due to their geographic isolation. Nima will provide oral health care necessities and distribute illustrative educational books on oral hygiene to encourage students and village residents to practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing teeth daily. 

Olivia Schoenfeld outdoor portraitThe James Houston ’80 Ambassadorship in Innovation:
Olivia Schoenfeld ’21

Preserving Cultures: Preservation and Conservation in SUNY Geneseo and Beyond
Olivia will implement and promote art conservation measures in art storage and gallery spaces on the Geneseo campus and in the wider Geneseo community. This includes analyzing the temperature and humidity data in spaces, identifying solutions for areas with poor environmental, pest, and lighting controls, and assessing the condition of permanent collection items. She will showcase her findings and art conservation to Geneseo students and the broader Geneseo community through a collaborative traveling exhibition that will be viewable on campus and at the Livingston County Historical Society Museum. Through her project, she will help educate students and community members on the field of art conservation.

Tshering Sherpa portrait The Eddie Lee ’76 Ambassadorship for First-Generation Students: Tshering Sherpa ’21
Menstrual Hygiene Management: A Pathway to Education and Equity in Nepal
Tshering’s project focuses on dismantling the deep-rooted tradition of “Chhaupadi Pratha” in Nepal, a system in which women barricade themselves in small cow sheds during their menstrual cycles. Tshering’s project has three elements: distributing low-cost menstrual hygiene kits; providing support for local enterprises that make reusable hygiene kits; holding virtual workshops that foster career development, entrepreneurship, and menstrual hygiene awareness, to challenge stigma in order to break the taboo surrounding menstruation and to celebrate womanhood. The project is meant to help women rise and thrive above gender disparities by intervening in the areas of health and education and improving social standing. It also encourages women and the overall population to challenge the notion of menstruating women as impure.

The Frank Vafier ’74 AmbassadoKara Burke portrait outsidership in Leadership: Kara Burke ’21
The Geneseo Element: Bridging the Gap Between the Humanities and Science
Kara will create The Geneseo Element, a science communication magazine that brings students of different backgrounds together to learn about science journalism. The publication will showcase science research at Geneseo as well as discuss current events in science of interest to students. Students of different disciplines will learn how to write journalistic science pieces for web, digital, and audio publication. 


View videos of past ambassador projects


Kris Dreessen
Manager of Editorial Services
(585) 245-5516