Seven accomplished Concordia alumni have been named 2020 Young Alumni of Distinction. A call for nominations went out in July, seeking “young alumni from the last fifteen years who bring honor to themselves and Concordia College New York through their outstanding professional and personal achievement, loyal service to Concordia and/or exemplary service to their communities.”
“The Alumni Association Board and I are so thrilled with this group of honorees,” said Vice President of Advancement Lois Montorio. “Each one of these recipients represents everything we hope for in our alumni.”
Two of the honorees chose Concordia for both their undergraduate and graduate degrees, and two earned their degrees as adults in Concordia’s Accelerated Degree Program. Normally, the group would gather to be honored at a celebratory cocktail party. This year, each honoree was asked to submit a video acceptance.
David McKenzie ’17, a licensed CPA employed by PwC said, “The encouragement and guidance I received from my professors at Concordia made all the difference to me, and I am always happy to give back.”
First generation immigrant and first in her family to graduate from college Sashemi “Sasha” Elliott ’06 is chief academic officer at Amber Charter Schools. “My purpose is to serve,” she said, “and Concordia prepared me to do that. Who I am today is because of the decision I made to go to Concordia.”
Her Concordia education gave Camille Grizzle-Murriel ’15, ’16 the tools to pursue her passion for healthcare. In addition to serving Concordia as an adjunct professor of Healthcare Administration, Camille has risen to become Director of Transplant Services at Penn State Health’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. She credits her undergraduate and master’s in Business Leadership degrees for giving her market-ready skills, and encouraging her to be a lifelong learner.
“Concordia prepared me for what I am meant to be doing,” said Talya Baker-Knight ’12. A social worker specializing in child welfare and the foster care system, Talya praised the mentoring from Concordia faculty and staff, internships and field work, as well as the work ethic Concordia instilled in her.
Ovan Oakley ’16, ’17, who after graduating rose to become Concordia’s Director of Career Exploration, is now an HR communications analyst at ITT. Ovan spoke of cherishing his years at Concordia, and said that “powerful and inspiring conversations with my professors, who challenged me to think critically” made a profound impact on his future.
“Concordia’s family feel and Godly oversight was special,” said Michael Martino ’14. The operating officer for a property management and consulting company is also founder and president of the Young Athletes Foundation. “Faculty, staff and coaches pushed me, supported my decisions, and helped me explore my options.”
For Megan Hollrah ’17, service was front and center in her Concordia College experience. Megan, who went on to work with AmeriCorps, said “Not only was I given the chance to serve, but I learned how to serve through trips and other field experiences. Concordia is an institution that inspires a passion for service in its students.”
Congratulations to the 2020 Young Alumni of Distinction!