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Claire Finnerty of Rochester receives 2018 Bruce R. James Award

STAFF REPORTS

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Claire Finnerty, a fourth-year biomedical sciences and public policy dual major at Rochester Institute of Technology, received the 2018 Bruce R. James Award during a ceremony April 12.

The Bruce R. James '64 Award was named after James, chair emeritus of the RIT Board of Trustees. The award recognizes a student for exemplary public service within RIT and/or the wider Rochester community. Its purpose is to highlight one of RIT's own hidden heroes while also encouraging other students to engage in public service.

Finnerty, of Rochester (14612), currently serves as president of the Global Health Association at RIT, a student club that aims to increase awareness of the health challenges faced by people across the planet. In the past, she has volunteered extensively with AutismUp through the Alpha Xi Delta sorority, served as the Alternative Spring Break coordinator for RIT's Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement and interned with the Ministry of Health in Botswana, Africa; Mary's Place Refugee Outreach; and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's Rochester office.

"I am extremely honored to receive this award, especially because I know the other nominees are doing amazing things in the community and are equally, if not more, deserving than myself," said Finnerty. "It means so much to me because I am being honored in what I have a passion for. Being born and raised in Rochester, I have been aware of the disparities but I am proud to say I have helped make a difference in my community."

Finnerty will donate the $1,000 she earned from the award to Mary's Place Refugee Outreach, a nonprofit refugee outreach center in northwest Rochester.

"After spending the summer interning there I realized what an amazing organization they are," said Finnerty. "Staff and volunteers teach English, provide food and clothing, prepare refugees to enter the workforce and provide genuine compassion and support. Mary's Place is so special to me because the people were so welcoming and friendly. They fully function on grant support and donations so this money will be important to continuing and improving their amazing work."