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Jessica L. Fischer from Williamsville earns SUNY Chancellor's Award

STAFF REPORTS

CANTON, N.Y. -- A SUNY Canton senior who aspires to pursue a career in renewable energy has been selected by SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson to receive the annual Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence. 

Jessica L. Fischer of Williamsville, who is graduating in May with a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology, was recognized at a special ceremony held April 10 in Albany. She will wear a medallion denoting her accomplishment at commencement.

"I am immensely proud of these students, who have demonstrated academic excellence and dedication to enriching their campuses and communities," said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. "From research publications in industry journals to volunteering in hospitals and local clinics to holding leadership roles at their institutions, I am inspired by each student we recognize today. Congratulations to all of the students receiving this year's award."

As one of only two SUNY Canton students to receive the honor, Fischer was chosen for her humanitarian efforts, commitment to advancing sustainable practices on campus and academic excellence. One of her most prominent achievements is her role as founder and president of SUNY Canton's Environmental Change Organization, which is dedicated to achieving a more eco-friendly campus. In this capacity, she has spearheaded efforts to coordinate clean-up days, establish a pollinator garden and organize recycling initiatives. She also obtained a grant to establish a campus food composting operation that has diverted tons of waste from landfills.

A champion of green energy, Fischer was selected by the WindAid Institute in 2016 to build a wind turbine in the rural community of Playa Blanca, Peru. She worked with a team of 12 fellow volunteer engineers to complete the four-week project.

"I was able to take my education one step further and see first-hand how providing access to environmentally friendly power can change someone's life," Fischer said. "When we turned on the lights, we could feel the gratitude from the community."

In 2017, she was chosen to join a research team at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to study offshore wind desalination systems and presented her findings at the college's conference.
Fischer is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships, most notably the national Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainability Energy's fellowship, which, in addition to a $2,500 tuition scholarship, included a sponsorship to attend the Windpower 2017 Conference in California.

As a member of the award-winning SUNY Canton American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter, she is part of a team that competes with colleges from across the country in scale model bridge-building. Last year, the team placed second in the regional competition and seventh nationally.
Fischer has maintained a 4.0 GPA every semester and is a member of Tau Alpha Pi Honor Society. A highly regarded peer mentor, she has shared her knowledge and experience by serving as a tutor, a guest speaker in the college's first-year experience course for freshman, and an ambassador for the Mechanical Engineering Program at open houses and admitted student days.

Her volunteer work extends beyond the SUNY Canton campus. She has been involved in many local and national fundraising initiatives, including the St. Lawrence County Walk to End Alzheimer's and American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. She has also helped maintain local hiking trails through a collaboration with the Nature Up North organization.

"During my tenure at SUNY Canton, I have not seen any other student accomplish as much as Jessica has," said Assistant Professor Lucas Craig, Ph.D., who teaches in the Mechanical Engineering Technology program. "Her extracurricular activities throughout her academic career mirror that of a humanitarian, and she has made the entire campus proud."

The Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence was created in 1997 to recognize students who have best demonstrated, and have been recognized for, the integration of academic excellence with accomplishments in the areas of leadership, athletics, community service, creative and performing arts, campus involvement, or career achievement.