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Pair of Alfred State students win Vanguard Award


Alfred State Vanguard Award winners Emma Bower and Halimat Akanbi

Emma Bower of Fillmore and Halimat Akanbi of Ozone Park with award for non-traditional technical students

Alfred State College (ASC) students Emma Bower (Fillmore) and Halimat Akanbi (Ozone Park) have won the 2022 Vanguard Award. The NET (Nontraditional Employment & Training) program presents the Vanguard Award annually.

The Vanguard Award acknowledges and commends outstanding students enrolled in Tech Prep and other Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs that are not traditional for their gender.

Emma Bower

Love of agriculture started at an early age for Bower, an Agricultural Entrepreneurship major. “I wholeheartedly believe that several life lessons are better learned working on a farm. Hands-on work is what I love and I soon found the satisfaction of getting my tasks done to the best of my ability can be incredibly rewarding.”

“I feel incredibly appreciative and thankful for this recognition. I hope my story reminds all women, especially young women that they are capable of anything they want to do.”

Agriculture lecturer Casey Arlig-Hinz nominated Bower. “Emma is a fantastic member of academia in all aspects. Being a Vanguard winner is a heft accomplishment in its own right, however to be the only student in agricultural studies makes this award mean even more.”

Halimat Akanbi

Akanbi’s Nigerian heritage has motivated her in her construction management program. “In my search for pathways to help populations from economically stagnant communities, I visualize the assets I could contribute when empowered by a construction management degree. Through my leadership experience and coursework, I have learned about the importance of advocacy for myself and others. It is through service that I am learning who I am as an individual and how I can make a change in my community.”

“It is truly an honor to win this award. With only 10% of women making up the construction industry, I hope to encourage more women to be a part of the field. This experience has been a confidence booster and inspires me to persevere and encourage those around me.”

Chair of the Civil Engineering Technology department Erin Vitale nominated Akanbi. “Halimat’s skill, energy and enthusiasm for the construction industry will help attract the next generation to the industry. One of the hallmarks of the Vanguard Award is to recognize students in fields that are not traditional to their background. This recognition is partly intended to attract more minority representation to the STEM fields.”

Bower and Akanbi will receive their Vanguard Awards at the virtual NET conference on May 19.

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