Three Capital Region BOCES adult education students were honored this month as New York Association for Continuing and Community Education (NYACCE) Students of the Year.
Rebekah Peters, Stephanie Morris and Kristine Bates were nominated for the award by their adult education teachers and chosen from nominees put forth by educators from across New York state.
Rebekah Peters, of Delmar, was nominated for her persistence in pursuing a High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma while raising four children and grappling with trying personal issues.
“Throughout this volatile time, Rebekah still came to class. While in class, she would repeatedly receive calls from her then estranged husband which distracted her from her studies. Despite this, she maintained her kindness and thoughtfulness. When another student became ill during class, Rebekah willingly walked the student home to her apartment to make sure she arrived safely,” said Case Manager Tarin Bready in nominating Peters for the award.
Peters graduated from the HSE program in 2018.
Stephanie Morris, of Albany, was nominated for overcoming a tough childhood that included becoming a teen mom, as well as a lifetime struggle with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). She dropped out of high school and was told to take the exam on her own, but she did not pass every subject.
“Stephanie was disappointed and felt like she couldn’t move on in her life. She continued to work, but was living paycheck to paycheck and was also expecting a second child… Her determination is what kept her going,” said Adult Education Program Manager Maria Huntington.
Morris said earning the award and attending Capital Region BOCES have been her greatest achievements in life.
“It means a lot to me. Growing up I never won anything. Winning this award is the best thing to happen to me,” she said. “I cried for two straight days when I heard about it.”
The Albany resident said BOCES has given her a new lease on life.
“When I first started, the class was really hard, but (my teacher) kept pushing me and pushing me. She wouldn’t let me give up,” Morris said. “Now, I plan to finish the program in February and go to Hudson Valley Community College for either business or criminal justice.”
Kristine Bates, of Colonie, was nominated for the statewide award for her perseverance despite her complex medical conditions.
Bates, who has spina bifida and requires dialysis for her failing kidneys, said she was often sick in high school. That along with other issues left her a single class short of graduating. She enrolled in the HSE program at BOCES’ Maywood School in September of 2017 and has already completed the program.
“I have never worked with a student who gave so much attention to graduating as she did,” said her teacher, Patti Alvaro. “Despite her constant health setbacks, Kristine still attended classes while experiencing extreme pain and discomfort. Her skills do not end with resiliency and ability to learn, she also projects a warm and cheerful attitude.”
Bates, who plans to pursue a degree in medical billing, credits Capital Region BOCES and her teacher Patti Alvaro with giving her a new lease on life.
“The teacher—I loved her. She actually helped me and made everything possible,” Bates said.