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Four to Receive Clarkson University Inspirational Educator Award for 2016

Four educators nominated by Clarkson University community will be honored as the 2016 Clarkson University Inspirational Educators.

Inspirational Educator AwardsThe award recognizes these educators for their lasting impact on their students and in their fields of education.

Kelly Boswell of Camillus, N.Y., a home and careers teacher at West Genesee Middle School, was nominated by former student Tracy O'Hern, a senior engineering and management major at Clarkson.
O'Hern said her teacher deserves this award for her mentorship and professional support in high school and throughout college. She said Boswell's life lessons have helped her develop the independence to try new experiences and to not stress out over things she is unable to control.

"Thank you for informing me about leadership and volunteer opportunities throughout my time in high school," O'Hern said. "Those experiences have helped me become successful in my current leadership roles. I am lucky to have a wonderful educator in my life and someone who is willing to help me grow professionally even outside of the classroom. I appreciate your assistance with college applications and job interviews. Your positive attitude has taught me to look at all situations in a different way, even when it doesn't seem like there are great aspects. Your support and example has helped me be successful throughout my high school and college career. Thank you for your dedication to students and your community."

Karen Yonko of Edinboro, Pa., a freshman biology teacher at General McLane High School, was nominated by former student Colton Weaver, a senior innovation and entrepreneur major at Clarkson.

Weaver said Yonko's tireless dedication to helping her students work toward their goals makes her well-qualified for this honor. "Looking back on my experiences in high school to the experiences that I have today, a lot has changed, but it was the values that she instilled in me that will last forever," Weaver said. "To be a diligent worker, a curious learner, with the drive to be successful, all while remaining humble with the willingness to help others are just some of the wonderful things I have learned from her. Without these extremely important life skills, I know that I would not have achieved the awesome things I have done today. She would always push me to take on new science projects, to work with local college professors, and to apply to leadership programs, and she would know when I had too much on my plate and would reassure me when I thought I was failing. Her concern for my personal well-being and success was something that was superseded by any other faculty member from my high school; it is something I will never take for granted."

Renee McNair-McFarlane of Baltimore, Md., an attendance counselor at the Washington Metropolitan High School, was nominated by former student Tynia Davis, a senior humanities major at Clarkson.

Davis said the academic guidance she received from her attendance counselor inspired her to come enter Clarkson's early college program, The Clarkson School, four years ago. She said McNair-McFarlane inspired her to stay in school and helped her realize that quitting is never an option. "She has shown me through her lifestyle that education is critical to the future, especially the future that I want," Davis said. "She taught through her passion for education and helping others that graduation from an institution, like Clarkson, is very powerful and amazing. She has helped me become the strong, independent and intellectual person that I am today. She has done this through her love for God and her love for me. Without her, I do not think I would have been able to finish college. She was the person that was always there for me and not once did I have to question whether or not she would be there for me. She is and forever will be the person I turn to because she has never made me question her love for me."

John D. Christensen of Valhalla, N.Y., a retired instructor at Westchester Community College, was nominated for his work to recruit and mentor more than 100 students to Clarkson University's School of Business over the past 30 years. Christensen was nominated by Scott Biscione, who was a former student of Christensen.

Beyond recruiting, Christensen devoted his time to his former students at Clarkson and played an active role in their professional development. He often visited Clarkson's campus in Potsdam and kept in touch with students as they progressed through the program. "As my principles of business management professor, I am still using Professor Christensen's lessons and methodology," Biscione said. "Professor Christensen motivated me to move on into a higher level in my career. What was amazing about Professor John Christensen was it was not just me he was helping; it was all my fellow classmates and so many more students who came before us. Professor Christensen helped all of us without exception."

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, New York, and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Back row, from left to right, Renee McNair-McFarlane and Kelly Boswell. Front row, from left to right, Clarkson seniors Tynia Davis, Tracy O'Hern and Colton Weaver. Four educators nominated by Clarkson University community will be honored as the 2016 Clarkson University Inspirational Educators.

[A photograph for media use is available at .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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