– Travonya Kenly, a senior at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania from Allentown, has been named the 2015 winner of the Syed R. Ali-Zaidi Award for Academic Excellence. She received $1,000 along with a commemorative medallion for her achievement.
Kenly will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental biology/ecology. She has a 3.91 grade point average at Cheyney, and also earned a 3.43 GPA while enrolled in the Duke University Marine Lab during the spring of 2014.
The Ali-Zaidi Award is presented annually to a graduating senior at one of the 14 universities that comprise Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. It recognizes outstanding academic achievement and participation in extra- and co-curricular activities. This is the 15th year for the award, which was established in 2001 by Syed R. Ali-Zaidi, a founding member of the State System’s Board of Governors.
Candidates for the award are recommended by their university president at the conclusion of a campus application and selection process. Selection criteria comprise academic scholarship, including prizes, honors and membership in honorary societies; participation in extra/co-curricular activities; and a two-page essay by the nominee addressing how the university has prepared him or her for the next career step.
Kenly has completed a variety of professional experiences while completing work on her degree, including summer internships with the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology in Baltimore, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego and Miami University of Ohio. She also participated in a three-week study abroad program at Oxford Universities in England.
At Cheyney University, Kenly has served as both a residential hall adviser and peer mentor. Her other activities have included serving as both president and vice president of Cheyney University’s Honors Council and treasurer of the Cheyney University Gospel Choir. She was a student ambassador, a member of the Students of All Nations Club, a community service leader and a member of the volleyball team for three years. She received the President’s Award for Excellence and full scholarships to both Cheyney University and the Duke University Marine Lab, among other awards and honors.
Kenly also participated in numerous conferences, symposiums and scholastic competitions, including the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Leadership Conference twice, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Symposium for Chemistry and the National Honda Campus All-Star Competition in Los Angeles.
In addition to being recognized by the Board of Governors, Kenly also received congratulatory citations from the state House of Representatives and state Senate, signed by Rep. Michael Schlossberg and Sen. Patrick Browne, her hometown legislators.
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with about 110,000 degree-seeking students and thousands more who are enrolled in certificate and other career-development programs. Collectively, the 14 universities that comprise the State System offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas. Nearly 520,000 State System university alumni live in Pennsylvania.
The State System universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. The universities also operate branch campuses in Oil City (Clarion), Freeport and Punxsutawney (IUP), and Clearfield (Lock Haven), and offer classes and programs at several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and in Center City in Philadelphia.