Past Award Winners

2023 Award Winners:

Gozde Ustuner (right) with WEDLI VP Michelle McQueen. Gozde Ustuner (right) with WEDLI VP Michelle McQueen. Gozde Ustuner
Materials Science and Chemical Engineering
Stony Brook University

Gozde Ustuner is pursuing her PhD in Materials Science and Chemical Engineering from Stony Brook University. Not only does she demonstrate her academic excellence with a 3.96 GPA, but she is also a visiting assisting professor, a mentor for the new online course management system, and participates in many outreach events, seminars, and conferences, including working with high school students teaching science experiments through her volunteer work with Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Her current research focuses on developing a new catalyst for fuel cells which will be used for passenger and commercial vehicle operations, as well as generating clean electricity, thus reducing pollution, producing clean energy, and creating jobs. Ms. Ustuner commented in her personal statement, “My passion for cleaner and greener future is the driving force for my education, research and my goals and it gives me a purpose to work toward providing a sustainable future for the next generation as well as creating new job opportunities in the renewable energy field to promote economic growth and development on Long Island.”

Karla Rodriguez Molloy
Liberal Studies – Nonprofit Management
Stony Brook University

Karla Rodriguez Molloy is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from Stony Brook University, with an exceptional GPA of 3.96. She has worked in human services for over thirteen years, ten of which have been case management in mental health, developmental disabilities, and AIDS/HIV services. Most recently, she served as supervisor for a case management team overseeing wraparound services for over thirty homes in Suffolk County and a subsidy providing critical housing stability to individuals and families facing homelessness. Ms. Rodriguez Molloy commented in her personal statement, "I have a clear vision for the future of my community - one in which BIPOC groups have greater access to higher education, more leadership opportunities, and subsequently, higher pay." This year, Ms. Rodriguez Molloy completed an Organizational Leadership program at Adelphi University meant to broaden and strengthen the pipeline for leaders of color in the nonprofit sector. She adds, "Representation is of utmost importance in leadership to remind our BIPOC service recipients that they too can attain larger-than-life roles and effect change in their communities."

2022 Award Winners:

2021-2022 winners Melanie Jelen, Dorentina Gashi, and Jessin Wang 2021 winner Melanie Jelen with
2022 winners Dorentina Gashi and Jessin Wang

Dorentina Gashi
Interdisciplinary Studies
New York Institute of Technology

Dorentina Gashi is pursuing her third year at NYIT in Interdisciplinary Studies, with an interest in oceanography and physics. Three key elements throughout her life have been discipline, productivity, and patience: Discipline – to stay consistent and follow through with goals, Productivity – allows her to reach for more, and Patience – to sustain and continue following a path to bring her closer to her goals. As the Vice President of the United Nations Chapter and Student Advisory Board at NYIT, Ms. Gashi strives to make a positive impact on all other students she meets on her journey.

Jessin Wang
Civil Engineering
Stony Brook University

Jessin Wang is pursuing her third year at Stony Brook University in Civil Engineering with a focus on structural analysis, design, and net-zero buildings. Her passion for sustainability and infrastructure fuels her dream to provide affordable housing and create neighborhoods where businesses and families can thrive. Ms. Wang wants to be the backbone of developing communities in underutilized spaces across Long Island that include easy, walkable access to various types of businesses, such as supermarkets, banks, and schools.

2021 Award Winner:

Melanie Jelen

New York Institute of Technology

Melanie Jelen is pursuing her MBA in Marketing from New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) School of Management, and in 2021 was entering her second year of Graduate school. Not only does she demonstrate her academic excellence with a 3.94 GPA, she is a member National Society of Leadership and Success; Phi Eta Sigma National Honors Society; and on New York Tech’s President’s List consecutively from Fall 2017 to December 2020. She also has an array of leadership roles and responsibility at NYIT. In her personal statement, Ms. Jelen comments that “Life is not about making the most money but leaving the biggest positive impact and gaining endless knowledge.”

2019 Award Winners:

Marshele Juste

Queens College

Isabelle Litvak

St. John's University

Kelly Mazzio

Community & Human Services
Empire State College

2018 Award Winners:

Gabrielle Bacarella

Business Administration
Adelphi University, May 2020

Maria Villon Bustillo

St. John's University, May 2019

2017 Award Winners:

Sarah Ashour

Biological Sciences
SUNY College at Old Westbury, May 2017

Kalie Smith

Stony Brook University, May 2017

2016 Award Winners:

Shanyse Clark
St John’s University

Jessica Zuniga

Higher Education Administration
Stony Brook University, December 2016

Toni Ann Rodriguez

B.S. in Management
Molloy College, May 2016
Masters in Marketing
Molloy College, May 2017

2015 Award Winners:

Morgan DiCarlo

Civil Engineering/Business
Stony Brook University, May 2016

Cynthia Prisco

Hospitality & Tourism Management
St Joseph's College, May 2016