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Nazareth College is proud to announce James Henry, Willie Jeanne Lester, and Steven Fugle, as the winners of the Rochester Area Colleges Continuing Education (RACCE) award. The RACCE award is given to candidates who exemplify a strong commitment to higher education despite the unique challenges adult learners may face. Eligibility for the awards requires not only scholastic excellence, but also a demonstrated ability by the candidates to balance personal and professional responsibilities while working towards completing their degree.
James Henry will receive his bachelor’s in Communication & Rhetoric this May. This father of young children is faced with daily time constraints as he balances all the demands of studying with the duties of being a dad. Henry is confined to a wheelchair but the professor who nominated him says it doesn’t slow him down. Instead, he always has a positive attitude and a smile to share with other students. Henry believes his experience at Nazareth has the potential to open many doors due to the diverse yet disciplined nature of his degree. He says, “My studies, ranging from creative screenwriting to business-oriented technical writing, have provided me with not only a practical skill set and a college degree, but also unique insights into our modern world, enabling me to be a more effective citizen.”
Willie Jeanne Lester will also graduate in May with a bachelor’s in social work, and hopes to become an advocate for people with special needs. Prior to attending Nazareth College, she obtained two associate degrees from Monroe Community College one in addictions counseling and one in human services. She has worked two jobs throughout her college career, one at the Catholic Family Center as a group facilitator for recovery groups and at DePaul as a med counselor. Lester doesn’t hide the fact that she spent many years battling addiction, but instead insists on using her life to teach others who may be struggling with similar issues. She often says, “addiction is a bad thing but good can come from it.” Lester has been in recovery for eight years and is now able to enjoy a renewed, healthy, and joy filled relationship with her two adult children and five beautiful grandchildren (with a sixth on the way).
Steven Fugle is working towards his master’s in social work and is currently finishing up his concentration-year internship with the Alzheimer’s Association. He works in a leadership position within a social work agency, and believes the dedicated social work professors at Nazareth have helped him develop the leadership skills to succeed in his career. He says, “They have helped me to believe in myself as a leader, to be sure I am always practicing ethically, and to remember the self-care that is so important in a field such as social work.” Fugle’s son was born when he was just 16 years old, and he always knew he wanted to go back to school to become a better role model. Now married and with two children, Fugle credits a close family friend and his wife for being the support he needed to take the next steps toward earning that degree.
The three candidates were chosen by faculty members on their qualifications of these criteria as well as their exceptional commitment to higher education at Nazareth College.
Founded in 1924, Nazareth College is located on a close-knit, suburban campus in the dynamic, metropolitan region of Rochester, N.Y. The College offers challenging academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences and professional programs in health and human services, education, and management. Nazareth's strong cultures of service and community prepare students to be successful professionals and engaged citizens. The College enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate students and 1,000 graduate students.