Three graduates of Auburn/Cayuga Community College have been named Alumni Association Award recipients for 2022. They are Alisha Dymond Burnett ‘09, Jason Meyers ’16 and Nicholas Valenti ’66.
They, along with inductees from 2020 Lisa Chelenza ’92 and Hon. Timothy Rice ’77, and from 2021 Gerard Martin ’67, Robert Smith, Esq. ’77 and Thomas White ’92, were presented their awards this month at Prison City North, along with their family, friends and previous award winners.
Alisha Dymond Burnett graduated from Cayuga Community College in 2009 with an associate’s degree in Nursing and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Excelsior College and certification as an EMT and paramedic. She holds three national advanced certifications (CFRN, CCRN and TCRN) and is the Chair of her flight program’s quality management and performance improvement program. She has worked in critical care as a registered nurse for 12 years. Her specialties include Surgical Trauma ICU, Burn ICU, and flight medicine. She is Chief Flight Nurse of Tampa General Hospital’s Aeromed 2 base, currently flying as a flight nurse/paramedic transporting critically injured patients from scenes, as well as ICU patients from hospital to hospital. She has maintained contact with Cayuga’s Nursing program, sharing her accomplishments and encouraging nursing students. “Alisha demonstrates her love for nursing at Cayuga and continues to make our Nursing program proud,” said her nominator, Professor Edie Smith ‘92 of Cayuga’s Nursing program.
On the seventh anniversary of her Cayuga graduation, Ms. Burnett posted on Cayuga’s Nurses Facebook page: “… I certainly never imagined seven years ago I would fly to scenes and hospitals in the back of a helicopter for a living, but that’s where my education and career path has taken me. I will be forever grateful for the amazing instructors at (Cayuga).”
Jayson “Wally” Meyers earned an associate’s degree from Cayuga Community College in Criminal Justice/Corrections in 2016. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Services from Empire College and a Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Waldorf University. He is a Community Outreach Coordinator for Cayuga County Mental Health, and serves as a coordinator and consultant for Peer Integration for Recovery. In his role with Cayuga County he is part of the support team for the HEALing Communities Study to fight opioid overdose deaths in Cayuga County. “I credit my teenage daughters, Lola and Layla, for keeping me grounded and giving me purpose,” said Mr. Meyers.
Mr. Meyers was nominated for an Alumni Award by Dr. Jerimy Blowers ‘93, Associate Professor and Wellness Coordinator at CCC. “If there was ever a success story here at Cayuga, this gentleman is it,” said Professor Blowers. “Coming from a challenging past, he had to overcome obstacles that impeded his goals … and he found the strength that not only helped him survive, but to thrive. He is an instrumental force in our community, helping to guide people to substance abuse recovery.” Mr. Meyers often gives back to the College by sharing his story with students at Cayuga, as well as with school and community groups throughout Cayuga County.
Nicholas Valenti graduated from Auburn Community College in 1966 with an Associate in Applied Science in Accounting and continued his education at Niagara University. Prior to that, he served our country as a Marine during the Vietnam War. Since 1979 he has been involved in local veterans organizations and is currently serving his 10th year as the New York State Central District Director for the Vietnam Veterans of America. He has served as the American Legion Post commander and the VVA 704 Chapter president. He frequently represents Cayuga County at regional and national Vietnam veteran events.
Mr. Valenti assisted in bringing The Wall That Heals to Cayuga County and in helping make the Cayuga County Vietnam Veterans Memorial a reality. His nominator and frequent collaborator, Dr. Linda Townsend ‘74, said “Mr. Valenti’s community service and life’s work are a testament to the core values and sense of community that are part of Cayuga Community College’s traditions that are instilled within our graduates.” Mr. Valenti was recently selected by New York State Senator John Mannion to represent the 50th Senate District as a New York State Veteran’s Hall of Fame honoree.
“We are delighted to recognize these nominees who join the ranks of dozens of other Cayuga Alumni who have made a difference in our community and the nation,” said Guy Thomas Cosentino, Executive Director of the Cayuga County Community College Foundation. “We appreciate the time and effort put in by their nominators who identified their accomplishments and who know the value of a Cayuga Community College education.”
Established in 1993, Alumni Awards are presented annually to Auburn/Cayuga graduates who have made outstanding contributions in vocational or artistic achievement, volunteer or public service, or assistance to the College. The CCC Alumni Association is proud to add these individuals to the roster of Alumni Award recipients, recognized on a plaque in the College Rotunda on the Auburn Campus.