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Carr and Finnerty: Outstanding!
4/04/12

Kevin Carr and Margaret "Molly" Finnerty, both students in the School of Art & Design, are this year’s recipients of the Marlin Miller Outstanding Senior Awards at Alfred University.

Carr and Finnerty will receive their awards, which include a handcrafted tile and a $5,000 check, at Alfred University’s annual Honors Convocation April 20. They will also speak at Commencement May 12.

Outstanding seniors - one man and one woman - are chosen each year by a campus-wide committee on the basis of scholarship, extracurricular leadership and personal character. Faculty, staff and students may nominate candidates for the award.

"This year, the committee received a record number of nominations for a somewhat smaller group of students than usual," said Kathy Woughter, vice president for Student Affairs. "That meant that each student had a lot of concentrated support from among the student, faculty and staff, and each had made a significant impact on campus. As expected, this made the selection process extremely challenging, particularly at the finalist level. Molly and Kevin have each changed AU for the better during their time here. They have faced difficult situations with grace, they have led others with distinction, they have fought ignorance, and they have made their mark on AU and countless students whom they've positively affected through their work in the art school and around campus."

"Alfred is the place I found myself, the place that has become my home," said Carr. "Alfred lets anyone be passionate about whatever they can set their mind to… I have become a leader at Alfred. I had barely been involved in clubs and activities in high school, let alone been in charge of one. The thought of that frightened me, but Alfred changes you for the better."

Carr cites "four important milestones to my personal growth" at Alfred. The first was becoming president of Spectrum in 2010; the second was co-creating and performing the "Umbrella Dialogues;" the third, becoming an orientation guide, and the fourth, his experiences through the Women’s Leadership Academy.

As president of Spectrum, Carr said he wanted to make the club more visible on campus and to raise awareness of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues. He started Roy G. Biv & Friends, an LGBT and ally art show that has become an annual event, and initiated Transgender Awareness Week.

In the spring of 2010, he and Ashley Fantigrossi, president of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, a group that was assumed to have significant differences of opinion with the LGBT community, created "Umbrella Dialogues," a performance art piece that featured performers -- Carr as the LGBT representative and a member of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship - reading testimonies about similar subjects, drawing parallels, rather than differences, between the two groups.

"None of this would have been possible if I had not become an orientation guide," said Carr. That was the first experience that drew him out of his shell and gave him the self-confidence he needed to be a leader in other areas. "I love being an orientation guide and letting all of the first-year and transfer students know all about this place and everything it has to offer," Carr said. "It lets me share my love of Alfred with all the new students."

Carr signed up for the Women’s Leadership Academy, the first man to do so. "It helped me to better myself and increase my leadership potential," he said about the experience. It gave him more self-confidence, and taught him how to be an effective speaker. It also allowed him to create a permanent legacy: a mural depicting the history of women’s rights at Alfred University, the first truly co-educational institution in the country.

He has been diversity director for the Student Senate, and served on the Hot Dog Day Committee, as well as a member and treasurer of the Women’s Issues Coalition.

A Dean’s List student in the School of Art & Design, with concentrations in painting and printmaking, Carr has participated in numerous art shows as an exhibitor and curator. He is also director of the Robert C. Turner Student Gallery.

He received third place in "Once Upon a Dumpster," a juried exhibition; the Pamela and Gene Bernstein Leadership Award; second place in the Richard V. Bergren Student Innovation Award competition for Umbrella Dialogues, and completed all three levels of leadership training in the Gary Horowitz Leadership Development Program.

This summer, he will be working in the print shop at Buck’s Rock Performing and Creative Arts Camp, and will begin a residency at BetterArts in Redwood, NY, in September.

Carr is a graduate of Canandaigua Academy. His parents are Kenneth Carr and Robin Kline-Carr of Canandaigua.

"I am most proud of the quality of the relationships that I have developed throughout my four years at Alfred," said Finnerty. "My mentors, professors, advisers, respected peer and people that I looked up to at Alfred as the reason I strive to make the most of every opportunity that offers a chance for me to give back to the community that has enriched my life," said Finnerty.

Current president of Alfred University’s Omicron Delta Kappa Circle, the national leadership honors society, Finnerty has been working to rejuvenate the group. Last year, there were four inductees; this year, there were 56. She has been working with the executive board to revitalize the ODK Leadership Hall of Fame, recognizing leaders who made significant contributions to campus and community live at Alfred.

Finnerty is also proud of the work she has done with Drawn to Diversity and volunteering with Art Force Five, a community outreach program that promotes engagement through art. As a result of her involvement with Drawn to Diversity and Art Force Five, Finnerty applied for a Fulbright Grant, proposing to use art as a vehicle to develop youth leadership and promote creative problem-solving in Johannesburg, South Africa. While she did not receive the Fulbright, Finnerty is still interested in pursuing her project and has applied and been accepted to the University of Johannesburg for next school year to work with a professor who is working on research on how art can be used to promote awareness and social responsibility.

She has been a resident assistant, working for the Office of Residence Life at Alfred University. During the summer of 2010 when she studied at Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy, she was a studio monitor and student assistant.

A four-year member of the women’s varsity soccer team, and captain her junior and senior years Finnerty has received a National Collegiate Athletic Association President’s Academic Achievement Award. She has twice been named Saxon of the Year.

A Dean’s List student in the School of Art & Design, with a minor in marketing, Finnerty received a Gene and Pamela Bernstein Student and Faculty Development Fund Award and a professional development grant from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University to attend Art Basel Miami Beach 2012.. She has been an exhibitor in numerous art shows, winning a first place award for painting, a third-place award for photography and a best of show award in the Tri-County Art Show in Watertown.

Finnerty has a sister Meghan and is the daughter of James and Kathleen Finnerty of Watertown. She is a graduate of Watertown High School.

Along with a hand-crafted tile made by Wayne Higby, an internationally acclaimed artist and professor of ceramic art in the School of Art & Design at AU, Carr and Finnerty will receive $5,000 in cash, thanks to an endowment created by Robert L. MacNeil Jr. of Wyndmoor, PA, a friend and business colleague of Marlin Miller, who is a 1954 alumnus of Alfred University as well as a member and former chairman of the Board of Trustees.

While Alfred University has for many years presented outstanding senior awards to the man and woman in each class, in 2004 the awards were named in honor of Miller.