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Student awarded innovation prize for art project
2/24/14

A senior art major from Dutchess County is the recipient of Alfred University’s (AU) 2014 Richard V. Bergren Jr. Student Innovation Award for her work with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

The award, given to a student or group who has identified a need within the Alfred community and developed a solution with lasting impact, goes to Rosemarie Oakman for founding and implementing the Alzheimer’s Glass and Iron Project, an ongoing effort to recognize and honor those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia in local communities.

Oakman founded the Alzheimer’s Glass and Iron Project a year ago when she fused her love of metalworking with her passion for helping the elderly. Through the Project, AU students volunteer to work with local Alzheimer’s and dementia patients to create iron oxide and watercolor art. The students then render cast glass and iron sculptures based off of the artwork. These pieces are then auctioned off to directly benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. The Project, which in addition to Alfred has chapters in Salem, NY and Birmingham, AL, is expected to be represented this summer at the 7th International Contemporary Cast Iron Arts Convention in Pedvale, Latvia.

The Richard V. Bergren, Jr. Student Innovation Awards are presented annually by the Alfred University Board of Trustees. Projects eligible for the Bergren Student Innovation Awards may improve the quality of life for students, faculty and staff, alumni, members of the surrounding community, or any other Alfred constituency. The winner(s) receives a cash prize as well as a matching donation to the organization’s budget in order to sustain the innovation.

The Student Innovation Awards are funded through the generosity of the AU trustees and are named in honor of the Rev. Dr. Richard V. Bergren Jr., who served as assistant professor of religion and director of religious programs at Alfred University from 1960-68.

Each year, the director of Student Activities seeks nominations for the Student Innovation Award from the Alfred campus community. Nominees complete a written questionnaire and essay regarding their projects, which are reviewed and ranked by a five-member committee.

This year, nominees who received honorable mention include:

-Nate Jacobs, a junior ceramic engineering major from Buffalo, and Emma Widmer,  a sophomore early childhood/childhood education major, who created Bingo for Food, a Thursday-night activity combining students’ need for groceries with the thrill of gambling.  

-Lauren White, a senior early childhood/childhood education major from Freeport, NY, and Kelly McNamara, a senior communications studies and sociology major from Hurleyville, creators of the Institute for Cultural Unity, which serves as both a social gathering hub and an educational programming lab.

-Ben Castner, a junior ceramic engineering major from Sykesville, MD, and Joseph Vazquez, a sophomore undeclared major from the Bronx, who formed the Saxon Squad to encourage school spirit with Saxon Fridays and fun programming.