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For Immediate Release
April 6, 2023

Two from Suffolk Awarded Prestigious Vanguard Honor

Vanguard Award Winners 2023
Vanguard Award Winners 2023

Suffolk County Community College’s Jasmine Frederique and Oleksandra Dalaya have been awarded the prestigious Vanguard Student Recognition Award that acknowledges outstanding students who are enrolled in career and technical education programs that prepare them for professions that are not traditional for their gender.

Frederique, 27, of Coram and Dalaya, 37, of Commack are two of eight state-wide award recipients. Frederique, who graduated from Suffolk in December 2022, and started her own company, is pursuing a career in digital and multimedia production. Dalaya, a wife and mother, graduates this May with an Associate’s degree in Cybersecurity.

“Jasmine and Oleksandra have persevered, persisted and succeeded,” said Suffolk County Community College President Dr. Edward Bonahue, “and today, we celebrate these two outstanding women who demonstrate the true spirit of determination and inspire all of us at SUNY Suffolk.”

The Vanguard Award is presented annually by the Nontraditional Employment & Training (NET) Project, an initiative of SUNY Albany’s Center for Women in Government & Civil Society in partnership with the New York State Education Department. The award ceremony will be held virtually on April 13.

Each student travelled a unique path to success.

Oleksandra Dalaya

Oleksandra Dalaya, Sasha as she is called by friends, was inspired to apply to Suffolk and study cybersecurity after reading about a previous Suffolk County Community College Vanguard Award winner, Talise Geer, in the newspaper.

Dalaya immigrated from Ukraine in 2016 not speaking a word of English. She said searching for a job was difficult. Her many job interviews failed because of her inability to effectively communicate.  “Eventually, my English improved enough that I was able to get a job at Marshalls as a sales assistant. After some time, I was promoted to cashier, but in 2020, at the start of Covid-19, I lost my job.”

“I read an article on that seemed very familiar to me,” Dalaya said. It was about Talise Geer. Talise followed her dream and changed her life by starting a career in cybersecurity. Geer was such an inspiration that I applied for the Cybersecurity program at Suffolk County Community College. Like Talise, I wanted to inspire young girls and create a better life for my family and myself. Almost 20 years ago, I was just a small girl in Ukraine who did not know what a computer was, but now working in cybersecurity, this a dream come true,” Dalaya said.

 “I joined the (ISC)2, a Long Island organization that offers opportunities to further learn Cybersecurity, earn certifications, and network professionally. With a fellow student, I competed in Hofstra University’s 2022 Long Island Capture the Flag Competition, placing 5th out of 17 teams and in the Department of Energy’s National CyberForce Competition, my team placed 70th out of 150 teams and interned at Brookhaven National Lab. At the beginning of my journey, one of my English tutors from the writing center at Suffolk said: ‘It is hard, but it can be done. You can do this!’”

Dalaya also thanked Dr. Susan Frank, Professor Andrew Stone and Specialist- Cybersecurity Jonathan Sadowski, who she said all played a role in her success with their advising, and help with scholarship applications and internships.

And lastly, she said, “I want to tell all the young girls now and in the future that they deserve it, they too can do it. If we put our minds to it, we can work for NASA!”

Jasmine Frederique

Jasmine Frederique persisted.

A proud woman of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent, Frederique says she was bullied because of the way she looked and dreaded attending school. She found solace in watching movies, and one day one of those movies, she said, changed her life.

“When I couldn’t escape or handle the traumas I faced as a child, I could always pop in a film and enter the magical world that cinema created. They don’t call it ‘movie magic’ for nothing, and it allowed me to see that there could be more to life than the one I was currently living,” Frederique said. “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella starring Whitney Houston and Brandy truly changed my life. To see a black girl with braids in all her beauty not only become a princess but to have a happily-ever-after despite everything she went through was inspirational. The message was so powerful and it showed me two things: that black is beautiful and that anything is possible as long as you take the chance to go after it.”

Frederique attended three different high schools, she said, and finally felt at home at Bay Shore High School where she learned video editing, how to produce music, and took her first film course.  Frederique excelled and was placed into the high school’s honors program. “It was the first time I looked forward to going to school -- ever-- in my life,” Frederique said.

Fast forward.

Frederique survived a serious car accident, earned a scholarship to New York University (NYU), left NYU to enroll in Arizona State University’s online Film & Media degree program, created her own company – O.T.D. Productions (Overcome The Doubt) - a video & digital media production company, and finally found a home at Suffolk County Community College and the Radio and Television production program from which she earned an A.A.S degree in December 2022.

“Jasmine is creative, driven, and dedicated to becoming the best producer and director she can be. All these traits/characteristics guarantee her continued success,” said Professor Gayle Sheridan, assistant academic chair of Communication, Radio, TV and Film.

“As an older, continuing student, I faced challenges studying with younger students, but I was not deterred and was determined to graduate after learning everything I could from my professors who had years of experience in the industry,” Frederique said.

“At graduation, I was a multiyear Dean’s list student, I was featured in Tae Kwon Do Life Magazine for my work as an associate producer on a documentary titled “Master Joe”, I was awarded the Distinguished Student Achievement Award by the Communications Department, and graduated summa cum laude. It was as if everything I had gone through up until these moments had prepared me to excel. When I actively took control and made opportunities for myself to flourish, doors began to open,” she said.