January 27, 2022

2021 Alumni Awardees

SUNY Empire Recognized Distinguished Alumni at Winter Commencement

From left to right: Douglas Brian Sherman '17, Keith Amparado '88, William Serino '17, Brenda Muhammad '15

Each year, SUNY Empire State College presents four awards to alumni for their lasting impact on society and the college through outstanding professional, military, philanthropic, and volunteer accomplishments.  Sue Epstein, interim assistant vice president for advancement, acknowledged the 2021 alumni award recipients at this year’s Winter Commencement.

The Veteran Service Award, which recognizes an alum who is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces who has made a positive impact on the local, national, international, college, and/or veteran communities, was given to Douglas Brian Sherman ’17. Brian began his military career in 1979 when he joined the United States Marine Corps. He was honorably discharged in 1990 and spent 12 years working as a civilian radio engineer in New York City and Long Island for Fortune 500 Companies, including Honeywell, MCI, and T-Mobile. After 9/11, Brian felt the need to serve again and joined the U.S. Army Reserves as a military policeman in 2002. In 2007, he transferred to the New York Army National Guard before retiring this year. He is an active alum who supports the college and frequently volunteers at alumni and student events. Of his achievement, Sherman said, “I am humbled by such an honor from SUNY Empire State College and the Alumni Engagement Committee, as there are many Alumni veterans that would be as deserving to accept this great honor.”

The Alumni Distinguished Leader Award, which recognizes transformational philanthropy, leadership, and service to SUNY Empire State College, went to Keith Amparado ’88. Keith is a past president of the Alumni Federation Board of Governors and is currently a member of the Shirley Chisolm Center for Equity Studies Advisory Board. Keith has established two endowed scholarships at SUNY Empire — the Arcadeo and Sadie J. Browne Amparado “Force for Change” Scholarship in memory of his beloved parents, and the Shirley A. Chisholm Memorial Scholarship. He also supports the Black Male Initiative Scholarship. "It's been a privilege for me to work with and for our students in a variety of ways to help ensure they would cross the graduation stage and receive their degrees." Amparado said. "I am happy to know that my efforts and the efforts of my colleagues have made a positive difference in the lives of our students, their families and friends and I sincerely appreciate the recognition."

The Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes significant career achievements and civic involvement of a graduate within the last five years, was given to William Serino ’17. Since graduating from SUNY Empire, William has pursued a career in secondary education and taught for numerous school districts in New York state — and abroad in Abu Dhabi and for the Department of Defense serving US military-connected students in Germany. As a teacher, William consistently goes above and beyond his responsibilities in the classroom, volunteering his time after school to serve as a sponsor and advisor for numerous student clubs and organizations. “My education at SUNY Empire not only allowed me to qualify for my teacher certification program but also allowed me to receive an additional certification in Biology. I am hoping to continue my career and support childhood and adolescent education.” Serino said. He is also a U.S. Air Force veteran and former Peace Corps volunteer.  

The Community Impact Award, which recognizes an alum who inspires the world around them through service to the community, went to Brenda Muhammad ’15. Brenda’s list of community involvement includes AmeriCorps, Habitat for Humanity, and the World Institute on Disability. As an alumna, she participates in SUNY Empire residencies and has served as an alumni speaker at events.  She is currently executive director of FORCE, a Syracuse-based, volunteer-driven nonprofit dedicated to improving quality of life for the poor and disenfranchised. 

Congratulations to the alumni who were recognized at 2021 Winter Commencement! We thank them for dedication to SUNY Empire and perseverance in their personal and professional commitments. 

About the Alumni Awards

The true measure of a college’s greatness can be found in the achievements of its alumni, and SUNY Empire State College is globally known for developing leaders. Many of the college’s alumni have achieved unique distinction through success in their professions, service to the college, and contributions to their communities. 

The Alumni Student Federation board of governors established the Alumni Awards Program in 2016 to recognize the college’s exemplary alumni who have made a lasting impact on society and on SUNY Empire State College through outstanding professional, military, philanthropic, or volunteer accomplishments.