Three from Fisher recognized at the 2019 RACCE Outstanding Adult Student Awards

May 2, 2019

Three students from St. John Fisher College—Nelly Abdalla, Robert Brown, and Dr. Daniele Lyman-Torres—were honored during the Rochester Area Colleges Continuing Education Association (RACCE) awards banquet on Wednesday, April 10.

Dr. Daniele Lyman-Torres, Nelly Abdalla, and Robert A. Brown

The RACCE Outstanding Adult Student Award recognizes students who successfully balance academic excellence, service to the community, and the many competing responsibilities and obligations of adult life.

In 2011, Abdalla earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Three years later, she completed her master’s degree in global affairs from New York University.

Previously, Abdalla served as a relations intern for the Syrian National Coalition. In addition, she was an academic advisor at James Monroe High School through AmeriCorps. She was also the English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) instructor and program coordinator for the Arab American Association of New York. Since 2016, Abdalla has worked for Renaissance Academy Charter School of the Arts and is currently a second grade teacher and teacher assistant.

Her advisors praise the seriousness with which Abdalla approaches her education and work. She is highly respected by her peers and faculty for demonstrating excellence as a student and leader. Her nominator says she is “unquestionably one of the finest adult students with whom I have had the pleasure of working.” Abdalla will graduate this year with her master’s degree in Childhood Education/Special Education.

In 2008, Brown began his pursuit of a college degree at Fisher. After three semesters at the College, Brown stepped back and went into masonry, eventually becoming the lead mason for a local residential contractor.

Ten years later, he returned to Fisher to finish his bachelor’s degree in corporate finance. He took four night classes per week, all while still working full-time as a mason. During finals week of his first semester back, Brown’s employer dissolved the business. He acted quickly to establish Brown Masonry LLC and inherited his previous employer’s employees and clients.

His professors admire the high quality of work produced in his courses and say, “Rob energizes the classroom.” His work ethic and attention to detail led him to achieve a 4.0 GPA while owning and operating his small business. Brown will complete his bachelor’s degree this upcoming December.

Lyman-Torres’ education path earned an associate’s degree in liberal arts and sciences from Monroe Community College, a bachelor’s degree in organizational management, and master’s degree in strategic leadership from Roberts Wesleyan College. She also holds a Healthcare Executive Certificate from the University of California, Los Angeles Anderson Graduate School of Management. In 2018, Lyman-Torres completed her doctorate degree in executive leadership from Fisher.

Today, her education and personal drive are focused on her role as Rochester’s Commissioner of the Department of Recreation and Youth Services. In this position, she oversees stewardship of Rochester’s 3,600 acre park system, operations of recreation centers, sports complexes, Capelli Sport Stadium, the Rochester Public Market, and the Bureau of Employment Skills Training and Youth Services.

Her nominators describe her as “an incredible leader and role model” who “demonstrates extraordinary competencies in research and scholarship.” Lyman-Torres will walk at the Commencement ceremony this May.