Coins Challenge SUNY Canton Students to Complete College on Time

SUNY Canton is giving out symbolic challenge coins to inspire student success during each year of their education.

When Zvi Szafran first started his presidency at SUNY Canton, he wanted to find a way to reward students for successfully completing each fall semester. At about the same time, the college’s Veteran’s Association presented him with their monogrammed challenge coin for assuming SUNY Canton’s presidency. Szafran was so impressed with this token that he decided to give every student a coin when they successfully transitioned between semesters.

Two hands holding four coins.

A SUNY Canton student holds challenge coins issued by the President’s Office corresponding with each year of college.

“I wanted to present students with something they could hold and want to keep,” Szafran said. “Beyond grades, honors and awards, the coins serve as a reminder that we are proud of their accomplishments and that we are dedicated to seeing them through their entire education.”

Challenge coins have significance in the U.S. armed forces as a traditional symbol of a job well done and are often used to build camaraderie. The symbolic presentation of the tokens has carried over into civilian life. At SUNY Canton the coins serve as a positive incentive for students to complete their degrees on time, according to Szafran.

Four students hold their coins in front of themselves.

Pictured are (l to r) SUNY Canton students Liam J. Nihmey of Potsdam, Tyranny Chartrand of Castorland, Megan M. Brockner of Callicoon Center and Victoria Bean of Essex Junction, Vt. after receiving their first-year challenge coins.

Starting in the spring 2015 semester, all freshmen and transfer students who completed their first semester were presented with a challenge coin. The college presents differently color-coded coins between students’ third, fifth and seventh semesters, meaning a student can earn as many as four coins corresponding with their degree.  The fourth and final coin, gold in color, will be presented for the first time in spring 2018.

More than 300 coins recently were presented in the Spring 2017 semester, and more will be mailed out to online students.

Frencisca Medina, a Law Enforcement Leadership major from Schenectady, was excited to pick up her second coin.

Two students hold their coins.

Pictured are (l to r) Sydney Wiesing of DeRuyter and Frencisca Medina of Schenectady holding their second-year challenge coins.

“I’ve kept my first coin in my purse all year just to remind myself that I did it,” she said. “It’s motivation to keep on doing my best.”

Dylan F. Spicer, an Applied Psychology major from Massena, was one of several students surprised by the recognition. “I took five years off from school,” he said. “Now I know I have to keep it up.”

In addition to the coins, the SUNY Canton Alumni Association presents a special medallion to each graduating student at commencement.

About SUNY Canton

SUNY Canton is Northern New York’s premier college for career-driven bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs. The college delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, health, management and public service and recently received number one rankings in library resources, library services and tutoring services in the SUNY Student Opinion Survey. The college’s faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 13 exclusively online bachelor’s degrees. The college’s 15 athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level and are conference members of the newly formed American Collegiate Athletic Association.

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