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Student Advocate Fellows

Student Advocate Fellows

The Student Advocate Fellowship Program is comprised of recet graduates who will drive student-centric policy initiatives across SUNY. The first class of the first-ever Student Advocate Fellowship Program includes Kalief Metellus, Kaitlyn Bertleff, Shay Gauthier, and Taryn Rackmyer.

Kaitlyn Bertleff headshot

Kaitlyn Bertleff

SUNY Management Fellow focusing on developing policy to address a wide range of student-facing issues in the Office of the Chancellor. Bertleff was an inaugural member of the SUNY Student Voices Action Committee established by Chancellor Malatras in October 2020, a group working closely with SUNY’s Student Government Assembly that has championed for resources to bolster mental health resources for students and combat food insecurity across campuses. She was also President of SUNY Geneseo’s Student Association and an assistant residence director. Bertleff graduated from SUNY Geneseo in May.


Shay Gauthier headshot

Shay Gauthier

SUNY Communications Fellow will develop and implement a communications strategy to address issues and opportunities raised by students, as well as help promote SUNY programs that make it one of the most affordable and accessible in higher education. She joins the Communications and Marketing team at SUNY, following extensive experience as a reporter and on-air personality, where she presented on important conversations such as, mental health, racial injustice, and issues surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community. In addition to numerous broadcast awards, Gauthier was recognized as one of this year’s Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence and a recipient of SUNY Brockport’s President’s Citation Award for outstanding achievement. She graduated in May after completing her studies in journalism and broadcasting in three years.


Kalief Metellus in graduation cap and gown

Kalief Metellus

Student Advocate Fellow reporting to SUNY's first student advocate and senior advisor to the chancellor, Dr. John Graham. Metellus has been a student leader at SUNY serving the Old Westbury campus as Student Government Association President and Chief Executive Officer, and College Council member. He has authored approved resolutions to benefit the broad diversity of the student body, established scholarship awards for students, and provided funding for food pantries and housing resources, among other accomplishments to serve students in need. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Norman R. McConney, Jr., Award for Educational Opportunity Program Student Excellence; SUNY Student Assembly Student Government Association President of The Year; SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence; and the Lavender Graduation Bridge Award; among others. Metellus graduated from SUNY Old Westbury in May.


Taryn Rackmyer headshot

Taryn Rackmyer

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fellow reporting to SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer Teresa Miller. Prior to this fellowship, Rackmyer was a graduate assistant to the Secretary of the SUNY Board of Trustees and a student assistant in Government Relations and Marketing. During her undergraduate studies at Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) and the University at Albany, Taryn held a number of student leadership positions, earning her the 2019 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, among other accolades. Rackmyer earned two associate degrees from MVCC in 2018 and 2019, a bachelor’s degree from the University at Albany in December 2020, and is expected to graduate in December 2021 with her master’s degree from UAlbany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.