Governor Hochul Announces 2022-23 Carey Gabay Scholarship Program Winners

February 19, 2023

From the office of Governor Hochul

Five Outstanding Incoming SUNY Students to Receive Full Scholarships   

Honors Carey Gabay's Legacy and Commitment to Social Justice, Leadership, and Mentorship 

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the five 2022-23 winners of the Carey Gabay Scholarship Program. The scholarship honors Carey Gabay, an attorney and public servant who was tragically killed as an innocent victim of gun violence in 2015. It is awarded to incoming SUNY students who exemplify Gabay's commitment to social justice, leadership, and mentoring, as well as his personal story of academic success and overcoming his economically-disadvantaged background.

"A product of the Bronx public schools and a dedicated public servant, Carey Gabay represented the best of us and the New York Dream in action, and I am proud that these five outstanding students will be able to honor his legacy," Governor Hochul said. "In the face of significant obstacles, these students have excelled in school and become leaders in their community and through this scholarship, will be able to continue their work of making our state a better place for all to live, work, and play."

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, "Carey Gabay, a college classmate and friend, has been missed by all who were fortunate to know him. In his life, he was a thoughtful, exemplary public servant who fought tirelessly to make sure everyone, from all walks of life, would have every opportunity to pursue their dreams. He was truly inspirational, and though he is no longer with us, this scholarship can continue his legacy as each of the five recipients work with all of us to build the more just and equitable world Carey so ardently sought."

Founder of the Carey Gabay Foundation Trenelle Gabay said, "When Carey's life was taken by a senseless act of gun violence, I was stricken with grief. My concern was how do I turn a tragedy into a recollection of life, the life he once lived with integrity. I knew that he would have turned this tragedy into an opportunity to prevent others from experiencing the harm that he did. Carey's dream of making New York better lives on through this scholarship. Thank you, Governor Hochul, for continuing this program to ensure that disadvantaged youth can reach their full potential."

Gabay grew up living in public housing and attending public school in the Bronx. After a successful high school career, he went on to graduate from Harvard University and Harvard Law School. He had a longstanding commitment to public service and giving back to those around him, and while at Harvard University, he ran to become the president of his undergraduate student body. During his career, he worked tirelessly in public service, beginning in 2011 as assistant counsel to the former governor and later as first deputy counsel for the Empire State Development Corporation.

The Carey Gabay Memorial Scholarship for students to attend four-year SUNY colleges will cover all costs of attendance, including tuition, room and board, college fees, books and supplies, and transportation and personal expenses.

The winners of this year's scholarship are:

Genesis Ceron - Maspeth, Queens, New York

Genesis Ceron's parents worked around the clock to make ends meet for Genesis and their family. Because of their busy schedules, Genesis took on tremendous responsibilities, including becoming a caretaker, tutor, interpreter, and translator for members of her family. In line with this spirit of giving, Genesis went on to become a peer mentor and the president of her school's Key Club which focuses on student-led service.

Genesis is attending Stony Brook University.

Brian Cruz - Valatie, New York

Brian Cruz moved from Mexico to the United States in the summer before his fourth-grade year. Having no knowledge of the English language, Brian struggled in school, but through hard work and dedication, he learned English and went on to excel in math. He later became involved in the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute and went back to Mexico for a summer to help teach English to students in his village. Brian will become the first generation in his family to attend college.

Brian is attending the University at Albany.

Nicole Jackson - Brooklyn, New York

Nicole Jackson grew up in Brooklyn, New York with her parents and sister and tragically lost her father to gun violence during her youth. Feeling the urgency to advocate for community safety and empowerment, Nicole became an active participant in cSTEP, a program designed to promote the education of low-income, students of color within the STEM field.  She is currently training to become a Teaching Assistant and will help next year's incoming freshmen become more acclimated to their new environment.

Nicole is attending Stony Brook University. 

Rafia Tasnim - Hudson, New York

The daughter of two Bengali immigrants—a stay-at-home mother and a Walmart stocker—Rafia Tasnim grew up unable to afford new clothes or school supplies, but with a strong desire give back to her community and help others. Motivated by the powerful example set by her two older sisters, Rafia excelled in school, worked three jobs, and organized a clothing drive for low-income families during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic—all while supporting herself and her family. Rafia plans to become a nurse and travel to underdeveloped nations to improve health care systems and develop health education programs for those in need.

Rafia is attending Stony Brook University.

Yi Xiao - Forest Hills, Queens, New York

Growing up with severe scoliosis, Yi thought he would be confined to a wheelchair in pain for the rest of their life. After multiple hopeless meetings with doctors, Yi's family traveled to New York to seek treatment and through three surgeries over two years, Yi was finally able to stand again and eventually walk. Knowing no English and having missed two years of school to recover, Yi was nervous to begin school, but through hard work and dedication, learned English, excelled in class, and went on to help other students prepare for exams and college applications.

Yi is attending Stony Brook University.  

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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