Governor Cuomo Announces Carey Gabay Scholarship Program Winners

September 5, 2016

From the office of Governor Cuomo

Five Outstanding Students From Disadvantaged Backgrounds Receive Full Scholarships to SUNY Colleges

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the five winners of the Carey Gabay Scholarship Program. The scholarship program was created to honor the legacy of Carey Gabay, an attorney and public servant, who was tragically killed as an innocent victim of gun violence in September at the age of 43. Each scholarship covers all costs of attendance, including tuition, room and board, college fees, books and supplies, and transportation and personal expenses. Three of the students joined the Governor’s contingent in the West Indian Day Parade today.

“Carey worked hard, overcame adversity and chose public service as a way to improve the lives of his fellow New Yorkers," Governor Cuomo said. "He was an inspiration to every single person he came in contact with, and we are proud to award this scholarship in his honor to help other students who grew up in similar circumstances strive, ‎succeed and lead. As we reach the anniversary of Carey's passing, his memory, his values, and his commitment to a better New York live on with these scholarships."

Carey 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. More recently, he worked tirelessly in public service, first as an Assistant Counsel to Governor Cuomo and later as First Deputy Counsel for the Empire State Development Corporation.

The five chosen students exemplify Carey’s commitment to social justice, leadership, and mentoring, as well as his personal story of succeeding academically despite having an economically disadvantaged background.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, "The criteria for the Carey Gabay scholarship awards is rigorous, as it should be to reflect the life and work of such a tremendous person. Through this scholarship, Fernando, Tony, Narelys, Ramanjot, and Nayelhi will be given the full financial support to allow each of them to earn a quality college degree and pursue their dreams. My heartfelt congratulations to each of the winners.”

The winners of the scholarship are:

Ramanjot Bal - Richmond Hill, Queens

Ramanjot immigrated from India at the age of six. She works in a tax office to support her family and serves as a translator for her parents and for many people in her community, as well as their bridge to the larger American world. She leads anti-bullying workshops and is active in youth organizing in her local Sikh community.

Ramanjot will attend Stony Brook University.

Narelys Chum - Troy

Narelys grew up in Harlem before moving to Troy at the age of 12. She grew up surrounded by chaos and a violent culture, and chose a path of education and hard work as her way out of a violent community, as opposed to falling into violence herself. Her family struggled to afford food, and Narelys was bullied for her economic situation. Narelys is a leader in many of her school’s organizations, including the We Are Voices and Educators organization, and leads spoken word workshops. Because of her hardships, she believes in a philosophy that success in life is about values and helping others.

Narelys will attend SUNY New Paltz.

Fernando De La Cruz - Washington Heights, Manhattan

Fernando is motivated to succeed by his mother, an undocumented immigrant who encouraged his hard work in school. He has experienced periods of homelessness, and he has a job to support his mother and himself. Fernando demonstrates academic excellence, attending college-level courses at City College throughout high school, and has interned in Congressman Rangel’s office. He works hard to be a positive role model to all of the kids in his neighborhood, and he already teaches capoeira and tutors younger students.

Fernando will attend SUNY Cortland.

Tony Kelley - Albany

Tony was inspired by the loss of a family member to gun violence to make changes in his community. He mentors youth in his neighborhood and works with the homeless population to provide them with shoes. Tony is actively involved with civic government in Albany. His goal is to become a doctor practicing emergency medicine in an underserved urban community.

Tony will attend UAlbany.

Nayelhi Sanchez-Lorenzo - Spring Valley

Nayelhi immigrated from the Dominican Republic at the age of six. To promote greater programming and opportunities for students in her high school, Nayelhi is active in student organizing, including work with the Rockland Youth Film Festival. She is motivated by her commitment to social justice.

Nayelhi will attend SUNY Binghamton.

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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Holly Liapis
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