Genesee Community College Announces April Employee and Student of the Month

Genesee Community College is pleased to announce Dr. Rafael Alicea-Maldonado has been named Employee of the Month for April. Since joining the Genesee faculty as an instructor of Chemistry over ten years ago, Rafael has contributed significantly to the college community. He earned his Ph.D., recently participated in the Genesee Leadership Academy, and is currently serving on the College’s Strategic Plan Committee. Three years ago, Rafael became an advisor to Genesee’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK), and he has taken that responsibility very seriously. He is a very positive mentor for the students of PTK, and he actively communicates to the college community about the activities and events of PTK. Additionally, Rafael has served on many search committees, participates in college governance, and is a vital member of the GUSTO! team. He helps plan the annual faculty retreat and has been a faculty leader in encouraging his colleagues to attend commencement.

Rafael is originally from Naguabo, a small city on the east coast of Puerto Rico and moved to Buffalo, NY in 1994. He earned his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from University of Puerto Rico. Before coming to Genesee in 2000, he taught in Puerto Rico as well as at the University of Buffalo where he earned his doctoral degree. He currently teaches several chemistry courses for the College.

Rafael has earned the Matter-Tyler Teaching Award from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Buffalo in 1996, the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2005, the Phi Theta Kappa Horizon award in 2008 and the Phi Theta Kappa Paragon award in 2009.

“My favorite part of working at Genesee Community College is the daily interaction I have with the students and my fellow faculty members,” Rafael said.

In Rafael’s spare time he enjoys traveling around the world. He has traveled to many different countries including Jordan, Egypt, Costa Rica and most recently, he spent spring break traveling in Spain.

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Genesee Community College is pleased to announce Phyllis Washburn has been named Student of the Month for April. Phyllis is a non-traditional student pursuing a dual degree in Criminal Justice and Business. She not only excels in the classroom, but also in service to the college community. She is a supervisor of the Student Safety Patrol (SSP) and puts in countless hours scheduling SSP members, coordinating events, and leading activities. Phyllis is highly respected by her classmates, is a good listener, and provides carefully crafted commentaries in the classroom.

Phyllis is originally from Rochester, NY and currently resides in LeRoy, NY. She quit high school in 1971 and earned a GED in 1981. She completed a little college at that time, but didn’t have time to complete a degree with four children at home and a full time job. Now that her youngest is also attending Genesee, she decided it was a good time to finish her degree. She completed a Criminal Justice degree in December 2009 with a 3.89 GPA. She is now working on a Business Administration degree and currently holds a 4.0 GPA. She will complete that degree this coming December. Phyllis hopes to one day own her own private security company.

“I realized it was time for me to finally get a degree in something,” Phyllis said. “GCC is close to home and tuition is reasonable. Once I got here, I realized this was the best place. With the smaller class sizes and the amazing teachers, I was able to achieve everything I had hoped I could.”

Phyllis has been named to the President’s List every semester since her return to school. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She received the Student Safety Patrol Service Award and the Gsell Memorial Scholarship. She has also been selected for Who’s Who in Universities and Colleges and she is the President of the Criminal Justice Club.

“At GCC I feel like I have a whole new family. I have been so lucky to meet and become friends with so many wonderful people here,” Phyllis noted. “The fact that this is a small school gives me that opportunity. I believe that the atmosphere here at GCC gives a student an extraordinary opportunity to succeed.”

Phyllis is married to her husband of 38 years, Waylen C. Washburn Sr. They have five children, Jennifer Downard (Richard) of Greenfield, OH; Waylen C. Washburn Jr. (Candy) of Hamlin, NY; Ryan Washburn (Dawn Kenyon) of LeRoy, NY; Aaron Washburn (Elysia) of Byron, NY and Daniel Washburn of LeRoy, NY. She has seven grandchildren, Steven, Richard II, and Jonathan Downard and Ashley, Trinitty, Virginia and October Washburn.

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Editor’s Note: A photograph of Employee of the Month Rafael Alicea-Maldonado (left), President Steiner (middle) and Student of the Month Phyllis Washburn (right) is available at: