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Morrisville State College Students Displays Gift of Giving

MORRISVILLE, N.Y.—When he was asked to help raise money to purchase pajamas for local needy children this holiday season, Chris Montgomery didn’t think twice about pitching in.

It isn’t just the festivity of the holidays that’s kindling his giving spirit—it’s something inherent in the 20-year-old Morrisville State College student, friends, faculty and staff say.

Montgomery, of Syracuse, was among students in Morrisville State College’s CSTEP (Collegiate Science Technology Entry program) who coordinated efforts with Saint Joan of Arch Outreach, of Morrisville, and the Morrisville community to collect money to buy socks and pajamas for needy children in the Morrisville and surrounding areas. CSTEP raised $1,000, matched by a $1,000 donation from the Sheila Johnson Institute, at Morrisville State College.

Philanthropy is second nature to Montgomery, a liberal arts and sciences: humanities and social science major, whose soft-spoken manner hints at his humbleness.

“I just enjoy helping people,” he said. “Outside of going to college, I wanted to get involved with the community—to give something back—even if it is as much as a small gesture.”

“I was not surprised at all that Chris wanted to be part of the process to help area children,” Darshini Roopnarine, assistant director of CSTEP, said. “He has unlimited giving abilities and is always willing to help in any way.”

Generosity is an infectious gift Montgomery said he inherited from his mother, a single-parent with a devoted, full-time career in social work, who raised four children.

The family was always involved in volunteer activities.

“My mother is a very special person,” Montgomery said. “Throughout the years I have seen her help so many people through so many situations and I have always wanted to be like her.”

He is following in her footsteps.

Montgomery has been involved in countless volunteer efforts, on- and off-campus, partaking in community and campus fundraisers, participating in the Big Brothers and Sisters Program and delivering food to the elderly.

On campus, he has been a student ambassador and spearheaded efforts to bring a local chapter of the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE) to Morrisville State College. He also works part–time at Liberty Resources in Syracuse as a youth habilitation specialist, where he assists children ages 11-16 who have autism.

“I have worked closely with Chris on numerous occasions,” Tim Penix, Director of Academic Enrichment and the Sheila Johnson Institute, said. “He is an extraordinary individual who puts his heart and energy into everything he does and then takes it a step beyond.”

Montgomery’s college roommate, Emmanuel Houston, of Syracuse, describes his grade-school friend as a generous person with a “very big heart.”

“He is always reaching out to help people,” Houston said. “He has been like that ever since I have known him.”

When Montgomery learned that a fellow student’s house had burned and she lost nearly everything, he was on the front lines to help.

He’s like that with school work too, helping others with homework and assisting them when they are having trouble in classes.

“He is a good writer and offers to edit fellow students’ papers, and when students can’t attend class or need help taking notes, he copies his notes for them,” Houston said.

Montgomery’s future plans are to become a teacher in the Syracuse School District.

“I want to be a role model for students,” he said.

“I see his potential and his gifts as a future teacher,” Roopnarine said.

To Montgomery, volunteering is just another part of his daily routine.

“Life is what you make it. If you get involved, doors will open for you,” he said. “My reward is seeing the people I have helped succeed.”

Montgomery is the son of Jannie Irby, of Syracuse.

Morrisville State College offers more than 75 bachelor and associate degrees and options with eight new degrees being offered this fall: entrepreneurship and small business management, B.B.A.; nursing, B.S.; science, technology, and society, B.S.; journalism and communication for online media, B.S.; horticulture business management, B.T.; human performance and health promotion, B.S.; criminal justice, A.A.S. (Norwich Campus only); and human services, A.A.S. (Norwich Campus only).

Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones. Morrisville State College was also chosen as one of the top five colleges in the nation for campus activities by Campus Activities magazine.

The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus offers associate degree programs in accounting, business, computer systems technology, office administration, liberal arts transfer, nursing, early childhood, criminal justice and human services to south central New York residents and employers. Students may also apply coursework to other associate or bachelor degrees at the main campus.