Jerrell Mason, director of the Niagara University Opportunity Program, was selected as the recipient of the 2021 Sarah Piraino Advising Award by WNY Advising, a collaborative group of advisers and higher education professionals in the greater Western New York area, Ontario, and beyond. Mason will receive the award during the organization’s annual conference on Feb. 11, 2021.

“In his work and life, Jerrell displays the strong leadership and passion for student success reflecting the legacy of Sarah Piraino,” said Christopher Sheffield, vice president for Student Affairs at Niagara University. “His mentorship and guidance have helped students to achieve beyond their own expectations and serve to catalyze Niagara University’s mission to serve others for the benefit of the local and global community.”

Mason, who has served in a variety of advising capacities in NUOP over the past five years, is being honored for his enthusiasm for the profession and his work with the students supported by the program—educationally and/or economically disadvantaged students who are disproportionately from under-represented backgrounds and often first-generation college students. Mason has also become a mentor and informal advisor for a number of students of color outside of the NUOP program, and he advocates on their behalf across campus. During the holidays, he coordinates an annual concert to raise funds used to help students meet basic financial needs and enable them to remain in school.

Dr. Chandra Foote, dean of Niagara University’s College of Education, was one of those who nominated Mason for the award. “Mr. Mason has worked closely with the College of Education at Niagara to assist us in our efforts to recruit more students of color to the teaching profession, and his contributions have resulted in a number of initiatives that we would not have undertaken without his clever insights,” she noted.

The award is named for University at Buffalo academic advisor Sarah Piraino in memory of her dedication to the WNY community and to helping others establish experience in the career field of higher education. It recognizes outstanding achievements from a professional in the field of advising.

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