Monday, Oct 31, 2022
5 graduates receive Alumni Awards, two inducted into Science Stairway of Fame during Homecoming Weekend
by Adam Grybowski
Rider University recognized accomplished alumni during the Alumni Awards Ceremony on Oct. 29 during Homecoming Weekend.
The annual Alumni Awards were distributed to five graduates for their professional accomplishments, as well as their outstanding contributions and service to their professions, communities and alma mater.
A Rider University professor and an alumnus were also inducted into the Science Stairway of Fame during the ceremony. Located in the Mike and Patti Hennessy Science and Technology Center, the Science Stairway of Fame honors individuals from Rider who have achieved significant professional success in their chosen careers, as well as those who have loyally and generously supported Rider’s science programs.
2022 Alumni Award recipients
Dr. Robert A. Sikorski ’79 was presented with the Distinguished Alumnus Award, which is given to those who have achieved exceptional attainments in life.
A board-certified anesthesiologist, he serves as medical director of trauma anesthesiology in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, as an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, a visiting lecturer at the University of Maryland School of Nursing and a medical consultant for Edwards Life Sciences. He received the Vanguard Award for Continuing Education in Critical Care Medicine in 2012, and has been honored with The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Scott Mittman, M.D., Ph.D., Best Clinical Teacher of the Year award in 2018, 2020 and 2021.
Already a member of Rider’s Science Stairway of Fame, Sikorski pitched for the Rider baseball team while earning a Bachelor of Arts in Biology. He completed his medical degree at Centro Estudios Tecnicos School of Medicine in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and later his residency at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School where he was the administrative chief resident in anesthesiology.
Tabari A. Sturdivant ’95 is this year’s recipient of the Lawson R. McElroy Award in Engaged Learning, which is awarded to a Rider alumnus or alumna who works in either the private or public sector in support of students or employees learning outside of the formal classroom.
Sturdivant’s accomplished media career began with an internship at Columbia Records after he received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Rider with a concentration in radio and television. That experience grew to include working with gold- and platinum-selling artists at Universal Motown Records and Jive Records. He expanded beyond music when he began working with Tyler Perry through the grand opening of Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta.
Sturdivant then created his own company, Blue Lion Club Production, and was subsequently voted Georgia’s Best Independent Filmmaker of 2013 by the Georgia Entertainment Gala. Today, he builds on his professional accolades by volunteering as a mentor and guide for students and young adults aspiring to succeed in the entertainment industry.
Sturdivant credits his experiences at Rider for setting the foundation for his professional career. He was recruited to run track and field at Rider by legendary coach Mike Brady ’76. The cross country, indoor track and outdoor track and field teams of 1990-91, and 1991-92 of which Tabari was a member, earned the Clair Bee Outstanding Team Achievement Award. The teams also won the East Coast Conference "triple crown" of Championships.
As an undergraduate, he served as chairperson of the Student Entertainment Council, a DJ on 107.7 The Bronc WRRC-FM and president of the Black Student Union. He was selected as Homecoming King and served as a resident adviser in Kroner Hall for three years. He is a brother of Phi Beta Sigma.
Michele A. Powers ’84 was presented with the 2022 Gordon E. Prichard ’63 Award for Volunteer Service. The award is given to graduates who have distinguished themselves as exemplary in providing volunteer service to their alma mater.
Powers, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Commerce with a major in management and organizational behavior from Rider, is now a Rider Trustee. She is the current chair of the Educational Excellence and Student Success Committee. Powers is a founding member and the current president of the Gail Biernbaum Women’s Leadership Council. She has served on many councils and committees and, as a regular visitor, speaker and volunteer on campus, has helped to mentor a new generation of Broncs, particularly women leaders. A frequent supporter of the Annual Fund, Powers has also endowed a scholarship to support female students of any major in the Norm Brodsky College of Business.
Perhaps closest to her heart, Powers, who played both field hockey and basketball as a Bronc, is a high-spirited supporter of Rider Athletics, most notably the women’s basketball team, for whom she has taken many players under her wing as a mentor. She has also served on the Rider Athletics Campaign Committee.
Frederick C. Kniesler ’70, ’73, ’80 is the recipient of the 2022 Harold L. Conover Leadership Award, which goes to Rider graduates who have distinguished themselves as exemplary leaders in the field of nonprofit, professional, community or government service.
A licensed public accountant and a certified municipal financial officer in the state of New Jersey, Kniesler's long career in public service extends more than four decades. Beginning in 1954, he was elected as township clerk of Upper Freehold Township in Monmouth County, New Jersey. He went on to serve as the township’s committeeman, treasurer and, for five years, as mayor. Subsequently, he secured positions with Manasquan Regional Sewerage Authority as a project coordinator, secretary and treasurer. Then in 1977, Kniesler was hired as clerk of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, after which he became deputy clerk. Ultimately, he assumed the role of deputy commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Labor until his retirement in 1997.
He is a past president of the National Association of Government Labor Officials and a charter member of the New Jersey Conference of Mayors. Kniesler served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army and as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves for 12 years. He earned an Associate of Arts, a Bachelor of Science, and a Master of Arts from Rider.
Jennifer N. Sorensen ’12 received the Outstanding Young Alumna Award, which is given to those who have completed their studies at Rider within the last 10 years and who has achieved notable success in their work.
After earning a Bachelor of Arts in History from Rider, where Sorensen received an undergraduate Research Scholarship Award and a Levine Phi Alpha Theta Award, she went on to earn a Master of Arts in Global/Comparative History and a Master of Social Work, both from Rutgers University. She is a licensed social worker currently employed by Penn Medicine Princeton Behavioral Health, where she conducts psychotherapeutic sessions for groups, families and individuals. In addition to the holistic approach she brings to case management, she has an accomplished background as a researcher, presenter and volunteer.
2022 Science Stairway of Fame inductees
Michael A. Amoroso ’00 is the president and chief executive officer of Precision BioSciences. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Rider and an Executive Master of Business Administration in Management from New York University’s Stern School of Business. At Rider, he was also a member of the wrestling team.
He has held many senior-level executive positions at leading biopharmaceutical companies. Before joining Precision, he rose to become president and chief executive officer of Abeona Therapeutics, Inc., after serving as the company’s chief commercial officer and chief operating officer. At Precision, he is at the helm of an organization that provides a gene-editing platform that Precision says is paving the way for new therapeutic cell and gene-editing therapies.
Dr. Jonathan Yavelow was a member of Rider’s faculty for 38 years until his untimely death in 2020. During his long tenure at Rider, Yavelow inspired colleagues and students alike while elevating the University’s science programs through his teaching and research. In addition to being a professor, he served as an assistant dean for the sciences, faculty director of the University’s Health Studies Institute and the chair of the biology department. He also helped to convene and lead the Science Advisory Board.
His research was published widely in scientific journals, and in 2013, Yavelow published a book, Stargazing to Sustainability: Appreciating the Scientific Process, which he worked on as a visiting member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. From 2012-18, Yavelow served as a commissioner on the New Jersey State Commission on Cancer Research, a position he was appointed to by the governor of New Jersey.