SUNY Downstate Students Receive Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence  

By Office of Communications & Marketing | May 2, 2022

College of Medicine Students Jadesola Olaykina, Alfonso Caetta, and Pelin Celiker, Acknowledged for Outstanding Achievement in Leadership and Academic Excellence

Brooklyn, NY — Three SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University students have been named recipients of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, the highest honor bestowed upon students by the University System. Jadesola (Jadé) Olayinka, Alfonso Caetta, and Pelin Celiker, students in SUNY Downstate’s College of Medicine, are 3 of 180 students across 61 campuses being recognized for outstanding achievements and for demonstrating the integration of SUNY excellence within academics, leadership, campus involvement, community service, or the arts.

Ms. Olayinka will receive a special honor in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for addressing skin cancer prognosis disparity and improving physician awareness and recognition of dermatologic conditions in people of color. A child of Nigerian immigrants, Ms. Olayinka is a fourth-year medical student committed to the improvement of health disparities in marginalized communities, with a particular focus on advocacy for skin care in patients of color. She is a standout among student leaders consistently demonstrating the highest standards of professionalism, academic excellence, outstanding leadership qualities built on respect and teamwork, exemplary interpersonal and interprofessional skills, tireless commitment to social justice, compassion, optimism, and mission focus. Ms. Olayinka recently matched into dermatology at New York University (NYU).

Mr. Caetta is a first-generation American and college graduate, and a member of SUNY Downstate’s Class of 2022. He is a leader, currently serving as President of the Greater Medical Student Council and is a voting member of the SUNY Council of Downstate Health Sciences University. He also volunteers with and served on the executive council at the Anne Kastor Brooklyn Free Clinic. Through the medical educator pathway, Mr. Caetta frequently teaches underclassmen, including during head and neck anatomy laboratory. His research spans subjects including adenotonsillectomy, fungal sinusitis, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, and medical education.

Ms. Celiker is a fourth-year College of Medicine student at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. She immigrated from Turkey by herself to pursue higher education in the United States. Her academic success as well as her contributions to student organizations, clinical research pursuits, and vested interest in the welfare of the greater Brooklyn community are exemplar as is made evident in her involvement in numerous research projects, campus activities, and mentorship. Additionally, Ms. Celiker supports patients through her work at the Brooklyn Free Clinic, where she strives to care for those who lack a network or support.

“We are proud to see our students succeed and earn recognition for their tremendous accomplishments,” said SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University President Wayne J. Riley, M.D. “Alfonso, Jadé, and Pelin have taken on immense leadership roles throughout their education at Downstate, and I anticipate many more accolades for them as leaders in the professional medical community.”

"Now more than ever, it is time to celebrate the accomplishments of our students who have helped one another get through this global pandemic and focus on getting the most out of their college education, and this year’s CASE winners are at the top of the class," said SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley. "It is my great honor to celebrate the fortitude, leadership, and achievements of this year’s winners, and I applaud their hard work and desire to do more for their campuses and fellow students. I, for one, can’t wait to see what they do next."

Recipients received their awards from Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley on April 26th at the Hall of Springs in Saratoga Springs. For more information, visit:


Contact: Dawn S. Walker
917.439.9666 | 347.533.2071

About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough's only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care. It is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City and Brooklyn's 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) is Downstate's teaching hospital, backed by an outstanding medical school's expertise and world-class academic center research facilities. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

In addition to high-risk neonatal and infant services, pediatric nephrology, and dialysis (kidney diseases)—and offering the only kidney transplantation program in Brooklyn, among many other distinctive programs—Downstate also sponsors a major learning center for young children with developmental disorders and disabilities. In addition to UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.