Senior Rohan Sonakya Wins 2022 Commendation Award


Rohan stands next to Senator Skoufis, while holding his award.

Zoe Irabor , Writer

Monroe-Woodbury senior, Rohan Sonakya, received a New York State 2022 Commendation Award from New York State Senator James Skoufis on December 22, 2022.

He was recognized for his extensive volunteer work in the past few years by the senator, who sent a letter thanking him for his efforts and inviting him to receive his award. Rohan volunteered at many community organizations and events including volunteering at churches, local soup kitchens, sales, and other local events.

The Commendation Award is awarded to exceptional individuals who have demonstrated a lasting dedication and contribution to their community. Senator Skoufis is able to give up to 20 Commendation Awards per year. 

“I feel like there are a lot of people worthy [of the award]. It’s really hard to recognize one individual, but I am really thankful,” said Sonakya.

Sonakya works with the India Association of Catskill Region (IACR). The IACR is a platform made for people of Indian origin and background to celebrate their culture and encourage the youth to cultivate a distinct ethnic identity.

Rohan has many roles at the IACR, but is often responsible for planning, managing, and regulating tickets for various events. 

Despite completing so many hours of community service, Sonakya did not anticipate receiving any recognition or awards for his work. 

“I was really shocked at first. I was confused because I got one award a few years ago, and this one I got a letter, out-of-blue, in the mail.” said Sonakya. “So I was pretty excited and was like ‘Wow, this was great,’ so I called and talked to them [the senator’s staff].”

Rohan expressed his gratitude for both the award and the new opportunities from this recognition. 

“I just think it’s a great thing to be recognized and it’s not just an award that sits on my wall,” said Sonakya. “Especially the exposure allows me to do more things for the community and get more great stuff done.”

“I would like to thank Senator James Skoufis for just recognizing me, and of course my friends and family for me being able to just get this opportunity and to be so happy and supportive through the process,” said Sonakya.