During a ceremony on Friday, Jan. 19, the Mohawk Valley Community College Foundation honored the recipients of several alumni awards, including the 2024 Alumni of Merit Award and two new awards — the Distinguished Alumni Award and Young Alumni Award.

Marianne ButtenschonDr. Marianne Buttenschon ’81 received the 2024 Alumni of Merit Award, presented annually to a nominee who has contributed to the improvement of the community, helped the College, and otherwise demonstrated professional leadership that symbolizes MVCC’s mission of student success and community involvement. Buttenschon is the New York State Assemblywoman for the 119th District and serves on the agriculture, banks, economic development, education, higher education, and veterans affairs committees. She was chosen to be the NYS Assembly’s representative on the Interoperable and Emergency Communications Board based on her longtime commitment to public safety and the improvement of New York’s first responder capability and is a member of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, Asian Pacific American Task Force, and the Task Force on Women’s Issues. Before being elected to serve on the Assembly, Buttenschon was the Dean of Public Service and Emergency Preparedness at MVCC. In the community, she and her husband have operated the Buttenschon Christmas Tree Farm in Marcy for more than 30 years. She serves as vice president of the Utica Community Food Pantry, and a member of the League of Women Voters, International Association of Chiefs of Police, the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. Buttenschon earned her doctorate in education from Northeastern University, her master’s degree in public policy from Binghamton University, her bachelor’s degree in public justice from SUNY Institute of Technology, and her associate degree from MVCC.

Howard PotterHoward Potter ’10, co-owner and CEO of A&P Master Images in Utica with his wife, received the Distinguished Alumni Award, presented annually to a nominee who graduated at least 10 years ago and has made significant contributions to or achievements in their industry or demonstrated a commitment to MVCC’s values through throughout their life and career. The Potters have been operating A&P Master Images for more than 20 years, offering graphic design, screen printing, embroidery, sublimation, vinyl graphics, and promotional items. Last January, they completed a 3,000-square-foot expansion after a 19% growth in business during the COVID pandemic and a 32% increase in 2022. As part of this expansion, they have added nine full-time employees and expanded their services to include 2D and 3D laser engraving and direct-to-film printing. They also have started working with area businesses and first responders to provide uniforms, and the expansion allowed them to renovate the retail space in the main building to include a second showroom for first responder uniforms. Potter, dedicated to the local community, offers internships to area students and recently donated 50 winter hats and 50 pairs of gloves to MVCC’s C3 program. He has won many awards in the community and industry, including the 2023 United Way’s 100 Heroes Award; the 2020 Best of the Best Award for local print shop, local apparel, and local sign company; the 2019 New York State Senate Empire Award; and the 2016 Genesis 40 Under 40 Award. Potter is on the advisory board for Wearables magazine, and A&P’s work has been on the cover and published in 50 national industry magazines and won seven national awards in the industry, including the “Top Shop” award and the New York State U.S. Small Business Award.

Julius BlackshearJulius Blackshear, Jr. ’15 received the 2024 Young Alumni Award, presented annually to a nominee who graduated within the last 10 years, has emerged as an early leader in their professional career and community, and demonstrates a commitment to MVCC’s values. Blackshear, who holds an MVCC associate degree in Computer Aided Drafting, is a drafting technician for National Grid and owner of Visionary Vending, a regional vending machine company he launched in 2020 with the help of MVCC’s thINCubator. Before working at National Grid and becoming an entrepreneur, Blackshear worked for four years as a senior engineering technician for the New York State Department of Transportation and spent several years working with children in grades 4-7 at Thea Bowman House. Blackshear, who attended Thea Bowman House as a child, now serves on its Board of Directors.

To nominate someone for one of these awards, or for information on past award winners, visit mvcc.edu/alumni-donors