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2022 Honorees

Chenango Valley Alumni Honorees

Randy Heysek, M.D. - Class of 1976

Dr. Randy Heysek

Randy Heysek, M.D. graduated from CV in 1976 and decided to participate in the college adventure some 1,800 miles away from Binghamton at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

This was followed by medical school at the University of Florida and residency in Baltimore at the University of Maryland Cancer Center. Since Dr. Heysek grew up in a relatively rural area around CV he decided to embark upon a mission to bring advanced cancer treatment to a rural area in Central Florida. He opened the first radiation treatment facility in a small town of Plant City about 35 miles east of Tampa in 1996 which was followed by the development and opening of three additional cancer centers in adjacent areas of central Florida located in Davenport in 2000, Lakeland in 2003 and Lake Wales in 2004. The residents of these small towns and rural areas typically traveled over 30-60 miles a day for their radiation treatments into Tampa or Orlando. Needless to say the opening of a cancer center locally for a patient and their family meant convenience, stress reduction for both the patient and their family, and improved quality of life by offering the same treatment that was being provided in the most advanced cancer centers anywhere in the world. Dr. Heysek’s medical facility is known as the Central Florida Cancer Institute and employs over 60 professionals from the area and has treated over 4,000 cancer patients since its inception.

Matt Sheehan - Class of 2001

Matt Sheehan

After graduating high school, Matt went to SUNY Oswego where he earned a Technology Education Teaching degree.  Following college, Matt remained local by accepting a job offer at Binghamton Schools, where he taught at West Middle School for 9 years.  While at Binghamton, he started his coaching career in both Football and Track and Field, which he continued to do even after changing careers.  Matt moved to BT-BOCES as a teacher and quickly became an Assistant Principal (AP), where he supervised the Career and Technical Education (CTE) and P-Tech programs.  While working as an AP, he was afforded the opportunity to develop the Summer STEAM Academy, which has seen more than 1,500 students over the past 7 years.  Matt was able to climb the ladder at BT-BOCES to Principal, where he opened three new CTE programs, which continued to grow, even as many across the state were shrinking.  During his time as principal, he was able to build a 5th grade CTE summer camp, which is a one-of-a-kind program in New York State.  This allows more than 150 students a year to experience a career trade in a summer, with the goal of igniting a spark for the trades in elementary students. Recently, Matt took another step in his career when he became the Director of the Center for Career and Technical Excellence.  Matt has also found himself involved in his local and larger community, serving on and participating in, many different organizations such as the Greater Binghamton Education Outreach Program, WSKG Education, and the Broome Leadership Institute alumni board.  Matt has stayed true to his roots, as evidenced by becoming the Chenango Bridge Civic President.  But of all his accomplishments, the one Matt values the most is the family he and his wife Lauren have been fortunate enough to create together.

Merissa Kraham Velez - Class of 2002

Merissa (Kraham) Velez

Merissa (Kraham) Velez grew up in Hillcrest as the daughter of two Chenango Valley alumni, Jeffrey and Wallis (Transue) Kraham. As an elementary student at CV, Merissa's teachers encouraged her love of reading, and she began to appreciate science and engineering through her participation on the CV Odyssey of the Mind team. During high school, Merissa was active in CV's music and theater programs throughout her time in school, and was part of the tennis team. Merissa graduated as the salutatorian of the class of 2002.

Merissa attended Middlebury College in Vermont, where she majored in English and minored in physics. After college, she moved to Boston and worked in the publishing industry for several years as an editorial project manager for legal books with Thomson Reuters. Merissa then moved to New York City and attended law school at Brooklyn Law School where she served as an associate managing editor of the Brooklyn Law Review. She graduated magna cum laude in 2012, with awards in criminal law and corporate law, and an intention to pursue a career in public service.

Following graduation from law school, Merissa moved to Hawaii for several years, and was honored to accept a clerkship with the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii, Associate Justice Simeon R. Acoba. She was also honored to clerk for Associate Judge Lawrence M. Reifurth of the Hawaii State Intermediate Court of Appeals.

In 2014, Merissa was accepted into the Attorney Honors Program with the United States Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. Merissa started as an attorney advisor working on regulatory matters in the International Bureau, Satellite Division, and has since become the Chief of the Satellite Policy Branch. In her current role, Merissa oversees a team of attorneys addressing legal issues associated with licensing commercial satellites for radiofrequency operations in space. While at the FCC, Merissa has worked on issues such as the licensing of small satellites and licensing of large constellations of satellites.  As an attorney involved in the fields of communications law and space law, Merissa has the opportunity to engage with cutting-edge space technology and related regulatory issues.

Alongside her husband Kevin, who is a composer and music teacher, Merissa stays busy raising two beautiful boys - an infant and five-year old, and continues to enjoy music and theater.

Jared Kraham - Class of 2009

Jared Kraham

Jared Kraham was sworn into office as Binghamton’s 51st Mayor on January 1, 2022.

As deputy mayor for more than seven years, Mayor Kraham built a strong bipartisan track record advancing hundreds of pieces of legislation. He led efforts to pave dozens of miles of streets, reduce blight, upgrade City parks and invest in 21st century public safety strategies to keep residents safe. As a clean energy advocate, Mayor Kraham also led the charge on sustainability efforts that have earned Binghamton statewide recognition as a leader in green initiatives and policy.

Mayor Kraham is a 2009 graduate of Chenango Valley High School and a 2013 graduate of Syracuse University, where he earned a dual degree in political science and broadcast journalism.
Distinguished Community Member

Peg Peters

Peg Peters

When Peg was six years old she moved with her parents and two brothers from their hometown of Syracuse to Chenango Bridge. She graduated from Catholic Central High School, BCC, Niagara University and received her Master’s in Social Work from Marywood College. While in grad school Peg’s interest in volunteering began with coaching St. Catherine’s (now St. Francis of Assisi) girl’s CYO basketball team which was comprised of CV students. Admittedly, as coach she traded knowledge for enthusiasm. Peg moved to Port Dickinson upon marrying her husband Mark and they have now lived in Hillcrest for the past twenty five years. It’s safe to say that the Chenango Valley area is “home.” Peg and Mark’s daughter Megan and son Matthew are Chenango Valley graduates. As seniors, both were voted “class comedian” by their peers, a distinction that greatly pleased Peg, and for which she takes total credit. While Megan and Matthew worked their way from Kindergarten through 12th grade, Peg enjoyed being involved in a variety of activities. She was a PTA member, grade parent and Building Leadership Team member. Each of those involvements resulted in plenty of fun and friendship. She became a co-leader of Girl Scout Troop 315 spanning 18 years. That’s a lot of badges, bottle drives and Thin Mints. Also during this time she was a high school Religious Education teacher at St. Catherine’s. This led to being asked to train in Syracuse, to become a certified group trainer, in the Virtus Program to "keep kids safe." Peg went on to train numerous groups of people who would be working/volunteering with children as staff, teachers, coaches etc. at St. Catherine’s/St. Francis and was subsequently asked to provide a training to the Chenango Valley faculty and staff.

Upon receiving her MSW, Peg began working at Catholic Social Services, the counseling division of Catholic Charities. She provided therapy to individuals, couples and families for seventeen years as well as counseling services to underserved/low income pregnant women, and their families, at the deMarillac Clinic at Lourdes Hospital. Seeing the numerous unmet basic needs many people had, prompted her involvement for the past 30+ years with the Nearly New Shop in Binghamton. This organization has provided clothing to those in need, at low or no cost for decades. Peg also volunteers at Catherine’s Cupboard, St. Francis’ food pantry.

In 1998 Peg began working for Chenango Valley as the School Social Worker at Port Dickinson Elementary. In that position she provided counseling to students, individually and in groups, as well as support to their families. Over the years responsibilities expanded to include PD’s conflict management program, Kelso, co-running PD’s Morning Program, Mental Health Supervisor for the Primary Project and facilitating PD's Backpack Program. Peg retired in 2019 and felt it was an honor to work at Port Dickinson, for 21 years, with the best, most dedicated co-workers a person could hope for.

While not being strongly political, Peg decided to become a Broome County Election Inspector and has done this for the past several years, believing the right and ability to vote are hugely important. She also worked door to door for the United States Census, in 2020, covering the Chenango Valley area as well as the city of Binghamton. Since retiring, she has gotten involved with Broome County Meals on Wheels and delivers lunches to 13 homes each Thursday. Having been touched by several friends with cancer or blood disorders, Peg began donating blood many years ago but, in recent years, switched to donating platelets. It’s time well spent and very much needed.

Though she's a self taught kazoo player, Peg always dreamed of learning to play the ukulele. When she was invited to join just such a group recently, she jumped at the chance. The group is perfect example of people coming together, in our wonderful community, encouraging one another and having fun.