Cornell University Honors SHS alumna and teacher


Syosset High School alumna Samantha Falchook was recently named a 2018 Merrill Presidential Scholar by Cornell University. 

The Merrill Presidential Scholars Program honors Cornell University’s most outstanding graduating seniors, who rank in the top one percent of the class in their respective schools and colleges, while also recognizing the high school teachers who have played a significant role in ensuring their success. Falchook was one of 32 graduating seniors who were selected by their college deans for their intellectual drive, leadership abilities and potential to contribute to society. Each student then nominated a high school teacher and Cornell faculty member who most inspired them as scholars. 

Falchook chose to nominate Carisa Steinberg as her most influential high school teacher. A biology teacher at Syosset High School and a 1997 Cornell University graduate, Steinberg passed on her love of learning to Falchook, who took her advanced placement biology class as a high school senior. “It was a very rigorous course, and that’s where I really developed my passion for learning,” Falchook said. “She created such a welcoming environment, where I felt I could participate and ask questions. That really made the difference.”

Both Falchook and Steinberg were honored at the 30th annual Merrill Presidential Scholars Convocation luncheon hosted in May by Cornell’s president. As he congratulated them on being extraordinary teachers, Provost Michael Kotlikoff remarked to the honored educators “You can take pride in having influenced some of Cornell’s top graduating seniors – and in knowing that they continue to appreciate all you did for them.”