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Dr. Sybil DeVeaux: College professor is a living lesson in dedication

Dr. Sybil DeVeaux
Photo by Jason Speakman

Jamaican-born college professor Dr. Sybil DeVeaux has called New York home for the past 45 years. The lecturer at Empire State College (State University of New York) has quite an impressive curriculum vitae, particularly in her educational achievements.

In high school in Jamaica, DeVeaux earned a general certificate of education with distinction in English from prestigious Cambridge University, then went on to attend teacher’s college at Mico University College, also in her home country. From there she earned her bachelors of arts in business and education at Baruch College in New York, a master of arts in urban studies and political science at Brooklyn College, and a doctorate in business leadership management at the University of Phoenix.

The Woman of Distinction — a beloved professor — now teaches business, management, economics, and introduction to statistics, but her life hasn’t only been one of hiding behind a book.

One of her claims to fame, participating in a leadership conference in South Korea and visiting the Freedom Bridge, is more of a traumatic memory than a cherished one.

“This bridge is notable because it marks the demilitarized zone, which prevents human traffic between North and South Korea,” she said. “While on a day tour, I was almost shot while attempting to snap pictures of North Korean soldiers.”

DeVeaux finds her work at Empire State College as adrenaline-boosting.

“I always love the beginning of each term because students are usually tentative about approaching the studies I teach,” she shares. “Statistics is the most fun because I hear stories about how many times students have failed the study, yet after two or three weeks, their perspective is completely changed.”

That passion is why some of her students have called her their best teacher.

Although she’s a New Yorker through and through, DeVeaux doesn’t forget her Jamaican roots. She has funded two scholarships — one that benefits a student from her high school in Jamaica, and one that benefits a student of Jamaican descent in Florida. She’s also held several fund-raisers for various schools in Jamaica.

Her educational philanthropy isn’t only institutional, it’s personal.

“I am also very dedicated to my students, for whom I try to provide texts just to mitigate their expenses,” says DeVeaux in another example of her dedication to the next generation.

The Woman of Distinction’s own life has been marked by the sacrifices of others. She was adopted by her Aunt Ivy when she was only 3 months old and she recalls her aunt giving up a lot to give her an ideal life, while making education a top priority.

Matt Sanders, who nominated DeVeaux for this plaudit, says the honoree has many positive qualities, but one stands out above the rest.

“I would single out Sybil’s compassion,” he says. “She cares deeply for her students, giving of her time, so that each one has the chance to achieve his or her dream and the higher education they always desired.”

Neighborhood: Canarsie.

Occupation: College professor.

Company: Empire State College (SUNY).

Claim to Fame: “Visiting the Freedom Bridge, and doing a television commercial.”

Favorite Brooklyn Place: Empire State College — “a wonderful place to work.”

WOMAN I ADMIRE: “My late aunt, Ivy Adore Hazle. She raised me!”

MOTTO: “Share your knowledge. The more you share, the smarter you become.”

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