Inside USD

Convocation Honors USD’s Best

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

University of San Diego President Mary E. Lyons’ remarks at Tuesday’s Undergraduate Honors Convocation concluded a program showcasing hearty appreciation for members of the Class of 2012 who, on May 27, will walk across the Jenny Craig Pavilion stage, collect their degree and graduate.

“The students we honor today are the ones responsible for the good that happens at this university,” Lyons said. “I will miss you.”

Lyons also reminded non-seniors present among the Shiley Theatre audience: “There are a lot of great role models all around you here … learn from them.”

Fabrizio Ellis, a freshman business finance and economics major, took that to heart. The Alcala Club member, who served as a greeter Tuesday, understood the event’s magnitude. Positioned near the stage exit where each award recipient came by, he congratulated each honoree with deep respect and, in kind, they thanked him.

It was part of an hour-long procession of richly deserving students, many of whom study multiple subjects, are heavily involved in community service, student organizations, Greek Life, athletics and who demonstrate consistent leadership.

Tuesday’s program began with academic achievement award winners — those who’ve attained a 4.0 GPA in their respective class year. William Griffin, a senior business finance and economics major, was one of them. Recently chosen as the School of Business Administration (SBA) valedictorian, Griffin, a new Phi Beta Kappa inductee, will leave San Diego to head to New York’s Fordham University for its Master of Science in Quantitative Finance program.

The 53 graduating members of USD’s Honors Program, directed by Communication Studies Professor Roger Pace, were announced. Each student in this program has a steady academic curiosity to do intensive research, work closely with faculty mentors and more, relishing, as Pace said, “experiences that go beyond the curriculum.”

Pace then announced Shane Smith, a biology major and chemistry minor, as the Anna Catherine Swanke Award winner for exceptional contributions to the Honors Program and USD. Smith (pictured, right), a member of USD’s Mortar Board chapter, is co-founder of Medical Brigades, a student group that performed medical service trips to Honduras and Panama. He’s linked to the American Medical Student Association, a WCC All-Academic selection for the USD cross-country team and is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon.

Special recognition followed for College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), Business, Engineering Programs and School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) students.

Among the honorees in the multitude of CAS departments were 2012 CAS Valedictorian Daniel Hernandez, a double major in Spanish and Theology and Religious Studies, who was recognized for outstanding achievement in his major pursuits and Ancient Greek; Eylee Garcia, honored for achievement and leadership in sociology and a faculty award for achievement in political science; Molly Maslak, a literary achievement award in English and an Theatre Arts and Performance Studies ambassador award; Amanda Daly, a two-department honoree in English and Spanish; Andrew Zogby earned biology awards for excellence in research and academic excellence; Amanda Walker won a top senior award and research honor for chemistry and biochemistry; Emily Gardner, Heidi Hirsh, Alison Dressel, Sarah Sanders,  Angela Kunrath, Thomas DeCarlo and Sabina Baker each earned multiple honors through Marine Science and Environmental Studies.

CAS students who earned specially named honors in their discipline included Jennifer Paredes (Irving Parker Award for Excellence in Theatre); Kristyna Jansova, Kathleen Hagan and Kaela McCabe (Ernest N. Morin Award in International Relations); Corina Lopez-Ramos (Dr. Linda Perry Award, Women’s and Gender Studies) and Sunny Hernandez (Christopher Wilson Community Service Award, Ethnic Studies).

In SBA honors, Kelly Ness earned an outstanding scholarship award and a leadership and service award from her undergraduate real estate discipline; Colleen Temple earned honors through international business and the international business club; Alexandra Torre was recognized for business administration and the Delta Sigma Pi Scholarship Key; Ariel Fins (accounting), Nicholas Toma (business economics), Begona Garcia Hernandez (economics), Griffin (finance) and Kelly Carabine (marketing) were other standouts.

Engineering Programs presented top honors for seniors Cristina Leon (Electrical Engineering), Paul Price (Industrial & Systems Engineering) and Jessica Buckley (Mechanical Engineering); juniors Julie Brown (EE), Nathaniel Scherrer (ME); and sophomore Conner Lind (EE).

SOLES’ honorees were Cicilya Kaunang, Lubna Nona, Camille Rodrigues, Maria Silva, Tammyjo Smith, Madeline Vann, Morgan Woodrow and Elizabeth Young (each earning nonprofit leadership and management certificates); Celina Gonzalez (outstanding multiple subjects credential student); Kayla Ullrich (outstanding single-subject credential student); Erin Gaughan (outstanding special education credential program student); Danielle Smith (outstanding bilingual credential program student); and Ronald Ceballos (Dept. of Naval Science academic excellence).

Special university awards included Community Service-Learning Scholars: Corina Lopez-Ramos, Stephanie Ochs, Samuel Orozco, Jenessa Rose and Maria Silva; Student Employee of the Year: Anna Szczubelek; University Ministry (Student Servant Leader Awards): Lucas Bueno, Lisa Duffy, Daniel Hernandez, Mackenzie Maurer and Kenneth Van Tilburg; Student Affairs Awards: Stephanie Atienza and Anthony Pavlovic (Dr. Thomas J. Cosgrove Award for Outstanding Service in Student Government); Elizabeth Lee and Mackenzie Maurer (Outstanding Service in Official University-Sponsored Activity); Samantha Keil and Diana Rodriguez-Agiss (Outstanding Contribution to the Entire Campus through Involvement); Julieta Barrios and Adam Serrano (Outstanding Contribution to Multicultural Awareness and Understanding); Urszula Milewicz (Outstanding Contribution to Residential Life); Celina Gonzalez and Rhea Webb (Chet Pagni Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service); Anna Ricci (St. Catherine Medal).

Four CAS professors were honored with special awards: Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentors: David De Haan (Chemistry and Biochemistry) and Monica Stufft (Theatre Arts and Performing Studies); Patrick F. Drinan Award for Distinguished Service: Mitch Malachowski (Chemistry and Biochemistry). Davies Award for Teaching Excellence: Yi Sun (History).

“It was a pleasant surprise, very flattering,” said Sun (pictured, right with Darlene Davies), whose work in addition to teaching courses includes research in China with students on subjects ranging from sustainability, migrant worker issues to Chinese media, earning grants to further her research, serving as a faculty mentor and working closely with USD’s McNair Scholars.

“That’s why I love teaching,” said Sun, a USD professor since 1997. “The students give you so much energy and enthusiasm.”

The results of those traits were honored on Tuesday.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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