Undergraduates Recognized for Individual and Collective Accomplishments

April 21, 2017

The award winners with President William J. Lennox Jr., front row, left to right: R. Slater, M. Savasatano, J. Dean, E. James, M. Little. Back row, left to right: Dr. Lennox, C. Walker, J. Rampassard, R. Cunio, M. Coors, K. Ennis, G. Lederer, G. Miller, N. Peters. Not present: A. Wimmer.


A talented and determined cross-section of University Campus students were honored for exceptional work in their academic fields by university leadership at a special ceremony April 13, Academic Excellence Day. Many in the group are graduating seniors who will next pursue careers or advanced study.

The ceremony began with academic distinctions that are awarded by individual schools of the university, namely the School of Arts and Sciences, the Donald R. Tapia School of Business, and the School of Education and Social Services.

The award categories for the school awards are: Outstanding Academic Leadership, Outstanding Scholarship, Outstanding Experiential Learning, and The Dean’s Award of Excellence. All the awards require a grade point average of 3.25 or above, and recognize additional attributes that make a student a role model. Academic Leadership involves creating a positive impact on academic life and other students, perhaps through tutoring, mentoring, leading group work, and demonstrating a positive outlook. The Scholarship Award recognizes a student’s ability to engage in original research or to produce impressive and original creative works. The Experiential Learning honor goes to someone who sets the standard for accomplishment in a field placement by demonstrating initiative, integrity, and professionalism, including the application of course work to the field. The Dean’s Award of Excellence is given to a student who is accomplished in all areas and has performed service to the community, as well.

Twelve students received individual honors. Here are highlights of their accomplishments.
 

School of Arts and Sciences

Alexander Wimmer received the Academic Leadership Award. He is a junior, an Honors Program participant, and religion major who regularly models respectful and intelligent discourse during classes. He organizes independent study groups and will be responsible for an Honors living-learning community in campus housing next year as a resident assistant.

Margaret Little received the Scholarship Award. She is a graduating senior who majored in biology, completed the Honors Program, and tutored other students in science topics. She worked for two years with a faculty member and classmate on tumor research, leading to a competitive summer internship at Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center in 2016 and an award-winning oral presentation at the Florida Academy of Sciences in 2017.   

Grace Lederer  received the Experiential Learning Award. She is majoring dually in global studies (through Arts and Sciences) and economics (through the Tapia School of Business). She has pursued multiple applied learning opportunities. During her first internship, at an agricultural research center in Costa Rica, she assisted with a program on environmental sustainability. In the summer of 2016 she worked in Washington, DC, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and has been asked back this summer by the internship sponsor to advise undergraduates following in her footsteps.

Dean's Award for Excellence winner, Rachel Cunio

Rachel Cunio received the Dean’s Award for Excellence. She is graduating this year with majors in mathematics and psychology. She completed the Honors Program a year early to allow time for a senior-year internship in educational testing. She lent her leadership skills to positions of increasing responsibility in Residence Life and has been a role model for other students living on campus. She will pursue her doctorate at Wright State University (Ohio) in the university’s program in human factors and industrial/organizational psychology.  
 

Donald R. Tapia School of Business

Jessica Dean received the Academic Leadership Award. She is a senior with dual majors in accounting and economics. She has been president of the Institute of Management Accountants-Student and the Pacioli Accounting Club, and provided tutoring for peers in one of the school’s finance courses.

Elisabeth James was named the winner of the Scholarship Award. She is a senior with a major in computer information systems with a minor in accounting. She has distinguished herself as a motivated learner and tutor to her peers. She also holds a student position at Seminole Electric Cooperative Inc. and wants to pursue graduate studies in cybersecurity.  

Kara Ennis received the Experiential Learning Award. She is a senior majoring in health care management with a minor in accounting. During a wide-ranging summer 2016 internship at Oak Hill Hospital in nearby Brooksville, she shadowed nearly every department, communicating with nurses, department managers, and top executives.

Dean's Award for Excellence winner, and Clara McDonald Olson Scholastic Excellence Award Winner Marie Coors

Marie Coors received the Dean’s Award for Excellence. She is a graduating senior with a major in economics and a minor in accounting. She is also a competitive, highly ranked golfer for the Lions and serves as an academic mentor to teammates. She held an internship with Merck, the pharmaceutical company, and raised money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. With a grade point average just shy of a perfect 4.0, she was also named winner of the University Campus-wide Clara McDonald Olson Scholastic Excellence Award.This is given by university leadership to the student who has studied all four years at University Campus, achieved the highest average, and exhibited the personal qualities of a scholar. It is named for Saint Leo’s first dean of Academic Affairs.

School of Education and Social Services

Gregory Miller was chosen for the Academic Leadership Award. He is majoring in criminal justice and was selected for strong grades and his inclination for helping other students with coursework and for promoting group study.

Clint Walker was selected for the Scholarship Award and is majoring in social work. He particularly impressed faculty with the depth of his work on a team project for a domestic violence shelter, and a research class project on alternative treatments for addiction and decriminalization of addicts. Faculty commented that his curiosity for learning is coupled with compassion for others.

Marissa Savastano was chosen to receive the Experiential Learning Award. She is a senior majoring in elementary education. Her work during her final internship this semester earned high praise and respect from her supervising classroom, who said the future teacher’s work was on par with that of teachers who have spent years in the field. She constructs engaging lessons for her students, communicates positivity to colleagues, and is eager to receive feedback, faculty said.

Dean's Award for Excellence winner, Nelson Peters

Nelson Peters  is the winner of the Dean’s Award for Excellence. His well-rounded approach to study helped him earn this distinction. He is an adult learner and graduating senior who came to University Campus to earn a degree in social work. His academic work has been of the highest quality, such as his research interview with an international worker experienced in working impoverished settings. His participation in community service projects and respectful dialogue on controversial topics in the field have enhanced the learning environment for fellow students.



Club Award

During Academic Excellence Day, university leadership also highlights the Saint Leo core value of community by recognizing the club or student organization whose members achieved the highest grade point average. The Honors Club,linked to the Honors Program, was recognized this year with officers Rayonia Slater  and Jazmin Rampassard  representing the club. They are both freshman students.

Those winning awards were among a larger group who presented significant research projects to fellow students and faculty during sessions earlier in the day. For many disciplines, presentations were delivered orally or in academic-poster format. Arts presentations included music and theatrical performances and a showing of fine arts works.

 

Group photo at the top: The award winners with President William J. Lennox Jr., front row, left to right: R. Slater, M. Savasatano, J. Dean, E. James, M. Little. Back row, left to right: Dr. Lennox, C. Walker, J. Rampassard, R. Cunio, M. Coors, K. Ennis, G. Lederer, G. Miller, N. Peters.   Not present: A. Wimmer.