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Syracuse University names 2012 University Scholars

May 09, 2012

Roxanna Carpenter
(315) 443-3784

Twelve graduating students have received the highest undergraduate academic honor bestowed by Syracuse University—designation as Syracuse University Scholars. These students represent the entire SU graduating class at the May 13 Commencement ceremony.

scholarsDuring an April 19 reception at the Chancellor's Residence hosted by Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor, University Scholars received special medallions to be worn at Commencement. With family, friends and faculty gathered to celebrate the University Scholars, their mentors described each scholar's accomplishments and engagement in the community.

The Syracuse Scholars Selection Committee—a subcommittee of the University Senate Academic Affairs Committee—annually considers academic activities of the year's nominees. Harriet Brown, assistant professor of magazine journalism in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and chair of the selection committee, notes it is never an easy task to arrive at 12 scholars, from the nearly 30 nominees. "They are an amazingly talented group," says Brown. "Not only are they academic standouts, they're deeply, passionately involved with not just the local Syracuse community, but the global community. They're engaged with the world through service projects, academic projects and research, to a remarkable degree."

Brown also describes the group as internationally engaged this year. "These are young people who see the world in a very different way than previous generations, and they make me so hopeful about our future."

University Scholars are also recognized at Commencement, in addition to the reception. Also, for Commencement 2012, nine seniors from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) have been named Departmental Scholars.

Following are the 2012 University Scholars:

* Stephen Barton, a Coronat and Remembrance Scholar, is a triple major in The College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) in international relations; economics; and Russian language, literature, and culture. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and the economics honor society Omicron Delta Epsilon, he will also serve as a class and student marshal for Commencement. Barton has filled leadership positions in Habitat for Humanity and Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity, while also volunteering for the Advocacy Center for four years. He studied abroad in Madrid and also participated in the Winston Fisher Seminar in New York City. Barton has been published in several campus publications and is an award-winning amateur photographer. Completing a capstone project about human trafficking in Russia, Barton plans to continue his Russian studies through a Fulbright grant, travel and graduate school.

* Laura Elizabeth Beachy is a dual television-radio-film and anthropology major in the Newhouse School and A&S. A triathlete and marathon runner, she served as captain of the SU Triathlon Team and runs marathons for charities. Beachy's documentary film "We Were Quiet Once" examines the effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on Somerset County, Pa., an area of small towns that entered the national spotlight after United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in an open field near Shanksville. The film, which addresses the personal memorialization of an international event, was produced by Beachy and her Newhouse School colleague, senior Cory Sage. Beachy currently works as a copywriter and social media marketer for Sweatdrops, a fitness mobile application for multisport athletes. After graduation, she plans to pursue full-time employment with the company in New York City.

* Bailey S. Fitzgerald is a double major in biochemistry and English and textual studies and in A&S. A Coronat Scholar, Fitzgerald is a participant in the Renée Crown University Honors Program, writing a capstone thesis on the literary biographies of John Donne. The winner of the 2011 Margaret Y. Cragg prize for English, Fitzgerald was also a four-year member of the inorganic chemistry research group led by James T. Spencer, the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor and Associate Dean for Science, Mathematics and Research in A&S. During the summer of 2010, Fitzgerald engaged in biodiesels research at the Graz University of Technology in Austria as part of the Interdisciplinary Research Experience for Undergraduates program, and in fall 2011 she studied abroad in London. She has been a member of the SU Debate Society for four years, as well as an editor of Verbal Seduction literary magazine. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies, she volunteered at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse and the Free Health Clinic in Schenectady, N.Y. Fitzgerald will begin medical school in the fall.

* Oriana Fuentes, a finance major in the Whitman School of Management and an economics major in A&S, also carries a minor in global enterprise technology in the School of Information Studies. She is a Remembrance Scholar and served as student chair for the 2012 Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement and Scholarship (CAPES). Fuentes is also a senior analyst at the Orange Value Fund, a two-year investment management program following Martin J. Whitman's value investing philosophy. With this experience, Fuentes plans to pursue a career in private wealth management at J.P. Morgan after graduation. On campus, she manages the Above and Beyond mentoring program at the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection, which she co-founded with a fellow University Scholar. Earlier, she directed the Breakfast Club, another mentoring program at Levy Middle School in Syracuse. Fuentes also sits on the Whitman Undergraduate Board, which oversees the school’s curriculum, and serves as vice president of Beta Gamma Sigma, a business honors society. She will graduate from the Renée Crown University Honors Program and the Economics Distinction Program, after completing a thesis on foreign direct investment and sovereign debt in Latin America.

* Griffin Kearney is an aerospace engineering major with emphasis on physics and mathematics in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (LCS). A native of New York's Mid-Hudson Valley region, Kearney is passionate about math and physics and their applications in solving real-life problems. During the summer of 2010, he worked with John Dannenhoffer, LCS associate professor, researching grid generation schemes. Presenting research on mixed hyperbolic-elliptic grid generation at an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics conference in Nashua, N.H., in 2011 earned Kearney second place honors for his work. Kearney has also worked as an undergraduate Academic Excellence Workshop adviser at SU during his sophomore to senior years. He taught precalculus, statics, multivariable calculus, thermodynamics and dynamics. Kearney was instrumental in offering thermodynamics through the program. A summer 2011 internship with Northrop Grumman Corp. in Colorado Springs, Col., yielded an invitation to return. Kearney plans to work with Northrop Grumman again this summer and is considering graduate work in applied mathematics.

* Christina Levin hails from the Ukraine and is a triple major in political science and sociology in A&S, and newspaper and online journalism at the Newhouse School. As an ardent proponent of pro-democracy reforms and social justice, Levin established and continues to direct the SU chapter of Democracy Matters, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates reducing corporate influence in politics through student activism and campaign finance reform. She is completing her thesis on civic engagement in American democracy under the mentorship of Steven R. Brechin, professor of sociology in the Maxwell School. While interning for the Common Cause political watchdog group in summer 2011, Levin produced a report on state legislature bill S2339A, assessing implementation of optical voting machines in the state. Studying abroad in London in fall 2009, Levin worked as a public policy and research assistant at a national child care think tank, Daycare Trust. Also, for two consecutive summers, she studied at Columbia University. Levin is currently the executive editor of Medusa Magazine, a feminist publication on campus, and serves as features editor of the biweekly Student Voice newspaper. Levin is a Newhouse Scholar and member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program, Golden Key International Honour Society, National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the political science and sociology honor societies. In October 2011, Levin was inducted to Phi Kappa Phi and delivered the student address. After graduation, Levin intends to move to metropolitan New York to pursue a career incorporating her communication skills and interest in sociopolitical issues.

* Alexandra Katerina Garcia Lipezker, a native of Mexico City, moved to the United States her sophomore year of high school, graduating from Lake Forest Academy in Illinois in 2007. She then enrolled in the SU School of Architecture (SOA) and will complete the five-year program this May. During her fourth year, Lipezker studied abroad in London and Florence. In Florence, she also attended a course at the Universita degli Studi di Firenze. Over the last few years Lipezker has also had the opportunity to collaborate with Legorreta + Legorreta Arquitectos in recent projects and with Image MEDIA Agency, serving as an intermediary between architects, designers and members of the media. Lipezker has also worked with SOA faculty members Timothy Stenson and Marissa Tirone. After graduation Lipezker intends to pursue a design career.

* Marc Mason, a triple major in communication and rhetorical studies in the College of Visual and Performing Arts and international relations and Middle Eastern studies in A&S, is also a student in the Renée Crown University Honors Program. Mason's strong interest in political and socioeconomic issues has led him to participate in programs such as Maxwell in Washington, Study Abroad Istanbul and Pathways for Mutual Respect. He has interned both domestically and abroad for a number of organizations that advocate for human rights and support sustainable economic development programs. Following graduation, Mason will continue graduate studies as an Engagement Fellow at the Maxwell School and the iSchool, working toward a joint master’s degree in international relations and public administration.

* Tsubasa Morioka, a senior information management and technology major in the iSchool, comes to Syracuse from Kansas City, Mo. Her education encouraged her to critically examine the ways in which technology serves the interests of businesses and the public. As a Crown Scholar, she explored, through her honors capstone, how U.S. grassroots social movements take advantage of computer-mediated communication by drawing on resource mobilization theories. During her years at SU, Morioka worked as a resident adviser, served as a peer adviser with the WellsLink Leadership Program, volunteered for International Young Scholars and helped conduct research for the Anti-Asian and Asian American Hate Crime Exhibition. Most recently, Morioka taught English to high school students and helped to implement a language intensive program in Tanzania using multimedia tools. She also spent time at D-tree International, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the quality of healthcare for the world's poor. D-tree uses innovative technology to provide accurate, effective point-of-care diagnosis and treatment. Morioka plans to work for D-tree while studying in Tanzania through a Boren Fellowship next year.

* Robert Solonick, an international relations and Spanish language major in A&S, has a specialization in security and diplomacy and carries a minor in American history. During his time at SU, Solonick held several research assistant positions with the Maxwell School and the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism. He also spent a semester abroad studying at Catholic University in Santiago, Chile, with three additional months in South America conducting field research for his undergraduate honors thesis examining the concept of "dirty war."  Solonick interned in Washington, D.C., at the National Defense University through a Maxwell in Washington program. As an undergraduate, Solonick involved himself in civic engagement and community service as a tutor and mentor. In fall 2010, he co-founded and helped coordinate a pilot tutoring and mentoring program with the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection and was recognized as a CAPES recipient in spring 2011. Solonick plans to continue studies in international affairs as a graduate student at the University of Cambridge in fall 2012.

* Andrew Weigand is a fifth-year student in SOA. His thesis proposes an infrastructural park in Queens, N.Y., for which he received a Crown Award for travel to the Seattle and Portland areas, and to Madrid and Barcelona regions of Spain to examine parks that integrate highways, water treatment and other infrastructure into their designs. A Renée Crown University Honors Program participant, Weigand spent a semester abroad in Florence, and has had work exhibited in the Storefront for Syracuse's "Syracuse Works: Student Visions for the City of Syracuse." He also contributed to 601 Tully Center, renovation of a house on the Near Westside into a shared community space. Weigand also helped coordinate the interactive installation of "What If…?" to encourage Syracuse residents to comment on their urban environment. He is a finalist for a Fulbright research grant to the Netherlands to study "soft" water control infrastructure and its impact on cities in the face of climate disruption and sea level rise.

* Vivian Yaci Yu, a biochemistry major in A&S, immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 15. Her observations of the great contrast in medical practices between the United States and China, particularly in the undeveloped countryside where she grew up, got her interested in biomedical research and inspired her to strive for bridging the gap between underprivileged and advanced medical practices. Yu has conducted research for three years in the research group led by Robert Doyle, associate professor of chemistry in A&S, and has been published. A McNair Scholar and a Remembrance Scholar, Yu was also selected as a Beckman Scholar in spring 2011. She is also a participant in the Renée Crown University Honors Program and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. Yu plans to pursue a doctoral degree in biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Additionally, the Departmental Scholars of the SUNY-ESF Class of 2012 are:

* Robert Miller (chemistry);
* Colin Swider (environmental and forest biology);
* Colby Fisher (environmental resources engineering)
* Danielle Kloster (environmental science);
* Patrick Carroll (environmental studies);
* William C. Brown (forest and natural resources management);
* T. Oliver McAbee III (landscape architecture);
* Jason M. Kucharski (paper and bioprocess engineering); and
* John Casey (sustainable construction management and engineering).

SUNY-ESF department honors will be bestowed upon students in each of the college's discipline areas during convocation exercises on Saturday, May 12.

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