University Scholars Honored at Reception
The 12 graduating seniors who were named 2015 University Scholars took part in a reception Wednesday, April 29, at the Chancellor’s house, hosted by Chancellor Kent Syverud and Dr. Ruth Chen. During the event, the scholars received special medallions to be worn at Commencement. Being named a University Scholar is the highest undergraduate honor that the University bestows. University Scholars will represent the entire graduating class at the May 10 Commencement ceremony.
The Syracuse University Scholars Committee, a University-wide faculty committee, selected the 2015 scholars using criteria that included coursework and academic achievement, creative work, a personal statement and a faculty letter of recommendation.
“This year’s University Scholars are an extraordinary group of 12 students whose intellect, interests and passions were not defined or siloed by their individual disciplines,” says Peter Beasecker, associate professor in the Department of Art in the College of Visual and Performing Arts and chair of the 2015 University Scholars Committee. “They have all crafted a personal arc of curiosity and compassion during their time here, exemplifying the spirit of a liberal arts education and the abundance of opportunities available to the Syracuse University student.”
The 2015 Syracuse University Scholars are:
Akinboyewa is a senior majoring in marketing and writing and rhetoric, and a member of the Renée Crown Honors Program. She helped develop the “REAL Girls” program, which promotes positive self-esteem within middle school girls. Her signature contribution is her honors capstone project: the creation of the “Be Kind, More Confident” project, which is a digital media brand to encourage women who struggle with low self-esteem and confidence. She was selected vice president for programming on the executive board of the Whitman School’s Student Government in fall 2014 and is one of 10 college women selected to serve on the American Association of University Women’s Student Advisory Board. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including 2014-2015 Remembrance Scholar, 2015 Chancellor’s Awards for Public Engagement and Scholarship (CAPES), 2015 Whitman Scholar, 2014 Scholarship in Action Merit Award, Mark & Pearle Clements Internship Award, Brave Life Grant, Whitman School of Management Class Marshal and the Russell J. Hamilton Alumni Club of Central New York Award.
As a Coronat Scholar, Baerman epitomizes interdisciplinary values and methodologies by using her four years at Syracuse University to study a diverse range of subjects, majoring in art history and philosophy and minoring in German. She is a member of the Arts and Sciences Dean’s Team, a global ambassador for SU Abroad, a founding member of the Renée Crown Honors Advisory Board, a student vice president for Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and treasurer and mentor for the Syracuse University Debate Society. Baerman has a long list of academic awards and honors, and an impressive record of internships and volunteer activities. She recently completed her honors capstone project, “The Artist, the Workhorse: Labor in the Art of Anna Hyatt Huntington,” for which she received a research travel grant from the honors program. In the fall of her junior year, Baerman received a merit scholarship from the German government to study abroad in Berlin and was awarded the Sheldon P. Peterfreund Undergraduate Philosophy Prize. This summer, she will be a fellow at Historic Deerfield, an authentic 18th-century New England village in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts, where she will research their collections and lead tours.
Fernandes earned a perfect 4.0 in his first semester; he joined the Honors Program in his second semester. In his third semester, he took on a second major and a dual program. By his sixth semester, he was in a graduate English seminar and working on his Honors Distinction Thesis in English. He is the Joan Garfinkel Scholar, a Dean’s Scholar, the Newell D. Rossman Scholar, a Renée Crown Scholar and a Newhouse Scholar. He wrote a successful funding proposal for his documentary senior thesis and spent a semester at the Syracuse University campus in Los Angeles reading scripts as a development intern for Atmosphere Entertainment. His honors capstone project is a meticulously researched film called “American Voices,” a documentary on slave narratives written before the Civil War. As a sophomore, he wrote a short film with local filmmaker Marc Schoeberlin, which later developed into a feature that premiered in Syracuse last fall. He received distinction in the English and textual studies program for his essay on masculinity in modern video games. He hopes to pursue a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Malaysia, and then enter the film industry producing documentaries.
Ganes will graduate with a B.M. in music composition and minors in music industry and music history. He might be called a modern-day Renaissance man, one who has done exemplary work in numerous areas of music, including composition, violin, vocal performance and improvisation. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve probably already been touched by Ganes if you’ve ever heard the Crouse Chimes playing across campus, a pursuit which has turned into a passion/mission for him during his years at the University. In his time at Syracuse, he has composed a variety of pieces ranging from small chamber ensembles to full orchestral works. He has been in a multitude of ensembles and is the founding member of the a cappella group Otto Tunes. He is a recipient of the Brian Israel Award and has been commissioned to write a piece for the Society for New Music, a nationally acclaimed music ensemble. Using his knowledge of composition and the music business, he has leveraged his music on many radio stations across the country in addition to earning synchronizations of his music on national television. Ganes plans on pursuing his band full time with intentions of returning to graduate school for music composition in the future.
Cybersecurity professionals wrestle every day with a range of complex dilemmas that test their ethics. These professionals have the capability to see private information, mount counterattacks and monitor the behaviors of those users they serve. Lee is among the few who made that difficult ethical journey to the peak. He already possesses a U.S. government security clearance—a daunting achievement. At Syracuse, Lee has held a variety of leadership positions, including serving as chair of the University Conduct Board, president of the Maxwell Citizenship Learning Community, information technology assistant in the public affairs office and teaching assistant manager for PAF 101. He is also a member of the University 100, an iSchool peer advisor and was selected as a Remembrance Scholar. Lee’s many internships include an IT Help Desk internship with Pitt Ohio in Pittsburgh, an IT communications internship with the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C., and, while studying abroad in Madrid, an internship with a startup company, Touch of Classic, working on web design and app development. Lee will be joining the Department of Defense as an information security analyst full time after graduation.
McMahon is bright and dedicated, a Coronat Scholar and a Renée Crown Honors Program student with a biology and policy studies double major. Her goal is to complete a master’s of public health and global medicine and then attend medical school, focusing on working with underserved communities around the world. Her capstone thesis is a collaboration with researchers at SUNY Upstate Medical University to carry out laboratory work and field studies in Ecuador involving the mosquito-borne disease Dengue fever. She has studied abroad with the Global Health and Tropical Medicine program in Costa Rica and worked with the Global Brigade helping provide medical care to citizens of poor, remote villages in Honduras. Working with Syracuse city planners, McMahon developed a program for Syracuse University Recreation Services in which students, using a GPS program, take the Connective Corridor bus downtown, partake in teambuilding activities and explore the city. She is currently working with a group aiming to expand the GPS program to be used as part of SU Abroad orientations. She has also done volunteer work through the International Youth Scholars program with refugees from Somalia and the Congo, and immigrants from the Middle East in the Syracuse area. In addition, she has volunteered at Upstate University Hospital, Habitat for Humanity and Ronald McDonald House.
Rebeyev graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences with majors in biology and modern Jewish studies. She is a Coronat, Remembrance, McNair, and past ARISE CSTEP Scholar, and a member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program. She recently won a Research and Scholarship Award from the Department of Biology, where she completed her capstone honors thesis, “Defining the Role of Erlin2, an ER Membrane Protein of the SPHF1/2 Complex That Mediates Ubiquitination of the Inositol Triphosphate Receptor (IP3R1) and Cell Autophagy,” with Richard Wojcikiewicz at SUNY Upstate Medical University. She took the initiative in finding a research mentor at SUNY Upstate and spent eight months in Juntao Luo’s lab studying nano-medicine and drug delivery. After attending a lecture by Nobel Laureate Aaron Ciechanover, Rebeyev approached him for a research position and spent the summer conducting cancer research in his colleague Amir Orian’s lab at the Technion Institute in Israel and has continued her research in Wojcikiewicz’s lab. Additionally, she volunteers as a “Peds Pal” at SUNY Upstate, tutoring pediatric oncology students, and is a peer advisor and tutor for both biology and chemistry. She plans to pursue a career in oncology as a biomedical researcher/physician. She recently was awarded a Gates-Cambridge Scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in medical science and immunology at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, England.
Russell, a member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program, will graduate with majors in biomedical engineering and biotechnology and will attend the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Along with providing direct health care, he hopes to develop novel techniques and devices for the administration of health care. His integration of engineering research and development with entrepreneurial vision inspired him to found two companies: Blue Defibrillation focuses on increasing the accessibility and affordability of automated external defibrillators (AED) and Apollo Biomedical is focused on the development of a smart knee brace to better assist individuals recovering from serious injuries. His honors capstone project focused on developing the technology required to transform a smart phone into the control system for a mobile AED. After studying abroad in Dublin, Russell traveled to Nicaragua for nine weeks to repair medical equipment in rural hospitals. He worked in the post-anesthesia care unit at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Iowa and at Iowa State University developing Meta!Blast, an educational video game designed to teach students cell biology. His undergraduate research developed and incorporated a graphic user interface into automatic contour‐based tracking for in-vitro environments (ACTIVE) cell tracking software. In Syracuse, Russell is involved in such activities as the Engineering Ambassador program and volunteering at the Veterans Affairs Hospital. He is building the framework for a Syracuse University chapter of Engineering World Health, the organization through which he spent time in Nicaragua. He is president and co‐founder of Syracuse University’s Pre‐Health Honors Society and also serves as global ambassador for SU Abroad.
Stewart’s academic achievements exemplify the strengths of a liberal arts education, where strong critical thinking skills are central to the mission. His distinction thesis in political science examines the relationship between personal wealth and legislator voting ideology. He has served as a teaching assistant in the public affairs program and an English tutor at the Colegio Santa Ana y San Rafael in Madrid, and has had internships and/or summer employment with offices in city, county and national government. He is a Coronat Scholar and Remembrance Scholar and a member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program. He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha and Omicron Delta Epsilon honor societies and a 2015 recipient of the JoAnn Heffernan Heisen Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Achievement in Economics. He was chosen by the Spanish faculty as an outstanding Spanish major for 2015. All his extracurricular activities connect with his academic interests in a way that enriches his scholarly profile. Stewart will attend law school this fall and plans to pursue a career in international trade law.
Tucci pursued a demanding curriculum in biomedical engineering, completed the requirements for the B.S. in bioengineering and the honors program and successfully defended her honors thesis in three and a half years. She conducted her undergraduate research in the lab of Frederick Werner, and served as a volunteer undergraduate research assistant at the Musculoskeletal Science Research Center at Upstate Orthopedics. An abstract of her research was accepted for the 2013 American Society for Surgery of the Hand national meeting and has been submitted to the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery. Tucci was chosen to participate in an NSF‐REU at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Under the guidance of Deepak Vashishth, she created a new experimental method for testing cancellous vs. cortical bone using a porcine model. She worked as a research intern at the Wake Forest/Virginia Tech Center for Injury Biomechanics, where she conducted a comparative study of lumbar fusions using coaxial trajectory versus cortical bone trajectory screws. As a junior, she was a member of a six-person Syracuse University bioengineering senior design team that captured second place at the 2013 Coulter College competition. She serves as a mentor for the International Young Scholars Program, is an LCS‐SRC Ambassador and has served as a physics coach. Tucci will be attending Stanford University on a full scholarship to pursue a Ph.D.
Among her many honors, Weeks is the Senior Class Marshal for Arts and Sciences. She has triple majors in biology, sociology and political science. She has pursued internships in Scotland, Zambia and Florence. She has conducted substantial research in biology, sociology and political science, specializing in issues related to global warming, climate change and HIV/AIDS. She conducted research in ecology; developed her research literature, theory and question independently; and carried out five greenhouse experiments and a field study independently. She expanded her field study (on land degradation and fires in a developing country) into political science research and spent a year and half examining global governance structures that fund environmental conversation projects in the developing world. As a chef for Ronald McDonald House, Weeks helps make a temporary home feel familiar and talks to people overwhelmed by the hospitalization of their child/family member. As a founding member of the Renée Crown Honors Advisory Board, a TA and a tutor, she enhanced the sense of community in the honors program and the sense of support at Syracuse University. She has also been a mentor in the violence prevention program on campus.
Zlotsky has produced intellectually rigorous, complex and challenging projects that are also formally and representationally significant. His contributions to the Play Perch design and construction, a design-build project for the Jowonio School in Syracuse, was instrumental to its success. The Jowonio project won national and University awards for design, design-build projects and community service/applied scholarship. He also won several awards for design and for professional promise. He spent a summer leading a team designing a speculative potter’s field project on Hart Island to be submitted as a proposal for a new city project to make an inaccessible cemetery open to the public. He also volunteered organizing lesson plans and teaching architecture to high school students in the New York Center for Architecture. Zlotsky spent his thesis studying the campus and commedia dell’arte to create a form of architecture that caricaturizes buildings into characters who act and communicate with each other as a cast. He received the Palladio Award for best studio project when abroad in Florence and received third place for the King and King Comprehensive design competition with his partner for an outstanding comprehensive design project.