Four Southern students were recently honored as recipients of the Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award.
A total of 12 students are chosen for the award each year from the four universities in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system. It is considered among the university’s most prestigious awards. Criteria include a 3.7 GPA or better and having demonstrated significant participation in university and/or community life.
The four Southern students are:
*Kristen Dearborn (pictured far right), is an English major, who has a GPA of 3.71. She is president of the Golden Key International Honour Society; is recipient of the Study Abroad Academic Merit Scholarship; studied abroad in Rome; and wrote a series of poems she intends to publish.
What makes her academic accomplishments even more impressive is that she struggled as a high school student. She participated in the SCSU Proof of Ability program during the summer between her senior year in high school and her freshman year at Southern. But she was determined to overcome her challenges and carved out a path to success. She intends to pursue a master’s degree in a health-related field.
“Dearborn’s story is among the most inspiring and fascinating I have heard from a Southern student…her journey of personal growth…is the kind that inspires all of us who work with students at Southern and in the CSU system,” says Michael Shea, chairman of the English Department.
*Kelly Gunneson (pictured second from right), is a secondary education major in mathematics, who has a GPA of 3.91. She is a student-athlete, having served as a captain of our women’s volleyball team and was named to the Northeast-10 Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
Gunneson received many academic honors, including the Beatrice H. Rockwell Endowed Scholarship and the Dr. George J. Collins Academic-Athletic Scholarship. She also participates in many community service activities, serving as the head coach of the Connecticut Juniors Volleyball Association, and is a Praxis core math test prep instructor for Southern’s Academic Success Center.
“Her greatest strengths are her professional attitude, her willingness to grow as an educator, her excellent math knowledge, and her good rapport with students,” says Marie Nabbout-Cheiban, assistant professor of math. “She accepts constructive remarks in a professional way and strives to improve them.”
Gunneson intends to pursue a teaching career.
*Caitlin Hansen (pictured second from left), is a physics major and math minor, who has a GPA of 3.97. She has received the SCSU Honors College Scholarship, the Pathways to Academic Success Scholarship and the NASA Connecticut Space Undergraduate Research Fellowship.
In addition, Hansen coordinates outreach programs for the New Haven Public Schools as part of Southern’s STEM-Innovation and Leadership program. She is a nationally certified tutor for physics, scientific writing and writing. She also is a runner who two years ago completed her first half marathon. Last summer, she went on a scuba diving expedition in the Great Barrier Reef.
“She is an exceptionally strong and dedicated student who has exemplified outstanding community service and leadership qualities,” said Christine Broadbridge, director of STEM initiatives.
Hansen is planning to continue her studies throughout the next year before applying to a Ph.D. program in a physics-related discipline, most likely either medical physics or biomedical engineering.
*Megan Mancinelli (pictured far left), is a psychology major, who has a GPA of 3.91. She is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and vice president of the hall council in the Office of Residence Life.
Mancinelli tutors middle and high school students from New Haven, Hamden and Cheshire, and was involved with the Gear-Up program, in which she worked with children from New Haven.
She also has been involved with many community service activities, such as the Special Olympics.
She intends to earn a master’s degree in social work and hopes to work with children and adolescents.
“Students such as Megan are extremely rare and an absolute pleasure to have in class,” said Michael Nizhnikov, assistant professor of psychology. “Megan challenges not just the other students, but the professor, with her insight and thoughtfulness.”