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Student scholars recognized with medals at Honors ceremony

by Sherry Fisher - May 15, 2006

Heralded by the UConn Brass Quintet, some 140 students in academic regalia were recently recognized for their excellent scholarship.

An Honors Program medals ceremony held April 29 in the Student Union Theatre celebrated the achievements of graduating seniors in the UConn Honors Program and the University Scholars program.

These students engaged in rigorous programs of study, culminating in the completion of a thesis or scholarly project.

The highly competitive University Scholars program enables students to design plans of study geared toward their special interests.

Honors medal and certificateWorking closely with faculty advisors, they undertake learning opportunities far beyond the typical plan of study, and produce a significant scholarly and creative project, such as a work of art or a research thesis.

Graduating as a University Scholar is the highest academic honor the University bestows upon undergraduate students.

President Philip E. Austin told students they had earned “an extra measure of pride” and a “special measure of appreciation” from the University.

“You chose to come to UConn,” he said, “and I know many of you had other options. You took full advantage of what we had to offer; you stretched yourselves far beyond the minimum required; and you achieved at an outstanding level of distinction.

“In so doing,” he added, “you reminded all of us – the faculty, the administration, and your fellow students – that UConn is truly a place that values and nurtures excellence.”

Carleton Coffrin, a University Scholar and an Honors Scholar, addressed the audience. Coffrin, graduated May 7 with two bachelor’s degrees – one in computer science and another in dramatic arts, specializing in lighting design.

He said he learned what “true leadership” meant when he was introduced to the French phrase ‘noblesse oblige.’

Lara Batey, Julie Monteagudo, Hillary O’Donnell, Kira Sullivan-Wiley, and Erin Twohig celebrate after the Honors Medals Ceremony April 29.
Lara Batey, Julie Monteagudo, Hillary O’Donnell, Kira Sullivan-Wiley, and Erin Twohig celebrate after the Honors Medals Ceremony April 29.
Photo supplied by Erin Twohig

He said the phrase seemed pretentious to him at first.

“I thought to myself, if we are striving toward any type of equality among people, why should the noble or anyone else have a special obligation?” he said.

“But over the past several years, I have come to realize that the continued growth of human achievement has been built upon the shoulders of collaborating groups of people led by inspirational individuals.”

Lynne Goodstein, associate vice provost and director of the Honors Program, said, “While Carleton may have the heart and soul of an artist, he has the mind and practicality of an engineer.

His University Scholar project, which was also his computer science honors thesis, involved the development of sophisticated theatrical lighting design software.”

During the ceremony, each scholar was presented with a gold medal to wear at Commencement.

The neck ribbons for honors scholars were blue and white, and for University Scholars, blue and gold.

Goodstein said the scholars contributed to the production of new knowledge through research; expanded their horizons with grants to study on and off campus; created beauty through art and music; and contributed to the intellectual atmosphere of the campus through discussions of the issues of their time.

“In the course of completing your thesis or project, you have mastered a complex set of skills and obtained deep knowledge in your fields, but most important, you have taken ownership of your educations,” she said.

Professor Lawrence E. Hightower, associate head of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, was recognized as recipient of the 2005 Outstanding Honors Faculty Member. He was selected for the award by honors students.

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