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2014 Student Awards Dinner honorees

On Friday, April 25, Wagner College held its annual Student Awards Dinner. Here is a complete listing of the students who were honored for their achievements this year:

Kerri L. Alexander of Bloomfield, Conn., won the Distinguished Leader Award, given in recognition of superior qualities of cooperation, decision making and management. Alexander is a junior arts administration major who currently maintains a 3.57 GPA. She is a member of the Black Student Union, Unified Theater, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the Wagner Community Advocating Responsibility Peer Education program as well as the president of My Sistah’s Keeper.

Kyle D. Allen of Natick, Mass., won the Student Government Award for outstanding work, dedication to the student body and exemplary leadership abilities.

Lorraine Brancale of Princes Bay, Staten Island, won the C. Wright Mills Award, given to a student of outstanding academic potential who embodies the spirit of sociological imagination.

Patrick J. Connelly of Great Kills, Staten Island, won the Biological Sciences Award for demonstrating the highest academic promise in biological sciences. Connelly is a sophomore microbiology major who is conducting research at the Staten Island Zoo. He has a 3.92 GPA.

Yaritza Cruz of New York, N.Y., won the Community Health Nursing Award, which recognizes a nursing student who demonstrates volunteerism, thoughtfulness, caring and patience while promoting the health of individuals, families and groups within the community. During her First-Year Program, Cruz gained insight into the challenges experienced by individuals and the larger community when faced with Alzheimer’s disease. She is active in the Wagner College chapter of the National Nursing Student Association, in which she serves as treasurer and has been active in community service events, such as "Go Red Day" sponsored by Staten Island University Hospital to increase public awareness and access to important health screenings.

Jazmin R. Diaz of Tigard, Oregon, won the inaugural Bonner Leader of the Year Award, given in honor of Stephen Preskill, Distinguished Professor of Civic Engagement and Leadership and co-founder of the Bonner Leader Program at Wagner College. The award goes to a student who exemplifies the Seahawk spirit of civic engagement and leadership through ongoing community work, democratic engagement and reflective practice. The Bonner Leader of the Year constantly goes above and beyond to support fellow students, enhance the Bonner program and deepen relationships with the greater Staten Island community.

Joseph DiDonna of Annadale, Staten Island, won the Interfraternity Council Award for exemplary service to the Interfraternity Council, leadership abilities, good academic standing and commitment to Greek philanthropic work. DiDonna is a brother of Theta Chi fraternity who currently serves as president of the Interfraternity Council. He has led the Interfraternity Council’s collaboration with the Panhellenic Council in Greek Recruitment Kick-Off and the Red-Riding Hood Project philanthropy. He has also initiated a Fraternity Bid Day celebration where all of the fraternities are able to celebrate their newest members by eating together and playing basketball and dodgeball in the gym.

James A. Ducey of Eltingville, Staten Island, won the Robert D. Blomquist Memorial Award in Biology, which is given to an outstanding biology student of good moral character. Ducey works in the biology lab with Professor Jonathan Blaize. He coaches the debate team at Staten Island’s Monsignor Farrell High School on weekends, works as a manager at an orthopedist’s office — and is reported to have bowled a perfect game! He is an inquisitive student and hopes to pursue a career in medicine.

Andrew J. Dunn of Eltingville, Staten Island, was the recipient of two awards:

  • The Business Administration Award for the student in the Business Department with the highest GPA
  • The L. Willard Knight Memorial Award, given to the fraternity member with the highest academic average and exemplary leadership performance

Andrew Dunn is a business administration major and a brother of Tau Kappa Epsilon, which he served last year as president. He is a member of Omicron Delta Epsilon, the economics honor society, and the Wagner Student Investment Club. Dunn has been extremely involved on campus and in the Greek community and has managed to maintain a nearly perfect 3.956 GPA.

Phillip G. Faccone Jr. of Brick, N.J., won the C. Wright Mills Award for outstanding academic potential and embodying the spirit of sociological imagination.

Nicole E. Fallon of Holtsville, N.Y., won the Community Service Award, given to a student who is committed to community service through campus organizations.

Phoebe A. Foarde of Mount Kisco, N.Y., won the Education Department 5 Cs Award, given to the education major who best personifies the “5 Cs”: a caring, curious, competent, committed and community-active professional.

Kaitlyn R. Gallagher of Mystic, Conn., won the Gertrude Aull Award, given to the undergraduate who has the greatest potential as a psychologist. Gallagher is an intelligent, organized and ambitious student and researcher. She regularly goes above and beyond her duties as a psychology tutor, spending many hours helping others, including her visually and hearing-impaired colleagues.

Michelle M. Greenough of Davis, Cal., won the Frank K. Bobbitt Memorial Award in Chemistry, given to a student who is conscientious, cooperative and shows scholastic achievement in the field of chemistry.

Carolyn J. Hagerty of Chapin, S.C., won the Class of 2008 Scholarship, given to a model student involved in various community activities.

Kayleigh Hand of Trabuco Canyon, Cal., won the Panhellenic Council Award for exemplary service and leadership in the Panhellenic Council and for high academic achievement. Hand is a sister of Tau Kappa Sigma and is currently serving as president of the Panhellenic Council. She previously served as the council's secretary. Since Hand was named Panhellenic president, she has improved the organization’s relationship with its area adviser, assisted with introducing new philanthropy programs, increased the promotion and awareness of sorority life — which led to one of the college’s most successful Greek recruitment periods to date — and has proven to be a natural leader. Although she is a member of a local organization (that is, one not affiliated with a national sorority), Hand has gone above and beyond to learn about national policies and procedures. In addition to her commitment to Greek life, Kayleigh is also a member of the Psychology Club, the Animal Rights Club, the Red Riding Hood Project and Project Sunshine.

Noura I. Hassan of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, won the Wagner College Award in Chemistry for academically excellent work in chemistry. Hassan is a junior economics major and chemistry minor who currently maintains a 3.7 GPA. She has worked on a chemistry education research project under the mentorship of professors Valeria Stepanova and Jennifer Lauria. She presented her findings at this year’s Eastern Colleges Science Conference. Her presentation, titled “Pilot Study of Science Apathy Intervention in Public Elementary Schools on Staten Island,” won one of the awards for excellence. In addition to her academic accomplishments, Hassan is very active in campus life. She is a sister of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority and a member of the Omicron Delta Epsilon economics honor society, for which she currently serves as vice president. She is also a member of Project Sunshine, the Pre-Health Society and the Student Government Association.

Alexander S. Hernandez of Kent, Conn., won the Greek Senate Award for service to the Greek community, developing unity and direction. Hernandez is a brother of Theta Chi and is currently the president of Wagner’s Greek Senate. He has previously served as Greek Senate treasurer and recruitment chair of the Interfraternity Council. Hernandez leads by example and is a consistent presence at all Greek events, from set up to breakdown, helping with whatever needs to get done.

Monika Khaltsev of Troy, Mich., won the Jack J. Boies Award for Creative Writing for excellence in an annual creative writing competition. Khaltsev won the award for her story, “You and Me Makes Three.”

Meghan Leotta of Great Kills, Staten Island, won the Promising Gerontological Nurse Award, which recognizes a junior nursing student who demonstrates promise as a gerontological nurse as reflected in evidence-based clinical performance. While pursuing a career in a different health-related profession, Leotta began working as a Certified Nurses Aide at Silver Lake Specialized Care Center, where she learned about the important role nursing has in making a positive difference in the lives of older adults. She transferred to Wagner specifically to pursue nursing and continues to work as a nursing aide while completing our rigorous academic program. Remarkably, half a dozen students nominated Leotta for this award. Each provided support for her passion and her ability to deliver high-quality nursing care for older adults. One student said that Leotta “would often go above and beyond our assigned tasks at our clinical at the nursing home.” Another said, “Seeing [Leotta] work with the residents at Eger [Health Care and Rehabilitation Center] was amazing. She truly cares about that age population and connects with them in a way that was truly special to see. She’s a very talented student nurse, and I believe she is very worthy of this award!”

Julia Loria of Forest, Belgium, won the Internationalization Action Council Award, which is given to a student who has furthered, exemplified or supported internationalization issues at Wagner College. She understands from first-hand experience the difficulty of learning foreign languages, so she helps tutor in both French and Spanish. She is passionate about diversity, sharing her Belgian culture and welcoming other international students. She inspires others to get involved in our global community.

Corrine A. Matlak of Jamesport, N.Y., won the Gordon McEwan Endowed Award in Archaeology, a grant awarded to students whose studies will include an experiential learning component in the field of archaeology; it is meant to help defray the costs associated with field work. Matlak, who was recently inducted into the Wagner College circle of the Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society, will travel this summer to the north coast of Peru to take part in the Wagner College-Moche Inc. Bioarchaeology Field School. She will spend 5 weeks analyzing human skeletal remains excavated from the archaeological site of Cerro Oreja and exploring other archaeological sites and local museums.

PatriciaAnn G. McCaffrey of Hauppauge, N.Y., won the Education Department Culturally Responsive Award, given to recognize a student with a strong commitment to being a culturally responsive teacher. McCaffrey never says “no” to work that creates bridges across communities, as evidenced in her work with Wagner College’s Study Abroad program and Generation Citizen, a national organization designed to promote democracy.

Patrick McMenamin of Longport, N.J., won the Leader on the Horizon Award, which is given to a student who shows promise as a leader on campus. McMenamin, a sophomore, is captain of the men’s lacrosse team, serves as a senator in the Student Government Association, belongs to the Pre-Health Society and serves on the Community Standards Review Board. He has participated in many community service projects, including the Community Health Action of Staten Island Food Pantry, Hurricane Sandy clean up at Staten Island’s New Dorp High School, and food/clothing collection for disaster relief victims. He has served on SGA since his freshman year, where he has been a vital part of the Finance and Campus Events committees and has written several pieces of legislation for the student body.

Abeer Mishal of Rosebank, Staten Island, was the recipient of four awards:

  • The Diversity Action Council Award, given to a student who has furthered, exemplified or supported Wagner College’s commitment to diversity
  • The Phyllis Andors Award for outstanding performance in the study of history
  • The Modern Languages Award for outstanding work in the study of a modern language
  • The Richard Gaffney Memorial Grant, given to support student work in art

Abeer Mishal, a junior majoring in Spanish and history, has a passion for the visual arts, which she pursues through painting and courses in art history. As a winner of the Richard Gaffney Grant, given to support a student’s art work, Mishal is preparing a series of paintings about liberty and occupation. Her collection of streetscape images depicting urban scenes from her travels in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Amman, Jordan and Silwad, Palestine will examine the relationships between urbanism, liberty, conflict and memory. A project both journalistic and autobiographical, it will be on display in the Horrmann Library’s Spotlight Gallery next year.
“Overall, I want to show where I started, where I am going and who I want to be,” Mishal said. “As a Spanish and history major, understanding cultures is very important to me — so important, it will influence my life's work as a historian and museum curator.”
Abeer has been an outstanding student and an inspiration to her fellow majors, demonstrating great enthusiasm for her work in the History Department. Her excellent performance in class and in her research, as well as her commitment to the civic engagement projects of the department, have earned her the admiration of her peers as well as the history faculty.
As the current Student Muslim Association president, Mishal organized a guest speaker and food for this year's community Eid al Adha celebration, which drew participation by faculty, students, families and community members. She also collaborated with Wagner’s Hillel chapter last semester in organizing a “breaking bread” mixer, which was also very successful. She is a volunteer at El Centro del Inmigrante in Port Richmond and, as a Spanish major, is planning to study in Argentina this summer, where she hopes to explore the Arab communities in Buenos Aires.

Samuel Nathan of Huntington, N.Y., won the Wagner College Physician Assistant Award for the the highest overall grade point average among P.A. students in the junior class. Nathan has consistently been a high academic achiever. He is a quiet leader in the classroom and will be an excellent health care provider.

Olivia M. Paige of Vestavia Hills, Ala., won the inaugural Wagner Art History Award for academic and co-curricular contributions. Whether analyzing a set of medieval tapestries, a contemporary art installation or an Egyptian sculpture, Paige brings her keen intelligence and quirky originality to bear on her work. She has volunteered at many art institutions and is equally adept in courses from ancient to modern art, and she generously shares her knowledge with others. Since the beginning of the year, Paige has offered tutoring in every single art history course taught at Wagner College. Many students have benefited from her review sessions and helpful paper advice.

Claudia R. Najar of Howell, N.J., won the Wagner College Physician Assistant Award, given to the P.A. student with the highest overall grade point average in the junior class. Najar is a mature, motivated student who consistently demonstrates high academic, personal and professional standards. She is sure to become a great physician assistant.

Dominga Noe of Carmichael, Cal., won the Resident Assistant Award in recognition of her strong social skills, ability to work with a diverse student population, supervision of day-to-day operations in residence halls and well-rounded programs for her students. Noe has been an outstanding veteran R.A., even when she was moved to a different building. She is always putting others’ needs before her own, despite her own personal challenges. This year she took it upon herself to brighten everyone’s Wednesdays by sending her residents, residence hall staff and senior staff a funny video or inspirational quote. Even after surpassing each programming requirement, she continues to program because she realizes the impact of doing so in her community. She has created an inclusive environment on her floor in which each resident feels completely comfortable coming to her for any issue, and she is an advocate through her programming for many causes both personal and beyond. Dominga Noe is a wonderful and hard working residence hall staff member.

Kari J. Rezac of Wichita, Kansas, won the Dreyfus Prize for academically outstanding work in the study of chemistry.

Michala C. Williams of Allison Park, Pa., won the Sigvart J. Steen Scholarship Award in Music for excellence in choir performance.


Alpha Omicron Pi won the Elsie N. Delo Award for the sorority achieving the highest academic average during the year. The Theta Pi chapter of AOΠ was installed at Wagner College on April 14, 1951. The women of AOΠ Theta Pi have won first place on our Homecoming banner and highest GPA on campus. For the past few years, members of AOΠ Theta Pi have been chosen as both Songfest Queen and Homecoming Queen. In 2011, AOΠ Theta Pi was awarded highest GPA internationally out of all of the AOΠ chapters. The chapter GPA this year is 3.49.

Delta Nu won the David M. Delo Award for the fraternity achieving the highest academic average during the year. Delta Nu has maintained a GPA of 3.22 for the past 3 years. Delta Nu continues to support the campus through attendance at athletic events and holding memberships and executive board positions on campus in Greek Senate, Physician Assistant Student Association, Pre-Law Society and the Accounting Society, to name a few.


Campus Life Dean Curtis Wright won the Adviser Recognition Award, given to an adviser who has dedicated valuable time and energy to a student organization. The Student Government Association would like to take the time to thank Dean Curtis Wright for all that he does, not only for SGA but for every organization across campus. He takes the time to make sure that each organization is reaching its full potential.


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