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20 Bricker Hall
190 North Oval Mall
Columbus, OH 43210-1321
Contact: Amy Murray,
Ohio State graduates have big plans
Columbus – Impressive community service, study abroad, significant academic achievement and research projects are among the accomplishments that Ohio State graduates will take with them when they earn degrees this weekend. A record 8,652 students, who are among the brightest in the university’s history, will earn degrees during Ohio State’s spring commencement on Sunday (6/13) in Ohio Stadium. The ceremony celebrates the academic achievements and hard work that each student has put forth to earn his or her degree. Each graduate will receive their own diploma at the ceremony, a practice rarely attempted by a university the size of Ohio State. Some graduates will continue their education and others will use their education and experience to enter the workforce.
Janet Soto Rodriguez from Leon, Guanajuato Mexico and Painesville, will earn a B.A. in political science. The youngest of ten children, Soto Rodriguez traveled with her family as seasonal migrant workers from Mexico to Ohio.
Soto Rodriguez describes herself as a first generation student, “who despite the odds made it to college. I came from a very violent and drug afflicted background and as a migrant who traveled from my village in Mexico to the U.S. and back again constantly, I had a very tattered education. Now however, the demographics that made my graduation unlikely are behind me!”
She has been an active student leader and community volunteer while holding down jobs during her four years.
She helped found “Students for Equal Access” which seeks to increase access to higher education for all qualified students through classroom visits, community events and by providing resources to other student organizations that work with younger students.
Soto Rodriguez works in Ohio State’s Office of Economic Access as an access advocate and in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and First Year Experience in the Blueprint College initiative as a student facilitator and in parent sessions as an interpreter for Spanish speaking families. She also has served as orientation leader, resident advisor.
A mentor at a Columbus school, she has helped two mentees prepare their college plans as they transition from being high school students to becoming college-ready students.
In addition, Soto Rodriguez worked in a camp for children with HIV/AIDS, with juvenile delinquents, with refugee families and first generation students.
Following graduation, she will join the 2010 Teach for America AmeriCorps team in Rio Grande Valley, Texas for a two-year commitment to teach high school social studies Plans to work there on masters in educational policy.
Hudson McFann, from Gahanna will graduate with a B.A. in geography with honors and research distinction. He has helped make “sustainability” a frequently used word at Ohio State.
In addition to classes and work, McFann led Students for a Sustainable Campus for three years, helped organize events such as the University System of Ohio Sustainability Conference and the Scarlet, Gray & Green Fair. He has served on the Advisory Group to the President’s Council on Sustainability, the Evaluation of Central Administrators Committee, the Colleges of Arts and Sciences Honors Committee, the Forest Resources Task Force, and the Undergraduate Research Office Student Advisory Committee.
The recipient of multiple national recognitions, McFann was awarded a Beinecke Scholarship in 2009 and was named an honorable mention twice by the Udall Foundation.
He worked at a local supplier of environmentally friendly and healthful building materials and has become a LEED Accredited Professional.
His interest in the geographies of waste, including the siting of landfills and other waste facilities has led him to conduct research on the socio-politics of landfills, which he has presented in multiple forums including conferences in Las Vegas, Washington, DC, and the University of São Paulo (Brazil). He will present his research at a geography conference in Paris, France instead of marching at commencement.
After graduation, he will conduct research through a Fulbright grant to analyze Toronto, Ontario’s shipments of municipal solid waste to Michigan and southwest Ontario.
Josh Gaborcik, from Gahanna will graduate with a B.S. in pharmaceutical sciences and will enroll next year will in the PharmD (Doctorate of Pharmacy) program at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy.
Gaborcik was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of three and a half, “and living with this disease for close to 18 years, I have found it very interesting and fulfilling to finally understand how medications work within the body and consequently help a patient to feel better.”
In addition to rigorous coursework, Gaborcik has mentored and helped first and second year students adjust and succeed in college by working in university residence halls, including two years as an office assistant, one as a resident advisor and this year as resident manager.
He says his Ohio State experience has helped him succeed. “With my past medical history, I had the option to swim or sink and I choose to swim. Truth be told, I feel I have done this with flying colors. I have gained so much confidence, strength, courage, and self-esteem.”
Becca Fiorini, from Westerville. This 3rd generation Buckeye will graduate as a combined BSBA/MAcc student – with both a B.S. in Business Administration and a Masters of Accounting degree. Selected the top graduating senior at Fisher College of Business with a perfect 4.0 to begin spring quarter, Fiorini will start as an audit staff member for Deloitte and Touche, LLP, where she interned last summer.
Two years ago, Fiorini helped promote a sportsmanship initiative centered on the Ohio State-Michigan football game. The Scarlet and Gray Pledge won support from students and the Columbus community. “As a sophomore, I was helping to create change campus wide and it is neat to still see that impact today.”
For the last two years, Fiorini has led FisherCARES, an undergraduate community service organization in Fisher. She has tutored at St. Joseph Montessori School since her freshman year.
Fiorini has also tutored Ohio State students in accounting and as a peer advisor, co-taught the freshmen survey class and helped incoming pre-business students get acclimated. A member of Beta Alpha Psi, an accounting honorary fraternity, she is following in the footsteps of her grandfather who graduated from Ohio State in the late 40s – also majoring in accounting – also a member of BAP as an undergrad. Her maternal grandmother, Cleta Richey, currently works in the university’s Department of Public Safety.
Justin McGee, from Fort Wayne, Indiana will earn B.S in biology and a B.A in political science, and enter The Ohio State University College of Medicine in autumn. Following in the footsteps of his father, sister and brother, McGee has realized medicine is his true calling. He hopes “to combat the hesitancy the African American community has towards medicine by being a model physician and creating programs and workshops that increase health literacy.” McGee has served as a community volunteer and student leader. While pursuing his degrees, McGee has worked as an HIV test counselor with the Columbus AIDS Task Force, a middle school mentor, volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and volunteered with Ohio State’s Bell Resource Center. Last November, he was honored as student of the month by the Bell Resource Center as “a prime example of what it means to be a positive role model for young African American males.”
In addition, he has been active in several organizations including Band of Brothers (president 2008-2009), Sphinx Senior Class Honorary (2009-2010), Society of Black Scientists (vice president 2009-2010), and Buckeye INC. (2008-Present). He was just inducted into The Phi Beta Kappa Society.
He has been recognized with several prestigious scholarships and awards, including the Columbus AIDS Task Force Distinguished Service Award (2008), Golden Key International Honour Society (2008), Lawrence Williamson Jr. Service Award (2009), Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honorary, Omicron Chapter (2009), and the Gene and Sheila Smith Excalibur Prize (2010).
Last summer, he conducted research at Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Hematology/Oncology.
Zach Usmani, from Reminderville, Ohio will graduate with a B.A. in Sociology and move the day after graduation to Tulsa, Oklahoma where he will spend two years teaching high school science with Teach for America.
As a Land-Grant Opportunity Scholar, Usmani has set a phenomenal example for others as community volunteer and living his values.
He led the Stories for Students from Students program, which provided the opportunity for Ohio State students to make $5 donations to purchase books for Columbus City Schools elementary students. Through this program, he coordinated visits to bring 200 Ohio State students to four Columbus City Schools to read to the kids and speak about college. He also participated in three alternative break trips (one to New Orleans for rebuilding after Katrina and two to Kansas City to volunteer in a preschool for children in poverty).
He has left a lasting impression on hundreds of prospective students and their parents that tour Ohio State each year, leading more than 125 tours as a University Ambassador. “It has been very cool to be able to share Ohio State with prospective students, and it is even cooler when because of me, they decide to attend here.”
Usmani also has been an active student leader, serving as co-chair of Welcome Week for 2009 and the co-chair for Beat Michigan Week in 2008. He also has served in Undergraduate Student Government as Diversity Senator and the Director of Academic Affairs.
Ravi Gupta, from Dayton will earn a B.S. in molecular genetics and a B.A. in political science with a minor in economics. After graduation, he will move to India to work with the MIT Poverty Action Lab for two years.
Last summer, he traveled to India where he conducted more than 100 interviews with health workers, government officials, and doctors to analyze the role of health education in improving the country’s public health system.
At Ohio State, Gupta is the founder of the Global Health Initiative High School Workshops, which raises awareness among high school students of global health issues. In April 2009, he was chosen as Ohio State’s delegate to the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference in Annapolis, Maryland, where he presented his paper on the role of non-governmental organizations in reducing global poverty.
In 2008, Gupta spent the summer in Lausanne, Switzerland, as a research fellow studying new technologies to map the genome of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In addition, he has backpacked through Spain, Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany to learn more about their cultures.
On campus, he co-founded the Genesis Dance Team, which was very successful in its first year. He has served as president of the Business Builders Club, executive team member of the SERV Team, co-planner for the 2009 Women’s Health Symposium, and a site leader for the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service. He was also a student facilitator for Blueprint College and a member of the 2009 Homecoming Court.
Robert Bonacci, from Bath, Ohio will graduate with a degree in both microbiology and Spanish summa cum laude and with honors. He will travel to Mexico next year on a Fulbright Fellowship to study the H1N1 viral pandemic and public health policy in Mexico. The following year, he plans to enroll at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine to pursue MD/Master’s in Public Health.
Bonacci says both majors have helped him prepare for a career. “I have found the microbiology to be extremely interesting because of what I have learned about the challenges we face in medicine and how the field of biomedical science is transforming medicine at an ever increasing pace. The Spanish has been interesting first as a way to explore my Latin American heritage, and as a way to bridge the cultural and language gap that exists between American doctors and Spanish speaking populations.”
In addition to an outstanding academic record, Bonacci has been a student leader. He participated in three study abroad trips including a six-month program at a university in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a two-week service trip to a health clinic in Costa Rica. He also worked in Ohio State’s tuberculosis research lab, mentored ten students as a Student Facilitator with the Leadership Collaborative, and worked at the Harvard School of Public Health as a student researcher studying malaria last summer.
He was part of the 2009-2010 Homecoming Court, and elected Homecoming King. He is also a member of the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta. Bonacci’s sister is an Ohio State sophomore, and his younger sister will be a freshman next year.
Bryant Pottmeyer, from Belpre, Ohio will graduate with a degree in both accounting and economics. He will spend the summer studying for, and taking, the CPA Exam. At the end of September, he will begin work at the Columbus office of Ernst & Young.
Pottmeyer’s goal is to improve early education in America. To that end, he started the Ohio State chapter of College Mentors for Kids, which pairs Ohio State students with “little buddies” underserved elementary schools, bringing the children to campus each week, to learn about college and receive help with reading skills and financial literacy. The chapter has been named one of the most successful startups and also been named an outstanding student organization at Ohio State.
He has worked as a tutor and proctor for three introductory accounting classes. This also involves tutoring regional campus students via online meetings and webcam. Pottmeyer has also been part of Ohio State Sportsmanship Council for 3 years (holding two executive positions), and member of with Alpha Lambda Delta & Phi Eta Sigma (class honorary) for two years (one as Student Adviser).
He also taught Junior Achievement to 2nd and 4th graders around Columbus.
Nakia Chung, from Dublin will earn a B.S. in Family Studies and plans to begin graduate school in Ohio State’s Occupational Therapy Program immediately.
This is Chung’s second degree at Ohio State - she earned B.S. in Psychology in autumn 2008.
In April, she began a recycling endeavor by collecting and documenting (using digital images) recyclables that had been thrown on the ground as she walked to and from her classes. In just one week, in her normal walking route to class, she collected 44 items and expects to fill the trunk with 300 recyclables after 30 days. She began the project originally to assuage her curiosity but has since realized that it may inspire others and create a wonderful effect.
Chung’s philosophy in life is that everyone can change the world. No matter how small a person thinks his or her contribution is, if everyone makes small changes, the collective effect will be enormous.
Amy Eakins, from Beavercreek, Ohio will graduate with a B.S. in Anthropological Science, with minors in Zoology and English. Eakins is working to save endangered primates, their habitats, and our forests. For the last two years, she has been watching and documenting primate behaviors – the ultimate warning signs of the health or decline of forests around the globe. Her research could have a profound impact on international ecological and environmental policies. Since her freshman year, she worked as a tutor and proctor for the Student Athlete Support Services Office, tutoring student-athletes in anthropology and biology. After graduation, she will be attending graduate school at Stony Brook University in New York for a Ph.D. in Anthropological Science to study the social behavior of southeast Asian leaf monkeys.
Patrick Burns, from Dayton will graduate with a B.S. in geological sciences. Burns wants to rid the world of contaminated water and he has the credentials to do it – in academics, research, and service. He has been inducted into three national honor societies, including the national earth sciences honorary. Since 2007, Burns has volunteered, as a mentor and teacher, with the “Wonders of the World” program to engage elementary students in study of science.
Burns’ most meaningful experiences include participating in an environmental education trip to Costa Rica, Field Camp in Central Utah, research expeditions to Nevada and Peru, and participating in Denman Undergraduate Research Forums. He was a student researcher at the Byrd Polar Research Center studying glacier and environmental change, and worked as an intern for Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Geological Survey.
Burns also volunteers as a math and reading tutor as well. He will attend graduate school at Oregon State University in Water Resources Science Masters Program.