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Eight of 12 Syracuse University Scholars are Arts and Sciences students

Four are dually enrolled in Arts and Sciences and other schools and colleges

May 9, 2012 — Article by: Staff Reports

Class of 2012 Syracuse University Scholars

Top row, left to right: Robert Solonick, Oriana Fuentes, Stephen Barton, and Griffin Kearney. Middle row: Andrew Weigand, Bailey S. Fitzgerald, Christina Levin, and Marc Mason. Front row: Alexandra Katerina Garcia Lipezker, Vivian Yaci Yu, Laura Elizabeth Beachy, and Tsubasa Morioka

Eight of the 2012 Syracuse University Scholars—the highest undergraduate academic honor bestowed by SU—are receiving degrees from The College of Arts and Sciences. University Scholars will represent the entire SU graduating class at the May 13 Commencement ceremony.

University Scholars received special medallions to be worn at Commencement during an April reception at the Chancellor’s Residence, hosted by Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. 

The Syracuse Scholars Selection Committee—a subcommittee of the University Senate Academic Affairs Committee—annually considers academic activities of the nominees. Harriet Brown, assistant professor of magazine journalism in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and chair of the selection committee, notes it is never an easy task to arrive at 12 scholars, from the nearly 30 nominees. "They are an amazingly talented group," says Brown. "Not only are they academic standouts, they're deeply, passionately involved with not just the local Syracuse community, but the global community. They're engaged with the world through service projects, academic projects and research, to a remarkable degree."

Following are the eight University Scholars who are enrolled in The College of Arts and Sciences. Of those, four are dually enrolled in another SU school or college.

Stephen Barton, a Coronat and Remembrance Scholar, is a triple major in international relations; economics; and Russian language, literature, and culture. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and the economics honor society Omicron Delta Epsilon, he will also serve as a class and student marshal for Commencement. Barton has filled leadership positions in Habitat for Humanity and Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity, while also volunteering for the Advocacy Center for four years. He studied abroad in Madrid and also participated in the Winston Fisher Seminar in New York City. Barton has been published in several campus publications and is an award-winning amateur photographer. Completing a capstone project about human trafficking in Russia, Barton plans to continue his Russian studies through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant, travel and graduate school.

Laura Elizabeth Beachy is a dual major in anthropology in The College and in television-radio-film in the Newhouse School. A triathlete and marathon runner, she served as captain of the SU Triathlon Team and runs marathons for charities. Beachy's documentary film "We Were Quiet Once" examines the effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on Somerset County, Pa., an area of small towns that entered the national spotlight after United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in an open field near Shanksville. The film, which addresses the personal memorialization of an international event, was produced by Beachy and her Newhouse School colleague, senior Cory Sage. Beachy currently works as a copywriter and social media marketer for Sweatdrops, a fitness mobile application for multisport athletes. After graduation, she plans to pursue full-time employment with the company in New York City.

Bailey S. Fitzgerald is a double major in biochemistry and English and textual studies. A Coronat Scholar, Fitzgerald is a participant in the Renée Crown University Honors Program, writing a capstone thesis on the literary biographies of John Donne. The winner of the 2011 Margaret Y. Cragg prize for English, Fitzgerald was also a four-year member of the inorganic chemistry research group led by James T. Spencer, the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor and associate dean for science, mathematics and research. During the summer of 2010, Fitzgerald engaged in biodiesels research at the Graz University of Technology in Austria as part of the National Science Foundation supported Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, and in fall 2011 she studied abroad in London. She has been a member of the SU Debate Society for four years, as well as an editor of Verbal Seduction literary magazine. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies, she volunteered at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse and the Free Health Clinic in Schenectady, N.Y. Fitzgerald will begin medical school in the fall.

Oriana Fuentes, an economics major in The College and a finance major in the Whitman School of Management, also carries a minor in global enterprise technology in the School of Information Studies. She is a Remembrance Scholar and served as student chair for the 2012 Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement and Scholarship (CAPES). Fuentes is also a senior analyst at the Orange Value Fund, a two-year investment management program following Martin J. Whitman's value investing philosophy. With this experience, Fuentes plans to pursue a career in private wealth management at J.P. Morgan after graduation. On campus, she manages the Above and Beyond mentoring program at the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection, which she co-founded with a fellow University Scholar. Earlier, she directed the Breakfast Club, another mentoring program at Levy Middle School in Syracuse. Fuentes also sits on the Whitman Undergraduate Board, which oversees the school’s curriculum, and serves as vice president of Beta Gamma Sigma, a business honors society. She will graduate from the Renée Crown University Honors Program and the Economics Distinction Program, after completing a thesis on foreign direct investment and sovereign debt in Latin America.

Christina Levin hails from the Ukraine and is a political science and sociology in The College and a newspaper and online journalism major at the Newhouse School. As an ardent proponent of pro-democracy reforms and social justice, Levin established and continues to direct the SU chapter of Democracy Matters, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates reducing corporate influence in politics through student activism and campaign finance reform. She is completing her thesis on civic engagement in American democracy under the mentorship of Steven R. Brechin, professor of sociology in the Maxwell School. While interning for the Common Cause political watchdog group in summer 2011, Levin produced a report on state legislature bill S2339A, assessing implementation of optical voting machines in the state. Studying abroad in London in fall 2009, Levin worked as a public policy and research assistant at a national child-care think tank, Daycare Trust. Also, for two consecutive summers, she studied at Columbia University. Levin is currently the executive editor of Medusa Magazine, a feminist publication on campus, and serves as features editor of the biweekly Student Voice newspaper. Levin is a Newhouse Scholar and member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program, Golden Key International Honor Society, National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the political science and sociology honor societies. In October 2011, Levin was inducted to Phi Kappa Phi and delivered the student address. After graduation, Levin intends to move to metropolitan New York to pursue a career incorporating her communication skills and interest in sociopolitical issues.

Marc Mason, a Middle Eastern Studies and international relations major in The College and a communication and rhetorical studies major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts is also a student in the Renée Crown University Honors Program. Mason's strong interest in political and socioeconomic issues has led him to participate in programs such as Maxwell in Washington, Study Abroad Istanbul and Pathways for Mutual Respect. He has interned both domestically and abroad for a number of organizations that advocate for human rights and support sustainable economic development programs. Following graduation, Mason will continue graduate studies as an Engagement Fellow at the Maxwell School and the iSchool, working toward a joint master’s degree in international relations and public administration.

Robert Solonick, an international relations and Spanish language major, has a specialization in security and diplomacy and carries a minor in American history. During his time at SU, Solonick held several research assistant positions with the Maxwell School and the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism. He also spent a semester abroad studying at Catholic University in Santiago, Chile, with three additional months in South America conducting field research for his undergraduate honors thesis examining the concept of "dirty war."  Solonick interned in Washington, D.C., at the National Defense University through a Maxwell in Washington program. As an undergraduate, Solonick involved himself in civic engagement and community service as a tutor and mentor. In fall 2010, he co-founded and helped coordinate a pilot tutoring and mentoring program with the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection and was recognized as a CAPES recipient in spring 2011. Solonick plans to continue studies in international affairs as a graduate student at the University of Cambridge in fall 2012.

Vivian Yaci Yu, a biochemistry major, immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 15. Her observations of the great contrast in medical practices between the United States and China, particularly in the undeveloped countryside where she grew up, got her interested in biomedical research and inspired her to strive for bridging the gap between underprivileged and advanced medical practices. Yu has conducted research for three years in the research group led by Robert Doyle, associate professor of chemistry, and has been published. A McNair Scholar and a Remembrance Scholar, Yu was also selected as a Beckman Scholar in spring 2011. She is also a participant in the Renée Crown University Honors Program and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. Yu plans to pursue a doctoral degree in biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Judy Holmes