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Seniors to Watch 2010

April 15th, 2010

John Carroll’s “Seniors to Watch” have been nominated by the faculty of their respective academic departments for their outstanding work ethic and passion for their studies. These five seniors were chosen among their peers and the faculty.

Rebecca Drenovsky, assistant professor of biology, and James Lissemore, chair of the biology department, nominated Elise Wygant. Drenovsky said,  “As a student, I have watched [Wygant] grow academically during her time at John Carroll. She is a first-generation college student who has successfully navigated college.”

Wygant is earning a double major in biology and environmental science. Since her second semester of college, she has worked as a research assistant in Drenovsky’s plant ecology and physiology lab.

Wygant has a prestigious academic reputation. During the summer of 2009, she was awarded a Huntington-Codrington Summer Research Fellowship, during which she conducted important analysis on the functions of native and non-native understory shrubs. She has presented her work on plant nutrient recycling at the Botanical Society of America’s annual conference, and she traveled to Australia to take part in a field biology course on the Great Barrier Reef.

This fall, Wygant will enter the University of Georgia’s graduate program in plant biology.

Drenovsky said, “[For] Elise, she has only become more passionate and enthusiastic about her pursuits since she opened her mind to other potential career paths and considered pursuing plant ecology. Once she found her passion, her academic career really took off.”

Matt Tomayko, a psychology major, was nominated by department chair Janet Larsen. She described Tomayko in her nomination as a caring and thoughtful researcher and having exhibited excellence in his work.

“Whatever career path he takes, [his] characteristics will move him to the top,” Larsen said. “Matt makes good use of his strong intellectual ability by applying himself diligently to whatever he attempts.  Persistence, good problem solving skills, and the ability to grasp the big picture contribute to his success. Furthermore, he is a genuinely nice person who is considerate of others and willing to help.”

Tomayko will be receiving the Nicholas DiCaprio Award for the Distinguished Graduate in Psychology.

His research with Larsen involved measuring the effect of reaction time on people’s brains identifying words they could not consciously see.

Tomayko’s achievements earned him a Huntington/Codrington Research Fellowship as well, this one with the Cleveland Clinic last summer and continuing during the school year on the effectiveness of psychotherapy.

Larsen believes that even though Tomayko will likely find a research job after graduation, big plans are ahead of him.

“I am sure he will eventually go to graduate school and will either be a fine clinical psychologist or teacher,” she said.

Phyllis Braudy Harris, chair of the sociology and criminology department, nominated Andy Johnson. Andy’s academic excellence has led him to receive the John Carpenter Award in Criminology.

In describing an extraordinary accomplishment of his internship with the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Treasury, Firearms and Explosives, Harris explained, “It is very unusual for an undergrad to get an internship with this organization.”

Johnson is also very involved on John Carroll’s campus.

“Andy has also been the head of the JCU student EMS unit, one of the first responders who dealt with the difficult student deaths last semester, and he has been active with the admissions department as a tour guide,” said Harris.

Johnson, outside of campus activities, earned the rank of Eagle Scout, which takes many years of hard work and determination, according to Harris.

The future may include a government job in criminology for Johnson. He has applied for a position with the Secret Service.

Jill White was nominated by Walter Simmons, chair of the economics and finance department. White is an honors student, majoring in finance with a minor in mathematics.

This semester she received the prestigious Financial Executive Institute (FEI) Scholastic Achievement Award at the Union Club of Cleveland.

After graduation this summer, White will be working as an investment analyst for GE Capital, which is located in Chicago.

Paul Murphy, a logistics professor, nominated Jason Miller. According to Murphy, Miller has shown incredible intellect and passion for his studies in logistics.

“Jason ranks as one of the top five students Ń either undergraduate or graduate Ń that I have taught in 30 years” he said.  “Moreover, Jason has been accepted into the Ph.D. program in logistics at The Ohio State University for Fall 2010.”

This is a remarkable achievement for a number of reasons, according to Murphy.

“OSU offers one of the world’s preeminent Ph.D. programs in logistics,” he said. “OSU rarely admits Ph.D. students unless they have several years of full-time work experience.”