2013 Annual Honors Day Recognizes Talented Students

Northern Illinois University provides a challenging program of course work in each of its undergraduate majors. Honors students show their commitment to excellence by undertaking an even more rigorous course of study and combining their coursework with experiences in the areas of campus leadership and community service.

By virtue of being members in good standing of the University Honors Program, all of our students are entitled to special recognition.  However, each year at Honors Day on the last Sunday in April, the Honors Program traditionally selects a single student from each of the academic classes for special recognition. These students combine outstanding scholarship with exemplary involvement. This year NIU President, Dr. John G. Peters, Provost Dr. Ray Alden, and Vice Provost Dr. Anne Birberick attended the event and presented the awards.

Here is a closer look at the four Enhancement Award and Outstanding Student Athlete Award recipients.

Franz Varga

Franz Varga

Franz Varga of Richmond, Illinois, received the Freshman Enhancement Award from the University Honors Program at Northern Illinois University. Impressively, Franz is an Eagle Scout. At NIU, Franz is a double major in Economics and Accountancy with 4.0 cumulative grade point average. Franz was selected in recognition of his academic excellence an strong participation in the University Honors Program courses and activities during his first year. He is also a very active member in the NIU community, participating in the Lambda Sigma Sophomore Honor Society, the Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society for Business, and the Economics Student Association. He also works in the School of Theater and Dance’s box office. His strong work ethic, positive attitude, and meaningful engagement in the program make him an excellent role model for other first-year students

Noemi R.

Noemi Rodriguez

Noemi Rodriguez of Chicago, Illinois received the Sophomore Enhancement Award from the University Honors Program at Northern Illinois University. Noemi is a pre-Nursing major with a 3.8 cumulative grade point average and is a second year Research Rookie and Undergraduate Intern at the Latino Resource Center. She is also an active member of the first chapter of the Society of Advancement for Chicanos and Native Americans in Science and has had her research showcased at various conferences. Noemi is a regular volunteer for University Honors’ outreach events, Birthday Boxes, and SOUPer Wednesday. She has been a major supporter in motivating continuing students to apply to University Honors and become engaged in our programming. This summer Noemi will participate in the McKern Fellow Summer Research Program and the University Honors student abroad experience in Montreal, Canada. Her commitment to University Honors is demonstrated through her collaborative spirit.

Please Note: Benjamin Donovan (not pictured) is also a recipient of the Sophomore Enhancement Award from the University Honors Program at Northern Illinois University

Jason M.

Jason Montemayor

Jason Montemayor of Fox Lake, Illinois received the Junior Enhancement Award from the University Honors Program at Northern Illinois University. Jason is a Political Science major with a 3.5 cumulative grade point average and serves as the Outreach Coordinator of the Latino Resource Center’s Adela de la Torre Honor Society, a member of NIU’s Mock Trial Team, and member of the Political Science Student Advisory Committee. He is a regular attendee at University Honors events, such as SOUPer Wednesday. In particular, Jason has been instrumental in assisting University Honors’ develop ties with student-athletes. This summer Jason will be participating in NIU’s Summer Congressional Internship in Washington, D.C. He will also serve as the President of the Pre-law Society during the 2013-2014 academic year. His enthusiasm for University Honors is reflected in his positive attitude and tenacious work ethic.

Kasey T.

Kasey Twine

Kasey Twine of Bellwood, Illinois, received the Senior Enhancement Award from the University Honors Program at Northern Illinois University. Kasey is a Communicative Disorders major with a 4.0 cumulative grade point average. She has also played a very active role in the University Honors Program’s courses and activities. Kasey is also a recipient of a University Honors Enhance Your Education Grant and a University Honors Provost Travel Grant for Study Abroad, the latter which facilitated her study and research in Brazil. Her audiology research has involved extensive field work and community outreach. Lastly, Kasey is an engaged member of the NIU and local communities. She works in the Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic and serves as a mentor at the Center for Black Studies, Treasurer and Vice President of the Communicative Disorders Student Association, and a “Pay It Forward” House in Sycamore. Kasey is a shining example of a student who has embraced all aspects of the University Honors Program to enhance her NIU experience and advance her education and professional development.

J. McCalla

Jenelle McCalla received the inaugural University Honors Outstanding Student-Athlete Award, which goes to the student-athlete in the University Honors Program with the highest cumulative grade point average. Dr. Elizabeth Tovar of Intercollegiate Athletics presented the award.

A requirement of the Honors program for students to graduate With Upper Division Honors or University Honors is the Completion of a Capstone Project or senior thesis. These projects are completed under the exacting supervision of a faculty advisor and are approved by the Honors Program. Although many of these projects are deserving of special recognition, the University Honors Program selects two capstone projects each year which are particularly outstanding.

The first Outstanding Capstone Award was presented to Robert Meyers, a May 2013 graduate. Apoptois Gene Expression in Glioblastoma Multiforme Tumor Cells Treated with Cisplatin and Gamma Irradiation, directed by Dr. Linda Yasui in the Department of Biological Sciences, was an exemplary undergraduate research project.  The capstone included a significant original research contribution and was clearly and thoughtfully presented.

The second Capstone Award was given to Breanne Terranova, a May 2013 graduate. Global and Targeted Social Support as a Moderator in the Relations between Victimization and Internalizing Symptoms, directed by Dr. Michelle DeMaray of the department of Psychology, was an exemplary undergraduate research project.  The work was a significant original research contribution, and was clearly and thoughtfully presented.