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The CAS Outstanding Student Award

The purpose of the award is to recognize one outstanding senior student who is majoring in a CAS discipline. The award will be presented at the CAS Student Recognition Ceremony held each spring semester. The primary criterion for defining an outstanding student is exceptional intellectual or creative achievement both inside and outside the classroom, as judged by CAS faculty. Secondary criteria are involvement in extracurricular activities on campus and involvement in service activities on or off campus.

To qualify for nomination, the student should be a senior CAS major, with a minimum 3.5 GPA, and should be able to demonstrate the qualifications mentioned above. Students who graduated in December of the academic year in which the award is given or students who are planning to graduate in May or August of that same academic year are eligible for the award.

CAS Outstanding Student - Dawn A. Manning

Dawn A. Manning

Dawn A. Manning is an Anthropology major with a minor in Ethnic Studies. She has a 4.0 GPA and in the fall, she will enroll in an MFA program in creative writing at the University of New Orleans. Dawn first came to WCU in 2003 as the winner of the Edith Garlow Poetry prize. She had received a scholarship to attend the WCU Poetry Conference that year and in 2007 she returned to matriculate at WCU. In fall 2008, she was selected as the poet representative to meet with Pulitzer prize winner Natasha Trethewey. She is involved in the research and curation of the Wilson Artifact Collection, an assemblage of over 1000 artifacts from local prehistoric sites and has presented her work at the 2009 WCU Research Day. She was also a Nature Deficit Disorder Panel Presenter at Civility Day 2008 and a key student organizer for the Fall 2007 Ethnic Studies seminar. In addition, she was the event coordinator for Metanexus/Ethnic Studies events in 2007-2008 and she has contributed to the development of the Ethnic Studies website. She speaks basic Mandarin, has traveled to China and is studying Chinese. She is certified to teach English as a second language and has volunteered in Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Finally, Ms. Manning has co-edited a monograph by Dr. Frank Hoffman, PHI , called "Introduction to Early Buddhism."

CAS Outstanding Student - Steven M. Assalita

Steven M. Assalita is a CHE-BIO major with minors in Math, Computer Science, Biology, and Physics. He has a 3.8 GPA, was on the Dean’s list for 6 consecutive semesters and he is currently waiting on admission decisions from medical schools. Mr. Assalita has been involved in research in 3 different areas including several semesters of work with Dr. Cichowicz, for which he received a CAS research award, in the area of synthetic Organic Chemistry. In addition, he completed a research internship in cardiovascular epidemiology on Risk Factors in African American Women, at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and he will present the results of his research with Dr. Sudol in Astrophysics at the June meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Mr. Assalita has served as the VP of the Society of Physics students and has served his classmates by volunteering his time in tutoring programs for the Alchemist Club and a similar program that he began last semester with students from the Physics Society. In addition, he has been a tutor for 3 years in the Learning and Resource center. Finally, he has volunteered with the WCU EMS organization and the Good Fellowship Ambulance Company.

Honorable Mention - Matthew T. Bigos

Matthew T. Bigos

Matthew T. Bigos is a Biology major and a member of the Honors College with a GPA of 3.9, who has been on the Dean’s List every semester. In the fall of 2009, he will be entering his first year at Drexel University College of Medicine. He has conducted research with three CAS faculty including work on the effects of microwaves on oxidation reactions with Dr. Cichowicz, DNA polymerase activity in zebrafish with Dr. Gestl, and he completed an Honors project with Dr. Hertel in the Gordon Nature Center. He is a Presidential Scholar and has been inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, the university’s honor society recognizing upper class students for leadership, scholarship, and service, as well as Who’s Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges. In addition, he received the Shirley Umlauf White Award for botany in Spring 2008. Matthew is also a recipient of a PA Space Grant Consortium scholarship and he received an International Study scholarship linked to his participation in a needs assessment project in South Africa. As a member of the Honors College, he served as the new student recruitment chair, and in that position, he developed a new interviewing process for incoming freshmen applicants and instituted a "Back to my high school" event that involved current students serving as ambassadors for the Honors program. In 2008, he received the Honors Student Association’s award for Outstanding Service. In addition, he holds certifications in emergency care, first aid, and emergency response and he volunteered at a Chester County clinic for underinsured individuals. He also has spent his last two summers working as a medic at a Boy Scout Camp. Finally, he has served his classmates by volunteering to tutor others in math, chemistry, biology, and physics.

Click here to see last year’s CAS Outstanding Student

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