By: Diane Stirling
(315) 443-8975

The 2013 Convocation for graduates of the School of Information Studies (iSchool) featured the presentation of a host of student awards. The academic honors, representing a wide array of student contributions and achievements, are presented to recognize outstanding academic work and student engagement.

Convocation ceremonies also featured addresses by two graduating students, the recipients of the Class of 2013 Graduate and Undergraduate Leadership Awards.

Mia Breitkopf, Graduate Leadership Award recipient, had a message for her classmates that reflected her thoughts about the warm and inclusive culture (and apparently a culinary inclination), that she discovered when she decided to obtain her graduate degree at the iSchool.

“When I decided to get a graduate degree, I was not expecting to find this – this sort of community,” she enthused. “I was invited in, and found myself surrounded by you. You modeled for me how to pair passion with hard work and poster sessions with food. You supported me, challenged me, cooked for me, and you cheered me on,” she told the audience of graduates, faculty, staff and family members.

Mia continued, “Today I’m feeling very grateful, as I’m sure we all are. I’m taking this opportunity to say something – thank you. Thank you to my fellow students for being my teachers. Thank you to my teachers for learning alongside me. Thank you for being my awesome community of soapboxers, supporters, facilitators, and cooks and cheerleaders. I’m so glad we found each other.”

Breitkopf received her MLIS in Library and Information Science. The Graduate Leadership Award, presented to her by Professor David Lankes, recognizes exceptional scholarship, service, and commitment to the school by a graduate student. 

Undergraduate Leadership Award winner Julie Deutsch related a scenario that kept occurring during her first days at the iSchool, as she mingled with other academic majors whose awareness of the School, its mission, and its location were on the low end of the awareness scale.

Deutsch noted how she would repeatedly answer the question about where the iSchool was located, despite its site as one of seven academic buildings on the Main SU Quad. Four years later, that “Where is the iSchool?” question has taken a different twist. It is now more about, “Where is the iSchool, really?,” she reflected.

Julie told the audience that the iSchool is not only “in the top of all the information schools in the country,” but it also is “a home to entrepreneurs, problem solvers, designers, and tech-savvy faculty and students.”  Her own and her classmates’ four years of learning there have been a “strenuous and rewarding experience” that occurred during a time of significant technology developments and information business successes. They include Dennis Crowley’s introduction of Foursquare in 2009; Steve Jobs’ creation of the iPad in 2010, and NASA’s Mars Rover expedition in 2011.

In that backdrop, Deutsch said she believes that “The iSchool will follow us into our future, whether or not we pursue a career in information technology,” because, “No matter what path we choose, we are the Dennis Crowleys and the Steve Jobs of the world, we are the future innovators. The iSchool has equipped us with the tools to succeed. Whatever your dreams, do it with a smile on your face,” she concluded.

The Undergraduate Leadership Award was presented to Julie by Associate Professor of Practice David Molta, outgoing director of the bachelor’s program in information management and technology. Deutsch earned a B.S. in Information Management and Technology. It recognizes a senior for overall contributions to the school.

Other awards presented to this year’s honorees are as follows.

The Doctoral Prize, recognizing the best doctoral thesis and outstanding academic contributions of a Ph.D. student, went to two recipients this year: Sarah Chauncey and Nathan Prestopnik.

Master’s Degree Prizeswere awarded to top Master’s degree students demonstrating academic excellence in class and projects, with one award for each M.S. program. Program Directors Art Thomas, Jill Hurst-Wahl, and Ruth V. Small presented awards to these students:  Information Management: Joshua Kitlas; Library and Information Science: Megan Threats; Library and Information Science, School Media Specialization: Jessica Stewart; Telecommunications and Network Management: Cameron Dixon.

The Undergraduate Service Award, recognizing a senior who exemplifies a priority to serve others in their daily lives, was presented to Michelle Tarshus.

The John Weitzel Award for Information Systems, an honor recognizing students who exhibit excellence in information systems through coursework or projects, was presented by Susan Dischiave, Associate Professor of Practice, to Kathryn Mueller, at the graduate level; and Theodore (Ted) Rysz III, at the undergraduate level.

The Amy Everett Award for Information Ethics, presented by Murali Venkatesh, Associate Professor, was awarded to two students: Jillian D’Onfro, and Benjamin Slutzky for their outstanding papers on issues in information ethics.

The Angela DeSilva Inspiration Achievement Award, recognizing a school media graduate who has overcome obstacles and persisted to receive a degree, was presented to Amanda Van Fleet.

The Donald A. and Joyce P. Marchand Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement, recognizing an outstanding senior based on scholastic achievement, was presented to Christopher Gery.

Dean’s Scholar Awards, the highest honors presented by the School of Information Studies to recognize academic excellence at the undergraduate level, were presented to 12 recipients: Adam Astorina; Koby Brandstein; Lindsey Colegrove; Harmony Dashut; Julie Deutsch; Jillian D’Onfro; Christopher Gery; Anne Krengel; Edwin Lee; Ching In (Grace) Ng; Melia Robinson; and Theodore (Ted) Rysz III.

In addition, 15 graduates, selected for their academic success, involvement in academic and extracurricular programs, and interest in networking with alumni and prospective students, were named as this year’sAlumni Class Leaders. They are:La Toya T. Austin, Shannon DeSantis, Hannah Jennifer Dorfman, Nilesh Hirve, Prathmesh Pralhad Jadhav, Allison Kathleen Kowalski, Anne Frances Krengel, Jin Liu, Jeena Nayyar, Leatile Nthaga, Jessica Santana, Meenakshi Sharma, Dorotea Szkolar, Venkatalashmi Venkatesan, and Jane Zamarripa.