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As a double major in Spanish and philosophy, with a minor in Italian, Alexander Gannuscio ’16 says language has been the center of his educational experience. Inspired by an English edition of Don Quixote that he read in high school, he has studied in Spain and Italy, and invested time in learning classical Greek. Language, in turn, has fed his pursuit of philosophy.
“Literature gives life to philosophy, and philosophy gives meaning to the literature,” Gannuscio says as he explains that he hopes to study literature with the objective of attaining a PhD.
As the recipient of the Marion A. Bills Scholarship, Gannuscio will spend two years at Oxford University, pursuing a Master of Studies in Modern Languages with a concentration in Spanish in preparation, he says, for the most competitive PhD programs.
Gannuscio’s professors and advisors see no limits to his success.
“He exhibits expansive intellectual curiosity, probing intellect, and focused attentiveness,” wrote Marcia Moen, PhD, chair of the Department of Philosophy in the College of Arts and Sciences, in her nomination letter. “He is currently learning Greek through an independent study course. . . . His curiosity about contemporary ‘complexity theory’ led him to attend, without academic credit for doing so, an entire semester of weekly lectures on the topic.”
Sarah Senk, PhD, assistant professor of English, wrote, “He is a deep thinker, a broad thinker, and a focused thinker all at once. . . . Alex is a student I would describe as ‘brilliant.’ But he is also eager to learn more.”
On campus, he served as treasurer of the Alpha Chi Honor Society, was a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, Sigma Alpha Pi Society for Leadership and Success, and the Philosophy Club, and a recipient of the 2015 Minerva H. Neiditz Endowed Poetry Award and the 2015 Elizabeth Williams Cathles Award in support of student research.
He plans eventually to become a professor of Spanish literature.
The John G. Lee Medal is awarded annually to a graduating senior from Greater Hartford who has excelled academically while demonstrating a deep commitment to community.
Erica Primovic ’16 personifies the ideals of the award in all that she has accomplished during her four years at the University. The mechanical engineering major earned a 3.95 GPA while contributing to the University’s social fabric as a scholar athlete, tutor, mentor, instructor, leader, and volunteer.
Primovic was recruited to the University for the women’s soccer team. For four years, in between practices, games, and traveling to games, she mentored children to promote soccer, women’s sports, and leadership on and off the field.
Because of her strong performance in the classroom, she became a tutor to help her peers understand difficult engineering concepts, and she served as an engineering student ambassador to represent and encourage female participation in the maledominated engineering program. During her senior year, she was a physics lab instructor.
“One of the most important things throughout my four years here was my relationship with my professors,” Primovic says. “In order to learn, you need the drive and motivation of the student, and equally, you need a professor who wants to be there and is able to present his or her knowledge to you in a way that you can understand. This was the case at the University of Hartford.”
In addition to devoting time to soccer and academics, Primovic worked part time for the NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium and interned with UTC Aerospace Systems, where she learned about engineering for spacecraft and contributed to the company’s ORION and BOEING CST-100 programs.
Cultural curiosity took Primovic to the Galapagos Islands,Ecuador, during her junior year, where she volunteered at environmental preserves to help prevent vegetation and animals from becoming extinct.
Primovic plans to continue her work at UTC Aerospace Systems full time while attending the University of Hartford to pursue a Master of Engineering degree in Mechanical Engineering.
As a high school senior visiting the University of Hartford campus, Emily Meachon ’16 says, she “had an impression that faculty truly cared about students as individuals and facilitated student success. This notion has proven true nearly every day that I have been a student at the University.”
The proof can be seen in the awards Meachon has earned in her three years at the University, including the Belle K. Ribicoff Prize, which recognizes academic excellence.
While pursuing a double major in psychology and modern languages and cultures (Spanish), Meachon has gathered numerous honors, including the Senior Regents’ Honor Award, the Herbert P. Schoen Scholarship, the Dorothy Goodwin Academic Year Scholarship, Psi Chi Eastern Regional Research Award, and participation in the Humanities Center Honors Seminar. Meachon also has earned membership in the Alpha Chi Honor Society, Psi Chi Psychology Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, and The National Honor Society for Leadership and Success, for which she served as a copresident.
“She has always been committed to a career in psychology and academic research; she has worked hard to make sure that her undergraduate work prepares her for graduate school and beyond,” says Jessica Nicklin, PhD, associate dean of Student Academic Services and associate professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Meachon’s senior honors thesis “Metacognition and Coping: Reducing Stress and Anxiety among College Students” was presented at the 2016 Northeastern Regional Honors Council Conference and the University Honors Colloquium.
In addition to her academic pursuits, Meachon interned at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s Injury Prevention Center; was a research assistant to Nicklin; interned at the Fundación Prodean in Seville, Spain; tutored high school and college students; volunteered at the Heart Institute of AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in New Jersey; served as an admissions ambassador; and was a member of The Women’s Advancement Initiative LEAD Program at the University.
In the fall, Meachon will begin studies for a Master of Science in Psychological Research at the University of Oxford, after which she plans to earn a PhD in psychology and enter a career in academia.