By Joe Garvey

Kaitlin DiDomenico, who is graduating from the Strome College of Business with a double major in accounting and business analytics, was named the winner of the Kaufman Award at Old Dominion University's annual Student Honors and Awards celebration.

The event was held virtually on May 7.

The Kaufman Award, the highest honor given to a graduating student, was established by Landmark Communications to recognize graduating seniors who have had an exceptional influence on the University, its students or the community by demonstrating the highest qualities of leadership and service. The award is named in memory of Charles Kaufman, a noted community leader, philanthropist and friend to ODU. Following Kaufman's example, the award winner must have shown sustained participation in leadership of campus or community groups, an outstanding record of volunteer activities or academic excellence, or a major achievement affecting the campus or community.

"I believe Kaitlin is the epitome of what the Kaufman Award recognizes: character, leadership and academic ability," Senior Lecturer Vivian Paige, whom DiDomenico listed as her most inspirational faculty member, wrote in her nominating letter.

Paige noted that DiDomenico served as the peer tutor in the STEPS (Strome Tutors Empower Peer Success) program for her introductory accounting classes.

"Kaitlin was a role model for the students, coming to my largest class nearly every day and taking notes," Paige wrote. "In her tutoring sessions, she used the class material and reviewed difficult concepts, including completing problems similar to those I used in class. We spoke after class and she demonstrated a maturity beyond her years: Those who came to her only wanting the answers to the homework were assisted, instead, in learning the material well enough to complete it. I observed a direct connection between those (far too few) students who took advantage of her tutoring sessions: They outperformed those who did not."

Other Kaufman finalists, listed with their majors and most inspirational faculty members, were:

  • Second-place finisher Stephen Greiling, civil engineering with a minor in environmental engineering. Most inspirational faculty member: Linda Wallace.
  • Negus Assefa, criminal justice and sociology with a minor in political science. Most inspirational faculty member: Randy Gainey.
  • Kayla Hill-Jones, interdisciplinary studies with a minor in political science. Most inspirational faculty member: Taryn Boone.
  • Mariah Johnson, communication. Most inspirational faculty member: David Metzger.
  • Jamayca Madolid, business management with a minor in business analytics. Most inspirational faculty member: Sheila Keener.
  • Jordan Smith, modeling and simulation engineering with a minor in computer science and engineering management. Most inspirational faculty member: Don Stansberry.

Additionally, three students from the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies - Tarnika Edmunds, a human services major who is also pursuing minors in criminal justice and women's studies; Melvin Roy, a human services major who is pursuing a minor in psychology; and Darius Womack, a health and physical education major - along with Flora Yapi, an economics major from the Strome College of Business who also is pursuing a minor in communication, were announced as winners of Evon-Broderick Awards.

The award is one of the University's most prestigious honors.

In 2011, President John R. Broderick and First Lady Kate Broderick, with the help of other family members who choose to remain anonymous, established and endowed the Evon-Broderick Award for Community Engagement and Service in honor of their mothers, Joan Evon and Ellen Broderick.

It recognizes ODU students who, like the award's namesakes, exemplify a commitment to the University and surrounding community through superior leadership and service.

"Kate and I are proud of all of the students who have attained academic excellence, contributed high-quality research and passionately given their time to help make our community a better place," Broderick said. "We especially thank you for your commitment to excellence during these difficult and uncertain times. I look forward to congratulating each of you in person later this year."

The ODU Alumni Association recognized the student in each college with the highest academic average who completed at least 60 hours at the University:

  • College of Health Sciences: Jennifer Kennard (major in nursing, minor in psychology). She also won the Outstanding University Scholar Award. Most inspirational faculty member: Linda Bennington.
  • College of Arts and Letters: Victoria Vandenbroucke (major in communication with a concentration in cinema and TV production, minor in studio art). Most inspirational faculty member: David Mallin.
  • Strome College of Business: Kayla Lopez (major in business management, minor in business analytics). Most inspirational faculty member: Emily Campion.
  • Darden College of Education and Professional Studies: Tori Arthurs (major in human services, minor in children's rights). Most inspirational faculty member: Karen Joachim.
  • Batten College of Engineering and Technology: Preslav Ivanov (double major in electrical engineering and computer engineering). Most inspirational faculty member: Lee Belfore.
  • College of Sciences: Rachael Crews (major in biology). Most inspirational faculty member: Ian Bartol.

Nine students were honored with the Provost's Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher. The selection is based on the uniqueness of the research, longevity of the experience and contributions to the discipline through presentations, publications, exhibitions and performances.

These are the recipients and excerpts from their citations:

  • Angelos Angelopoulos (computer science): He created a deep neural network which predicts optimal input parameters for a medical image registration framework, which is essential for tumor resection during image-guided neurosurgery. He was nominated by Nikos Chrisochoides.
  • Sarah Bulger (art history): Her undergraduate research career started in the classroom and culminated in her work assisting the excavation of an ancient Roman bakery in Morocco. She was the research assistant on this project and is a coauthor of a forthcoming preliminary report. She was nominated by Jared Benton.
  • Casey Hayes (biological sciences): Hayes' undergraduate research career began when she volunteered to work in a faculty member's lab to learn more about the study of animal behavior. Her work culminates in a senior honors thesis studying the cognitive and social abilities of acorn woodpeckers. She was nominated by Eric Walters.
  • Sean Leonard (modeling, simulation and visualization engineering): When Leonard was still a freshman, he was recruited to participate, as a sole student researcher and developer, in a one-year project "Explorative Volume Flow Visualization in Virtual Environments for Big Data Analysis," funded by the Program for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship. Leonard was nominated by Zhanping Liu.
  • Mary Olson (chemistry and biochemistry): Olson's research has obtained excellent results in the synthesis and characterizations of novel molecular systems and biomaterial. She was nominated by Guijun Wang.
  • Alden Rinehold (chemistry and biochemistry): Over the course of his undergraduate research career, Rinehold has been trained to perform molecular cloning; he has made vectors for recombinant protein expression and has purified proteins for enzyme activity analysis. He was nominated by Erin Purcell.
  • Heather Sheffey (biological sciences): Her research focuses on the development of predictive modeling of the northern star coral's response to climate conditions predicted for 2050 and 2100. Sheffey was nominated by Anna Tansik.
  • Lucas Tracy (physics): Tracy's work analyzes electron-nucleus collision data from the CLAS6 detector at Jefferson Lab. His research could have a significant impact on the planned multi-billion-dollar Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment. He was nominated by Lawrence Weinstein.
  • Taylor Webb (psychology): In the spring of 2018, Webb was recruited by the Team for Acculturation, Risk, and Development of Identity and Self (TARDIS) to be a research assistant. Webb was selected to serve as the first TARDIS lab manager. She was nominated by Alan Meca.

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