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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Top December Graduates Recognized

By Joe Garvey

Here are the six students who received bachelor's degrees in December with the highest grade-point averages in their respective colleges, along with the faculty members who they said most inspired them:

College of Arts and Letters: Kerry Kilburn

Grade-point average: 4.0

Degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts degree

Inspirational faculty member: Greta Pratt, professor in the Department of Art. "She has been a ssuperb teacher, helping me develop my skills and pushing my creative boundaries. She has been a wonderful advisor, going beyond simply helping me select classes and discussing my creative goals and aspirations, and providing advice and assistance with teaching them. She has also been an important artistic influence through her own work, which has inspired much of my own most recent work."

Strome College of Business: Andrea Guzman

Grade-point average: 4.0

Degree: Bachelor of Science in business administration in marketing

Inspirational faculty member: Ran Liu. "He recognized how hard I worked in his classes and took time to talk to me and encourage me in my studies," Guzman said. "You can tell he really cares about his students and wants them to succeed."

Darden College of Education & Professional Studies: Samuel Williams

Grade-point average: 3.85

Degree: Bachelor of Science in physical education

Inspirational faculty member: Justin Haegele. "Dr. Haegele made the class interesting and helped answer several questions I had about life in general," Williams said. "During my time at the University, I found myself stopping by his office frequently for advice, or just to chat. He is one of the most dedicated professors and advisors that I have witnessed at Old Dominion."

Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology: Abigail Stedman

Grade-point average: 3.97

Degree: Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering

Inspirational faculty member: Oscar Gonzalez. "Dr. Gonzalez has become my most involved mentor since I began assisting his research," said Stedman, who plans to pursue a master's degree in electrical engineering at ODU. "He provided an environment for me to explore controls, pushing me to see systems in a new way, while motivating me to pursue opportunities inside and outside ODU."

College of Health Sciences: Kelly Burgess

Grade-point average: 3.95

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health

Inspirational faculty member: Gary Burgess. "He was my previous program director who also happens to be my dad," said Burgess, who interned and has been hired at NASA Langley Research Center as an industrial hygienist. "My dad is a big part of the reason I push myself to be the best I can be and is someone I aspire to be like. He has taught me how to evaluate various situations critically and objectively, and has overall helped me become a better industrial hygienist."

College of Sciences: Alyssa Naldoza

Grade-point average: 4.0

Degree: Bachelor of Science in biology

Inspirational faculty member: Jennifer Muth Younkin. "Professor Younkin was such a hard worker; not only did she teach a multitude of psychology classes, but she was also chief departmental advisor and she is pursuing her doctorate in higher education," said Naldoza, who will enter Arcadia University's physician assistant program in May. "Her hard work and ability to balance all this inspires me, leading me to believe that I can also take on any challenge. Having her class allowed me to reflect on myself from a social psychology perspective and improve myself to be a better person and leader."

Naldoza was also named the Outstanding University Scholar by the Alumni Association.

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