Outstanding Students in the Class of 2012

Read about the accomplishments of some of this year's outstanding graduating students.

Close up of a tassel with the year 2012.

Close up of a tassel with the year 2012.

As the University counts down to Commencement, UConn Today is featuring some of this year’s outstanding graduating students, nominated by their academic school or college or another University program in which they participated. For their stories, click on the links below, and keep checking back daily as more articles are added Monday through Friday until Commencement.


Melanie Deziel (Daniel Buttrey/UConn Photo)Melanie Deziel

Senior Melanie Deziel, editor-in-chief of The Daily Campus, became hooked on journalism as a freshman. On May 6, she’ll be the first in her family to graduate from college.


Ying Wang '12 Ph.D. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)Ying Wang ’12 Ph.D.

Chemical engineering doctoral student Ying Wang has developed a portable sensing system that can improve the detection of landmines.


Shamsul Arif '12 Pharm.D.Shamsul Arif ’12 Pharm.D.

Doctor of Pharmacy student Shamsul Arif’s accomplishments at UConn include extensive community service and a scholarship that resulted in his meeting the U.S. Surgeon-General.


Alexandra Raleigh '12 (CLAS). (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)Alexandra Raleigh ’12 (CLAS)

A double major in psychology and political science, Alexandra Raleigh will begin a Ph.D. program in the fall, hoping to pursue a career that fosters diplomacy in international relations.


James Londono '12 MBA. (UConn School of Business Photo)James Londono ’12 MBA

James Londono ’12 MBA has tried to do it all while earning a degree – and succeeded.


Michael Mizrahi '12 (CLAS). (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo) Michael Mizrahi ’12 (CLAS)

One of a handful of student leaders chosen for the Leadership Legacy program, Michael Mizrahi has been active in the Greek community.


Eric Szafran '12 MPH (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Center Photo)Eric Szafran ’12 MPH

Eric Szafran is passionate about public health because it focuses on promoting health beyond the individual level and can have a greater impact.


Melanie Rodriguez '11 (ED), '12 MA. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)Melanie Rodriguez ’11 (ED), ’12 MA

Coming to Storrs from Bridgeport was a culture shock for Melanie Rodriguez ’11 (ED), ’12 MA, but she succeeded beyond her expectations and now hopes to return to teach in the city where she grew up.


Danielle Millar '12 (NUR). (Max Sinton/UConn Photo)Danielle Millar ’12 (NUR)

An honors student in the School of Nursing, Danielle Millar enjoys the integration of science and social skills in her chosen profession.


Patrease HawkinsPatrease Hawkins ’12 MSW

Social work graduate Patrease Hawkins is all about helping the elderly, and has a special affinity for grandparents raising grandchildren.


Sheryl Kennedy '12 (CLAS). (Stephanie Reitz/UConn Photo)Sheryl Kennedy ’12 (CLAS)

Graduating at 61, this Torrington campus student calls her UConn experience life-changing.


Marcus Moss '12 DMD (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Center Photo)Marcus Moss ’12 DMD

Marcus Moss first planned to become a medical doctor but decided to go into dentistry after volunteering with an outreach program in India. He has enjoyed the overlap between the Health Center’s medicine and dentistry programs.


Arianne Magro, graduating senior, from the Avery Point Campus on March 29, 2012. (Sheila Foran/UConn Photo)Arianne Magro ’12 (CLAS)

Arianne Magro has combined a love of scholarship with a love of her surroundings to maximize her undergraduate years at Avery Point.


Rob Freyer '12 (CLAS).Rob Freyer ’12 (CLAS)

Senior Rob Freyer didn’t make it through his freshman year. Critically injured in a car accident before the year ended, he has now written a novel about the experience.


Anne Zinn '12 (CLAS) on March 29, 2012. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)Anne Zinn ’12 (CLAS)

Diagnosed with a rare eye disease in her junior year, Anne Zinn found an outlet in creative writing and hopes to build a career around it.


Aaron Hayes. Aaron Hayes ’12 (CLAS)

Senior Aaron Hayes worked with young burn survivors in South Africa and found a focus for his future.


Christian Kakowski - Medical Student (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Center Photo)Christian Kakowski ’12 MD

Christian Kakowski ’12 MD, who will be one of the student speakers at the Health Center’s commencement ceremony, has traveled the world but is glad to be back in Connecticut.

Rebecca Stearns '12 Ph.D. (Max Sinton/UConn Photo) Rebecca Stearns ’12 Ph.D.

Ph.D. candidate Rebecca Stearns is working to protect young athletes from injury.



Alexandra Young '12 (CANR). (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Alexandra Young ’12 (CANR)
Combining a love for art and a love for science has enabled pathobiology student Alexandra Young ’12 CANR to carve out a niche.


Alexander Velázquez '12 (CLAS), '12 (ENG). (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Alexander Velázquez ’12 (ENG), ’12 (CLAS)
Alexander Velázquez is graduating from the EuroTech program with a dual degree in computer science and engineering and German studies. During an internship in Stuttgart, he contributed new code to a driving simulator.


Portrait of Lucien Lafreniere.

Lucien Lafreniere ’12 (CLAS)
Lucien Lafreniere previously served four years in the U.S. Marines. This spring he completes another four-year journey, as an outstanding scholar at the Waterbury campus.


For video profiles of graduating seniors, produced for UConn Today’s One Student. One Story series by Julie Bruhn ’12 (CLAS), click on the following links:


Rochelle BaRoss '12Rochelle BaRoss ’12 (SFA)

Graduating senior Rochelle BaRoss values the connections she’s made within the art community and at the Daily Campus.


Parag Bhuva '12 (CLAS).Parag Bhuva ’12 (CLAS)

An aspiring history teacher, this senior hopes to inspire his future students with examples he himself tries to follow: Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and Socrates.


Sharielle Applewhite.Sharielle Applewhite ’12 (CLAS)
As a UNESCO Student Ambassador for Human Rights, Sharielle Applewhite has helped influence citizens of various regions, from Rwanda to Cherokee Nation.


Hollin Abraham.Hollin Abraham ’12 (ENG)
As a minority in a male-dominated field, this chemical engineer works to pave the way for future female scientists.


Michael Carson.Michael Carson ’12 (CLAS)
This senior is grateful for the opportunities presented to him throughout his past four years, and intends to stay connected to the UConn community well after graduation.


Tiffany St. Bernard.Tiffany St. Bernard ’12 (CLAS)
Even though she did not attend high school, this senior has overcome her greatest challenges and is intent on encouraging others to do the same.


Chi Anako.Chi Anako ’12 (CLAS)
Chi Anako, a molecular and cell biology major, also volunteers at a local shelter, is an RA on campus, and works as a University tour guide.


Ethan Butler.Ethan Butler ’12 (ENG)
As president of Engineers Without Borders at UConn, chemical engineering student Ethan Butler has traveled widely, volunteering on projects in the developing world.


Gina Dai.Gina Dai ’12 (BUS)
Aspiring businesswoman Gina Dai often felt uncomfortable expressing her opinions in a room full of men, so she started Women in Business to help her UConn peers gain confidence in a business setting.


Jill Andruskiewicz '12 (CLAS)Jill Andruskiewicz ’12 (CLAS)

Dance Team co-captain Jill Andruskiewicz has enjoyed staying active at UConn by being a BodyWise instructor and participating in intramural sports.


Kevin Mastro '12 (CLAS).Kevin Mastro ’12 (CLAS)

Senior Kevin Mastro worked in a psychology research lab, as well as exploring his musical side as drum major for the UConn Marching Band.


Trevor Biggs '12 (CLAS).Trevor Biggs ’12 (CLAS)

Environmental science major Trevor Biggs lived and worked at UConn’s Spring Valley Farm, where students grow organic food for campus dining halls and restaurants.


Jamie Esposito.Jamie Esposito ’12 (CLAS)

Communications major Jamie Esposito is a member of the community service fraternity that owns Jonathan the Husky dog. She aspires to a career in sports marketing.