Students honored as speakers, medallion winners at commencement

5/16/2011

Two students were honored as speakers, and five other students as Chancellor's Medallion winners, at University of Michigan-Dearborn's commencement ceremony on May 1.

Student Speakers

Cardi DeMonaco, Jr., who received a bachelor's degree in software engineering from the College of Engineering and Computer Science, spoke to students during the morning commencement ceremony.

An active student leader, DeMonaco has held several positions with Student Government, including webmaster, fellow, and senator. This led to his becoming involved with the Student Association of Michigan, a coalition of the student governments from each of the 15 public universities in Michigan. He served as vice president in 2009-2010, and has served as president for 2010-2011.

DeMonaco was recently named one of 50 UM-Dearborn "Difference Makers" for 2011. Nominated by faculty and staff, Difference Makers are students recognized for academic achievement, integrity, leadership and creative contribution, in and out of the classroom.

DeMonaco is the recipient of many campus scholarships as well as the Michigan Campus Compact's Outstanding Student Service Heart and Soul Award and the Alumni Society Student Leader Award.

Jason Davis, who received a Master of Public Administration degree with a focus in non-profit leadership from CASL, spoke to students during the afternoon ceremony.

Davis earned his undergraduate degree from UM-Dearborn in December 2009. During his undergraduate experience, he served on Student Government, first as a CASL senator and then as vice president. He was a member of numerous student organizations and also wrote a weekly column for The Michigan Journal.

Davis is a co-founder of the Student Association of Michigan, an organization composed of students from the 15 Michigan public universities who come together to discuss student concerns and issues, and plan courses of action to address them. He currently serves as the organization's treasurer. He is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the American Society of Public Administration, having served as a council member for the metro-Detroit chapter.

Davis was part of the team that won the Chancellor's Staff Recognition Award for exceptional team performance for his work on Alumni Day 2010. He also coordinated alumni volunteers for the 2011 MLK Day of Community Service.

Chancellor's Medallion Winners

Matthew Alan Smudz received the Chancellor's Medallion award in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, where he graduated with high distinction, earning a bachelor's degree in computer and information science.

Smudz graduated with a perfect cumulative grade point average of 4.0, earning an A+ in 11 courses at UM-Dearborn. He was on the Dean's List for four semesters and received University Honors twice, in Winter 2010 and Fall 2010. He is a recipient of the Frederick P. and Violet Sharpe Endowed Scholarship and the Transfer Scholarship.

Smudz is always on top of the latest development technologies and is the acknowledged leader of any group project he is a part of. He participated in the Association of Computing Machinery Regional programming competition in 2010 and is currently pursuing a project as part of the Microsoft Imagine Cup team from the CIS department. The team's project aims to provide a solution to the prolific problem of hunger by developing mobile- and web-based applications to match suppliers of food with local beneficiaries who are seeking it. Other recent projects include work on a Facebook Flash game as well as various 2D and 3D game development projects.

Smudz is a member of the All-Michigan Academic Team, the campus chapter of the Association of Computing Machinery, and Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the national computer science honor society.

Smudz's future plans include finding a challenging job in the field of computer science. One day he hopes to start a game development studio, and establish a creative collective to support independent authors of new media, particularly games. Smudz would like to use his software development abilities to make a positive difference in the world, and to express himself through a unique mix of art and technology.

April Kersey received the Chancellor's Medallion award in the School of Education, where she graduated with high distinction, earning a bachelor's degree in elementary education with a concentration in integrated science and language arts.

Kersey began her studies at UM-Dearborn in fall 2007, shortly after being crowned Miss Westland and receiving a scholarship to support her college studies. She also is a recipient of the Barnes & Noble Book Scholarship and the Michigan Merit Scholarship.

Kersey's academic efforts at UM-Dearborn resulted in her receiving University Honors in 2007, 2009 and 2010, the William J. Branstrom Prize in 2008, and achieving Dean's List recognition seven times. She was selected to be a member of the Golden Key Honor Society and Pi Lambda Theta---the School of Education honor society---where she served as president of the chapter from 2009 through the end of 2010.

On campus, she was an active participant in the MLK Day of Service and served as a DJ on WUMD Radio. In 2010, through the University's Blueprints Leadership program, she received the Leadership Synergy Award for creating and launching an after school program for Detroit pre-teen students. She also assisted with fundraising on behalf of the Oakwood Hospital Center for Exceptional Families.

During her final term at the UM-Dearborn, Kersey was a student intern in a fifth grade classroom. From this experience and her earlier involvement with the Early Childhood Education Center and Oakwood Center for Exceptional Families, she has decided to work with and educate children with special needs, especially those with autism. She plans next to pursue a master's degree in special education.

Barbara Bellaver received the Chancellor's Medallion award in the College of Business, where she graduated with high distinction, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in financial accounting and reporting.

For more than six years, Bellaver has worked as a Customer Service Specialist for PNC Bank, where she has received recognition for loss prevention and teamwork activities. In 2008, she joined Beta Alpha Psi, the premier international honors organization for accounting, finance and information systems majors. Bellaver quickly took on a leadership role as vice president for the academic year of Fall 2008/Spring 2009 and as chapter president for the academic year of Fall 2009/Spring 2010. She successfully led a new team of officers into an ambitious year of professional and service activities, including a "Meet the Firms" event for all accounting majors in the College of Business.

Bellaver's service to the community was not limited to the campus; she remained an active volunteer with the Boy Scouts for many years. In the past, she has served as assistant scoutmaster and treasurer, and currently serves as a committee member. She was a mentor, coaching and teaching members to attain goals and leadership abilities during which time she helped both of her sons to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

Nour Al-Hadidi received the Chancellor's Medallion award in the CASL, where she graduated with high distinction and a perfect 4.0 GPA, earning a bachelor's degree in biology with a minor in Hispanic studies.

She earned a place on the Dean's List in 2008 and 2009, earned University Honors in 2008 and 2009, and received the William J. Branstrom Prize in March 2009. She is a recipient of the Chancellor's Scholarship and the Michigan Merit Scholarship.

Al-Hadidi served as a supplemental instruction leader in the natural sciences department. Her sessions were very popular and the feedback from students was extremely positive, praising her for the clarity of her explanations, her undivided attention and patience. Al-Hadidi also shares her knowledge by serving as a tutor for biology and organic chemistry students through the Student Success Center on campus.

Al-Hadidi has done quality work in Simona Maricean's laboratory, the green chemistry project, studying the selective functionalization of diols. Her academic ability is hardly limited to organic chemistry. She loves to learn and has a depth and diverse academic interest. Even more impressive are the 10 A+'s on her transcript.

Exceptionally literate, Al-Hadidi is fluent in both Arabic and Spanish in addition to English. In 2010, she spent her spring break in Costa Rica to provide health care to Nicaraguan refugees, an experience she found very rewarding.

Joseph Clarke Noles received the Chancellor's Medallion award in the CASL, where he graduated with high distinction and a perfect GPA of 4.0 (including six A+ grades), earning a bachelor's degree in mathematics with a minor in chemistry.

During his tenure at UM-Dearborn, Noles' impressive accomplishments include a place on the Dean's List every semester, University Honors three times, the Department of Mathematics and Statistics Honor Scholar award in 2010, and the Rasmussen Award for his achievement in applied mathematics from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in 2009. He also is the recipient of a National SMART Grant.

Noles has produced independent research in mathematics, a laudable feat at any level. His results have been submitted to the top undergraduate mathematics journal, Pi Mu Epsilon. He gave presentations on his work at the Michigan Undergraduate Mathematics Conference at Grand Valley State University and at a Math Club meeting at UM-Dearborn. Noles has undertaken reading courses in complex analysis, dynamical systems and real analysis, all three dealing with advanced material traditionally covered in a graduate curriculum.

Noles was a supplemental instructor for both the mathematics and chemistry departments and is well-known by other students as the person to seek help from for difficulties in mathematics classes. He was a mentor for two calculus courses, a tutor for Academic Support and Outreach Services, and participated in the Gear Up for Summer High School Outreach Program.

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