Honored for excellence: Students recognized as Chancellor's Medallion recipients and commencement speakers

December 13, 2014

Speakers include: Kaitlin Wlodkowski, Roxana Laslau, Ronnie Tront, Joseph Zywiol, Joseph Maurer, and Larry Lenha.

University of Michigan-Dearborn recognized five students as Chancellor’s Medallion recipients and two student speakers during the university’s commencement ceremonies December 13.

Afternoon speaker
Kaitlin Wlodkowski
graduated with Distinction, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in biology and psychology. Wlodkowski earned University Honors in 2010 and 2012 and earned placement on the Dean’s List in Winter 2011 and Winter 2012. She is a recipient of the Maize & Blue Scholarship.

She is a founding member of the international medical fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon MI Gamma premedical chapter. She has served as secretary and vice president of programming for the chapter, and served as an international delegate to the organization’s leadership conference earlier this year. She also is an active member of the Phi Sigma Sigma social sorority, a founding member of the campus Piano Club and a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. Wlodkowski was inducted into the Order of Omega community honor society for Greek life in August 2014.

One of her instructors, Dr. Justin Peer, described Ms. Wlodkowski as “a very intelligent and very thoughtful student. She has always been incredibly invested in her education and very personable. I have always enjoyed our interactions and I fully expect that she will do very well in graduate training and, ultimately, her career.”

Wlodkowski will soon begin applying for medical school, where she hopes to specialize in pediatrics.

Morning Speaker and College of Business Medallion Recipient
Roxana Laslau
graduated with High Distinction with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in digital marketing and a minor in economics. Laslau was on the Dean’s List every semester since the winter 2011 term, was named a James B. Angell Scholar in 2014, earned University Honors four times and earned UM-Dearborn Honors in 2014. She also was named the Digital Marketing Honors Scholar recipient for 2013. She is a recipient of the College of Business Ford Scholarship, the General Merit Scholarship and the Richard Reynolds Memorial Scholarship.

Laslau was admitted to the University of Michigan-Dearborn in the fall 2010. However, her first introduction to the university was as a high school senior in 2009. She participated in E-Academy through Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) and earned a scholarship to attend UM-Dearborn the following fall. She then continued as a member of SIFE, participating in regional and national competitions, and was a project manager with E-Academy from 2010-2012.

During the summer 2013 and 2014 semesters, Laslau participated in the College of Business Internship Program. She gained valuable experience at the Chrysler Group LLC, working in product planning for both the vehicle line and process tools and methods.

Laslau’s future plans include pursuing a position within the automotive industry. She cites her past internships for reigniting her passion with that industry. She intends to stay in Michigan and eventual begin the MBA program at UM-Dearborn.

College of Education, Health, and Human Services Medallion Recipient
Ronnie Tront
has earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in education with a focus in integrated science, graduating with High Distinction. Tront earned University Honors during the 2013-2014 school year and earned placement on the Dean’s List twice. She received the UM-Dearborn Transfer Scholarship and the Margaret Dow Towsley Scholarship from the U-M Center for the Education of Women.

Tront returned to college after being laid off in 2007 from a career as an engineering designer. She enrolled at Henry Ford Community College in 2008 and, after earning an associate degree, transferred to UM-Dearborn in Fall 2011 to complete her bachelor’s degree.

In her spare time, Tront enjoys working as a mentor in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) program. Over the past 15 years, she has shared her STEM experience with thousands of high school students and their teachers. She also has dedicated her time with involvement in the Michigan Engineering Zone (MEZ) program, where she helped Detroit students acquire the knowledge and tools needed to propel themselves to higher education and careers in STEM through challenging hand-on experiences.

Tront aspires to work in a STEM program in the upper elementary level up to high school in an underserved area. She also plans to continue her education by earning a Master of Arts in Education Technology starting in the fall of 2015.

College of Engineering & Computer Science Medallion Recipient
Joseph Zywiol
graduated with High Distinction with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree in industrial and systems engineering. Zywiol received University Honors in 2012 and 2013 and was named to the College of Engineering and Computer Science Dean’s List five times. He is a recipient of the Chancellor’s Scholarship and other private scholarships. He was nominated and selected as a UM-Dearborn Difference Maker in 2014 based on his leadership and commitment on campus and his extensive community service activities.

Zywiol has served as a supplemental instruction (SI) leader for a chemistry course, where he helped other engineering students understand difficult concepts and provided mentoring and advice on college success. He was named Supplemental Instruction Leader of the Year as a result of positive student reviews of his work. He is active in Alpha Pi Mu, the national industrial engineering honor society, as a member of the initiating team and serving as vice president and treasurer. He also is a member of Tau Beta Pi, the only honor society that represents the entire engineering profession.

Zywiol has held an internship with United Parcel Service (UPS) for more than one year while pursuing his education. His outstanding performance has paved the way for other industrial engineering students to be considered and placed into internships with UPS. His engineering manager described his performance at UPS as outstanding, and added that Zywiol’s colleagues at UPS have learned a lot from working with him on various projects.

Zywiol’s position with UPS will become full time in January, and he plans to start classes toward an MBA in fall 2015.

College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters Medallion Recipient
Joseph Maurer
received a Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies with concentrations in French and communications, and a minor in linguistics. Maurer has earned a place on the Dean’s List four times, earned University Honors in 2014 and graduates with High Distinction. He is a recipient of the Community College Transfer Scholarship.

According to his professors, Maurer is an accomplished and well-prepared global citizen whose profile fits UM-Dearborn’s metropolitan vision. Applying a strong set of analytical, presentation and writing skills in two languages, Maurer is hardworking, thirsty for insight and generous with his classmates. Professors note that he elevates the caliber of class discussions by asking pertinent, provocative question. Above all, Maurer understands cultural processes and always frames his class projects within a broader conceptual framework. This mindset, tournure d'esprit, as one professor described it, consistently puts him at the top of his classes.

Maurer is active in the Francophone Club and received the top French award two years in a row.

He currently is applying to graduate programs and expects to begin work on a Ph.D. in linguistics next year.

College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters Medallion Recipient
Larry Lenha
received a Bachelor of General Studies degree with concentrations in English, history, leadership and communication in organizations. He graduated with High Distinction.

Lenha was first admitted to UM-Dearborn through the Student Outreach and Academic Resources (SOAR) program. The mission of SOAR is to increase access to post-secondary education for non-traditional adult learners in the metro area experiencing socioeconomic challenges.

Returning to school and developing a book manuscript based on a life of challenges, Lehna has embraced every opportunity to learn, earning a near-perfect GPA, two first place wins in the annual UM-Dearborn writing contest and several literary publications in the process. He has earned a spot on the Dean’s List for Part-Time Students every term since Fall 2011.

His professors praise his writing for its originality, grace and self-deprecating humor. They note that his intellectual curiosity is contagious in the classroom. They also cite his unwavering sense of gratitude for the opportunity to learn and to create.