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Six ODU Graduates Honored as Outstanding College Scholars

Emma Needham, an interdisciplinary studies major who graduated with a 4.0 grade point average, has been named Outstanding University Scholar for Old Dominion University's fall Commencement Exercises.

Needham, from Newport News, was one of six Outstanding College Scholars recognized during ODU's Student Honors and Awards Dinner on Thursday, Dec. 11.

Needham graduated Saturday, Dec. 12 with a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies from ODU's College of Arts and Letters. The other Outstanding College Scholars named at the Student Honors and Awards Dinner are:

  • George Micros, Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology. Micros is graduating with a B.S. in electrical engineering with a GPA of 3.9;
  • Ali Almutah, College of Health Sciences. Almutah is graduating with a B.S. in medical technology, with a GPA of 3.85;
  • Christopher Thies, Darden College of Education. Thies is graduating with a B.S. in human services with a GPA of 3.88;
  • Daniel Rinehard, Strome College of Business. Rinehart is graduating with a B.S. in business administration with a GPA of 3.92; and
  • Amber Garfalo, College of Sciences. Garfalo is graduating with a B.S. in biology with a GPA of 4.0.

All six Outstanding College Scholars were recognized during the two commencement ceremonies.

Presented by the ODU Alumni Association, the Outstanding College Scholar awards recognize the undergraduate student in each college with the highest academic average above 3.40 who has completed at least 60 hours at the university. The Outstanding University Scholar is selected from among those six winners.

As her inspirational faculty, Needham selected Alicia DeFonzo, instructor of English. "This professor has supported every aspect of my education and beyond. She has become my mentor and furthered my success at Old Dominion University," Needham said.

Micros, who is from Virginia Beach, selected Dean Krusienski, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, as his inspirational faculty member. "Under the supervision of Dr. Krusienski, I have participated in research projects," Micros said.

A foreign student originally from Saudi Arabia, who now lives in Norfolk, Almutah selected Faye Coleman associate professor of medical diagnostic and translational sciences as his inspirational faculty. "She encouraged her students to study hard and be well-prepared for all examinations," he said. "Her way of teaching seems to be tough, at the same time it's challenging, which made me more focused."

Thies, from East Aurora, N.Y., selected Suzanne Baldwin as his inspirational faculty member. "Dr. Baldwin's class in family guidance required me to think critically and elevate my professionalism as a student to earn my grade," Thies said. "She is a caring professional who had very high standards for learning."

Rinehart, who is from Virginia Beach, selected Dennis Harvey, instructor of finance, as his inspirational faculty, noting that Harvey was the first finance professor he had at ODU. "Professor Harvey showed me how interesting finance can be. He always came to class with enthusiasm and a smile on his face. He motivated me to learn and put me in a position to succeed."

Garfalo, who is from Virginia Beach by way of Tennessee, said that Douglas Mills, lecturer of biology, was her inspirational faculty. "He has believed in me, guided me and never quit on me when I had trials," Garofalo said.

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