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Strome College's Saloni Jain Named Kaufman Award Winner at Student Honors and Awards Dinner

By Joe Garvey

Saloni Jain, a finance and business analytics major, was named the winner of the Kaufman Award, the highest honor given to a graduating Old Dominion University student, at the Student Honors and Awards Dinner on May 5.

Accounting major Sommer Alexander was named the Outstanding University Scholar, two undergraduates received Evon-Broderick Awards and two students were honored with Provost's Awards for Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher at the dinner, which was held in the North Cafeteria at Webb University Center.

The Kaufman Award, which comes with a $10,000 prize, was established by Landmark Communications to recognize graduating seniors who have had an exceptional and constructive influence on the University, its students or the community by demonstrating the highest qualities of leadership and service. The award is named in memory of Charles Kaufman, a noted community leader, philanthropist and friend to ODU. Following Kaufman's example, the award winner must show sustained participation in leadership of campus or community groups, an outstanding record of volunteer activities or academic excellence, or a major achievement affecting the campus or community.

Jain, an international student who came to ODU in her sophomore year, has served as a resident assistant for the Global Leadership Living-Community and as a business analytics teaching assistant. She has also assisted in corporate trainings at local firms, including Dollar Tree, Armada Hoffler and several offices within the U.S. Navy. She has also served as vice president of the International Student Advisory Board; vice president of the Global Monarch Club; and as a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi and Tau Sigma honor societies.

"My faculty ... are the reason why I am who I am," she said in a video on the Strome College of Business website. "Old Dominion helped me. It gave me a lot of opportunities I didn't even know existed."

She named Sara Russell Riggs as her most inspirational faculty member.

"Not only has she played a vital role in my academic career, but she has significantly contributed toward my overall confidence and professional development," Jain said. "Her passion toward making a difference in students' lives has inspired me to pay it forward and one day become a professor."

"Through her tutoring efforts, she assisted students in exam preparation and worked to improve their study skills and communication skills, which undoubtedly led to academic success," Riggs, a finance lecturer, and Bruce Rubin, associate professor and finance chair, wrote in a letter nominating Jain for the award. "With the off-site trainings, Saloni showcased the capabilities of ODU business analytics students and subsequently assisted firms as they undertook the process of data analysis, thus improving operations. Moreover, the on-site trainings created a pipeline of potential employees for these firms - both beneficial to ODU and the firms."

Jain was one of 10 finalists for the award. The others, listed with their majors and most inspirational faculty members, were:

  • Second-place finisher Matthew Fanghella, civil engineering. Most inspirational faculty member:Sherif Ishak.
  • Peyton Butler, dental hygiene with minors in marketing and communication. Most inspirational faculty member: Lynn Tolle.
  • Sabina German, nursing with a minor in women's studies. Most inspirational faculty member:Jennifer Fish.
  • Adriana Jones, nursing with a minor in human services. Most inspirational faculty member: Beth Tremblay.
  • Amadu Koroma, electrical and computer engineering with minors in computer science and engineering management. Most inspirational faculty member: Kevin Muchiri.
  • Kaylee Kaznosky, human services with minors in children's rights and social services. Most inspirational faculty member: Kristy Carlisle.
  • Güngör Çağatay Özşeker, mechanical engineering with a minor in engineering management. Most inspirational faculty member: Oktay Baysal.
  • Neo Sansone, biology with a minor in psychology. Most inspirational faculty member: Douglas Mills.
  • Kalleigh West, park, recreation and tourism studies with a concentration in therapeutic recreation and minor in psychology. Most inspirational faculty member: Eddie Hill.

Alexander was cited as the Outstanding University Scholar by the Alumni Association, which recognizes the undergraduate student in each college with the highest academic average who will have completed at least 60 hours at the University.

"The University is proud of our graduates' accomplishments, and tonight, we share their pride and that of their family and friends," said Austin Agho, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "We are equally grateful to the faculty members who helped these students achieve their goals."

Alexander is a Dean's Scholar who has worked full-time at ODU since 2010. She serves as undergraduate curriculum coordinator in the University Registrar's Office. Her most inspirational faculty member is Paige O'Shaughnessy.

The other honor graduates:

  • College of Arts and Letters: Kristina Sopchak, criminal justice and sociology with a minor in women's studies. Most inspirational faculty member: Tonya Shell.
  • Darden College of Education and Professional Studies: Emily Garrick, exercise science with a minor in psychology. Most inspirational faculty member: Laura Hill.
  • Batten College of Engineering and Technology: Stephen Lamczyk, computer engineering with a minor in computer science. Most inspirational faculty member: Khan Iftekharuddin.
  • College of Health Sciences: Daria Membreno, dental hygiene. Most inspirational faculty member:Lynn Tolle.
  • College of Sciences: Daniel Weddle, applied mathematics with a minor in computer science. Most inspirational faculty member: Robert Strozak.
  • School of Cybersecurity: Ahmad Alston, cybersecurity with a minor in business administration. Most inspirational faculty member: Lenora Thorbjornsen.

Yasmin Harper and Matthew Nguyen are this year's Evon-Broderick Award winners.

This honor was created in 2011 by President Emeritus John R. Broderick and First Lady Emerita Kate Broderick in honor of their mothers, Joan Evon and Ellen Broderick. The award recognizes sophomores and juniors "who not only have attained academic success, but also passionately give their time to help make our community a better place," said Don Stansberry, vice president for student engagement and enrollment services.

Harper, a political science major in the College of Arts and Letters, serves as an Impact Learning Communities student ambassador and volunteers at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. Nguyen, a cybersecurity major in the School of Cybersecurity, serves as secretary of the Citizens Advisory Committee and as a COVID-19 vaccine distribution volunteer.

Lauren Butler and Amber Pierce each earned a Provost's Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Faculty Researcher.

"The selection is based on the uniqueness of the research, longevity of the experience and contributions to the discipline through presentations, publications, exhibitions and performances," Agho said.

Butler, who is graduating with a degree in psychology, is the co-author of an article recently accepted for the journal "Addictive Behavior." She is also the co-author of an article under review that examines patterns of intimate partner violence and alcohol use among female-female couples. Last year, Butler received a "best poster presentation" award from Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, and she has presented at three other national conferences.

Pierce, a studio art major, has won numerous awards for work that features a mix of traditional materials, including the Best in Show at the ODU Student Art Gallery and a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Visual Arts Fellowship. She was awarded a solo exhibition of her work at the Chrysler Museum of Art's Vestibule and was commissioned to create a mural for the Virginia Beach Vibe District.

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