Harrisburg – David P. Walton, a senior chemistry major at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, has been named the 2012 winner of the Syed R. Ali-Zaidi Award for Academic Excellence. He will receive $1,000 along with a commemorative medallion for his achievement.
Joanna Catalano from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and Katherine Zimmerman from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania were selected as runners-up for the award. Each will receive $500.
The Ali-Zaidi Award is presented annually to a graduating senior at one of the 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities. It recognizes outstanding academic achievement and participation in extra- and co-curricular activities. The award was established by Syed R. Ali-Zaidi, a founding member of the PASSHE Board of Governors.
Walton of Coatesville, who also will receive a minor in mathematics in May, has earned a 3.99 GPA at Millersville. He is the recipient of numerous scholarships and academic awards, including the Dr. Judith Bond Endowed Scholarship as the top junior in the South Eastern Pennsylvania Section of the American Chemical Society and the Cecil A. Upton Organic Chemistry Award.
He has participated in a variety of research projects, including the National Science Foundation funded Summer Research Program, and has submitted for publication in professional journals four manuscripts that he coauthored. He is a member of both the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and the American Chemical Society.
Walton has served as a chemistry tutor and participated on both the cross country and track teams at Millersville, earning recognition as a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Scholar Athlete. He plans to pursue a Ph.D and to teach chemistry.
Catalano of Joppa, Md., who is president of Clarion University’s Student Government Association, will receive her undergraduate degree in molecular biology/biotechnology, along with a minor in pre-medicine. She has earned a 3.96 GPA while at Clarion. She has received more than a dozen academic and athletic scholarships, and also earned PSAC Scholar Athlete recognition as a member of the women’s basketball team.
She has participated in a variety of research projects, including the Undergraduate Research Experience for Undergraduates at Colorado State University, and has had several of her articles published. She participated in Clarion University Community Service Day last fall and was a participant and team captain in Clarion’s Relay for Life for four years and volunteered for three years with the Special Olympics of Northwestern Pennsylvania, among her community activities. She plans to go to medical school to become an orthopedic surgeon.
Zimmerman of Mechanicsburg will earn her undergraduate degree in special education/elementary education. She has earned a 3.99 GPA at Bloomsburg. She has received several scholarships and was a presenter last fall at the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference held in Phoenix, Ariz. She also participated in the Cameroon Urban Practicum, where she had the opportunity to teach third- and fifth-grade children from poor farming families in the west Central African nation.
She is a member of the Association for Positive Behavior Support, where she was part of an international forum to advance the application of positive behavior support among diverse populations. She has participated in the Best Buddies program, is a Ronald McDonald House volunteer and organized Project Linus, which helped raise money for materials to make fleece blankets for children staying in local hospitals. She plans to get a job teaching children with emotional and behavioral difficulties.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with nearly 120,000 students. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. About 500,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.
The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg.