Fairfield University's Alumni Association honors six outstanding students


The Alumni Association honored six seniors for their leadership, community service and commitment to the Jesuit ideal at its annual Student Awards Dinner in April.

Robert Harrison will receive the St. Ignatius Loyola Medal at commencement on May 17. It is the highest honor awarded to an outstanding member of the graduating class who has maximized opportunities for intellectual, emotional and social growth.

Robert's service to the community was reflected in his work as a Project Excel tutor, Head Start volunteer, Talent Search Tutorial Program volunteer, soloist in the Fairfield University Glee Club, lead vocalist in the campus band SUPROX, chapter president of Alpha Sigma Nu, president of the Psi Chi Honor Society, and volunteer in the Bridgeport Juvenile Court System.

Image: Alumni award recipients

Front row, l-r, Bethany Walcott and Christopher Cipriano, recipients of the Student Achievement Award; Angelica Fontanez, recipient of the William J. Kramer '60 Humanitarian Award. Back Row, Robert Parmach and Elizabeth Slimmon, Student Achievement Award; and Robert Harrison, Loyola Medal.

Robert, whose grandfather was a minister, has been a devoted member of the Church of God and Saints of Christ in New Haven his entire life. While at Fairfield, he has gone home every weekend to fulfill his responsibilities as choir director, a position which he has held for five years. He was also involved as the choir director for the Tri-State Youth Choir which performs concerts throughout the tri-state area.

Robert has been a member of the Honors Program since his sophomore year and ranks in the top 15 percent of his class. He plans to attend law school to study family law and become an advocate for children in need. He has applied to law schools at Harvard, Yale, New York University, University of Pennsylvania and Columbia.

The William J. Kramer '60 Humanitarian Award is presented by the Alumni Association to a senior whose commitment to volunteerism and service to others has had a significant and lasting impact on the external community. The award is named for the first alumnus to chair the University's Board of Trustees, and was established by William Kramer's friends, Mr. and Mrs. James Daly. This year, Angelica Fontanez will receive the Kramer Award for taking an active part in the Bridgeport Hollow Community Development Corp.

Angelica wanted to see her community, the Bridgeport Hollow, improve. She was nominated to the executive board of the program and also served on the real estate committee. In these roles, she organized neighborhood clean-ups and community tag sales; identified and rehabilitated abandoned houses in order to resell to homeowners; surveyed the community to find out what they wanted to see improve; monitored businesses in order to make sure they kept their streets clean; and established community gardens in empty lots so that school children and residents could tend to them and beautify their community.

Angelica also volunteered on campus in the student government's multicultural branch, during Martin Luther King Week, as a Mission Volunteer, tutor for Spanish and calculus, soup kitchen volunteer, sub-chair for the Senior Week brunch, and for the SALSA Culture Club.

The Student Achievement Award, established in 1979 by the Alumni Association, honors one or more seniors who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to a specific Fairfield University program, activity, organization or project.

Christopher Cipriano will receive a Student Achievement Award for improving town-gown relations. Chris, as FUSA president and a member of the town's legislative body, worked closely with the Fairfield Police Department, town residents and the First Selectman to restructure Clam Jam, an annual social event at the beach, in order to control overcrowding and minimize underage drinking. Chris and fellow students initiated Safe Rides for students who had too much to drink and distribution of wrist bands to identify students and monitor them at check points. As a result, the 1997 Clam Jam was the most organized and tightly managed since it began over 10 years ago.

In addition, for the past four years Chris was a Eucharistic Minister, volunteer on student committees, helped with Orientation, a Mission Volunteer, and wrote for the student newspaper, the Mirror.

Robert Parmach will receive a Student Achievement Award for his work on the Dean's Advisory Council for the College of Arts and Sciences. Robert got involved with the council because he wanted to strengthen the role of advisors in aiding students in course selection, choosing a major and career planning. He organized a cross-section of 20 students, involved the deans from the College of Arts and Sciences, developed an agenda and coordinated several meetings. As a result of the meetings, informational bulletin boards were established for each department; departmental newsletters about majors and minors, events and alumni were published; and fairs to showcase majors and minors were arranged.

Robert also was a facilitator for the First-Year Experience Program, an Admission tour guide, co-captain of the varsity cross-country team, Eucharistic minister, chemistry research assistant and philosophy tutor.

Elizabeth Slimmon and Bethany Walcott will receive Student Achievement Awards for their involvement in the Adrienne Kirby Family Literacy Project, which teaches children verbal and social skills.

In their capacity as assistant project directors, Elizabeth and Bethany organized training sessions on campus for other student volunteers, scheduled all student volunteers at various school sites in Bridgeport and Stratford, coordinated cognitive testing for select classrooms to gather data for research, and secured additional resources to aid in teaching.

In addition, Elizabeth was active as a volunteer for Giant Steps Center for Autistic Children and for the Bridgeport Health Center. She also was a member of the Psi Chi Honor Society. Bethany was active as the president of the Psychology Club, a member of Alpha Sigma Nu and Psi Chi Honor Society, editor of the senior section in the student year book, the Manor, and principal flutist in the school orchestra.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 1, 1998