Academic departments honor top students at Benedictine awards ceremony

May 13, 2016

Lisle, Illinois ~ Benedictine University's best and brightest graduates were honored for their outstanding academic achievements at the Interfaith Baccalaureate Ceremony on May 6 at the Rice Center.

Dana Viola Cairns, the daughter of Dale and Florence Cairns of Lombard, was named the recipient of the Procopian Award, the highest honor that Benedictine University can bestow upon a graduating senior.

The Procopian Award is given for consistently outstanding curricular and extracurricular activities while at Benedictine. The award signifies that scholarship (a minimum 3.500 cumulative grade point average) and service are exemplified by the student. The selection is made by the University Honors Committee from a pool nominated by faculty.

The Honors Committee also named the recipients of the Awards in Academic Honors, which are conferred upon students who have distinguished themselves by positive achievement in their field of study. These students have achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.500 or better and have either completed research of consequence or have been published in their field.

The 2016 recipients of the Awards in Academic Honors include: College of Business – Kirstin Dufour, daughter of Donald and Karen Dufour of Darien; College of Education and Health Services – Sarah Ruth Hussey, daughter of Stephen and Sheila Hussey of Pittsboro, Ind.; College of Liberal Arts – Yara Rashad, daughter of Khaled Rashad and Wafaa Darwish of Orland Park; and College of Science – Sally Jo Detloff of West Chicago.

Carlos Samuel Ortega-Guerrero, son of Sandra Guerrero of Warrenville, was named the recipient of the Thomas J. Dyba Leadership Award, which is awarded to a student for outstanding ability to initiate and organize worthwhile activities, to encourage and direct the cooperative efforts of others, and to command respect as a campus leader. This award also requires a minimum 3.500 grade point average.

Jermeen El-Zabet, daughter of Maged Ayyal and Amal Habib of Downers Grove, was named the recipient of the Benedictine Service Award, which is awarded for outstanding service to the University in general and to fellow students in particular; and Ann Pendergast, daughter of Tom Pendergast and Karen Szpajer of Tinley Park, was named the recipient of the Community Service Award, which is awarded for outstanding service in religious, educational, social or political activities.

Angela Regan of St. Charles was named the recipient of the Bishop Daniel Kucera, O.S.B. Award, which recognizes non-traditional students who have an exemplary academic record as well as a record of contributions to the University community.

Dana Viola Cairns was named the recipient of the Student Laureate Award by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois; and the recipients of the Flo Grebner Instructional Assistant/Tutor Recognition Award were Carolyn Schoenbeck, daughter of Kelly Schoenbeck of Morton Grove, and Jermeen El-Zabet.

The Scholars Program is a four-year course of study designed to enable a select number of gifted undergraduate students to develop their skills as leaders and thinkers. The program focuses on academics, leadership and service. Students must maintain 3.200 GPA throughout their four years at Benedictine.

Graduates of the Scholars Program are: Syeda Ahmed (Chicago), Nasiha Asadullah (Lemont), Jonathan Bell (Downers Grove), Mfoniso Ekong (Lisle), Jermeen El-Zabet (Downers Grove), Mohammed Farhan (Lisle), David Hung (Naperville), Sarah Ruth Hussey (Pittsboro, Ind.), Ali Jafri (Clarendon Hills), Kristen Knaak (Crystal Lake), Sajeel Latif (Glen Ellyn), Zakaria Malik (Lombard), Mahira Musani (Bolingbrook) and Estefania Perez-Luna (Mokena).

Benedictine University's various academic programs also recognize graduating seniors for their outstanding achievements. Individual program award winners included:

John Mickus Award in Biology – Monica Kunkel (Schaumburg) and Ann Pendergast (Tinley Park).
Donald B. Taylor Leadership Award in Biology – Sally Jo Detloff (West Chicago).
Overall Outstanding Senior in Business – Alexandra Cascone (Lake in the Hills).
Outstanding Senior in Adult Programs – Andrew Staley (Chicago).
Outstanding Senior in Accounting – Kirstin Dufour (Darien).
Outstanding Senior in Business Analytics – Ashourrina Henshaw (Lisle) and Louis Lopez (Plainfield).
Outstanding Senior in Business and Economics – Patrick Courteau (Hugo, Wash.).
Outstanding Senior in Finance – Ignatius Payne (Lombard).
Outstanding Senior in Management and Organizational Behavior – Kudret Kamberi (Carol Stream).
Outstanding Senior in Marketing – Cory Evans (Naperville).
American Chemical Society Division of Inorganic Chemistry – Fauzia Mujid (Villa Park).
American Chemical Society Division of Analytical Chemistry Undergraduate Award – Kristin Kubelsky (Downers Grove).
Communication Arts Overall Excellence Award – Colin York (Wheaton).
Multimedia Excellence Award – Emily Loeffler (Arlington Heights).
Print Media Excellence Award – Lauren Bartow (Batavia).
Research Excellence Award – Anna Labedz (Naperville).
Video Excellence Award – Raneen Zubi (Lemont).
Outstanding Senior in Criminal Justice – Samantha Link (St. Charles) and Ryley Martin (Streator).
Overall Excellence Award in Graphic Arts and Design – Rabia Mahmood (Aurora).
Margarete Roth Award for Outstanding Senior in International Business – Nayeli Vazquez (Glenview).
Outstanding Senior Nutritionist Award – Anna E. Strle (Shorewood).
Clinical Nutrition Award – Diane Francine Coli (Lisle).
Community Nutrition Service Award – Elizabeth M. Johnston (Lansing, Mich.).
Leadership in Nutrition Award – Evan J. Moses (Palos Hills).
Nutrition Research – Sarah Ruth Hussey (Pittsboro, Ind.).
Senior Nutrition Recognition Award – Michele L. Fumagalli (Yorkville), Katelyn Susan Kiser (Darien), Vincenza Ranallo (Gilberts), Natalie Reichert (Crestwood), Lema Safadi (Bridgeview) and Katie Ann Vittal (Roselle).
Joel Setzen Award for Outstanding Graduating Senior in Political Science – Hashim Arain (Oak Brook).
Model Illinois Government Leadership Award – Junelly Gonzalez (Aurora).
Mock Trial Award – Mahira Musani (Bolingbrook).
Model UN Award – Quentin Florido (Chicago) and Yara Rashad (Orland Park).
Outstanding Senior in Sociology – Joann Weeks (Pleasant Valley, Iowa).
Writing and Publishing Excellence Award – Emily Loeffler (Arlington Heights).


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the fifth consecutive year in 2015. Benedictine University's Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain's Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area in 2015.

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