Henry Barnard Award recipients announced

Sam Tapper Editor-in-Chief

The 2021 recipients of the Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award have been announced: psychology major Camryn Arpino-Brown, chemistry major Therese Ziaks, psychology major Paul McKee and political science and philosophy double-major Asma Rahimyar.

“These awards are the highest honor that the Connecticut State Universities awards to students,” said University President Joe Bertolino at his Town Hall last week. “All of these students are worthy of acclaim for their excellence in the classroom and their service to the community.”

The Barnard Distinguished Student Award is considered one of the most prestigious awards at the university. Each year, 12 seniors are chosen for the award across the four Connecticut State Universities – four from Southern and Central Connecticut State University, and two from Eastern Connecticut State University and Western Connecticut State University. Southern students who displayed outstanding scholarship and a commitment to community service during their collegiate career have been selected as recipients of this year’s Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award.

“I am extremely grateful to have been selected as a recipient,” Ziaks said. “I am very proud to be an Owl and am very grateful for the education and experience I have received at SCSU, so this award is something I will always cherish.”

Students must have a 3.7 GPA or higher to qualify for the award. In addition, students who wish to pursue the reward must have demonstrated significant community involvement and leadership. Transfer students will have had to complete at least 60 of their credits here on campus.

“Receiving the Barnard Award is truly bittersweet, because it represents the culmination of my time as a Southern Student,” said Rahimyar, who was also the university’s first-ever Rhodes Scholar. “During these past four years, I’ve met students and faculty who have left an indelible mark on who I am – making it possible to dream boldly about who I would like to be.”

Rahimyar plans to pursue masters’ degrees in global governance and diplomacy, and refugee and forced migration studies. She eventually hopes to obtain a doctoral degree and empower women in Afghanistan, according to the university’s “News at Southern” page.

Arpino-Brown did not offer a comment by press time. However, she is a student that has been heavily involved with the university’s orientation programs, as well as being instrumental in the planning of the university’s Black Lives Matter rally in the fall and an active voice for social justice on campus.

McKee, Bertolino said during his town hall, is a Marine Corps. Veteran and a first-generation college student. He is also under consideration as a finalist for neuroscience programs at institutions such as Stanford and Brown University.

“As much as this award is meant to recognize me, I’d rather it serves as a testament to the phenomenal faculty and students at SCSU that have been instrumental in my personal and professional growth,” McKee said. “Look no further than the Psychology Department’s Dr. Michael Nizhnikov, Dr. Christopher Budnick, Dr. Kenneth Walters or Computer Science [and] Data Science’s Dr. Imad Antonios for some of the best educators, mentors, and friends that the Connecticut State College & University system has to offer.”

Bertolino said that McKee has worked with the SCSU Foundation to create an endowed scholarship fund, following a personal donation of $25,000 from McKee. This marks the first time in school history that a current student has established this sort of fund, Bertolino said.

“If you want just a taste of the greatness that students at Southern have to offer, look at my fellow award winners,” McKee said, “how humbling to be here next to them.”

Photo credit: Isabel Chenoweth

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