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Three Graduates Awarded UC’s Highest Student Honor

The three honorees, two from the Cincinnati area, will wear the UC Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence at All-University Commencement on June 9.

Date: 5/3/2007 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover

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UC Commencement Web site

Medal recipients with President Nancy L. Zimpher

Academics, leadership, character and service – three University of Cincinnati graduates will be awarded a medal of honor from UC President Nancy L. Zimpher for representing these ideals. The recipients of the University of Cincinnati Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence – the university’s most prestigious student honor for undergraduates – will be honored at the annual University of Cincinnati Recognition Ceremony at 4 p.m., Sunday, May 20, in the Great Hall of Tangeman University Center (TUC). They will wear the medal when they march at the All-University Commencement ceremonies on June 9.

UC graduates Dominic Berardi of Wintersville, Ohio, Joyce Kasee of Green Township (Cincinnati) and Jessica King of Northside (Cincinnati) were selected from among 27 nominations from UC administrators, faculty and staff. The medal, a tradition at UC since 2002, is awarded to students with a minimum 3.0 GPA who demonstrated leadership inside and outside of UC’s classrooms and represented citizenship and service at UC and in the outlying community.

At All-University Commencement on June 9, the following graduates will be wearing the bronze medal that features the university crest on the front and the graduate’s name on the back:

Dominic Berardi

Dominic Berardi of Wintersville, Ohio
– Berardi is graduating from the College of Business with a bachelor of business administration in marketing and international business. The graduate of Indian Creek High School is a Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS Scholar, a highly selective, full-scholarship program which integrates a demanding business honors curriculum with work-related experiences. He spent winter and spring quarters as a Presidential Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency in Washington, D.C. As part of that experience Berardi served as a White House intern for the Council on Environmental Quality. He was an assistant to a senior energy advisor for U.S. President George Bush.

Berardi, who’s also a University Honors Scholar, earned a certificate in intercultural communication while studying abroad in Tampere, Finland, and a certificate in international business during a study abroad experience in Bangkok, Thailand. He served as chairman and executive director of ThinkOHIO, a statewide initiative of student government representatives that lobbied Ohio voters and the state legislature on higher- education reforms. His co-op experience involved working in project management with a subsidiary of ACNielsen BASES in Covington, Ky., a company that provides market research and analysis to clients in the consumer products and services industries.

Berardi’s campus leadership roles include Student Body Vice President (April 2005-April 2006). “Serving as Student Body Vice President gave me a new outlook on my responsibility to the community,” he says. “If I was given the opportunity to lead, then I was going to make sure I did my very best to improve the quality of life for those around me.”

Berardi also served as president of Sigma Sigma – a UC men’s honorary that recognizes students who have made a significant contribution to the university – and was vice president of Inter-fraternity Council, treasurer of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity and a member of the UC Men’s Choir & Cabaret A cappella ensemble. His service includes organizing talent shows to benefit the Lighthouse Youth Shelter; raising funds to support the Children’s Miracle Network and volunteering with the Save the Animals Foundation. Each academic quarter he was in college, Berardi dedicated over 20 hours per quarter to community service.

“Dominic has led an academic and extra-curricular career that distinguishes him as one of the university’s most astute and accomplished students,” says Jeri Ricketts, director of the Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS Program. “Rarely have I come into contact with a student who has Dom’s enthusiasm and determination, and the University of Cincinnati has benefited greatly from his time here.”

Upon graduation, Berardi will move to Beijing, China, where he has accepted a position with EduGlobal China, an organization that recruits Chinese students for American universities.

Joyce Kasee

Joyce Kasee, Green Township (Cincinnati), Ohio
– Kasee is graduating from the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences with a bachelor of political science and international affairs as well as an international human rights certificate. The graduate of Mother of Mercy High School is vice president of the UC Senior Class; president of the Political Science Student Association; director of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, an organization that raises awareness about the human rights atrocities in Darfur; and head UC student delegate for the Model United Nations team. She is a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society.

During winter quarter, Kasee was studying abroad in Cairo, Egypt as part of an international language immersion program to learn Arabic as part of her interest in entering the professional field of human rights reporting. A 2005 spring internship with the Labour Party in Great Britain introduced Kasee to members of Parliament, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair. She was responsible for planning youth voter events and organizing volunteers for the prime minister’s speaking engagements. As a recipient of the UC Taft Undergraduate Enrichment Award (January 2006) she represented UC and the United States by participating in the International Youth Leadership Conference in Prague, exploring UN roles in combating human rights violations and peace-building among delegates representing more than 80 countries.

Kasee’s dedication to the community includes her service to the Cincinnati Youth and Government Program and inclusion specialist for the Cincinnati Recreation Commission. She has been invited to attend the Conference on National Affairs (CONA) in North Carolina in July as a special guest to the Youth and State Government director. At the conference, she says she’ll be training the next generation of young activists about the importance of civic engagement, ethics in politics and effective leadership.

Since 2003, Kasee has also served as an MTV “Rock the Vote” Ambassador, campaigning for issues on higher education and registering, educating and encouraging young people to vote.

“Joyce is a dynamic individual, personal and knowledgeable,” says Howard Tolley Jr., UC professor of political science. “I am most impressed at her commitment to put academic knowledge into effective human rights advocacy. She is an inspiration, cultivating language skills in preparation for international service on behalf of human values.”

“I do not know how to slowly take on the change I hope to see in a classroom at UC, in Clifton, at City Hall, in Columbus, the White House or in the most conflict-ridden places in the world,” Kasee says. “Why walk when I can leap into the middle of grassroots activism and leadership? It has taken 22 years of experiences to finally recognize my motivation is the culmination of my upbringing, many memorable teachers and professors and the impact of friends.”

Kasee has applied to graduate schools in London and also is exploring jobs with non-governmental organizations in the field of human rights.

Jessica King

Jessica King, Northside (Cincinnati), Ohio
– King is graduating as a Distinguished Honors Scholar from the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. She started taking college courses from UC when she was just 16, by entering UC’s Post Secondary Enrollment Options Program. She has since become a student ambassador to UC as she greets parents and prospective students, working as a campus tour guide for UC Admissions.

Her study abroad experience includes study in London, Mexico and Costa Rica, where she lived with a host family and took advanced Spanish courses at Veritas University in San José. During that study, she volunteered weekly at a community home for children. King has also served as an English-as-a-second language (ESL) tutor for Withrow High School.
“I credit the UC Honors Scholars program with allowing me the opportunities to study abroad multiple times, become involved with service-learning projects in the Cincinnati area, and providing me with the educational foundation that I needed to grow,” she says. “By having the opportunities that I did through the Honors Scholars Program, I became a better leader and have tried to help others follow the same path.”

Her leadership activities include holding offices as president of Alpha Lambda Delta first-year academic honor society; vice president of Club Hispano; vice president and scholarship director of Chi Omega Women’s Fraternity; and president of the 2007 Greek Week Council, where she led a fundraising campaign that raised $22,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She has also served as a peer educator for the UC Women’s Center. She is a member of the Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honor Society; Mortar Board Senior Honor Society; National Society of Collegiate Scholars; Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society; Order of Omega Greek Leadership Honor Society; Phi Beta Kappa and Rho Lambda Panhellenic Honorary.

“Jessica is truly an exceptional young woman,” says Debbie Brawn, director of academic programs for the UC Honors Scholars Program for academically talented students. “She has a love for learning and possesses a genuine enthusiasm for all that she does. This includes striving to make our world a better place – locally at UC and in the Greater Cincinnati community, as well as globally.”

Immediately after graduation, King is off to Texas to work with Teach for America – a national corps of outstanding college graduates of all academic backgrounds who make a two-year commitment to teach in urban and rural public schools. King will be certified to teach English to grades 4-8 in the Rio Grande Valley – a 99-percent Latino student population. Her career begins the day after graduation, when she flies out to Texas to begin teaching summer school and to undergo an intensive summer training program.

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