Above, left to right, Brittney Cava, Eastern President Elsa Nunez, and Kate Harner
Eastern students Kathryn Harner, an English major from Oxford, and Brittney Cava, a political science major from Torrington, were honored at the 24th Annual Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award Dinner on April 23 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.
Harner and Cava were two of 12 state university students to win the award; each was nominated by their respective universities. The award is named for the first U.S. Commissioner of Education, Henry Barnard, a distinguished Connecticut educator who was the state's first superintendent of schools and principal of what later became Central Connecticut State University. A $500 award comes with the honor.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy delivered the keynote address. Malloy applauded the accomplishments of the 12 Barnard winners, calling them "exceptional people" who he said he hopes will stay in Connecticut and "contribute mightily to the economic growth and development of the state."
"Brittney was very engaged on campus in multiple clubs, including People Helping People," said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. "She played a key role in conducting research with Dr. Nicole Krassas that deconstructed race and gender in the 2008 primaries, and was very dedicated to improving the Eastern and Willimantic community." The president said Cava and Harner are best friends who work together as members of numerous student clubs.
Harner earned a 4.0 GPA and has been on the Dean's List every semester while studying at Eastern. She also has served as president of the student volunteer group People Helping People, and as co-coordinator of Eastern's Fifth Annual "Day of Giving" Thanksgiving meal and food drive.
Cava completed the majority of her academic studies in just three years, while maintaining an impressive 3.85 GPA. While finishing up her last remaining degree requirements this year, she is working full time as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in Eastern's Center for Community Engagement (CCE). Cava is entering a graduate program in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration at the University of Vermont this fall, while Harner will be pursuing a master's degree in Public Communication at Clemson University.