Eastern students Laura Kathryn Hilton, a biology major from West Haven, and Suzanne Slater, an early childhood and psychology major from Brooklyn, were honored at the 25th Annual Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award Dinner on April 23 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.
Hilton and Slater 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 $750 award comes with the honor.
Connecticut Supreme Court Justice and Central alumna Carmen Espinosa delivered the keynote address. Espinosa spoke fondly of her time as an undergraduate student at Central Connecticut State University, calling her education there the "linchpin" to her success. To the students, Espinosa said they would likely face many detours and obstacles throughout their lives, but that they should rely on the help and guidance of the people who support them most. "To be sure, we have high expectations for you," Espinosa said, "but likely no higher than the ones you have for yourself."
"It is true that Laura Hilton and Suzanne Slater have achieved much over the last four years," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "Between jobs, internships, student teaching and volunteer work, they will graduate with impressive resumes. No matter what their paths may be, these gifted young women, who have been described as self-motivated, mature, sensitive, caring, engaging and respectful, will continue to improve the world just as they have been doing all along."
In the classroom, Hilton is a well-respected by faculty and students alike. "Laura is a gifted scholar and is highly regarded by members of the Biology Department," said Gloria Colurso, professor and chair of the Biology Department. "She holds herself to the highest academic standards, is bright and insightful and she has a remarkable memory."
"Suzanne Slater is one of my most vibrant students, and stands out as a thoughtful, dedicated and scholarly student, teacher and researcher," said Sudha Swaminathan, associate chair of the Education Department and professor of early childhood education. Last summer, Swaminathan invited Slater and two other students to perform research with her. The students presented their findings at the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) Regional Undergraduate Research Conference and the Early Education and Technology for Children Conference.