Willimantic, CT -- Michelle Kaczynski of New Milford and Connor Patros of Columbia, two Eastern graduates majoring in psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University, were honored as recipients of the Connecticut State University System (CSUS) 23rd Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award on May 11 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.
Kaczynski and Patros were two of 12 CSUS 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.
Chandler Howard, president and chief executive officer of Liberty Bank and Eastern's Business Executive in Residence for 2010-11, delivered the keynote address. Chandler shared his own life lessons with the 12 Barnard winners, applauded their accomplishments, and told them "most of all, never give up."
Kaczynski earned a 3.83 GPA and has been on the Dean's List every semester while studying at Eastern. She has served as president of Eastern's Honors Program and the Psi Chi Honor National Psychology Honor Society. In her introduction of Kaczynski, Eastern President Elsa Nunez said professors called Kaczynski "the total package," one who "excels in virtually every aspect of what we describe as the liberal arts experience; an over-achiever in the very best sense."
Kaczynski participated in an international field experience during a trip to Northern Sweden as part of the Honors Program International Colloquium. She also served as president of the Honors Club and Psi Chi, and has a record of volunteer service on and off campus, including as a peer mentor for Eastern's First-Year Program, and as a member of Habitat for Humanity.
Nunez said Kaczynski's honor's thesis - "Examining Age Differences in the Conceptualization of Romantic Love - was "positively groundbreaking." Kaczynski was invited to present her findings at the national conference of the Association for Women in Psychology. Her research is also being submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
Patros graduated with a 3.68 GPA and a 3.91 GPA in his major. Under the tutelage of Psychology Professor Diller, Patros developed ideas for research, collected and analyzed data, and presented and prepared numerous manuscripts for publication.
Patros has presented at local, regional, and national professional conferences, including the Association for Behavior Analysis International, the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges undergraduate research conference, the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research Posters on the Hill event and the CSUS Psychology Day conference. Patros also co-authored two manuscripts that are currently under review for publication; completed two internships; and participated in baseball and track and field at Eastern.
Citing Patros's professional activity, Nunez said he "is the perfect example of a student who has used his time at college to mature both personally and intellectually, and to discover his life's passion in the process." Diller agreed: "Connor has accomplished a phenomenal amount in his time at Eastern, which reflects his dedication to his work and his high level of ability. Working with Connor was much more like working with a graduate student than an undergraduate." Patros has been accepted into the doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at Oklahoma State University, and begins graduate studies this fall.
The major sponsors for the 22nd Annual Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Awards Banquet are Comcast, Otis Elevator Company and People's United Bank.