Skip to Main Site Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Back To Top

2 seniors selected for Barnard Award, CSCU’s highest academic honor

Published on April 22, 2024

2 seniors selected for Barnard Award, CSCU’s highest academic honor

group at barnard award
President Elsa Núñez with Barnard Scholars Kathryn Kubisek, left, and Billi Kozak

Two seniors who are roommates at Eastern Connecticut State University, Kathryn Kubisek and Billi Kozak, will each receive the 2024 Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award, the top academic award for undergraduates in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System.

The awards are given annually for academic performance and community service to 12 students selected from Connecticut's four state universities.

Kathryn Kubisek

Kubisek, a Spanish major from Southington with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, will graduate in May and continue at Eastern for a year to earn her master’s degree in elementary education in the Early Start graduate program. She plans to teach elementary school in Connecticut. This semester she is taking education classes and completing a clinical experience in a third-grade classroom in Manchester.

She studied abroad last spring semester at the Universidad de Sevilla in Spain and has shared her experiences and mentored other students at the weekly Mesa de Español (Spanish table) at Eastern. She began studying Spanish in the seventh grade and continued in college “because it is a beautiful language which I truly enjoy learning and because it is a useful skill to have,” she said.

As a student leader with Eastern’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE), she has volunteered in after-school tutoring programs in the community and adult programs such as the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery and the Covenant Soup Kitchen. “She is deeply civic-minded,” said Lana O’Connor, director of the CCE.

Kubisek said she was surprised and pleased to receive the Barnard award “because it is a recognition of excellence in my studies and my commitment to community service.”

Billi Kozak
Billi Kozak

Kozak, a biology major from Clinton, plans a career in virology or bacteriology research and will study for a Ph.D. in microbiology at the University of Massachusetts. An honors student since their first semester, Kozak participated in field research at Tufts University in 2022 in the National Science Foundation’s summer Research Experience for Undergraduates program. Described as a “dream student to have in class” by their advisor, biology Professor Amy Groth, Kozak won the Howard S. Kniffin Endowed Scholarship for excellence in independent study in their major.

Kozak is a peer mentor in Eastern’s Success Scholars program. They are the founder and president of the revived Fencing Club at Eastern — at Morgan High School in Clinton, Kozak fenced for four years and placed second in the all-state championship.

Kozak is also secretary of the Pride Club at Eastern. Nicole Potestivo, coordinator of the Pride Center, lauded Kozak for developing the center’s collaboration with Health Services on a campus event focused on hormone treatment and gender-affirming care. Kozak is an agent of change and an informed scholar, Potestivo said.

“I knew since a young age that I wanted to do scientific research, and I’m so glad to have been part of an amazing community that has helped me achieve that and push me further than I ever would have envisioned,” Kozak said. “I’m immensely grateful for what Eastern has provided me and honored to have been selected for this award.”

Written by Lucinda Weiss