Program Celebrates Students’ Scholarship, Service, Extracurriculars, Personal Growth
Collage by Stephanie S. Cordle
A diverse and accomplished group that includes musicians, athletes, scientists in training, humanitarians and entrepreneurs will serve as Winter 2021 senior marshals, ushering graduating Terps into the campus-wide commencement ceremony to be held on Dec. 20.
Founded in 1991, the senior marshal program recognizes graduating Terps who demonstrate the highest levels of scholarship, service, extracurricular activity and personal growth.
The 32 students honored this semester are August and December 2021 graduates who were nominated by faculty and staff members, and chosen by a committee. They represent their colleges and the entire class at the ceremony, assisting with the processional and receiving a medallion commemorating their achievements.
As did their peers who graduated this spring, Winter 2021 graduates persevered through a unique and challenging experience as the coronavirus pandemic made their college experience largely virtual for more than a year. Normal campus life resumed this semester, allowing winter graduates a final semester of in-person college life.
“We congratulate the Class of 2021 for their achievement amid such unprecedented times, but also remember and recognize the Class of 2020 graduates just before them who did not have the same commencement opportunity as we now can, once again,” said Marsha Guenzler-Stevens, director of the Adele H. Stamp Student Union-Center for Campus Life, who oversees the program along with Robert Infantino, associate dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. “We celebrate the achievement of graduation for all of these Terps!”
Meet the senior marshals for Winter 2021:
Uchenna Michael Aduaka (major: information science) hails from Lagos, Nigeria, and focused his studies on the ways that technology and information can ethically improve the quality of life. He has served on the executive board of the African Students Progressive Action Committee and as a cabinet member of the Caribbean Student Association and tutor with the Office of Multi-ethnic Student Education. He values the different people and diverse backgrounds he has seen in his time here.
Shivani Amin (majors: computer science, biological sciences) was a member of the Honors College’s Gemstone Program, Honors ambassador, genetics teaching assistant, founding board member of the South Asian Student Association and Maryland Images summer tour guide. Shivani was a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholar, having studied in Indonesia during Winter 2020. After graduation, Shivani will start her career as a software engineer.
Kiara Anthony (major: government and politics; minor: French) is graduating a semester early and is the Winter 2022 commencement student speaker. She earned a citation in College Park Scholars’ International Studies program. She served as an appointed committee member of the University Senate and competed on the Equestrian Team under the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. Following graduation, she will attend law school to specialize in estate planning and business law and aims to merge these interests and serve by focusing on building generational wealth in the Black community.
Tiffany Benincasa-Powell (major: integrative health sciences via the Individual Studies Program) focused her studies on scientific foundations, nutrition and plant science, and the psychology of wellness. She served on the board for the American Chemical Society and the IVSP Student Council and participated in Green Terps and the Community Learning Garden. She also opened her own business, OliveMoon Botanicals, and co-founded STRŌB Apothecary, a collective to provide affordable wellness for the mind, body and spirit. She enjoys traveling, hiking national parks and going to concerts. After graduation, she will pursue a master's degree in medicinal plant chemistry or pharmaceutical sciences
Reid S Buskirk (majors: economics, government and politics) was president of the Economics Association at Maryland and director of constitution and bylaws for the Student Government Association (SGA). He was in the Honors Humanities program of the Honors College. He also enjoyed long drives, spending time with family and finding hidden-gem restaurants. He plans to work in economic research and consulting, and hopes to one day earn a doctorate in economics.
Julia Camina (major: marketing; minor: art history) served with Student Entertainment Events throughout her time at UMD, including as public relations director and advertising director. Following graduation, she will pursue a career in luxury fashion.
Ethan Cheng (majors: biological sciences, computer science) was in the Integrated Life Sciences program in the Honors College and spent time as a College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences ambassador, radio show host at WMUC 88.1, leader of a student blog for science writing, and teaching assistant/course designer in the English and biology departments. He was also a neuroscience research intern at the National Institutes of Health and in the UMD NeuroTheory Lab. He intends to pursue a doctorate in computational neuroscience and hopes to have a rich, interdisciplinary career as a researcher and science educator/communicator.
Arman Daneshpayeh (major: biological sciences) is a first-generation Iranian-American college graduate. He served as a resident assistant and undergraduate learning assistant for the biology department, and completed the FIRE research program. He also was director of service for the National Residence Hall Honorary and a volunteer with Terps for Change as a tutor. He is currently taking a gap year applying to dental school and hopes to pursue a career as a dentist.
Kalista Dang (majors: marketing, operations management and business analytics) was part of the University Honors program in the Honors College and Global Consulting Fellows in the Robert H. Smith School of Business. She served as vice president of human resources of Phi Chi Theta professional business and economics fraternity, co-president of Smith Ambassadors, vice president of operations of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority, and a Smith Start mentor, in addition to participating in Student Government Association and Girls United in Diverse Empowerment (GUIDE).
Asha Nilé Davis (major: criminology and criminal justice; minor: law and society) participated in the Justice and Legal Thought (JLT) program of College Park Scholars and became a peer mentor for JLT. She served as an undergraduate teaching assistant, interned for the Office of the Public Defender and worked for the Student Legal Aid Office on campus. She was a founding member and vice president of the Black Pre-Law Association. She has built a passion for the criminal justice system and supporting disadvantaged communities and will attend law school next fall.
Julia Dixon (majors: biochemistry, mathematics) was a member of the University Honors program in the Honors College, a MATH140/141 TA for three semesters and a volunteer research assistant for an affective neuroscience lab. She was a College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences recruitment ambassador, CMNS TerrapinStrong facilitator, and member of the University Student Judiciary and of Nu Rho Psi.
Dylan Fitch (major: communication; minor: international development and conflict management) completed the Global Fellows program and conducted research for the Center for International Development and Conflict Management and as a research mentor in the First-year Innovation and Research Experience (FIRE). While on campus, Dylan was president of Terrapin Beats Society, UMD's DJ and music production club, as well as a consultant in the Snider Consulting Group. After graduating, he will begin his career as a consultant with Ernst & Young.
Gabrielle Eve Frohlich (major: family science) earned a citation in the College Park Arts program, where she was also a peer mentor. She served as president of Challah for Hunger, individual volunteer coordinator in the Food Recovery Network, treasurer of and a soprano in an a cappella group, and text supporter for Lean on Me College Park. She received the School of Public Health’s Undergraduate Dean’s Scholar Award and a Do Good mini-grant from the school’s Do Good Institute. She works as a startup and technology marketing Intern for SeedSprint and is the Northeast intern supervisor for the Victor Center at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s Community Health Awareness (Education) Initiative. Upon graduating, she will be an associate health care transformation consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Lindsay S. Garbacik (major: journalism; minor: art history) is passionate about magazines, specifically those that support art, fashion and culture. She served as editor-in-chief of the student-run campus lifestyle publication The Campus Trainer, for which she built a website, hired photographers to populate social media, and organized the first digital issue. She also was a member of the Terp Thon PR committee.
Emma Hammer (major: public policy; minor: general business) was a College Park Scholar and participated in the Federal Fellows program, Omicron Delta Kappa and the Policy Student Government Association, and served as secretary and vice president of Kappa Omega Alpha, UMD's public policy professional fraternity. She will work in the health policy field after graduation.
Kunal Harmalkar (major: government and politics) focused his studies on the intersection of technology, policy and social value. As a member of Innovate Maryland, ODK, Global Communities, Global Fellows and more, he was dedicated to serving his community through inclusive leadership and systemic change. After graduation, he will join Facebook as a rotational product manager in its Menlo Park, Calif., offices.
Leah Nicole Hopson (major: atmospheric and oceanic science) completed the FIRE program and has been involved in the American Meteorological Society, the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation program, CARing Kids and En Camino programs, the UMD chapter of the United InnoWorks Academy and Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Eta Sigma honor societies. She plans to pursue graduate studies in physical oceanography, specifically air-sea interaction.
Anusha Jailwala (major: public health science; minor: Spanish) was a Banneker/Key scholar in the Integrated Life Sciences program of the Honors College. She served as president of the Pre-Physician Assistant Club, membership chair of Healing Harmonies and undergraduate research assistant in the Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program. She has also been an active member of the Phi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society, Vintage Voices and the Student Health Advisory Council. She hopes to pursue a career as a physician assistant and continue making an impact on public health by following her passion for improving health care in underserved areas.
Amida Fatmata Koroma (major: psychology) founded the Muslimahs for Change at UMD, a sorority interest group dedicated to professionalism, sisterhood, service and Islam. Her goals include serving underrepresented minorities and communities. In her free time she enjoys creating art, volunteering and spending time with loved ones. She is excited to utilize her passions and experiences created during her time at UMD as she pursues her future interests.
Bryce Alan Kowalczyk (majors: government and politics, public policy) held leadership positions as speaker of the legislature for the Student Government Association, president of College Democrats at UMD, resident assistant and student senator.
Percy Langston (major: English) was a transfer student who participated in the Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House. When he’s not writing stage plays, sketches or stories for WMUC News, Percy directed and performed in productions with the Maryland Shakespeare Players. Post-grad, he hopes to keep writing and performing and eventually pursue a master’s degree in library science.
Lauren Murphy (major: mechanical engineering; minors: sustainability studies and Spanish) earned a citation in the Design Cultures and Creativity program of the Honors College. She was a resident assistant, team lead with Honors Ambassadors, senior vice president of Pi Tau Sigma, project manager with the American Ecological Engineering Society; captain of intramural sports teams and member of Omicron Delta Kappa. She plans to focus on sustainability efforts within the built environment.
Andrea Orpia (major: biological sciences; minor: humanities, health and medicine) was president of Vintage Voices, founding artistic director of Healing Harmonies, research assistant in the Singer Lab and teaching assistant for “Mammalian Physiology.” She received the Portz Outstanding Student Award for her role in the University Honors program, serving as an HONR100 section leader, peer academic leader and member of the University Honors Transition Council. As a member of the Biology Departmental Honors Program, she wrote a thesis on synaptic transmission in the mammalian retina, research she plans to continue before applying to medical school.
Julia London Parsons (major: environmental science and technology) has always been passionate about preserving nature and giving back to her country. She worked as a park ranger for the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks. Following her service in Air Force ROTC, she has been selected to be a pilot. From childhood environmental education to wetland restoration, she wants to spend her life making the world cleaner, healthier and more enjoyable.
Punit Patel (major: electrical engineering; minor: Army leadership studies), the son of immigrants from Gujarat, India, volunteered as a firefighter/EMT in his hometown of Laurel, Md., and enjoyed playing chess, biking and reading. After graduation, he will become an active-duty officer in the U.S. Army.
Dillyn Cassidy Payne (major: electrical engineering) served as president of Theta Tau, subgroup leader of Engineers Without Borders, ClarkLEAD facilitator, Terp Thon Planning Team member, and mentor for FIRE and the QUEST Honors programs; she is also a member of the TBP Engineering Honor Society and the ODK Leadership Honor Society. She hopes to help solve some of the world’s largest issues using innovative engineering solutions, while also contributing to her community.
Alexis Jennell Peters (major: food science; minor: Asian American studies) was in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program in the Honors College and was a member of the Nu Zeta Chapter of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. She loves cooking, trying new foods and experiencing different cultures. Her time at UMD has been rewarding and inspiring.
Shawn SN (major: public health science) was a first-generation student of color and is graduating early with a citation from the Honors College’s University Honors program. He was part of the Government and Politics Honors Program, authoring a thesis analyzing how underrepresented minorities are subject to health disparities. He was an ambassador for the Honors College, School of Public Health and Office of Multi-ethnic Student Education and an advocate for diversity on campus. An avid learner and aspiring doctor, he plans on merging many disciplines with public health law and biotechnology to make Earth a better place for people and beyond.
Quiana Snowden (major: criminology and criminal justice) was vice president of Kappa Lambda Xi Multicultural Sorority, co-founder of Harford County Freedom Reclaimed (a grassroots organization that aims to defend, protect and further the sociopolitical rights of marginalized people), a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Eta Sigma national honor societies, a teaching assistant, a supervisor at Eppley Recreation Center, and a member of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars. She plans to attend law school in pursuit in becoming a medical malpractice attorney to promote justice and equity within the health care system.
Leon Timothy Stevenson Jr. (major: electrical engineering; minor: technology entrepreneurship) was a Clark Opportunity Transfer Scholar, a student in the Southern Management Leadership Program and a Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate scholar. His research interests include drone technology, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and cancer, from which he has held several research internships. As an undergraduate researcher, he is building a nano-biosensor to enable early lung cancer detection with high specificity and sensitivity.
Alexys Still (major: economics) was a Banneker/Key scholar in the Honors College’s Gemstone program. She has served as a Honors ambassador, an executive board member of the Black Honors Caucus and president of Phi Chi Theta, a professional business and economics fraternity. She has also worked for the Department of Resident Life and the Teaching and Learning Transformation Center. Alexys proudly follows in her mother's footsteps as a University of Maryland alum and will begin her career with Comcast NBCUniversal as a financial analyst following graduation.
Erik Verhoeven (major: kinesiology) served as a member of the Pre- Physical Therapy Association and Barbell Club, was president of the Kinesiology Student Organization (KSO) and worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant in the kinesiology department. As KSO president, he worked with the university’s Health and Wellness Coalition to expand mental and physical health initiatives across campus. He intends to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy with a focus in orthopedics and sports medicine.
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