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University of Hartford Will Honor Outstanding Students at Commencement

Posted 04/18/2014
Posted by Meagan Fazio

Nicole Kalmus, recipient of the Belle K. Ribicoff Prize.

Three outstanding members of the Class of 2014 will be recognized for their academic excellence and will receive the top student awards and scholarships during undergraduate commencement on May 18.

Nicole Kalmus of the University of Hartford's College of Arts and Sciences will receive the Belle K. Ribicoff Prize. A double major in international studies and modern language (French), Kalmus was one of nine University Honors students who presented at the highly selective National Conference of Undergraduate Research in Lexington, Ky., in April. Her presentation explored how foreign aid was distributed in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. Kalmus advocates putting aid data in one central location so governments and organizations can make sure it gets to those who need it.

“Niki’s enthusiasm is infectious,” said Dr. Jane Horvath, director of the economics and political economy programs for the College of Arts and Sciences. “So is her determination to make a difference in the world. I am convinced that Niki will find a way to make development her life’s work.”

From the dance and Ultimate Frisbee teams to the Red Caps, Gospel Choir, and several other groups, it’s hard to find an organization Kalmus has not involved herself with. Her ability to balance these extracurricular activities with the rigor of the University Honors program makes her an ideal recipient of this impressive award.

Catherine Brennan, recipient of the John G. Martin Scholarship.

Catherine Brennan, also from the College of Arts and Sciences, will take her passion for mathematics to Oxford University in the fall as this year’s recipient of the John G. Martin Scholarship. She has a 3.95 grade point average and majored in mathematics with a minor in actuarial science. She was also a private and group tutor for the University’s Student Success Center and in the math and physics tutoring lab.

Planning to stay in school indefinitely, as a student and then a professor, Brennan’s scholarly instincts are undeniable. She continues to seek the answer to the one overarching question introduced by her Calculus II professor, and still at the forefront of her consciousness despite years of education and research: “What can math be used for?”

“I will spend the rest of my life searching for the limit of mathematics—if there is one at all,” Brennan said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Kalmus and Brennan were both 2013 WELFund Dorothy Goodwin Scholars. WELFund awards these scholarships annually to support students who propose innovative scholarly or creative projects in collaboration with a faculty mentor.”

Kyle Hebert, this year’s recipient of the John G. Lee award is double majoring in economics and mathematics, with a minor in actuarial science.

Kyle Hebert, recipient of the John G. Lee award.

With an almost perfect 3.98 GPA, he was selected last spring as a recipient of the Junior Regents’ Honor Award in the College of Arts and Sciences, given to the student with the highest GPA in his or her respective college.

“In my 30 years as faculty at two universities, I have rarely, if ever, come across a student as bright as Kyle,” said Farhad Rassekh, professor of economics and associate dean of the Barney School of Business.

Hebert has gained valuable work experience in internships at two industry leading insurance companies, Cigna and MassMutual Financial Group, and has already successfully passed two actuarial exams.

He wants to further his knowledge of statistics and plans to pursue a master’s degree in applied statistics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this fall. After graduate school, he intends to use his knowledge, skills, and expertise in the area of public policy.

Outside the classroom, Hebert is an active member of the University of Hartford community. He is a member of the Honors Program and vice president of the Alpha Chi Honor Society. He co-founded the University’s Actuarial Club and currently serves as its president. Hebert is also a mathematics tutor and serves as a mentor for students pursuing economics degrees as well.

Kalmus, Brennan, and Hebert will join 1,050 fellow students celebrating the completion of their degrees during this year’s undergraduate commencement.