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17 sophomores honored with O’Brien Book Award

April 12, 2021
phi beta kappa keys(University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

The honor recognizes students who excelled academically and in leadership roles during their first year at Rochester.

Seventeen current University of Rochester sophomores have been honored with the Suzanne J. O’Brien Book Award, which recognizes students who excelled academically and in leadership roles in their first year at the College.

The winners were chosen by a committee of faculty and academic staff who serve as officers in the University’s Iota Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, which cosponsors the award with the College. A virtual ceremony celebrating the winners took place on April 8.

“This year, we had several varsity athletes, musicians, and political activists among other interests,” says Iota Chapter president Nicholas Gresens, an associate professor in the Department of Religion and Classics. “I’ve always been impressed with how well-rounded the University students are, and these students epitomize that trait.”

Formerly called the Iota Book Award, it was first presented in 2003. It was renamed in honor of Suzanne O’Brien ’59, a Phi Beta Kappa member and longtime director of the College Center for Advising Services, upon her retirement as associate dean of the College in 2016.

The Iota Chapter designed the award around the gift of a book in honor of the intellectual and humanistic values promoted by Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society.

This year’s recipients from the Class of ’23, with their majors and hometowns, are:

  • Nicholas Achuthan (optics), Chicago
  • Valerie Battista (computer science), Columbia, Maryland
  • Brett Behrend (international relations), Idaho Falls, Idaho
  • Sarah Broas (undeclared), Putnam Valley, New York
  • Katherine Broun (biomedical engineering), Wallingford, Connecticut
  • Jason Cobert (undeclared), Bellevue, Washington
  • Rachel Dennis (mathematics), Renton, Washington
  • Blaine Doyle (economics), Cornwall on Hudson, New York
  • Alexander Evert (physics), West Chester, Ohio
  • Fiona Gaffney (international relations), Copley, Ohio
  • Elizabeth Garijo-Garde (music), Darien, Connecticut
  • Jennifer Jordahl (undeclared), Arlington, Massachusetts
  • Matthew Kiel (political science), Marietta, Georgia
  • Humfrey Kimanya (mechanical engineering), Arusha, Tanzania
  • Shitong (Fred) Liu (political science), Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
  • Cole Okuno (finance), Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Samuel Streicher (bioethics), Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada

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