Skip to main content

Top seniors and their teacher-mentors honored

Media Contact

John Carberry
John Boyle and Jeff Walters
Jason Koski/University Photography
John Boyle, right, visits with his teacher Jeff Walters, center, during the Merrill Presidential Scholars annual convocation in Willard Straight Hall.
Patricio Martinez-Llompart and Diana Escobar
Jason Koski/University Photography
Patricio Martinez-Llompart and Diana Escobar check out his award during the Merrill Presidential Scholars reception.

On May 22, the Cornell Merrill Presidential Scholars Program honored 32 outstanding graduating seniors and the high school teachers and university faculty members who made important contributions to the students' lives.

Each spring semester since 1988, approximately 1 percent of the graduating class is named to receive the honor by the deans of each of Cornell's seven undergraduate colleges. The scholars, in turn, recognize a high school teacher who most inspired their scholastic development and a Cornell faculty member who most significantly contributed to their college experience. The high school teachers are invited to campus as guests of the university to participate in two days of events.

Merrill scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholastic accomplishments, but also because they have demonstrated remarkable intellectual drive, energetic leadership abilities and a propensity to contribute to the betterment of society.

This year, high school teacher Jacqueline Tano-Phua is traveling to Cornell from as far as as Singapore. The students honored include a Goldwater scholar (Julian Homburger); a three-season athlete throughout his time at Cornell (Adam Trofa, who has been running for the cross-country and track and field teams) and a student-elected trustee Alex Bores). Also of note: Derek Zerkowski, a 1999 high school graduate, attended Cornell with the support of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, a veteran’s education program; this is a first for the Merrill program. In addition, Professor Charles Williamson was cited for the 14th time, and Professor Rosemary Avery received her 11th Merrill invitation.

The university also honors the high school teachers with Special Teachers Are Recognized (STAR) scholarships, a one-time, $4,000 scholarship in each teacher's name for a financially needy Cornell student from the teacher's high school or geographical area. STAR scholarships were established in 1989 by the late Donald Berens and his wife, Margaret Berens, both Class of 1947. The late Philip Merrill '55 created the Merrill Presidential Scholars Program, funded by annual support from the Merrill Family Foundation.

The 2013 Merrill Scholars are listed below by college and hometown, followed by the names of the secondary school teachers and the Cornell faculty members the students selected for recognition:

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

  • Kristen Haynes, Clinton, N.Y.; Debby Hepburn, Clinton Senior High School; Barbara Bedford, natural resources.
  • Julian Homburger, Alamo, Calif.; Viki Acquistapace, De La Salle High School; Nathan Sutter, biometry and statistics and biological sciences.
  • Linda Liu, Manlius, N.Y.; Jamie Cucinotta, Fayetteville-Manlius High School; Edward McLaughlin, applied economics and management.
  • Jennifer Sun, Irvine, Calif.; Cathleen Zeleski, Northwood High School; Clifford Kraft, science of natural and environmental systems.
  • Yuchao (“Olly”) Wang, Zhongshan District, Dalien, China; Li Shao, The School Attached to Dalian University; Rui Hai Liu, professor, food science.
  • Kristy Yang, Chesterfield, Mo.; Kenneth Greathouse, Parkway Central High School; Vicki Bogan, applied economics and management.
  • Derek Zerkowski; Joseph Farrand, Ten Broeck Academy and Franklinville Central School; Antonio DiTommaso, agricultural sciences.
  • Dennis Zhou; Theresa Groman, Jamesville-DeWitt High School; Roger Spanswick, biological engineering.

College of Architecture, Art and Planning

  • Mikhail Grinwald, Pewaukee, Wisc.; Louise Doornek, Pewaukee High School; Andrea Simitch, architecture.

College of Arts and Sciences

  • Andrew Baim, Pine Brook, N.J.; Kim Deamer, Montville Township High School; Slava Paperno, Russian.
  • Kristen Fletcher, Farmingdale, N.Y.; Thomas Page, Half Hollow Hills High School East; Sofia Villenas, anthropology.
  • Sally Hayes, Winnetka, Ill.; Elizabeth Plank New Trier Township High School, Holly Case, history.
  • Jing Jin, Houston, Texas; Anna Loonam, Bellaire High school; Aaron Sachs, history.
  • Adam Kroloff, Bridgewater, N.J.; Nicolas Ripatrazone, Bridgewater-Raritan High School; Michael Goldstein, psychology.
  • Suzana Markolovic, Tappan, N.Y.; Nancy Brizzolara, Academy of the Holy Angels; David Collum, chemistry and chemical biology.
  • Patricio Martinez-Llompart, Valles del Lago Urb. Caguas, Puerto Rico; Diana Escobar, Academia del Perpetuo Socorro; Raymond Craib, history.
  • Andrew Santana, Burlingame, Calif.; Kevin Nelson, Burlingame High School; Richard Polenberg, government.
  • Sara Trongone, Montclair, N.J.; Daniel Gill, Montclair High School; Lori Khatchadourian, Near Eastern studies.
  • Jason Wang, Dublin, Ohio; Bob Durrett, Dublin Jerome High School; Terry Herter, physics.

College of Engineering

  • Guo Chin, Singapore; Jacqueline Tano-Phua, Hwa Chong Institution; David Delchamps, electrical and computer engineering.
  • Emma Lejune, Brookline, Mass.; Stacy Kissel, Brookline High School; Kenneth Hover, civil and environmental engineering.
  • Kimberly Lin, Woodbridge, N.J.; James McCormick, Middlesex County Academy of Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies; Ashim Datta, biological and environmental engineering.
  • Zachary Sherman, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Eric Goldstone, Pinnacle High School; Abraham Stroock, chemical and biomolecular engineering.
  • Adam Trofa, Woodbridge, Conn.; Thomas Jacobs, Amity Regional High School; Charles Williamson, mechanical and aerospace engineering.
  • Whitney Wenger, Charlottesville, Va.; Lani Hoza, Western Albemarle High School; Tobias Hanrath, chemical and biomolecular engineering.

School of Hotel Administration

  • Lana Miller, Huntington Station, N.Y.; Philomena Clement, Saint Anthony’s High School; Daphne Jameson, management communication.
  • Matthew Rubin, Chappaqua, N.Y.; Steven McKenney, Horace Greeley High School; Robert Kwortnik, hotel administration.

College of Human Ecology

  • Jonathan Bar, Fair Lawn, N.J.; Robert Pergolizzi, Bergen County Academies; John Belina, nutritional sciences.
  • John Boyle, New Hartford, N.Y.; Jeff Walters, New Hartford High School; Rosemary Avery, policy analysis and management.
  • Anne Laurita, Mendham, N.J.; Michael Scoblete, West Morris Mendham High School; Cindy Hazan, human development.

ILR School

  • Alexander Bores, New York, N.Y.; Irving Kagan, Hunter College High School; Kate Bronfenbrenner, industrial and labor relations.
  • Lucas Kowalczyk, Lee, Mass.; Alicja Szostek, The Eighth High School of Zabrze; Veronica Martinez-Matsuda, industrial and labor relations.

Story Contacts