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Ohio State graduates plan to 'Do Something Great!' - 06/06/08

Engineers, veterinarians, athletes, scientists and students not afraid of "dirty jobs" will be among more than 7,800 who will earn degrees during spring commencement exercises which begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday (6/8) in Ohio Stadium. The ceremony celebrates the academic achievements and hard work students have put forth to earn their degrees. Each graduate will receive their own diploma at the ceremony, a practice rarely attempted by a university the size of Ohio State. Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, will deliver the commencement address. Some graduates will continue their education, and others will use their education and experience to enter the workforce.

Below are some graduates who illustrate Ohio State's motto, "Do Something Great."

Four degrees in five years, he plans to propose on Sunday. Sean Chao says he likes to do as much as is physically and intellectually possible. To that end, he will graduate with four baccalaureates (three diplomas) with a competitive GPA while holding two jobs. His degrees will include Political Science; International Studies: Security & Intelligence; International Studies: East Asian Studies; and Chinese Language & Culture. The master of multi-tasking also plans on Sunday to propose to "OSU's most wonderful Department of History's Ph.D. student, Yan Xu." Chao, who graduated from Columbus' Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center, plans to return to graduate school at Ohio State next year for degrees in Public Administration and City Regional Planning. Chao, who entered Ohio State through the Young Scholars program, is currently a Specialist in the U.S. Army and will go to the June U.S. Army Officer Direct Commissioning Fair in hopes of being selected in the next wave of officers in the U.S. Army. This summer, Chao will teach English at the Nanjing Normal University of Technology.

Engineer breaks speed and gender barriers. After earning her degree in aerospace engineering, Kim Stevens will move to Switzerland to work with the BMW Sauber Formula 1 race team, in hopes of making the car even faster. Stevens got plenty of practical experience at Ohio State building race cars as part of the team that built the Buckeye Bullet electric land-speed race cars. She says working on the two cars also led to a fantastic co-op experience at Honda R&D and experiences with other automotive-industry giants like Penske racing, TRC, and Ford. Last November, Stevens went to Europe to present her Buckeye Bullet 2 design at the Global Motorsports Congress and at the University of Stuttgart. The Brecksville native says her best college moment came last fall, when she watched the Buckeye Bullet 2 reach 201 miles per hour on the Bonneville Salt Flats, the realization of years of hard work.

• Not afraid of dirty jobs. Last summer, and again last week, Max Castorani has conducted research at the university's Stone Lab on Lake Erie, helping to count and save the endangered Lake Erie water snake. The project was featured as a "Dirty Job" on the Discovery Channel. To conduct the research, you have to catch and weigh snakes (they bite), and analyze their vomit. In addition to biting snakes, Castorani has also conducted research on creatures of the deep. For the past two years he has studied sea anemones in the deep Pacific Ocean, including the description of an entirely new species of sea anemone.
The Delaware native will earn a degree in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology. After graduation he will spend the summer as a fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the world's largest independent, nonprofit ocean research center. He will enroll in a Ph.D. program in marine conservation ecology, a cooperative program between the University of California at Davis and the San Diego State University. Castorani is also a co-founder of the Buckeye Friends of Stone Laboratory, a new OSU student group that recruits students to Stone Lab, and raises funds for Stone Lab scholarships.

• Veterinarian hopes to treat horses, plus occasional rhinos and elephants. Laura Stokes-Greene left the urban jungle of New York City in 2004 only to go back to a jungle in 2006. After receiving research awards from the Morris Animal Foundation and Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, she spent two months working on the islands of Indonesia conducting research on Sumatran rhinos in a rainforest sanctuary. She also gathered blood samples from animals in the surrounding area, including elephants, water buffalo and cattle. In addition to an internship at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Texas, she recently returned from Australia where she worked in the Equine Infectious Disease laboratory on a bacteria called Rhodococcus equi. Stokes-Green came to Ohio State to pursue a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine after earning her bachelor's degree in biology from New York University. Seeing Columbus as a place that would offer her opportunities with her true passions, large animal and equine medicine and wildlife conservation. Stokes-Greene has pursued her dreams with diligence and leaves Columbus as a compassionate veterinarian, off to California on Monday to begin a life working with horses.

• Ready for a world with skyrocketing fuel costs. As a leader of Ohio State's Challenge X team, Craig Pavlich helped redesign a Chevy Equinox to be a fuel efficient hybrid. Pavlich, who will graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering, expects the energy crunch will open doors for development of new technologies, and for his skills. He believes this is the most exciting time since the moon shot for engineers and scientists. "The skyrocketing cost of fuel is opening doors for technologies that have been around for a while, but have been too costly to be practical. Now, these technologies are becoming not only cost effective, but necessary. There are just so many areas for improvement in efficiency and sustainability, and these projects are going to require a lot of trained technicians. With respect to that, I'm so pleased that my career has the potential to do more than just pay the bills." The engineering degree is Pavlich's second; he earned a B.A. in literature in 2004, and jokes that "You can get a great job with an English degree; all you need is another degree!" After graduation, Pavlick will move to North Carolina to get married and work for a brake component manufacturer.

• Columbus product hopes to get drafted by MLB. Dan DeLucia will graduate with two business degrees: finance and risk management & insurance. A student athlete from Hilliard, DeLucia graduated from Bishop Watterson High School. He is the first person in the 125-year history of Ohio State baseball to be named team captain three times. He was an All Big Ten Conference baseball player – first team – in 2005 until an elbow injury caused him to miss his senior season in 2007. He had "Tommy John" surgery and, through dedication and commitment, recovered in time to open the Buckeye's season this year. He is also a five-time scholar athlete and three-time Academic All Big Ten selection. In addition to athletics, DeLucia has also been involved in the Student Athlete Advisory Board as a communications liaison between his coaches and teammates. He also has been involved in community service, including reading to children and serving at a soup kitchen during the Christmas season. If the MLB doesn't call, Delucia will tap experiences from one of the two part-time jobs he has held in school: sales at either a web engineering company, or an insurance company.

• University ambassador and orientation assistant. One of the friendly, knowledgeable students who gives campus tours to perspective students is Joseph Clark. Clark, who entered Ohio State through the Young Scholars Program, is earning a degree in psychology after four years despite two changes of major. In addition to his leadership activities, Clark has been involved in Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, and was an Orientation Leader for two years. He also has been honored as a member of SPHINX Senior Honorary and 2007 Homecoming Court. This fall, the Youngstown native will attend the Michael E. Moritz College of Law, pursuing a dual J.D./M.A. in higher education administration.The Young Scholars Program recruits and provides programs for promising young students in the state's 9 largest urban districts who are first in their family to attend college.

• Hurricane chaser. Rachel Mauk, who will earn a geography degree, plans to be an atmospheric scientist and the nation's leading expert on hurricanes. As a teenager, when Mauk's friends watched "Friends," she watched "The Weather Channel." Last summer, she interned at the NASA Summer Institute on Atmospheric, Biospheric and Hydrologic Science. Mauk is the recipient of the prestigious Ohio Board of Regents scholarship and plans to use the money to attend graduate school here at Ohio State in the atmospheric sciences graduate program. Watch out for her on The Weather Channel in a few years!

• Dinosaur researcher. Matt Borths, earning a degree in anthropological sciences, is recipient of a Fulbright Award for the 2008/2009 academic year. He will be spending the next year in Germany doing research at the University of Bonn focusing on the role of early mammals during the end-Cretaceous mass-extinction era – the one that killed the dinosaurs. Borth says "I don't think mammals were just opossums and rats waiting for the dinosaurs to get out of the way. I think they were key actors in the ancient ecosystem." After a year in Germany, he will go to the Department of Anatomical Sciences at SUNY-Stony Brook to work on mammal evolution in Africa.

• Solving human movement disorders with engineering. Rebecca Routson, who is earning a degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in physics, enjoys solving problems. As an undergraduate research project, Routson built a more efficient and less bulky walking device for a young boy with cerebral palsy.
In addition to conducting research, the Montgomery, N.Y., native represented Ohio State in the Big Ten regatta as member of the crew team. Routson describes herself as "a fool-hardy football fan who, as an officer of Block O, was lucky enough to go Up North to see a Buckeye victory." Routson plans to complete her masters and Ph.D. degrees.

• Making a difference in the life of a child. Emma Gorman, a Westerville native, will earn a geography degree. Last year, an article in National Geographic about the spread of malaria in Africa caught Gorman's attention and compelled her to do a research project on access to safe drinking water in Africa. At the same time, she and her roommates signed on to sponsor a child in Tanzania in hopes of making a difference in the life of one child. She has been on the Dean's list throughout her OSU career while juggling two paid internships and conducting her research project on Africa.

• In support of more minority engineers. According to Kenton Williams, who is earning a degree in mechanical engineering, two huge problems exist in this country: a lack of engineers compared with China and India, and a lack of minority engineers. Williams, who served as president of The National Society of Black Engineers, says Ohio State has armed him with the tools to be at the forefront of contributing to the solution to the problems. A native of East St. Louis, Ill., Williams will continuing his education at MIT on a Ford Fellowship. In addition to his work with NBSE, Williams has been a math tutor for the Office of Minority Affairs and the Minority Engineering Program for the past three years. In addition, he conducted research at Ohio State last summer in humanoid robotics through the Summer Research Opportunities Program. He also served as president of Lambda Psi Minority Engineering Honorary, and on the executive boards of Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honorary and Delta Lambda Phi fraternity.