Students and Faculty Honored at Annual Awards Ceremony

July 1st, 2003

Rachel Leone

The Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities held their annual spring awards ceremony on April 25 at the Clara Bell Smith Student Athlete Center.  The auditorium was abuzz with excitement and joy as students, staff and guests made their way inside.  Brian Romero and Leslie Strong hosted the event and kept the atmosphere light with their humor as they presented the awards.

The banquet opened with the presentation of two awards in honor of two individuals who helped make RCPD what it is today.  The James B. Hamilton Award was presented to John Eulenberg by Dr. Lee June and Stephen Blosser.  James B. Hamilton was the Assistant Provost responsible for initiating the Office of Programs for Handicapper Students (RCPD today). 

The second award was in memory of Judy K. Gentile who served as the first director of the office.  The award is presented to someone with outstanding leadership in developing a spirit of ability to succeed for persons with disabilities.  This year the recipient was Dr. Bernard Finifter, an associate professor of sociology. 

For only the second time in the RCPD history, the Samaritan Foundation Scholarship was awarded to five undergraduate students.  The Samaritan Foundation was established by MSU alumni Jim and Judy DeLapa over two decades ago and in 2003 began providing scholarships through RCPD to undergraduate students.  It is distinguished as the first scholarship for MSU undergraduate students with disabilities and Mrs. DeLapa was present at the ceremony to award the scholarships to Stephanie Beel, Kimberly Borowicz, Matthew Carbary, Aaron Scheidies, and a student that wishes to remain anonymous. 

Beel was very proud to be recognized with the Samaritan Scholarship.  She said "The award was so special to me because it was one of the first times that I was recognized for all of the school work I have been doing all of my life. It was the first time someone said I was doing a great job in an award and monetary fashion."   

Three graduate students were also recognized as recipients of the Robert L. Decker and Benjamin Muns Friendship Memorial Scholarship.  This is an annual award in memory and recognition of two Ford Motor Company executives who died in a small airplane crash in 1991.  Mr. Decker and Mr. Muns were committed to increasing productivity of the workforce while elevating the quality of the work-place environment.  This year the scholarship was awarded to three very deserving individuals: Scott Jakob, a graduate student earning his Masters in Curriculum and Teaching, Manashi Ray, who is earning an advanced degree in Sociology, and a student who desires to remain anonymous earning their doctoral degree in the department of Psychology.  Both Mrs. Decker and Mrs. Muns were present at the event to congratulate the recipients.

Several faculty and staff awards were presented at the ceremony as well.  The Dorothy Millbrook Staff award was presented to Roger Cargill.  Rajesh Lal, Steven Gold, and Marilyn Mook were recognized as outstanding faculty and staff for exceptional contributions to Equal Opportunity for Achievement and an Environment of Excellence.

In addition, Charmane Corcoran was presented with this years Outstanding Alumnus award.  This award is in recognition of an RCPD graduate who is successful in his/her field and continues to represent the abilities of those in the disability community.  Corcoran works in the Client Advocacy Office on the MSU campus where she promotes and implements web accessibility initiatives at Michigan State University and serves as the MSU invited expert to the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative.

Other awards included the Student Leadership award recognizing Aaron Scheidies, the Anita Giampalmi Scholarship awarded to Haley Cole, and the RCPD awards presented to Thomas Sleight for dedication and three other students who desire to remain anonymous for resourcefulness, commitment, and perseverance.

The Tower Guard Sophomore Honor Society and other volunteers were also commended for their work over the school year recording text books onto audio tape and converting numerous books to E-text format.

Learning Disabilities Specialist Elaine High coordinated the event and was very pleased with the outcome.  "It was good to see people from many departments and the grateful recipients and their families.  Also, everybody always says they learn something new at the ceremony.  It's always an emotional and exciting day."

Congratulations to all of the recipients this year.  The awards ceremony was a huge success and RCPD looks forward to another excellent group of recipients next year.