Joanna Catalano is finalist for prestigious Syed R. Ali-Zaidi Award for Academic Excellence

Clarion University senior Joanna Catalano, of Joppa, was selected as a finalist for the 2012 Syed R. Ali-Zaidi Award for Academic Excellence, open to all students of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Catalano received a certificate of recognition and a check for $500 during Clarion University's Academic Excellence Week, April 15-21.

Dr. Syed R. Ali-Zaidi, a founding member of PASSHE Board of Governors, established this program to recognize and reward outstanding academic achievement. Recipients are selected from the student body of each of the 14 PASSHE universities.

Clarion University President Karen Whitney nominated Catalano for the award.

"Ms. Catalano has achieved a 3.969 grade point average with the challenging major of molecular biology/biotechnology and concentration in pre-medicine, and a minor in our rigorous Honors Program," Whitney wrote in her letter of nomination. "She is an articulate and industrious young woman with excellent leadership capabilities, who aspires to be an orthopedic surgeon."

A faculty committee at Clarion University selected Catalano as a nominee based on her excellence as a scholar-athlete, her involvement in high-impact student experiences such as undergraduate research and internships, and strong leadership within the campus community.

The Academic and Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Governors chose her as a finalist from a pool of very strong candidates from the 14 system universities.

"I am truly honored to be an Ali-Zaidi finalist and to represent Clarion University," Catalano said. "I could not have been so successful if it had not been for the encouraging faculty at Clarion. They highly advocate student involvement and guide the students along the way."

Catalano is president of Student Senate and is a member of the women's basketball team. She has achieved dean's list recognition each semester of her student career at Clarion. Her awards and scholarships include: PSAC Scholar Athlete Award, Women's Basketball Varsity Award, Clarion University Scholar-Athlete Award, Phi Eta Sigma (freshman national honor society), Phi Kappa Phi (top 7 percent of students in their junior year), Beta Beta Beta (biology honor society), Outstanding Biology Student Scholarship, Foundation Honors Scholarship, Mochnick Honors Scholarship, David C. Smith Housing Scholarship, Walter Hart Scholarship, Mary R. Hardwick Scholarship, Fulton Memorial Scholarship, France-Allison Honors Scholarship, University Scholarship, Tippin Athletic Scholarship, APSCUF Scholarship and James D. Moore Leadership Scholarship.

Her undergraduate research examined "Inducing Gram-Negative Superficial Skin Infections in a Diabetic Model" in 2011 and 2012, and "Procedure Proposal for Inducing Gram-Negative Superficial Skin Infections In-Vivo" from 2008-11.

Catalano has served as a student senator since 2008, and she has been a member of Clarion Student's Association Board of Directors since 2010. She was part of the Presidential Student Advisory Board, which met twice a semester to discuss university operations with the university president.

She has been active in community service, most recently designing and running the Clarion Community Halloween Party for children in the community. She has participated in various capacities in Relay for Life and Special Olympics of Northwestern Pennsylvania. She was a patient care volunteer for Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, while serving an internship there in summer 2011. Other summer internships include Research Experience for Undergraduates at Colorado State University in summer 2010 and Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense in the summers of 2006 and 2007.

Her work experience in Clarion includes: Clarion University tutor, Keeling Health Center student worker, Clarion University Women's Basketball Summer Team Camp referee, SUCCESS Camps counselor for Clarion University Office of Admissions and violin tutor at Zeller's Music Stand.

Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.

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