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Loyola University New Orleans Announces 2017 Ignatian Awards

Loyola press release - May 10, 2017

Outstanding seniors, graduate student will be honored at Baccalaureate Mass on Friday; winner of the Spirit of Ignatius Award for the College of Law will be announced at the law school mass on Thursday.

Loyola University New Orleans proudly announces recipients of the university’s 2017 Ignatian Award, Loyola’s highest award for students. Two undergraduate students, one graduate student, and one law student have been selected. The 2017 Ignatian Awards for Outstanding Senior are: Kathryn O’Leary ‘17 and Michael Pashkevich ‘17. The 2017 Ignatian Award for Outstanding Graduate Student is: Jennifer Chamberlain. All three will receive their awards at Baccalaureate mass on Friday, May 12, 2017.

The university’s annual Ignatian Awards are selected through a campus-wide nomination process; a selection committee made up of Deans of all five Colleges and university Vice Presidents makes the final determination. Students chosen to receive the Ignatian Awards have distinguished themselves by their holistic involvement in the life of the university — representing Loyola with honor and distinction, maintaining a distinguished grade point average, living a strong faith commitment, demonstrating examples of service for and with others, and showing a high regard for Ignatian, Jesuit values.

Kathryn “Kate” O’Leary ’17, a native of Weymouth, Mass., will graduate Saturday, May 13, with a Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences (pre-Med) and a double minor in Latin American Studies and chemistry. She has earned a spot on the Dean’s List six times. Since 2015, she has conducted neuroscience research at the Ochsner Institute of Translational Research; recently she presented very interesting results at the undergraduate symposium. Her outstanding scholarship has been recognized with numerous grants, scholarships and awards, including the academically-based Lamp of Knowledge, Barousse and Loyola grants and scholarships. She served as a teaching assistant in three biology courses, ably assistant students and professors. Her positive impact on Loyola has earned her the 2016 Strength in Diversity grant; the 2015 Intramural Athlete of the Year award; and the 2016 Outstanding Student Leader Award.

At Loyola, O’Leary has served as a program leader and core volunteer for the nationally renowned 40-year-old Loyola University College Action Program (LUCAP), where for four years she led volunteer activities at Habitat for Humanity; an Ignacio Volunteer, serving the poor two summers in Jamaica and Belize; a Hunger Relief volunteer for three years; a “Best Buddies volunteer for two years; a Resident Assistant in campus residence halls; a coordinator for “Late Nights at Loyola; an ambassador for the Office of Admissions; and a sorority member of Delta Gamma, where she led philanthropic efforts.

Michael Pashkevich ’17, a native of Mandeville, La., will graduate Saturday, May 13, with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a double minor in medieval studies and chemistry. A member of Loyola’s nationally acclaimed Honors program, Pashkevich is an Ignatian Scholar, Loyola’s highest scholarship. Among his many honors, he has received a national 2016 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship; this spring, he received a coveted offer for a 2017-2018 Fulbright U.S. Student Research Award and accepted the internationally prestigious Gates Cambridge Award, which will fund his graduate studies at the University of Cambridge. He has conducted undergraduate research in medieval studies at Trafalgar Castle in Scotland, as well as undergraduate research work in biology and social justice pedagogy research in the University Honors program, at each turn working side by side with faculty researchers on grant-funded research.

His activities have included tutoring at a charter elementary school serving children in poverty, informally tutoring classmates struggling with chemistry, volunteering at an urban farm supporting hunger initiatives in New Orleans and serving as a leader in the University’s chapel community. He has also spent vacation time working with Mayan children in Belize as part of Loyola’s Ignacio Volunteers program, and through the University Honors Association, gutting flooded houses with Habitat for Humanity and building parade viewing stands at Touro Synagogue for special needs children. In response to the 2016 terror attacks in Paris, he worked with Honors colleagues to create People for Peace Anti-Terrorism and Human Rights Group, an organization designed to disseminate information about refugees and to provide mentorship to refugees in the Greater New Orleans community, working with Catholic charities. Through his leadership and effort, the University Honors program has received a grant from the National Collegiate Honors Council to cover transportation costs for refugees, as well as to create videos in Arabic, Spanish and Creole to teach refugees how to navigate New Orleans public transportation. Through Loyola Mission and Ministry, he has served as a first-year retreat leader, Awakening Retreat staff leader, mass lector and Eucharistic minister.

Jennifer Price Chamberlain, a native of Kingston, Mass., will receive a Master of Science degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling on Saturday, May 13. She is a graduate of Saint Joseph University. During her time at Loyola, she has worked as a communications specialist for the university’s Jesuit Social Research Insitute, a social justice think tank, advocacy and action center on campus focused on the issues of race, poverty, and immigration. Chamberlain has also worked as a counseling student intern at the Celebration Hope Center, counseling children, adolescents and adults on a variety of life issues rooted in trauma. Prior to joining Loyola, she worked as a Jesuit Volunteer Corps member for H.E. Savage Healthcare for the Homeless in Mobile, Ala. She is a member of the Louisiana Counseling Association and Louisiana Association for Play Therapy; as well as president of the local chapter of Chi Sigma Iota Alpha Phi, a professional counseling honor society with a focus on advocacy and service. During graduate school, she received additional professional development skills through Painless Parenting, Darkness to Light training, NAMI advocacy training, and training in mandated reporting. She has volunteered with the Saint Bernard Project, rebuilding houses in New Orleans and Baton Rouge; Jesuit Volunteer Corps; and the Harry Tompson Center.

She has been an active participant in Loyola community involvement efforts, including: Counseling Student Race Dialogue efforts; Students Address Race and Privilege (S.A.R.P.); NamiWalks New Orleans; and mentoring fellow students in the Loyola Counseling Department.

Winner of the Spirit of Ignatius Award for the College of Law will be announced at the Law Graduation mass on Thursday, May 11. Tradition has it that the winner’s name is kept secret until the mass.