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Honors Program students receive top awards at Wayne State commencement

April 18, 2007
Four students from the Wayne State University Honors Program will receive awards for having been judged as making the most outstanding contributions to the university in the areas of student activities, leadership and service while maintaining high scholarship during their undergraduate careers.

Two students from the Winter 2006 class will receive the David D. Henry Award and two students from the Spring 2007 class will receive the Howard A. Donnelly Award. The awards will be presented at commencement May 5.

Henry Award recipients:

Meghan Misiak of Livonia will receive a bachelor’s in elementary education with a specialization in language arts and a co-major in University Honors. As a four-year member of the WSU softball team she earned numerous honors including being named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Academic Team. She was named Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Freshman of the Year; All-GLIAC First Team, Second Team and Honorable Mention pitcher; and Great Lakes Region Most Outstanding Player. Misiak also received the NCAA Degree Completion Award and the WSU College of Education Dean’s Award. She was a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and held officer positions for two years. She has organized fund-raisers for the Division II SAAC initiative with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and participated in many of the committee’s volunteer projects including volunteering at the St. Aloysius soup kitchen, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Adopt-a-Family. She is active in Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, Toys for Tots and providing gifts for needy families during the holiday season. A substitute teacher, Misiak is certified to teach elementary through eighth grade in all subjects. She is the varsity softball coach at Livonia Churchill High School.

David Topolewski of Clarkston is graduating with a bachelor’s in business administration with a major in accounting and a co-major in University Honors. He founded the Honors Student Association (HSA) and was president for three years; he also was the student representative on the WSU Honors Council. Through HSA, Topolewski was active in numerous Habitat for Humanity builds, as well as area clean ups and volunteering at soup kitchens. In 2006 he coordinated 38 Honors students to take tickets for the 2006 Superbowl and the earned wages were donated to local charity. A gifted speaker, Topolewski was invited to make presentations at numerous university events including the Faculty/Staff Campaign kickoff breakfast and the Anthony Wayne Society black-tie gala, during which he told the university’s most generous donors about the positive effects their gifts have on scholarship students. Topolewski was the Honors resident assistant in Ghafari Hall; an Honors Program peer adviser; and a member of Phi Beta Delta, a national honor society for scholarly achievement in international education. He was the 2006 School of Business Administration Student of the Year. Topolewski has a graduate professional scholarship to the WSU School of Business Administration and is pursing his MBA while working part-time at Deloitte.

Donnelly Awards

Rebecca Grace of Ann Arbor will graduate with a bachelor’s in economics with a University Honors co-major and minor in Spanish. Grace is immediate past president of the Honors Student Association (HSA), of which she previously was vice president, event coordinator and a general member, and helped organize a holiday food drive for the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries. She has been a student representative on the Honors Council and is the student coordinator of B Start, a unique five-year MBA collaborative effort between the Honors Program and the School of Business Administration. Grace recruited, coordinated and trained more than 160 student volunteers who served as guides for prospective high school students during the university’s fourth annual Scholars Day recruitment activities this year. She was secretary of the university’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity and has taken part in several building projects and increased membership. Grace also has volunteered at fund-raisers for the Wayne State University Press and is an Honors Program peer adviser. After graduation, Grace will pursue a doctorate in economics at WSU, where she has been accepted as a graduate teaching assistant.

Clarence Dass of Bloomfield Hills will graduate with a bachelor’s in history with a co-major in University Honors. Dass participated in the Eighth International Youth Leadership Conference in Prague, Czech Republic, as a certified junior ambassador and co-founded the WSU Model United Nations (MUN) program, of which he was secretary-general. Through his involvement with MUN he has trained high school and college students in cross-cultural communications and conflict resolution; participated in The Hague International Model United Nations; and represented WSU at the national MUN competition in New York City. Dass organized a group of 15 university students to serve as tutors for Detroit Public Schools students at YouthVille Detroit, a local community center, and has been honored by Young People For, a division of People for the American Way. In 2005 he received the university’s Emerging Leader Award. Dass was a member of the Student Code of Conduct judiciary hearing committee and has received a WSU Undergraduate Research Grant. In February he won the top individual award at the Michigan Interscholastic Speech League competition and will participate in the national tournament in Georgia April 19-23. Dass will attend law school at the Ohio State University with a full scholarship this fall.