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‘The best of the best’: USC Aiken ceremony honors scholars for excellence

May 8, 2019

USC Aiken’s award-winning scholars took center stage at the Etherredge Center on Tuesday night as the university’s officials congratulated students for years of hard work and academic discipline in the annual Academic Honors Ceremony.

“While I’m proud of each and every student on our campus, I am especially proud of the students who we are recognizing this evening,” said interim provost Daren Timmons. “These are the best of the best.”

USC Aiken was ranked the No. 1 Top Public School in the South by U.S. News & World Report this year – the 14th time the university has been awarded such a title. Timmons said USC Aiken has achieved this status, in part, due to the students they were honoring Tuesday night.

The students came from a variety of backgrounds. Some were the first in their families to graduate college; others were serving in the U.S. Army Reserves while in school. Their achievements varied across disciplines, from studying analogs of planetary and interstellar ice mixtures to finding contemporary ways to teach classic works of literature, such as “hip hop” Romeo and Juliet.

All of them stood out from the crowd for their dedication, persistence and intelligence. They are students that have studied in countries all over the world, presented research to national institutions and are members of various prestigious groups and societies.

The first group of students to be recognized were the 2018-2019 Magellan Scholars, who received USC System grants to support their research and creative endeavors.

The ceremony then moved on to recognizing those who completed the USC Aiken Honors Program, which, according to Litner, allows “highly motivated and academically distinguished” students to conduct in-depth research in their academic fields.

Students were then recognized across disciplines for high academic achievement and motivation. They were selected by department and school faculty.

The 2019 Spring Outstanding Senior Student was Allison Swiecki, who studied molecular biology and has published award-winning research in her field.

“When choosing a university, I looked for a place that would support my desire to learn while also preparing me well for a career,” Swiecki said. “I found that the Department of Biology and Geology at USC Aiken was committed to teaching students about molecular biology, which made me very excited to become a student here.”

Swiecki, who was moved to tears during her speech, passionately thanked her mother and husband for supporting her and being understanding of her dedication to her work and studies.

“I wish I could stand on stage and personally thank every individual, but we would truly be here all night,” Swiecki said.

Swiecki described her seven semesters of lab research and the thrill of discovering something that’s “not on Google.”

Graduation ceremonies for USC Aiken will take place on Wednesday, May 8.

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