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Two St. Bonaventure University students who excelled in and out of the classroom and who embrace Franciscan values were recognized as the Ideal Bonaventure Students for the graduating Class of 2016.
Jaisree Iyer, the Ideal Bonaventure Woman, and Jason Damon, the Ideal Bonaventure Man, were recognized on Saturday, May 14, during the university’s Honors Ceremony, and again Sunday during its 156th Commencement Exercises.
The Ideal Bonaventure Students exemplify the spirit of St. Bonaventure and the ideals of St. Francis through community service and academic excellence. They are selected by a committee that considers nominations from the campus community.
Iyer, daughter of Ramachandran and Indhira Iyer of Duluth, Ga., earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in psychology. Damon, son of Daniel and Deborah Damon of South Wales, N.Y., earned a bachelor’s degree in history.
The honorable mentions were management major Katherine “Katie” Sinclair, daughter of David and Sandra Sinclair of Cortland, N.Y., and psychology major Robert Russell, son of Ronald and Margaret Russell of Collins, N.Y.
A student in the university’s dual-admission program with George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Iyer was awarded a competitive Borer Fellowship for full-time summer research at St. Bonaventure after her sophomore year. She conducted four semesters of laboratory research, working with two faculty research mentors.
For the past two years she has served as the Franciscan Health Care Professions program student coordinator, communicating with prospective students and their families and coordinating dozens of interviews that take place every year. She has also served as a student ambassador for the Admissions Office and as a peer mentor with the First-Year Experience program.
As dance captain of the student-run organization ASIA (Asian Students in Action), Iyer has worked tirelessly to teach dance routines based on traditional Asian dances to other St. Bonaventure students as well as to younger dance students in the Olean area.
Active in the community of her Hindu temple at home, Iyer also has an active and serious-minded daily devotional practice on campus.
“Throughout her four years here, Jaisree has consistently and to a high degree represented our campus community in the best possible light,” said Dr. Joel Benington, professor of biology. “She demonstrates a well-developed ethos of selfless service through the many activities she performs in our community, in academic and research work, and in her interactions with her peers.”
Iyer, who was named The Biology Award winner at Saturday’s Honors and Awards Ceremony, will pursue a medical degree at George Washington University this fall.
Damon is described by history professor Dr. Joel Horowitz as “an extremely pleasant and hardworking individual who cares deeply about the world, his university and his faith. He is also a very thoughtful individual who combines that with great intelligence and curiosity.”
Damon, who completed his degree requirements in December 2015, has been living with the Franciscan friars at Mt. Irenaeus as a Mountain Companion and plans to enter the Postulancy of Holy Name Province in Silver Spring, Md.
Dedicated to the ideas of the Catholic Church and the Franciscan friars, Damon has been active in numerous Church-related activities on campus, many times taking on leadership roles. Damon spent two years as the men’s overnight coordinator for the Mountain and was active in Mountain Community Leaders as well as the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus, the SBU chapter of Students for Life, and as a Eucharistic minister.
Additionally, he was a member of the All Bonaventure Reads committee, the History Club and was a student ambassador.
Damon is a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honors society, and completed two summer internships in Washington, D.C. In 2014, he was a public policy intern for the Knights of Columbus and in 2015 served as an intern for the Franciscan Action Network.
Horowitz said it was an honor to have Damon in three of his classes. Intelligent, inquisitive and anxious to explore new facets of history, “He is clearly one of the best students that I have had in my 27 years at St. Bonaventure.”
In addition to being named Ideal Bonaventure Man at the Honors Ceremony, Damon was recognized as the winner of the General Excellence in the Arts Curriculum for having the highest GPA in the Arts.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #5 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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