May 15, 2021 |
Alison Garlock of East Aurora and Puja Sasankan of Williamsville have been named Ideal Bonaventure Students for the Class of 2021.
The Ideal Bonaventure Students exemplify the spirit of St. Bonaventure and the ideals of St. Francis through their demonstrated commitment to community service and academic excellence. This highest honor and treasured tradition celebrates the wonderful character of the St. Bonaventure graduate. They are selected by a committee that considers nominations from the campus community.
Garlock is graduating with Bachelor of Science degrees in adolescence education and mathematics. Sasankan is graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and a minor in business administration. St. Bonaventure’s Commencement ceremonies will be held Saturday, May 15, on campus.
The Ideal Student honorable mentions are Anna Hu, a biochemistry major from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and Victoria Wangler of Honeoye Falls, New York, who is an English and professional & creative writing double major and a marketing and Spanish double minor.
Garlock conducted her student teaching assignments at Ellicottville High School and Olean Middle School, and her field experience at Jamestown High School. She also worked with students at Olean High School as part of her teacher education tutoring experience. Garlock was a Peer Tutor in the university’s Learning Center and worked in the Math Lab for two years.
For the past three years, Garlock has been a member of the university’s Residence Life staff, serving as a resident assistant in Shay, Robinson and Devereux halls. She created and implemented social, educational and recreational programs, and mentored diverse floors of residents each year.
Because of her exceptional contributions to the campus residential community and her leadership, Garlock received the 2021 RA Senior Achievement Award from the Student Affairs division.
Those who nominated Garlock for the Ideal Student award praised her work ethic, compassion and integrity, particularly as a resident assistant and in her involvement in University Ministries.
“She has positively impacted hundreds of students at St. Bonaventure. As an RA, she has built community on a variety of floors (upperclassmen and first-year). Not only has she helped hundreds of residents grow and become part of the Bonaventure community, but she is always taking the next step and helping other RAs do the same,” said student Kurt Stitzel, a fellow RA, in his nomination letter.
Garlock’s life centers strongly around her faith. She completed the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) process as a freshman and then went on to serve as a leader of the university RCIA Team that helps prepare students to fully enter the Catholic Church. Garlock has helped teach and mentor others in their faith journey through this formation program as a volunteer over the last three years. She was also a member of the SEARCH Retreat Team, a student-led, faith-sharing team that meets weekly to support one another’s faith journey and helps prepare high school confirmation retreats for area parishes.
After graduation, Garlock plans to continue her St. Bonaventure education by pursuing her master’s degree in inclusive special education while continuing to work in Residence Life and as a graduate assistant in the School of Education.
Beginning with her freshman year, Sasankan immersed herself in the academic and co-curricular life of the university. For four years, she has served in the Student Government Association as well as a member of the campus Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT).
Her peers describe her as passionate in everything she does, whether it’s developing choreography as dance manager of Asian Students in Action (ASIA), volunteering with the campus Food Pantry, or helping other students as a Peer Tutor.
Throughout her time at St. Bonaventure, Sasankan has dedicated herself to the campus community: She was a First-Year Experience resident assistant, a supplemental instructor for PSYC-201, and the Franciscan Health Care Professions student coordinator, where she assisted the Office of Admissions with applications to the combined-degree and early assurance programs.
In preparation for medical school, she has completed several internships and shadowing experiences including two stints as a research intern in the Department of Immunology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. Since fall 2019, she has participated in the Experience in Clinical Medicine Program at Olean General Hospital in which St. Bonaventure students visit a number of hospital departments and explore issues not covered in traditional pre-medical courses and patient care in a rural environment.
In addition, Sasankan has pursued academics abroad by spending the summer of 2019 in England through the Francis E. Kelley Oxford Program.
While she has spent a significant amount of her time serving as a student leader, Sasankan’s Franciscan spirit “truly shines through during a one-on-one conversation,” said student Paul Boyd in his nomination of her for the Ideal award.
“If you have not had the pleasure of having a deep, faith-based conversation with Puja in the House of Peace at the Mountain, you have missed out. I have lost count of the number of lengthy discussions we have had comparing and contrasting our faiths’ rituals, beliefs and virtues. Beyond these deep conversations, Puja uses every interaction to better her community,” he said.
Student Anna Egli said Sasankan spreads the joy of being Hindu, showing the beautiful diversity the campus holds.
“Puja is a kind, caring individual who takes the time to build lifelong friendships and connections here on campus. I know her attributes have not only made an impact here at St. Bonaventure, but also will continue to impact the lives of others as she moves forward in her career,” said Egli.
This fall, Sasankan plans to attend The George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. In 2020, St. Bonaventure was named the #2 regional university value in New York and #3 in the North by U.S. News and World Report.