JONNIE SINGLETON (‘15)
Very few people on Drew’s campus haven’t heard of or met Jonnie Singleton. His senior classmates will agree that since the beginning of freshman year, Singleton has been a powerhouse of energy and spirit. The epitome of a social butterfly, he makes sure to try a little bit of everything and goes into every activity with a full heart and open mind-an attitude that quickly becomes contagious amongst his peers. Singleton has been a well-loved personality throughout his college journey in the forest, and he’s made many friends laugh along the way.
ALLIE MEGALE (‘15)
Few can rival the drive and spirit of Allie Megale. Known for her selfless spirit, Allie has spent the last four years studying Spanish and psychology. Megale is fiercely committed to her studies and has still found the time to ensure the success and growth of her friends and peers. Her energy is palpable. On any day of the week, her charisma and spirit—which she carries in her work as a Spanish tutor, broadening the language skills of her classmates—will encourage you to go the extra mile.
ANDREW BODO (‘15)
In the realm of academia, Andrew Bodo could give scholars everywhere a run for their money. He has been noted as one of the most ambitious students at Drew, majoring in both French and Classics. And it doesn’t end there. While most students in the Classics department tend to choose either Latin or Ancient Greek, he sought out to study both. Across campus, he is known not only for his strength of intelligence but also his strength of spirit. As a peer mentor, Bodo takes time out of his day to help incoming students. From here on, his resume just keeps growing. Not only does he work as an academic assistant for the Classics department, but he also finds the time to work on the Drew Review. All that aside, and not surprisingly, he’s an awesome person to go to for book recommendations.
ELIZABETH REGEDANZ (‘15)
Truly embodying the Drew spirit, Elizabeth Regedanz’s energetic and enthusiastic disposition is one reason why she has been chosen multiple times to represent RISE and Drew to important outside visitors. The leader of Dr. Bimal Dasmahapatra’s RISE research group on “Reactiviation of mutant p53 by small molecules,” Regedanz is well-organized, intelligent, and always happy to help Drew in anyway that she can. She is also vice president of MIND, Majorly Interested in Neuroscience at Drew.
SEONG SOO KIM (T‘16)
You’ll rarely, if ever, see Seong Soo Kim without a smile on his face—but many are unaware of his prowess and work ethic in the Theological School’s Master of Divinity program. Since starting at Drew, Kim has been admired for his selflessness and work ethic. However, his influence isn’t just limited to Drew’s campus. He is also a liturgist at Chatham United Methodist Church. He has been lauded for his generosity, giving to others while never asking for anything in return. Nowhere is this more evident than in his time in the Intensive English Language Program, where instructors were impressed with his endless willingness to lend a hand. Kim is a model for the Theological School, someone we should all take the time to learn from and appreciate.
DYLAN JONES (‘15)
Dylan Jones has the air of a professional. It sometimes comes as a surprise to Drewids when they discover that this well-dressed gentleman is, in fact, a student. Even though Jones looks and acts all the parts of a graduated businessman, his heart is entirely with the student body. He has learned to approach problems with diplomatic strategy, an approach that harkens to his political science major. Jones has had many opportunities to implement his passion: he was the Student Representative in Drew 2017, and served as Student Government vice president. As a polished and astute character, he sets the bar as the professional problem solver and bridge builder that every Drew student strives to be.
DANA GILL (T‘15)
Dana Gill is well known for her organization of last semester’s die-in: a symbolic community-wide demonstration against systematized racism. Gill’s role in the die-in is indicative of her leadership and conviction to make the world a more loving place. She is no stranger to community leadership. While pursuing her Masters in Divinity, she has served as president of the Theological Student Association and has been an intern to the University Chaplain. Rising to meet the needs of her community with a sense of compassion and activism, Gill embodied something every Drew student feels: a call to action and a passion for justice.
DAVID AGUILAR (‘15)
David Aguilar is described as “consummately selfless…He loves his friends and peers. I do not know anybody so kind and willing to help others.” Taking active roles in clubs, study abroad, and volunteer opportunities, he’s one of the first students to offer his advice and time when needed. With all of these relationships and experiences, Aguilar is in a constant state of non-assuming reflection. Listening and understanding are his priorities, so those in need naturally seek him out when they need a supportive friend. His qualities are seemingly quiet ones, but they are perhaps the most powerful grounding for facilitating an atmosphere of love and friendship on this campus.
BECCA MILLER (G’19)
Becca Miller is an effective problem solver with the kindest disposition and friendliest attitude. As a CAE tutor coordinator, most of the Drew community will recognize Miller as the bright graduate student who keeps the CAE a warm and efficient place. Even as she solves student’s scheduling conundrums, She never falters in being a caring and hard working Drew student who puts quality effort into her work without sacrificing moments of laughter. Indeed, Miller’s optimistic attitude and supportive humour are a consistent example of how the Drew Community champions solving problems: with kind laughter and knowledgeable action.
You may have seen the many menacing personas Kyle Biemiller has played on Drew’s stage—he is notorious for playing the “curmudgeon,” to use his terminology.
But, behind the scenes, he has a different reputation.
“Kyle easily has one of the jolliest laughs you will ever hear. I’d say it’s renown. You hear it in the distance and know he is around and there is a great time to be had,” one of Kyle’s best friends, Shakur Tolliver (‘16) said.
He continued, “It is rumored that if you look into his ocean-blue eyes long enough, you can reach Nirvana.”
“Kyle is extremely hard-working and passionate about everything he does. He is a reliable member of the men’s rugby team and is one of the biggest advocates for the team on and off the field. If I had to choose one word for Kyle it would be dedicated–he is loyal to his teammates and is dedicated to making the team better every practice, every game,” Campus Recreation Director Kerry Klug said.
Kyle believes that the spirit of Drew is one of open arms: “Anybody can come here, we are very welcoming. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. If you want to enjoy yourself, you will.” And his actions embody that idea.
With his friends, he personally funds a barbecue every Sunday in The Circle outside the dorms. Last weekend, he gave $120—for no other reason than to “spread joy” and give back to his fellow students. This harks back to the three years he spent on the orientation committee, doing whatever he could to help newcomers feel at home.
As for Kyle’s own journey to and through Drew, he has lost a jaw-dropping one hundred and ten pounds since his freshman year. “That wasn’t me,” he explains. “I lost my breath just walking up the stairs. I am a much more productive person now.” Indeed, he is captain of the Rugby team and a regular at the gym, even working behind the desk. He has always loved the outdoors, and participated in activities such as hiking and building a fort with his friends in the local woods. This fort is very secret. Too much has already been said.
When asked about his passions he said: “Just being outside. I kick my friends when they are playing FIFA and tell them, ‘let’s go play some real soccer.’ ” Also he is an avid reader. Open his backpack right now and you’ll find “Alice in Wonderland,” “Things Fall Apart,” “Lolita,” and “Selected Poems by W.H Auden”—“I prefer to pull those out instead of my cell phone,” he said. While usually considering his creative writing a private activity, this year he is publishing two poems in Insanity’s Horse.
This semester he is (literally) acting out against sexual assault, using his theatrical abilities to help make more believable informational films on the issue (the ones you’re usually giggling at with your friends in High School Health class). “I didn’t realize how widely this occurs, and it needs to be taken seriously,” he said.
Whatever fame he may glean with his acting talent, he says he will use it to introduce the world to his mother: “The world needs to know about that woman. She is fantastic.” He calls her his shining light, and attributes his giving disposition to her: “She made sure we were happy even in unhappiness. We have been through a lot of tough times, but she made sure we were never scared.” This is the spirit Kyle shares with the people in his life.
Kyle wanted to end his piece with a phrase he uses with his friends—two syllables which cannot be explained by means other than their utterance: Sligh-Ba.
The Forest doesn’t just offer plenty of nuts for the squirrels that call it home. It also offers many opportunities for the Drewids willing to take them. Kishan Patel (’15) is one Drewid who collected a diverse variety of experiences in his time in the Forest, often helping others along the way.
Patel is a double major in economics and political science. However, he has a special interest in international relations that he discovered during one of his summer internships.
He said, “I did an internship in DC over the summer with a small non-profit human rights organization.” He added, “It was great. What was really interesting was that I was the only undergraduate. I got to play with casework. I really loved the international game.”
He also discovered an interest in human rights, discussing how it was interesting to hear the stories of textbooks and classes in real life. He said, “Hearing it from the mouth of the people was definitely cool.”
Patel also thanked the entire political science department for their help over the past four years, unable to name just one professor who was particularly influential. He said, “All the professors had impacts on me in different ways.” He added, “They celebrate your victories and it’s really nice to have that support.”
One experience that impacted Patel was the United Nations semester in New York City. Of the program, he said, “I discovered that my interest in international relations wasn’t just an interest. It was a fun game that I love to play.”
Last week, Patel was inducted into Pi Omega Phi, Drew’s chapter of the French national honor society. About his involvement with French, he said, “I took French for a while. I love the language. I learned what I could in the time I had. I made the most of it. I’m going to keep going with it.”
Spreading the knowledge he has gathered in the Forest to others, Patel is a Level 1 CRLA-certified tutor for economics and political science. He is currently wrapping up his Level 2 certification. On how he became involved in the Center for Academic Excellence’s tutoring program, he said, “I got recommended to be a tutor and I tried it. I loved it. It was a lot of fun.” He is also involved with the pilot program for supplemental instruction. He said, “I sit in on the class and then I hold a review session two times a week for an hour. We play fun games and do activities. Last week, we did Taboo and Hangman.” He added, “I get more nervous about my kids’ exams than they do.”
Patel is also a Baldwin Honors Scholar. About his involvement with the program, Professor of Comparative Religion and Director of the Baldwin Honors Program Louis Hamilton said, “Kishan has been a senior member of the Scholars Advisory Committee, as such he helps plan the budget priorities and events for the program.” He added, “He is a tireless volunteer for us at events, a great ambassador for the program, and generally indispensable.”
He was also involved in the resurrection of Drew’s Political Science Society. Although he enjoyed the club’s political conversation, the ability to help underclassmen majoring in political science was a highlight for Patel. He said, “We get the chance to talk to the underclassmen. To guide them is really helpful.” He added, “It’s a big major and you can get lost in it. It’s good to hear advice from an actual student.”
Richa Patel (’17) explained why Patel represents Drew. She said, “Through the activities that he has participated in, and the work he’s done both on and off campus, Kishan embodies what a true Drewid should be like. Not only is he kind and compassionate towards everyone in and out of the community, he is also notably one of the most ambitious ones at Drew.”
Hamilton also discussed how Patel is a model Drewid. He said, “Kishan exemplifies Drew at its best because he is kind, concerned for his classmates, as well as extremely intelligent and hard working. That combination, to me, exemplifies the best of Drew.”
He added, “Kishan is both quick to laugh and very professional about his school work and the work of the Honors Program. That makes him great to work with.”
Patel is leaving the Forest for the UK, where he will attend Oxford University for a graduate program in international relations. About his future, he said, “It’s a step I never thought I was going to take. I thought I was going to be a corporate lawyer.”
Offering his words of wisdom for fellow Drewids, Patel said, “Have the vision of what you want to do. Have the direction. But be open to change.” He added, “You never know where you’re going to be.”
With grace and commitment, Danielle Williams (T’15) has made an impact in the Forest that will reside long after she graduates. While finishing her Masters of Divinity at the Theological School, she has had a large impact on the community.
Much of her work serving as president of the Black Ministerial Caucus and singing in the Pan-African choir has brought provocative and exciting programs to campus. Williams has worked to help build better community relationships between the Theological school and the College of Liberal Arts.
During her three years at Drew, Williams has also been a key member of the Educational Opportunity Scholars (EOS) program, where she works with underprivileged minority groups. For students with exceptional need, the program provides grants to students from educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Williams worked with the program to assist in helping minority women adjust to college life. On her commitment to helping youth she said, “It’s because I’m so young in a master’s program that I find it important to make a voice for young people,” adding, “I want to establish a voice for younger graduate students.” She also extended herself to helping students in the Theological School’s Intentional Learning Community as a housing assistant. In doing so, she helped the house form a new mission and vision for creating an atmosphere of hospitality and relationship in not only the Theological school, but also in the larger community at Drew.
Well beyond her young years, her peers have certainly taken notice of her determination and drive. Nikisha Turner (T’15), a fellow graduate student of Williams’s, said, “When I first saw Danielle, I thought ‘wow, she is so young and she already knows that God has called her to be a minister!’ I thought she was insightful about the topics we were discussing in class and her smile lit up the room.”
Being one of the youngest in her master’s program at 24 years old, she has grown to become a voice for other young people and has realized her passion for working with youth that will continue after graduation. It has also made her realize her passion for working with youth groups, African-American and minority issues, as well as community building.
Her professors are also taken aback by her accomplishments and the way in which she carries herself. Rev. Dr.Tanya Linn Bennett said, “She is a leader in the worship life of the Theological School and has offered her gifts to invigorate and enliven the worship experience.” William’s greatest strength is her ability to reach people. As Bennett notes, “[She] is engaging and charismatic and draws people to her from across lines of difference, experience, age and interests,” adding, “One of her greatest gifts is building friendships among various constituencies of the Theological School.”
Her campus engagement and ability to balance outside commitments are what make her unique. After graduation, Williams will move to Morristown and take a position in pastoral ministry at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, preaching and teaching youth groups. She hopes to continue to bridge the gap between the undergraduate and Theological Schools as an alumna. “I don’t plan on stopping just because I’m graduating. I feel obliged to finish building the bridge,” Williams said.
assionate is one way to describe the initiative and drive in the work that Sabrina La Bianca (’15) undertakes. In her time here at Drew, she has established herself as a prominent figure on campus academically and socially.
Not only has La Bianca contributed significantly to the advancement of student life, but in her four years at Drew, she has developed into a selfless friend, community activist, prominent researcher and scientist in the field of neuroscience. “She is smart, she gives back to her community and she is both kind and empathetic to all those she meets,” said her roommate of three years and close friend, Allie Willis (’15).
When La Bianca first set foot on Drew’s campus as a junior in high school, she fell in love immediately. She was drawn to Drew’s offerings and opportunities to research alongside some of the brightest and best scientists through undergraduate research opportunities and the Drew Summer Science Institute. She is pursuing a double major in neuroscience and Italian, with a minor in psychology and also spent a semester studying abroad in Rome, Italy.
In 2013, La Bianca travelled to San Diego, Ca. for the Society for Neuroscience Convention along with Dr. Graham Cousens of the neuroscience program and other members of her lab team. At the convention, they presented their research from DSSI and networked with other students, doctors and professional researchers and academics in the field. She credits her work with Cousens as being an integral part of her Drew experience and one of the pinnacles of her neuroscience education.
On campus, La Bianca has been involved with CIAO, the Italian club since her freshman year and now serves as its president, spent time working with Colleges Against Cancer as a sophomore and more recently began working with Drew EMS this year.
She has also gone on two alternate spring break trips, travelling once in 2013 down the shore to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy, and participating in the 2015 environmental and community service oriented mountaintop removal trip to Kentucky. In January 2015, La Bianca participated in the alternative winter break trip to Washington, D.C. to work with the homeless population.
La Bianca’s community engagement and desire to help others reaches beyond campus activities. “She is constantly trying to better herself and her community, even if it has nothing to do with her areas of study,” Willis said. Throughout this semester, she has interned with Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy (GASP) looking at ways to improve communities by advocating for smoke free parks and other public facilities. As a final project, La Bianca is bringing her work at GASP back to the Forest, where she is now working with other students to help change the University’s policy on smoking on-campus. She has also spent time combining her two academic interests, neuroscience and Italian, while interning at the Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in the Linguistics Department as a translator. Her work as a translator allowed her to learn about various mental disorders and diseases and be directly involved with patient interaction and education.
Her devotion to helping others is also shown through her work as a subject tutor in Drew’s Center for Academic Excellence over the past three years. More recently, she also began working at the F.M. Kirby Children’s center off campus as a teaching assistant in a kindergarten class. “Tutoring and working with the kids has impacted my life in a great way,” La Bianca said. “In both scenarios, I am able to help others understand something new. When you see it all click for the student, that’s the moment when I know I have made an impact on someone’s life.”
In the fall, La Bianca will continue her studies at the Loma Linda University School of Public Health in Loma Linda, Ca., where she will pursue a Master’s Degree in Global Health with a double concentration in epidemiology and biostatistics.
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