Annual awards recognize leadership, learning, and loyalty

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

University of Iowa students, faculty, staff, and alumni received some of the institution’s highest honors on April 10 at the 101st Finkbine Dinner. Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers was emcee, and UI President J. Bruce Harreld presented the Hancher-Finkbine Medallions and Distinguished Student Leader certificates.

Hancher-Finkbine Medallions recognizing leadership, learning, and loyalty went to students Nicholas Borcherding, (Jane) Tien Thuy Nguyen, Lilián Sánchez, and Hannah Shirey; College of Nursing faculty member Anne McCarthy; staff member Regina Hatcher; and alumnus Leonard A. Hadley.

Akash Bhalerao, Sean Finn, Grant Jerkovich, and Thomas Pak received Distinguished Student Leader certificates. The Philip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award (which includes a $1,500 award) went to Winnie Uluocha.

JoElla Guagliardo and Logan Samuelson received the Robert F. Ray Faculty Representative Award, which honors outstanding student-athletes and provides $1,000 grants to recipients entering graduate or professional school at the UI.

James Nepola received the M.L. Huit Faculty Award, and Sarah Harkness received the James N. Murray Faculty Award.

In 1917, William Finkbine and Carl Kuhnle hosted the first awards dinner for UI men. In 1921, Finkbine’s daughter, Dorothy Finkbine Sauers, and her aunts introduced a similar dinner for women. The events were combined in 1972 and to this day are supported by an endowment established by W. Finkbine, as well as other alumni, friends, and the UI Center for Advancement.

Read on to learn more about this year’s honorees.

Akash Bhalerao
Distinguished Student Leader Award, Undergraduate

Akash Bhalerao is from Pune, Maharashtra, India. He is pursuing a degree in social entrepreneurship and environmental restoration and a Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management in the Tippie College of Business. Bhalerao is a student committed to not just learning skills to obtain a job, but skills that make him better suited to serve the world. As president of Net Impact, he focused on spreading awareness in the Tippie College of Business about the challenges of sustainability faced in business corporations. Bhalerao’s passion for sustainability and environmental restoration is his life’s work, exemplified by projects like phasing out plastic bags on campus and implementing strategies to increase Homecoming’s sustainability efforts; he works to better the lives of fellow students and increase the quality of the University of Iowa as a whole. In addition, Bhalerao served as the executive director for Homecoming 2017 and currently is a senator in University of Iowa Student Government (UISG), where he coordinated campus partners to develop the Clothing Closet at Iowa initiative. Bhalerao encourages senators with less experience to co-author legislation to spread the sense of ownership and pride in the process. A true leader works to bring out the absolute best in people, a value Bhalerao intentionally and relentlessly pursues in his leadership.

Nicholas Borcherding
Hancher-Finkbine Graduate/Professional Student Medallion
Nicholas Borcherding, from Davenport, Iowa, is pursuing a joint Doctor of Medicine and Philosophy in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. Borcherding has authored nine articles, four being first-author publications, along with a contribution to a textbook. He has received funding as a principal investigator of an Oberley Seed Grant from the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center and a Research Seed Grant through the American Medical Association. In addition, Borcherding works to assist his peers as a small-group facilitator for Medicine and Society courses, a tutor for Mechanisms of Health and Disease, and through the development of a central repository named Carverpedia, for student- and faculty-authored learning aides. Balancing academics and research, Borcherding has substantially contributed to the University of Iowa community, serving on the Presidential Charter Committee for Recreational Service, the Grant Committee for the Graduate and Professional Student Government, and the Medical Education Council. He is a strong advocate for mental health reform in the medical school, leading and facilitating policy discussions with stakeholders. This work led to Borcherding being named part of the Liaison Committee for Medical Education Taskforce on Reaccreditation at the Carver College of Medicine.

Sean Finn
Distinguished Student Leader Award, Undergraduate

Sean Finn, from Marshalltown, Iowa, is double majoring in ethics and public policy and economics in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Recognized prior to his collegiate career for exceptional academics as a Gold Matthew Shepard Scholar, Finn has shown that same level of commitment to learning and academics during his time at Iowa. Finn is president and founder of the UI Trans Alliance, currently serves as president of the Gamma Gamma Chapter of Delta Lambda Phi, and is a student representative on the University of Iowa Trans Inclusivity Task Force. Finn works tirelessly to translate complex transgender, queer, and equity issues into accessible information to not only develop his understanding but to create more persuasive arguments to impact effective methods of making change. His high standards of equality, fairness, and respect have driven him to work against cultural norms in rules and policies at the university and operating norms in Fraternity and Sorority Life. In addition, Finn has been a collaborator in the creation of numerous queer resources on campus, including the QUEERnival, the Trans@Iowa resource website, and the Queer Leadership Roundtable—a collective of undergraduate queer student organizations at the University of Iowa.

JoElla Guagliardo
Robert Ray Faculty Athletic Representative Award

JoElla Guagliardo is a senior member of the field hockey team from Deerfield, Illinois, pursuing a degree in biology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Guagliardo has served as the service chair for the Iowa Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and as the student-athlete representative to the Presidential Committee on Athletics. She has helped to head various programs for student-athletes, including Hawkeye Health C.A.R.E., Fuel Up to Play 60, and the Athletics Day of Caring. For the past four consecutive years, Guagliardo has earned Academic All-Big 10, nominations to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s National Academic Squad, received medals from the Presidential Committee on Athletics, and was named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar in 2017. Following graduation, Guagliardo will be attending the University of Iowa’s College of Dentistry.

Leonard A. Hadley
Hancher-Finkbine Alumni Medallion
Leonard (Len) Hadley graduated from the University of Iowa with a BSC in accounting in 1958 and studied law at Iowa in 1959. In 1990, he participated in Northwestern University’s International Advanced Executive Program and later received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the UI in 2014. What makes Hadley shine among other legendary UI alumni is his lifelong commitment to learning, particularly his dedication to fostering the growth and development of UI scholars. Hadley is a member of the University of Iowa Center for Advancement Board of Directors, where he has served as chair of the audit committee and a liaison for the UI Facilities Corporation. He is also a member of the Tippie College of Business Administration Board of Visitors. Throughout the years, he and his wife, Marlene, have made significant contributions to the Tippie College of Business; Hawkeye Athletics; Hancher; and glaucoma research, education, and clinical care within the Department of Ophthalmology and UI Health Care. Despite his busy schedule and breadth of civic and philanthropic interests, Hadley consistently makes the UI a top priority.

Sarah Harkness
Marion. L. Huit Faculty Award

Sarah Harkness is an assistant professor of sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Her research focuses on the social psychology of inequality, specifically related to the study of status, health stigma, intersectionality, and social exchange. Harkness also works on issues related to morality and emotions. She is currently studying how status processes bias lending decisions, how status beliefs are both gendered and raced, the creation of new status characteristics, and whether status symbols can erode the impact of status characteristics. Her nominator shared that “Dr. Harkness is a fantastic teacher. She makes the content relevant and interesting by drawing connections between sociological concepts and other fields or everyday life. I took medical sociology with her and there were several pre-med students who had never taken a social science course. She always made sure that we talked about the practical implications of the material we covered, and it helped us see that the content was about more than theory and statistics. After taking her class I realized how well sociology fit my research interests. As a result I am writing an honors thesis in sociology.”

Regina Hatcher
Hancher-Finkbine Staff Medallion
Regina Hatcher is senior specialist for quality service at the Pomerantz Career Center. If there ever was a loyal Hawkeye, it is Hatcher. Not only did Hatcher and all of her children attended the UI and graduate, but most impressive is how she embodies the Finkbine values of leadership, learning, and loyalty on a daily basis. Hatcher is the first person people meet when visiting the UI Pomerantz Career Center; her positive attitude is contagious as she welcomes students and visitors to campus. During her time at Iowa, Hatcher has modeled a strong work ethic and loyalty not only for her co-workers, but most importantly to the students she supervises. Hatcher coaches student employees on the benefits of acclimating to a professional work environment. She also has been known to trim a vent on a new suit or cut off a tag to help students create the perfect impression for their first interview. Beyond the Career Center, Hatcher volunteers at the On Iowa! President’s Block party, summer orientation fair, and the building emergency planning team.

Grant Jerkovich
Distinguished Student Leader Award, Graduate

Grant Jerkovich, from Council Bluffs, Iowa, is a third-year student in the College of Pharmacy. Jerkovich has been an integral part of the College of Pharmacy’s leadership as the student leadership council president. In the role, he increased the College of Pharmacy’s participation in the free mental health clinic, resulting in pharmacy and medical school students working together to provide transition of care for patients. In addition, Jerkovich has fostered a strong relationship with the Iowa Pharmacy Association through numerous events planned at the College of Pharmacy and the capitol in Des Moines. He has also met with state legislators in Des Moines and Washington, D.C. to advocate against increased taxes for graduate students and promote the funding of higher education. Jerkovich served as president-elect of the Student Leadership Council, representing all students at the college. He also served as a pharmacy delegate for Graduate and Professional Student Government, is an Iowa Pharmacy Association Board of Trustee Member, and is a student representative on the executive council at the College of Pharmacy. In all of these leadership roles, Jerkovich has continued to raise the bar and push those around him to succeed.

Ann McCarthy
Hancher-Finkbine Faculty Medallion
Ann Marie McCarthy, professor in the University of Iowa College of Nursing, sees every new project as a learning opportunity. She is one of the first nurse scientists to examine how genetics and biomarkers can predict both psychological and physiological pain responses in children. McCarthy’s research has empowered parents and providers to reduce pediatric pain through a successful “bench to bedside” translation of parents performing distraction as an effective way to reduce pain. In addition, her work has improved safety in medication administration in schools through work with school nurses in Iowa. A resourceful leader, McCarthy has funded a 30-year research program from a patchwork of National Institutes of Health and private funding, launching the careers of more than 25 students and postdocs. She generously works with the next generation of nurse scientists through her outstanding mentorship of junior faculty, postdoctoral fellows, students, and staff and also assists in grant-writing and publication. McCarthy’s loyalty is exemplified by her selfless willingness to perform work too often unseen and underappreciated so that others can shine.

James Nepola
James N. Murray Award Recipient

James Nepola is professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation in the Carver College of Medicine. Nepola received his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and has been in practice for more than 20 years. According to his nominator, “Dr. Nepola provides a daily example on how a physician should provide patient-centered care. The majority of his practice involves patients who have extremely difficult orthopedic problems. He is a master at regaining a patient’s trust after other physicians have tarnished the physician-patient relationship. He allows for significant autonomy for residents to make clinical decisions. He allows for the resident to expand his/her operative skills yet is always able to provide teaching points in the operating room that are specific to each case. He sacrifices many of his personal obligations to provide more time for students and residents to become better physicians.”

(Jane) Tien Thuy Nguyen
Hancher-Finkbine Undergraduate Student Medallion
Jane Nguyen, from Sioux City, Iowa, is majoring in biochemistry in the Carver College of Medicine. Nguyen is an active leader, participant, and co-founder of the Conversation Center, an integrated learning platform designed to provide non-confident English speakers the opportunity to explore and better understand the English language. The center, now a part of the rhetoric department’s curriculum, has provided over 3,101 independent one-on-one sessions since the spring of 2016. In addition, Nguyen has actively participated in more than 800 hours of undergraduate independent research in the Department of Biochemistry, focusing on Replication Protein A and its effect on DNA repair. She exemplifies leadership not only in the classroom but also in her extracurricular activities. As current president and co-founder of Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, Nguyen has played an integral part in the organization’s accomplishments, including achieving active status in the Multicultural Greek Council, establishing the Chapter Alumnae Association, and hosting campuswide workshops aimed at increasing mental health awareness within the Asian community. In the spring of 2017, Nguyen was awarded the T. Anne Cleary scholarship and the Helen Reich scholarship for her scholarship, leadership, and service.

Thomas Pak
Distinguished Student Leader Award, Graduate

Thomas Pak is a third-year student in the medical scientist training program in the Carver College of Medicine. Pak has served as co-president of the Iowa Research Club, student representative for the Medical Student Research Council, and was the first Iowa medical student to serve as the Midwest regional co-chair of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In addition, he facilitated a membership through the Iowa Research Club to become a member of the American Physician Scientist Association, securing better funding and national presence for Iowa medical students. Pak was selected for the Iowa Medical Innovation Group to work alongside engineers, law students, and business students to tackle the pressing issue of patient falls in the hospital and currently have a product in testing. Pak is actively involved in the civic life of the university by addressing mental health issues. As a member of National Alliance on Mental Illness, he helps provide support and access to resources for graduate students and co-founded a local chapter of the “happiness initiative” to promote activities that improve mental well-being.

Logan Samuelson
Robert Ray Faculty Athletic Representative Award

Logan Samuelson is a senior member of the men’s swim team from Fort Myers, Florida. He is pursuing a degree in sport and recreation management in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Samuelson qualified for the Academic All-Big Ten Selection the past two school years and served as a senior leader this season, working to help the team grow and create a strong culture. He also helped serve the community by taking part in Fuel up to Play 60, to teach elementary kids the importance of eating a healthy balanced breakfast and staying physically active. In addition, Samuelson participated as a volunteer with the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, where he would visit alongside other student-athletes and watch football games with the kids. Following graduation, Samuelson plans to obtain a master’s degree in sports leadership to pursue a career in college athletics.

Lilián Sánchez
Hancher-Finkbine Undergraduate Student Medallion
Lilián Sánchez is a first-generation college student from Des Moines, Iowa, who has contributed to the UI community serving in various leadership positions. In April 2017, she was elected the vice president of University of Iowa Student Government (UISG), the first Latinx woman to serve as vice president of the organization. Through the position, Sánchez has continued to advocate for first-generation college students and students with marginalized identities as she began doing after her first year at the UI as an Iowa Edge peer leader. Sánchez is a thoughtful and compassionate leader who graduated from numerous leadership development programs, including the Latina Leadership Initiative of Greater Des Moines. Her imperative to support others is also apparent from her impact as president of Phi Alpha Delta—a professional fraternity for students pursuing law school—expanding membership from 25 to 111 during her tenure. Most recently, Amnesty International selected Sánchez for the Ladis Kristof Memorial Fellowship; through the 10-week residency program, she will work to advance human rights with a global team of advocates.

Hannah Shirey
Hancher-Finkbine Graduate/Professional Student Medallion

Hannah Shirey, a native of Waterloo, Iowa, is pursuing a JD at the UI College of Law. Shirey has been committed to engaging with and advocating for immigrant communities since her childhood; advocating for immigrant Iowans as they navigate the legal system. In addition, Shirey has worked to ensure that members of the immigrant community in Johnson County know their legal rights and how to access critical resources and representation. During her time at the College of Law, she has been ranked in the top 20 percent of her class and elected editor-in-chief of the Iowa Law Review, overseeing the journal through its 103rd year of publication, and its first as a top 10 nationally ranked legal journal. Shirey has mentored numerous law students through her work on the Iowa Law Review, in the Clinical Law Program, and with the Organization of Women Law Students & Staff. Her love of learning is a core part of her identity, but most rewarding to Shirey is the joy found in conversations about law with her 80-year-old grandfather, an attorney and Iowa alum.

Winnie Uluocha
Phillip G. Hubbard Human Rights Undergraduate Award

Winnie Uluocha, from Chicago, Illinois, is a third-year student at the UI College of Law and a second-year Master of Health Administration student at the UI College of Public Health. Uluocha has made significant contributions toward furthering the university’s human rights policy through her work at the Colleges of Law and Public Health, service on diversity committees at both colleges, and a leadership role in the Black Law Students Association. She has taken an ongoing leadership role in revitalizing the law school’s Diversity Committee and focusing on the role of diversity and inclusion across the curriculum. This included being the driving force behind the creation of the Diversity Task Force to work on issues of diversity and inclusion within the Masters in Health Administration program. In addition, Uluocha has performed research on the implications of implicit bias in the criminal justice system, and in particular in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion and its disproportionate impact on communities of color. Uluocha’s research resulted in a paper that was recognized in 2018 with a Dare to Discover banner issued by the University’s Office of Vice President for Research and Economic Development.