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 SRU senior earns runner-up post for PASSHE's Syed Ali-Zaidi Award 



March 26, 2010

CONTACT: K.E. Schwab



SRU senior earns runner-up post for PASSHE's Syed Ali-Zaidi Award         


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Seth Sykora-Bodie, a political science, geography and French major at Slippery Rock University, and the University's nominee for the Syed Ali-Zaidi Award for Academic Excellence, has been named a co-runner-up for the award and will be honored April 12 at SRU's annual Academic Honors Convocation.

           The 2 p.m. event is in Morrow Field House.

           Sykora-Bodie of Harrisville was nominated by SRU then chosen by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors' Academic and Student Affairs Committee as a runner up for the prestigious award. He will receive $500 and a certificate of recognition. Sharing runner-up honors is Melissa Rogers of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 

           This year's top award recipient is Joshua Bow of Edinboro University who will receive $1,000.

           "All of the candidates for this award were truly outstanding and serve as a testament to the opportunities PASSHE provides for students to excel," said John Cavanaugh, state system chancellor.

           The annual award, established by Ali-Zaidi, a charter member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education board of governors and a strong advocate for the system's universities, honors students who excel in the pursuit of knowledge. The award was inspired by Ali-Zaidi's memory of his grandfather, Mir Wilayat Husain.

           Criteria for the award include outstanding academic performance in the student's academic major and other areas of study; recognition of scholarship by university faculty; participation in extra- or co-curricular activities as an undergraduate; and submission of an essay on how the university has prepared the student for the next step. Nominations are sought on the various state system campus, then reviewed by the university president before submission to the committee.

           Sykora-Bodie was chosen following a rigorous internal procedure at SRU that solicited nominations from the entire academic community. His nominations came from faculty in the political science and English departments.

           The nominations cited his high grade-point average, 3.96, and his level of class and extracurricular participation, including participation in a model NATO delegation in Washington, D.C., and a similar program at the University of Pittsburgh. 

           "Seth is highly committed to a career in international development, and to that end he is majoring in political science. I have experienced first hand his leadership abilities, sense of initiative, seriousness, enthusiasm, adaptability, maturity, stability and public speaking abilities. In my view, he scored higher as a freshman on those factors than most of the graduating seniors I have worked with in 15 years of university teaching, Seth is highly capable, very bright and mature and confident beyond his years," one nominator wrote.

           As a student, Sykora-Bodie participated in two, spring semester study abroad program in France and gave a presentation in French about the European Union as part of his coursework there. In addition to his French language studies, he has studied Arabic. He has also studied in India, Costa Rica, Great Britain and South Korea.

           Sykora-Bodie secured a stringer position with the Hearst Corp. newspapers for the 2008 presidential elections and covered both the Democratic National Convention in Denver and President' Obama's inauguration in Washington, D.C. His stories were published in the Seattle Post-Intelligence and The Houston Chronicle.

           English faculty at SRU cited his writing as, "Very strong; thoughtful, organized and critical in the best sense of that word. Passionate about many issues, he is able to consider complex topics for a variety of perspectives. This ability to see and respect diverse opinions was a strength in his writing as well as in his interactions with other students. He often was able to find a bridge between two peers who seemed unable to find common ground, and his questions and comments in class discussions were consistently excellent."

           Sykora-Bodie credited his opportunities as an SRU student as part of the required essay, writing, "One of the University's greatest assets to me and my development has been its encouragement of my interests. It has been during my time at Slippery Rock University that I have ridden camels in Morocco and elephants in India, worked the front row at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration, saved sea turtle eggs in Costa Rica and snorkeled in Croatia...If the goal of a liberal arts curriculum is to bring students into contact with diverse views and ideas, then Slippery Rock University has succeeded in using everything in its arsenal to broaden my own world."

           A member of SRU's Honors Program, Sykora-Bodie will graduate in 2011. He plans to attend graduate school to study international security and development issues. His goal is to work in post-conflict reconstruction/stabilization and sustainable development for issues related to national security.

           While at SRU, he served internships in the Office of the Governor, the Office of Public Liaison and the Office of Correspondence. He was an Election Day precinct manager for Obama for America, Campaign for Change. He served on the Campaign to Elect Kathy Dahlkemper, as team captain for the Presidential Politics Debate and was a group facilitator for the Deliberative Poll: The Issue of Marriage in America that was hosted at SRU.

           He received the Paul F. Rizza Scholarship (2009) and the Robert A. Davis Scholarship (2008) from SRU's department of geography, geology and the environment, the Maree McKay-Esther Smiley Academic Scholarship from the SRU Alumni Association and the 2008 Association of Pennsylvania Sate College and University Faculty Statewide Scholarship. He earned the Donna Bennington Memorial Scholarship from the department of modern languages and cultures, the Sylvan Cohen Memorial Scholarship from the political science department and the SRU Honors Program Scholarship.

           Among his extra-curricular activities, Sykora-Bodie was president of Pi Sigma Alpha, political science honor society, and a member of the Pi Delta Phi, French honor society, College Democrats and Amnesty International. He played for the SRU intramural Frisbee and intramural soccer teams.

           Sykora-Bodie was a therapeutic riding volunteer for the University's Storm Harbor Equestrian Center, was involved in the Slippery Rock Park and Recreation Ski Club and the Unitarian Universalist Association's Ohio-Meadville District.

           He served on the Outdoor Adventures Staff at SRU, and as a YMCA-Grove City lifeguard.

           SRU'S Academic Honors Convocation honors spring and fall semester 2009 dean's list students, including those who have earned a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. The program will salute the Presidential Undergraduate Scholars in the sophomore, junior and senior class, scholarship recipients, scholar athletes and service-learning scholars.

           The ceremony includes presentation of the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching which will go to Richard Marchand, associate professor of mathematics, the President's award for Scholarship and Creative Achievement, which will go to David Dailey, professor of computer science, and the President's Award for Outstanding Service, which will go to Eliott Baker, executive director of academic records, summer school and graduate studies.

           A reception will follow in the Grasstex area of the Field House.           

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.


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