Commencement 2014: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Presents Graduating Seniors With CLASS Awards

May 22, 2014


As Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute prepared to host the 208th Commencement ceremony, the Division of Student Life carved out time to honor several graduating seniors as recipients of the CLASS Awards. The students were recognized for their achievements during the annual Zero Year Reunion Brunch that was held on May 22.

In 2009, the Division of Student Life launched Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students (CLASS) to provide support and co-curricular opportunities for students throughout their undergraduate years. Through CLASS, students are connected to a network of faculty, staff, and other students who lend support and guidance and help to build a strong community of learners as they strive to become the leaders of tomorrow.

“College is a time of transition, and with transitions come challenges,” said Dr. Timothy Sams, vice president for student life. “We understand that the rates at which students adjust to academic demands or integrate into social groupings can vary widely. CLASS is designed to foster personal growth and develop a cohesive community for all Rensselaer students. Overall, CLASS offers a comprehensive approach to student life that comprises all aspects of campus culture, within a residential college model.”

This is the second year that the CLASS Awards will be given to graduating seniors. “The Division of Student Life is truly honored to have an opportunity to celebrate the many accomplishments that several members of the Class of 2014 have made in order to support CLASS,” Sams said. “Through CLASS, Rensselaer seeks to cultivate an awareness of self, creating gateways to transformative experiences that will help students realize their potential. We are not only recognizing our second class to move through four years of our innovative residential educational model, we are also honoring many of the student leaders who led the transformation of our student experience at Rensselaer. They will forever be among those who blazed a new trail at Rensselaer.”

A total of seven students were presented with individual CLASS awards for a variety of personal attributes that demonstrate a commitment to excellence and the Rensselaer community, including:

Personal/Self Development

This student is a self-motivated problem-solver who is also an active member of the Rensselaer community. An individual who was able to explore and appreciate the values of others by defining her/his own personal strengths and ethical values and who has been able to identify the steps to achieving her/his goals while encouraging others to reach their highest potential. The award was presented to Kimiko Johnson, a business and management major.

Professional Development

This student has achieved high honors in his/her chosen field of study. She/he actively sought out opportunities for professional development through multiple pathways offered at Rensselaer. Through participation in undergraduate research, studying abroad, internship(s), co-op, and/or national fellowship/scholarship opportunities, this student was able to connect her/his talents and skills in unique ways with the goal of pursuing post-graduate work and/or career opportunities in their chosen field. The award was presented to Kyle Kondrat, a nuclear engineering major.

Leadership Development

This student has engaged in experiences that have broadened his/her capacity for leadership. Through purposeful learning and focus, this student has developed leadership capacity while demonstrating leadership qualities for the benefit of the university. The award was presented to Michelle Denny, a biomedical engineering major.

Cultural Development

In recognizing the synergy between science, technology, and the arts, this student embraces the arts both personally and academically. Being an active participant in artistic performances, exhibits, and forums, this student gained a better understanding of how to use art as a tool for personal, public, and professional expression in media. The award was presented to Carla Toland, an electrical engineering major.


This student was an involved citizen over the past four years at Rensselaer. This student contributed to and enriched the environment and culture of the university. In bringing diverse groups of individuals together with intersecting values, interests, and goals, this student has connected others in ways that benefit the world at large. The award was presented to David McDevitt-Pimble, a physics major.


Having developed a greater sense of responsibility for others, this student has taken strides to improve the various Rensselaer connected communities, whether they are local, statewide, national, or international. This student has demonstrated multicultural sophistication, participated in civic matters, and helped to create and/or improve partnerships between Rensselaer and its communities. The award was presented to Joshua Kilimaszewski, an electrical engineering major.

The CLASS Award

Each of these graduating seniors have grown significantly through their engagement in all six growth areas of CLASS: Personal, Professional and Leadership Development, Culture, Community and Communiversity. As a result of this student’s work, the university has benefitted tremendously. This year, the award is presented to one student, Ian Colwell, a business and management major.

Press Contact Jessica Otitigbe
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