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UCSB Announces Winners of Thomas More Storke Award and Other Top Prizes for Outstanding Graduating Seniors

Monday, June 7, 2010 - 17:00
Santa Barbara, CA

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Janelle M. Mungo

Janelle M. Mungo

Three remarkable graduating seniors at UC Santa Barbara have been named winners of the university's top awards for their scholastic achievement, their extraordinary service to the university and the community, and their personal courage and persistence.

· Maxim N. Massenkoff, of San Francisco, is the recipient of the Thomas More Storke Award for Excellence, the campus's highest student honor, for outstanding scholarship and extraordinary service to the university, its students, and the community.

· Janelle M. Mungo, of Menifee, is the recipient of the Jeremy D. Friedman Memorial Award, which recognizes outstanding leadership, superior scholarship, and contributions to undergraduate life on campus.

· David M. Rochman, of Huntington Beach, is the recipient of the Alyce Marita Whitted Memorial Award, which recognizes a non-traditional student's endurance, persistence, and courage in the face of extraordinary challenges while pursuing an academic degree.

These and other student-award winners will be honored at a University Awards Ceremony and Reception on Friday, June 11, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. in the campus's Corwin Pavilion. (The winner of the Storke Award will also be honored at the Social Sciences I Commencement ceremony at 4 p.m., Saturday, June 12, on the Commencement Green.)

Maxim N. Massenkoff, the Storke Award winner, is an honors student whose undergraduate career has been defined by important research projects across multiple disciplines, stellar community service, and impressive achievement in the arts. He earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.98, including a remarkable 21 A+ grades in disciplines as varied as anthropology, psychology, mathematics, religious studies, and economics.

Massenkoff's extraordinary motivation comes from what he calls "an unconventional source" –– a rare heart condition diagnosed and treated with open heart surgery four months before he enrolled at UCSB.

Graduating with a major in economics and a minor in mathematics, Massenkoff has been involved in research pursuits since his second quarter at UCSB. According to Michael Gurven, professor of anthropology, Massenkoff has cored trees and analyzed tree rings as a member of the Still Laboratory in the geography department, investigated the college textbook market under economics professor Ted Bergstrom –– a study that resulted in Massenkoff's honors thesis, which received a Faculty Achievement Award –– originated complex statistical methods to analyze land demarcation techniques with Bren School professor Gary Libecap, and explored the intersection of politics and psychology through the Law and Neuroscience Program.

Community service has also defined Massenkoff's time at UCSB. During his freshman year, he was elected president of the campus's chapter of Habitat for Humanity, an office he has held through his senior year. In this role, he was instrumental in taking 25 volunteers to New Orleans to help rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He also forged a relationship with the Santa Barbara Food Bank, recruiting his Habitat for Humanity volunteers to take on the weekly BackPack Program, which provides food for low-income school children.

Along with his other achievements, Massenkoff is an accomplished musician and composer. He has played double bass with the UCSB Symphony throughout his academic career. During his sophomore year, the symphony recorded his original composition, "Overture for Full Orchestra." He also plays piano, guitar, and drums, and his appreciation for music led him to help found the Dead Composer's Society, UCSB's first classical music appreciation club.

Massenkoff is also the recipient of the campus's Luis Leal Social Sciences Undergraduate Award for outstanding interdisciplinary achievement in the social sciences.

Janelle M. Mungo, recipient of the Friedman award, is graduating with a major in psychology and a minor in Black Studies. During her time at UCSB, she has had a tremendous impact on the campus through her passion and persuasiveness. In the words of her nominator, "Janelle's real strength is in connecting students –– she is amazing at bringing them together to work on common goals."

While at UCSB, Mungo assumed leadership roles in several student organizations, which included serving as appointed representative of Associated Students Finance Board, and playing a major role in the UCSB Coalition Against the Budget Cuts. This group has worked to raise awareness among students and campus leaders of some of the most pressing social justice issues affecting students, including immigration and the rights of undocumented students, as well as budget cuts and reductions in services crucial to student academic success.

Mungo has also shown tremendous dedication to women's issues through her work on the Womyn of Color conference coordinating committee, and as supporting coordinator of Womyn's Commission, a student organization that addresses women's equality, safety, and representation on the UCSB campus and in the surrounding community.

Extending her activism beyond the campus, Mungo has brought UCSB students together to respond to broader community and global issues. She served as president of the Human Rights Group at UCSB, and co-founded the UCSB Human Rights Council, a coalition of student groups addressing human rights violations and international disaster relief on a campuswide level. With the Human Rights Council, Mungo helped raise over $50,000 for Haiti relief, and co-founded the Black Studies Haiti Relief Fund. She has also worked with Associated Students Queer Commission and the Student Commission on Racial Equality, and has held a number of jobs, including resident assistant and front desk manager in the Office of Housing and Residential Life.

For David M. Rochman, winner of the Whitted award, the journey toward achieving his academic degree has been marked by serious health challenges unknown to most of his peers. In July 2009, Rochman was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, which required three separate surgeries and interferon treatments conducted at UCLA Medical Center. Despite the seriousness of his health issues, however, he continued his studies, held a job, and found many ways to serve the less fortunate in his community and beyond.

Rochman, who is graduating with a major in business economics and a minor in history, came to UCSB as a non-traditional transfer student after a 15-year career in construction, which he began as a laborer and left as a superintendent. Even after receiving his diagnosis, however, he continued to find ways to use his construction skills in service to others. As a volunteer for UCSB Habitat for Humanity, he assumed responsibility for training volunteers in basic construction techniques and safety.

Rochman also volunteered through UC's Science Mathematics Initiative, serving as a student teacher at Goleta Valley Junior High School. There he helped English learners and special needs students with their homework and test preparation, and taught them basic mathematical concepts.

Finally, along with his academic and philanthropic commitments, Rochman held a job as administrative assistant at the campus's Institute of Collaborative Biotechnologies. In describing Rochman's dedication and perseverance, his nominator said, "David's intellectual integrity, maturity, and self-reliance are all of the highest caliber. His concern for others, his motivation for teaching, and his dedication and effectiveness in reaching his goals are clearly evident.

"In spite of all he is dealing with, David continues to be highly productive and always maintains a positive attitude. David is not only an exceptional non-traditional student, he is an exceptional human being," the nominator said.