4.0 students defy stereotypes
Published: Monday, November 15, 2010
Updated: Monday, November 15, 2010 22:11
On any given day, senior Christina Saadeh's door can be found open. Once inside, visitors are greeted by an array of Bible verses, inspiring articles about her faith, Phillies gear and multiple pictures of her friends.
Saadeh is a typical high achiever, but she, unlike 16,408 of her peers at the university, has a cumulative GPA of 4.0.
Jeff Palmer, director of the registrar's office, says less than 1 percent of the 16,000 students have a 4.0 GPA. This amounts to a select group of 113 undergraduates. However, these elite students do not spend all their time studying. In fact, they are highly involves in all parts of campus.
"These students take on the same pressures high school made apparent to them, just now they are on a higher academic standing," Palmer says.
Saadeh says she can handle pressure well, as well as prioritize her schedule, which has helped her sustain high marks. She is currently taking a five-credit anatomy lab, and works three to four hours a day for the field hockey team.
"On an average day, I wake up way earlier than I have to," Saadeh says. "For me, my faith is very important, therefore I always want to start my day spending time with God and preparing my mind for the right state of mind before my classes."
She says due to her athletic training major, all her classes are pre-scheduled for her in the morning, and then her afternoons are dedicated to the varsity team she is placed with. For this current semester, Saadeh was placed with the field hockey team.
Her adviser Tom Kaminski says he believes Saadeh epitomizes all that is good about today's of students. The key to achievement is motivation, he says.
"She is bright, articulate and passionate about the learning process," Kaminski says. "What makes her and all the athletic training students so special is that in addition to their highly specialized coursework, all AT students must complete clinical rotations as part of the program completion requirements."
Sophomore Kameron Conforti is also a 4.0 student, and is hardly ever in his room. Instead, he is either practicing with his A cappella group or in a science lab trying to solve our country's energy crisis.
Conforti, a chemical engineer major, says he believes that group therapy and study sessions help him achieve his high grades. To him, networks of people are essential for success.
"I rarely ever find myself studying alone," Conforti says. "Yeah sure, I usually study five hours a day and when it comes to the weekend my times vary between 10 to 14 hours, but it goes by quick when I have hardworking friends around to help me understand."
Sophomore Ron Lewis is Conforti's best friend and study group partner.
"Kameron is a very motivated individual," Lewis says. "He is smart and funny, but can be serious when the situation calls for it. He is the kind of person that only puts his name on something if he thinks it is worthy of having his name on it, a sign of a good student."
Although Conforti spends most of his time doing work, Lewis says he feels he still finds time to hang out with friends.
"I wouldn't honestly consider Kameron's workload to be extreme. The situation is more that he does more work than he needs to in order to confidently attain a good grade for an assignment, quiz or test," Lewis says. "Nonetheless, he still has enough work to do as a chemical engineer."
Like Conforti, junior Stephanie Doran maintains a 4.0 average, but says her animal science major is a little less complicated than Conforti's chemical engineering. However high her grades may be, Doran insists she's no nerd.
"Someone walking into my room would not ever accuse me of being this big nerd," Doran says. "My full on major title is known as Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Animal Biosciences, but it gets so tiring explaining to people, so I chop it down to animal sciences in more common English."
Currently Doran is taking a four-course schedule and says she counts marching band as a fifth class. She is the cymbal section leader as well as, a member of the executive boards of both the Ag College Council and Collegiate 4-H.
Doran's best friend, junior Meghan Fitzpatrick, says Doran does have an intense workload, but without its extremity, her grades would not be as high as they are today.
"Steph has a jam-packed schedule, and hardly spends all of her time locked away studying," Fitzpatrick says. "She also holds down jobs at Morris Library, in a dairy nutrition lab and as a percussion instructor for her high school's indoor drum line. Without all of this, I truly think her grades would be worse. Having things to do and places to be gives her structure and a strict schedule to follow."
Fitzpatrick, also a pre-vet major, says Doran is a helpful study partner and between both of them they have created the ‘ultimate study method.'
"Over the years, we've created a definite method to our madness with late-night study parties, shouting across our house about organic chemistry mechanisms while wired on multiple cups of Wawa coffee," Fitzpatrick says. "And our methods have been highly successful."
Doran says even though she has a 4.0 GPA, it does not mean that her life is committed to the books.
"If someone says they like to study, they are lying," Doran says. "I love to learn, not study, more about animals and medical illnesses. Animals are a passion of mine and one day wish to be able to cure anything that is brought to me."