2019 News Stories

Three students selected for College of Education Graduation with Distinction Award

Graduate with Distinction Award Recipients

From left to right: Kailey Cleary, Zachary Gaudreau, and Shannon McLaughlin

TAMPA, Fla. (May 3, 2019) — Three students have been selected to receive the College of Education’s Graduation with Distinction Award.

The Graduation with Distinction Award is presented to a select group of undergraduate students in the College of Education who stand apart from their peers based on their academic excellence, professional development, community service, or research and scholarship while a student at USF.

“Education is the noblest profession, and we are extremely proud of all of our graduates,” said Robert Knoeppel, PhD, Dean of the College of Education. “I am proud to recognize our three undergraduate students who will be receiving the Graduation with Distinction Award. We know that they will make a difference in the schools and communities in which they will serve, and we wish them well.”

Read more about the students selected to receive the Graduation with Distinction Award in Spring 2019:  

Kailey Cleary, Early Childhood Education

While a student at USF, Kailey Cleary has maintained an overall GPA of 3.98 while gaining hands-on experience in three different internship locations, providing her with a diverse set of skills to serve her students. Cleary regularly uses innovative technologies in the classroom, introducing her students to activities such as video creation, coding and robotics. Additionally, she has learned how to differentiate her teaching to various populations, such as English Language Learners, gifted students, and students with disabilities.

Outside of the classroom, Cleary has been an active member in serving her local community. Her community service activities include serving breakfast to the homeless through Presbyterian Church and volunteering at The Dream Center of Tampa, a community center serving youth and residents living in East Tampa and Ybor City.

“As an aspiring early childhood educator, I have come to realize that the field of education is one of the most rewarding and unique careers one could choose,” Cleary said. “Educators are held to high standards as they complete the requirements to become a teacher, continue to seek opportunities to develop professionally, serve their communities, and conduct research within their classrooms.”

Zachary Gaudreau, Physical Education

Throughout his time in the Physical Education program, Zachary Gaudreau has demonstrated academic excellence, commitment to his professional development, service to the field and community, and enthusiasm for inquiry, scholarship, and research. He has maintained a 3.94 GPA throughout his academic career, and is a recipient of the Lou Bowers Major of the Year Award, an award presented annually to an outstanding student in the USF Physical Education program.

Gaudreau has also been recognized at the national level for his accomplishments. In April, he received the Major of the Year Award through the Society of Health and Physical Educators America (SHAPE America), the national organization for physical education teachers in the U.S. The Major of the Year award celebrates outstanding undergraduate students in the fields of health, physical education, recreation and dance.

Gaudreau is described by his professors as a natural leader, and in addition to his academic accomplishments, he has given back to the community through volunteer work with the Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association and as a volunteer wrestling coach at C. Leon King High School in Tampa.

“My time in USF’s Physical Education program has been fruitful, allowing me to live new experiences and gain new perspectives, but also providing me with promising professional opportunities,” Gaudreau said. “I believe that I have the knowledge, curiosity, and drive to make a positive change in the young people I work with, as well as in the entire profession. I believe that I have the charisma, compassion, and credibility to create a deep connection with my students. I look forward to what the future holds for me, for my students, and for what I can do for the field of Physical Education.”

Shannon McLaughlin, Social Science Education

Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Social Science Education, Shannon McLaughlin is well-positioned for a future in education. She has maintained an overall GPA of 3.99 and will graduate from USF as a member of the USF Honors College and the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society. Additionally, Shannon is a member of the SunCoast Area Teacher Training and Educational Research (SCATTER) program, an education honors program housed in the David C. Anchin Center for the Advancement of Teaching. This spring, McLaughlin will graduate from SCATTER with V.I.T.A.L. distinction, the highest honor a graduate from the program can receive.

In addition to her academic accomplishments, McLaughlin works and volunteers in a number of capacities, all with the end goal of providing service to her community—at USF, the community at large, and in her professional field. As part of her Honors thesis, Shannon developed a unique curriculum that was presented in October 2018 at the annual conference of the Florida Council for the Social Studies. Her curriculum will also be distributed to teachers in Hillsborough County Public Schools.

While at USF, McLaughlin remained active in the USF community through various activities such as serving as treasurer of the Social Science Education Club and participating in the USF Herd of Thunder Colorguard. She also served the community as a tutor in the USF Tutor-A-Bull Program, a partnership between the College of Education and Hillsborough County Public Schools that provides free tutoring to middle school students across multiple schools in the district.

“Through my wonderful time at USF, I have pushed myself beyond the basic requirements of my degree program,” McLaughlin said. “I have always felt that college is a time of great exploration and growth that should not be squandered, and I made it my mission to go above and beyond and to really soak in all the knowledge USF could offer.”