Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Valedictorians Join UNO Class of 2018

Seven valedictorians from the greater New Orleans area will be attending the University of New Orleans this fall as members of the class of 2018.

"It's an honor to have these talented students - who have worked so hard, have so many choices and enjoy such bright futures – join us at the University of New Orleans," said President Fos. "These students come from diverse backgrounds and they have chosen a variety of majors for their fields of study. Their presence here is a direct reflection of the multicultural, multitalented and multifaceted community we work hard to create — and we look forward to working and learning together."

A valedictorian delivers the closing or farewell statement, or valedictory speech, at a graduation ceremony. The chosen valedictorian is usually the student with the highest ranking among his or her graduating class and is typically considered the best representative of the class.

In June, The Times-Picayune celebrated valedictorians from around the city in an annual article entitled "Top of the Class." The article listed the names of the valedictorians for each high school in Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist and St. Tammany Parishes, along with their photos and intended college and majors.

Declaring plans to attend the University of New Orleans in the fall were:

  • Dung Tran, valedictorian of Sci Academy in New Orleans. Tran has not yet chosen her college major.
  • Hagop Kassardjian, valedictorian of Ridgewood Preparatory School in Metairie. He plans to major in computer science.
  • Nathaniel Bailes, valedictorian of Chalmette High School. He plans to study naval architecture and marine engineering.
  • Laura Nicole DiGiovanni, who graduated as one of two valedictorians of Covington High School. She plans to study film.
  • Ryan William Watts, valedictorian of First Baptist Christian School in Slidell. He plans to study computer science.
  • Nora Josephine Bloemer, one of six valedictorians of Fontainebleau High School in Mandeville. She will study biomedical engineering.
  • Michael Thomas Horne, one of eight valedictorians at Northshore High School. Horne plans a double major in naval architecture and marine engineering.


Together, the group will enjoy five Homer Hitt Scholarships and one Blue Scholarship, said admissions officers. The University of New Orleans Homer Hitt Scholarship is the most prestigious scholarship at UNO. It provides tuition, residence hall room, board plan, and a $500 annual book stipend for students and provides an out-of-state-fee-waiver for out-of-state students. The University awards 100 Homer Hitt Scholarships annually. Consideration is automatic with the submission of a completed admissions application. The minimum criteria for consideration is a 30 ACT (1340 SAT) and a 3.5 GPA. 

The University offers UNO Excellence, UNO Blue, and UNO Silver Scholarships for Louisiana residents, who have achieved a 24 ACT (1110 SAT) and 2.75 GPA. Consideration for these awards, worth $1,000 to $2,000 annually, is automatic with the submission of a completed admissions application.

These top scholars have chosen to study in some of UNO's top programs, said administrators. The University's renowned film arts program is the first and only one in the U.S. with a bona fide partnership with the American Film Institute and is a Top 30 Film Program in the nation.

The UNO School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering boasts the most NAME graduates in the nation and consistently appears among the top two programs in national rankings for the largest NAME program. Moreover, the NAME School at UNO is the only naval architecture and marine engineering program in the region providing significant impact on the maritime and ship-building industries on the Gulf Coast. Students in the UNO NAME program test their designs on the only tow tank in the region.

The computer science program in the UNO College of Sciences includes the only information assurance program in the state with certifications from the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. The program is a launchpad to a new state-of-the-art and world-class partnership with GE Capital. GE Capital's Software Engineering Apprenticeship Program, or SWEAP, aims to develop a stronger technology workforce through the UNO and GE partnership. Each year, 10 to 15 top computer science students work as apprentices at the GE Capital offices in the Technology Center. By the end of 2015, GE Capital plans to grow the program to more than 40 apprentices. The training that students receive will position them for better engineering opportunities with GE Capital or other employers in the area.


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