Students honored at Opening Exercises
Princeton NJ -- The accomplishments of Princeton's students were celebrated with the awarding of four undergraduate prizes at Opening Exercises Sept. 7.
"Among the qualities that matter to us at Princeton, none is more important than intellectual engagement and academic achievement," said Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel. "It is especially fitting that we begin the academic year by honoring a select group of undergraduates for extraordinary accomplishment in their programs of study."
Freshman First Honor Prize
Dan-el Padilla Peralta of New York City received the Freshman First Honor Prize, awarded each year to a sophomore in recognition of exceptional achievement during the freshman year.
Peralta is a cum laude graduate of the Collegiate School in New York. Born in the Dominican Republic, he immigrated to the United States when he was four years old. He is an A.B. candidate and intends to concentrate in classics. Next month, he will receive the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence.
While leaning toward a career in academia, Peralta also hopes to work on providing educational opportunities for underrepresented ethnic groups. He is an alumnus of Prep for Prep, a New York-based program that identifies talented students from minority backgrounds and prepares them for placement in independent schools. He worked this summer as assistant head of its summer advisory system, and will return next summer as head. Peralta also is a member of the Princeton Caribbean Connection.
George Wood Legacy Sophomore Prize
This year's George Wood Legacy Sophomore Prize went to Mihai Manea, a graduate of Colegiul "Vasile Alecsandri" in Galati, Romania. The award is given to a member of the junior class in recognition of exceptional academic achievement during the sophomore year.
Manea is an A.B. candidate concentrating in economics and planning to complete certificates in finance and in applied and computational mathematics. The winner of three gold medals in the International Mathematics Olympiad, he has continued to excel in mathematics at Princeton. He has twice received both the Class of 1861 Prize in Mathematics and the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence.
Manea has served as a research assistant for two economics professors working on bargaining models and matching models, both of which are related to game theory. He plans to attend graduate school in economics in preparation for a career either in academia or on Wall Street.
George Wood Legacy Junior Prize
The George Wood Legacy Junior Prize is presented each year to a member of the senior class in recognition of exceptional academic achievement during the junior year. This year, the prize was shared by Tudor Dimofte and Ruth Tennen.
Dimofte is a graduate of Fairview High School in Fairview Park, Ohio. Born in Bucharest, Romania, he immigrated to the United States when he was six years old. He is an A.B. candidate concentrating in mathematics. He also is intrigued by theoretical physics. He has twice received the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence.
Dimofte is a residential community adviser at Wilson College, co-captain of the ballroom dance team and founder of a tap dancing group. Following graduation, he plans either to attend graduate school in physics or to study mathematics in England in preparation for a career as a professor.
Tennen is a graduate of Canton High School in Collinsville, Conn. Also an A.B. candidate, she is concentrating in molecular biology. Under a fellowship from the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research this summer, she began laboratory work for her senior thesis. Last year, she was the winner of the George Wood Legacy Sophomore Prize and, two years ago, she was co-winner of the Freshman First Honor Prize. She also has twice received the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence. This past year, she was awarded a Barry Goldwater Scholarship.
Tennen is starting her fourth year as a member of the Princeton University Wind Ensemble. She also will continue to be an undergraduate teaching assistant for organic chemistry. Following graduation, she would like to spend a year working in an internship through Princeton Project 55 before attending graduate school in pursuit of an academic career in molecular biology.
Class of 1939 Princeton Scholar Award
The recipient of this year's Class of 1939 Princeton Scholar Award was André Botelho Kurs, a graduate of the Lycee Pasteur in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The award is given to the undergraduate who, at the end of the junior year, has achieved the highest academic standing for all preceding college work at the University.
An A.B. candidate, Kurs is concentrating in physics and pursuing a certificate in applied and computational mathematics. A co-winner of the Freshman First Honor Prize, he also received the Manfred Pyka Memorial Prize in Physics and twice received the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence.
Kurs participates in Princeton Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art group, and serves as a peer academic adviser in Rockefeller College. Following graduation, he intends to pursue a Ph.D. in physics.