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Seniors Are USA Today Academic All Stars

Dartmouth seniors Zachary Kaufman and N. Taylor Thompson, both engaged in socially conscious entrepreneurship and deeply involved in the College’s William Jewett Tucker Foundation, are among 20 students nationwide to be chosen for USA Today’s 19th annual All-USA College Academic First Team. The winners’ names were announced last month in the publication, which has a circulation of more than 2 million.

N. Taylor Thompson and Zachary Kaufman
N. Taylor Thompson ’08 (left) and Zachary Kaufman ’08 are among 20 students nationwide chosen for USA Today’s 19th annual All-USA College Academic First Team. Laura Myers ’08 and Jessica Ogden ’08 received honorable mentions. (Photo by N. Taylor Thompson ’08 and Zachary Kaufman ’08)

The program honors students who not only excel academically but also have had an impact beyond the classroom. The 20 first-team members, selected by a panel of judges from about 500 nominated juniors and seniors, each will receive $2,500 cash awards. Second- and third-team members also were selected, along with honorable mentions. Dartmouth seniors Laura Myers and Jessica Ogden both received honorable mentions.

The distinction for Kaufman and Thompson pleased staff at the Tucker Foundation, which supports and coordinates campus religious groups and is the umbrella for community service that involves approximately 60 percent of the student body. “Both students have been connected to the Tucker Foundation since their freshman year,” says Richard Crocker, the foundation’s acting dean. “It’s wonderful to see their work recognized.”

Kaufman, a major in health and society in Latin America and the Caribbean, is founder and director of Lose The Shoes, a barefoot charity soccer tournament started at Dartmouth and now in action on 25 college and high school campuses around the country. He has worked throughout his college career for Grassroot Soccer, an HIV/AIDS prevention program founded by Thomas Clark ’92, DMS ’01. For his senior honors thesis, Kaufman is evaluating an adolescent-targeted HIV prevention program in the Dominican Republic, and this month is co-leading 11 students on an eight-day service/education trip to that country as part of the Tucker Foundation’s Alternative Spring Break program. Kaufman also has done public health work in Nicaragua as a Tucker Fellow. In addition, he won a 2007 Truman Scholarship, a prestigious $30,000 national award for juniors bound for graduate school.

Thompson, an anthropology major, co-founded and manages operations for PharmaSecure, a company that fights pharmaceutical counterfeiting in the developing world. Thompson first learned about the harm caused by counterfeiting while working on a project at Dartmouth. He quickly perceived its significance while spending his sophomore year in Rwanda, where he conducted public health research and designed and taught an entrepreneurship course.A jazz saxophonist who studies enthomusicology and has made recordings of Rwandan music, he is also working to help artists in the developing world reach a global market.

In addition, Kaufman and Thompson co-founded Dartmouth Ends Hunger, a service program that raises funds to address global hunger, also sponsored by the Tucker Foundation. The collaboration grew out of a friendship established during their first year at the College. “We met playing frisbee on the green freshman fall and quickly realized that we had similar interests,” says Kaufman. “So we began playing music together”—the two were part of a funk band—“and dreaming up ways to change the world.”

Honorable Mentions Also Shine

The Dartmouth winners of USA Today’s All-USA College Academic First Team honorable mentions are headed for medicine and engineering. Laura Myers ’08, a biology major and Spanish minor who will enter medical school next fall, has an active interest in the science and ethics of stem cell research. She is a member of the executive committee of the National Student Society for Stem Cell Research and founded a Dartmouth chapter of the organization. She has worked in that field over the past three years in the lab of Dartmouth Medical School Professor Nancy Speck and during summer research internships at the National Institutes of Health and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Winner in her junior year of a Barry Goldwater Scholarship, Myers took part in a medical mission in Costa Rica at a clinic for the children of Nicaraguan refugees and also spent a term studying in Spain. She is the managing editor of the Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science.

Jessica Ogden ’08 is pursuing a bachelor of art in engineering modified with economics as well as a bachelor of engineering from Thayer School with a special emphasis on the biomedical field, and plans to work for a consulting firm after graduation. An honors student, she has mentored other students as a teaching assistant and volunteered in the Women in Science Program (WISP), the engineering department’s New Student Mentorship Program, the Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth (SEAD) program for high school students, and the FIRST Lego League for area grade-school students interested in robotics. She also has worked as an online math tutor, has researched nanoparticle hyperthermia for cancer treatment in a Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center lab, and has taught piano and music theory.

By REBECCA BAILEY

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Last Updated: 12/17/08