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I feel deeply honored and I only have words of gratitude towards my professors, fellow classmates, and family, since they guided me and lent me support through this amazing journey.

2016 Outstanding Graduate

Bachelor of Arts, Social Science

Maria Romina Aguilar

My UAS Experience

This year had many surprises in stock for me: some professional, such as obtaining my first job related to my major, where I am able practice my skills as a graduate student; some personal, such as knowing that I will become a mother for the first time in September; and some academic, such as receiving this beautiful distinction from my professors. I feel deeply honored and I only have words of gratitude towards my professors, fellow classmates, and family, since they guided me and lent me support through this amazing journey. Being a non-native English speaker, I have never imagined that I would receive such a distinguished mention, nor believed that my work exceeded my professors’ expectations, mainly because I was simply fulfilling my duties as a student.

Thank you again. This mention has inspired me to pursue further studies, knowing that through hard work anything is possible!

About Maria Romina Aguilar

Maria has taken classes from multiple UAS social science faculty, both in Juneau and Ketchikan, and has had multiple courses with a few faculty such as myself. With the faculty that have had her in class multiple times, we consistently say she is the best performing and most thorough and engaged student in all the respective courses in which she’s been a part. In every class I’ve had with her, Maria has not only been one of the first to submit assignments and engage in discussion with her classmates, but she consistently does the highest quality writing and analysis in these courses compared to other students. Her hard work is on display each week in every course. Beyond completing assignments, she extends these assignments under her own creativity and occasionally, independent research. Ali Ziegler noted that, for her SSCI 300 course, Maria wrote a 41 page research proposal with 27 cited sources (the requirement was 12 pages with 10 sources) that included multiple tables and figures detailing her data collection plan and hypotheses (tables and figures were not required).Maria proposed a very complex research design that incorporated multiple different psychological perspectives (within the realms of clinical and neuroscience) and included so many controls and conditions as to be nearly flawless. Ali says that Maria’s writing and the proposal were at a graduate level. Maria has done similar styles of work in my anthropology courses, including the high point of taking a term paper for my “Humans and the Environment” class and extending it into a research proposal based on indigenous tribes’ land use practices in her native Argentina. The proposal was beyond what any undergraduate student at UAS has done, at least those I’ve seen, and was graduate level writing. Maria makes it a habit of going beyond assignment requirements, proposing her own additional requirements, and exceeding them. This extremely high level of initiative is quite rare in an undergraduate student.

Often, a hallmark of the highest performing students is the ability to go beyond their own stellar work and help and even tutor others in class who may be struggling or that need help with writing or finding resources. Maria has done this in every course I’ve had with her and this is something that others, especially Ali Ziegler, highlighted about her. Maria is very open in sharing her writing skills when discussing assignments with other students and takes initiatives to find high quality peer-reviewed sources to share with her classmates, which are relative to the topics discussed and actively extend these.

The UAS social science faculty concur, as do I, that Maria is one of the best students we’ve ever had in our respective classes. She fully deserves this honor and we’re proud to select her as the recipient.

  • Brandon M. Chapman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Maria makes it a habit of going beyond assignment requirements, proposing her own additional requirements, and exceeding them. This extremely high level of initiative is quite rare in an undergraduate student.
  • Brandon M. Chapman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Anthropology