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Jason Prodonovich is Top Scholar of the Class of 2008

May 18, 2008

prodonovichJason Prodonovich graduated from Mount Union College the same way he did from high school, at the top.

A native of Industry, Pennsylvania, he is a graduate of Western Beaver County Junior/Senior High School where he was ranked number one in his class. Four years later, he has maintained a perfect 4.0 and was awarded the Heaton W. Harris and Corinne Harris Smith Senior prize at the 2008 Commencement ceremony at Mount Union. This prize is awarded to the member of the graduating class who ranks highest in scholarship, the whole college curriculum being considered.

“Jason is the most outstanding student scholar I’ve ever known in more than 30 years of teaching,” said Dr. John Kirchmeyer, professor of computer science and information systems, when nominating Prodonovich.

Although Prodonovich has always been interested in computer science, he originally chose to take his first philosophy class because it met a general education requirement. He now credits his second major of philosophy with making him a more logical, critical writer and analytical thinker.  Philosophy and other general education classes showed him the true value of a liberal arts education.

Prodonovich originally chose Mount Union because he wanted to attend a small school where he could have a personal relationship with his professors as well as an opportunity to “stand out in the crowd.” He has certainly taken full advantage of his opportunities, having served as vice president for the Class of 2008 and as a student representative to the Board of Trustees as well as several faculty and search committees. He also had the opportunity,  as Presidential Scholar, to attend events where he was able to interact with trustees, guest lecturers and alumni. He feels strongly that campus involvement is important and has especially enjoyed working on committees with faculty and administration and being part of the decision-making process at the College.

Kirchmeyer served as a mentor and advisor for Prodonovich. When Kirchmeyer first approached him to assist in his research, Prodonovich didn’t know exactly what to expect but was struck by his professor’s energy and enthusiasm.  They ended up working as colleagues and bouncing ideas off of each other.

Dr. Scott Gravlee, professor of philosophy and religious studies, was Prodonovich’s philosophy professor.  “Dr. Gravlee goes the extra mile and helps his students to expand themselves,” said Prodonovich. “He has a true passion for teaching.”

A first generation college student, Prodonovich credits his work ethic and ensuing success to his parents for their constant support and encouragement.

In addition, the first two summers of his college career made him even more determined to succeed. He spent these summers working in a drywall factory back home where he witnessed firsthand how difficult life can be. He was able to see how fortunate he was to be in college and has learned to apply a blue-collar ethic to academics and excel through hard work and discipline.

The summer before his senior year, he landed a paid summer internship with First Energy Corporation.  Prodonovich liked the people and the environment and was offered a job by them after graduation upon the completion of his internship.

When asked about his advice for future students, he replied. “Be passionate, set goals and go after them. Always be goal-oriented.”

Looking back at himself at his high school graduation, Prodonovich says he wouldn’t recognize the person he was. He is now more open to new ideas, has gained more confidence and feels he is equipped to tackle any obstacle and excel at it because of his experiences as a student at Mount Union.

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