Rider University's annual Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 30 featured the prestigious President’s Award.
Meaghan Haugh
2011 President’s Award recipients Michael Zilly, Amanda Matticks and Anthony Baron

2011 President’s Award recipients Michael Zilly, Amanda Matticks and Anthony Baron

Rider University recognized 71 graduating seniors for their academic, leadership and service achievements during its annual Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 30, in the Bart Luedeke Center.

Jan Friedman-Krupnick, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, welcomed the honored students for their accomplishments. She also recognized their family members and members of the Rider community for their encouragement and support.

During the Honors Address, Dr. Patricia Mosto, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Education, and Science, advised the students to use their successes for the betterment of others.

“Probably the most important thing to remember is that the honor you receive today is the sum of many individual decisions,” Mosto said. “These decisions embody a positive attitude backed by purpose. And the only way to achieve your purpose is to take action every day.”

The evening of celebration was filled with applause, smiles of accomplishment and tears of pride.

Boris Vilic, dean of the College of Continuing Studies, presented this year’s Ann Giovanelli Award to Neil Duffy, a senior Psychology major. The award is given to a student who achieves excellence in the classroom while overcoming significant life’s challenges. Duffy, a loyal patriot and decorated Marine Corps sergeant, who served in Iraq and will earn bachelor’s degree with honors this May, through Rider’s Yellow Ribbon Program. 

“Neil has persevered to overcome many obstacles and transitional situations he faced re-entering college as he returned from active military duty to civilian life,” Vilic said. “Thus, Neil, in addition to the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon for Iraq, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for Iraq, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Certificates of Commendation and Appreciation, which you have earned for your service in the military, we present to you the Ann Giovanelli Student Award for excelling academically and inspiring the faculty, students and staff in the College of Continuing Studies.”

Following the presentation, guests rose for a moving standing ovation.

Each year, the President’s Award is given to one Westminster and two Lawrenceville seniors who have demonstrated an exemplary record of academic performance, extracurricular achievement, and service to the University.

President Mordechai Rozanski presented the prestigious award to Amanda Matticks, a senior Elementary Education and Psychology double major, and Michael Zilly, senior Accounting and Computer Information Systems double major. They joined Anthony Baron, a senior Piano and Voice Performance major, who was first presented his award in April at the Spring Convocation on the Princeton campus.

Well-known as the captain of the Rider tennis team, member of the SGA Executive Board, the Council for Exceptional Children, Kappa Delta Pi education honor society, and Rider’s annual Relay for Life event, for the past three years, Matticks has hosted a tennis clinic for a group of about 30 children from the National Junior Tennis & Learning of Trenton on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus.

“I am very thankful for this recognition and I am excited to represent Rider. In four short years Rider has provided me with the skills and experiences of a lifetime that will allow me to accomplish my future goals,” she said.

Meanwhile, Zilly has served as Chapter President and Vice President of Finance for his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon; Treasurer and Finance Board Chairman for Rider’s Student Government Association; Technology and Web Chairman for Rider’s Relay for Life; and Chairperson for Rider’s Appeals Council. This past August, Zilly was offered a full-time position as an external auditor at Deloitte in Princeton.

“I believe that I have done a great job in balancing leadership experiences, academics and extracurricular activities throughout college, but I couldn’t have done it without the many support systems I have had at Rider,” Zilly explained.

Baron has had the opportunity to sing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on the stage of Carnegie Hall, to serve as an assistant musical conductor for a musical theater production, and to study with some of the greatest musical minds of the country. In addition, Baron served as president of the Student Government Association and treasurer of the Class of 2011. He will begin his graduate studies at the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester in the fall.

“To be selected from what I am sure was a remarkable group of some of Westminster Choir College’s best and brightest musicians is an honor I will remember my entire life, and continue to strive towards making myself the best person I can be, and to always remember that with that personal growth must come an interest in giving back and making your community the strongest and most vibrant place it can be,” Baron said.