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SJSU Names 2012 Outstanding Graduating Seniors and Outstanding Thesis Award Recipient

Killol Acharya working with a fellow student on an engineering project.

Killol Acharya's love for robots inspired him to create the Robotics Club, and to serve as president of Project Enable, an organization that designs and modifies devices for the disabled (image provided by Achary).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

President Mo Qayoumi will recognize three top graduates at Commencement, which begins at 9:30 a.m. May 26 in Spartan Stadium. Approximately 8,000 candidates who completed their studies in August 2011, December 2011 and May 2012 will be eligible to participate. Around 25,000 graduates, family and friends are expected to attend the ceremony.

Killol Acharya and Phillip Calabretta have been named SJSU’s 2012 Outstanding Graduating Seniors in recognition of their scholarship and contributions to the community, and John Tilney has received the 2012 Outstanding Thesis Award in recognition of the exceptional quality of his research.

Killol Acharya will graduate with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. This Robert and Ellen Baron Student Leadership Award recipient says that his professors have been the key to his success at San José State. He is graduating with a 3.87 GPA and has demonstrated contributions on and off campus. On campus, Acharya has served as peer advisor in the Engineering Student Success Center and has been a leader in the Engineering Ambassador outreach program. His love for robots inspired him to create the Robotics Club, and to serve as president of Project Enable, an organization that designs and modifies devices for the disabled. Acharya balanced academics with community service by serving as volunteer for the city of San José and Veggielution, a sustainable food farm. Continuing his experience at San José State, Acharya plans to pursue a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Phillip Calabretta will graduate with a bachelor’s in chemistry. He says that he was not the strongest student in high school, but he feels that he has turned things around at San José State. A Howard Hughes Medical Institute SCRIBE student fellow, Calabretta is graduating with a 3.88 GPA. With his eye on a teaching career, Calabretta got plenty of practice while at SJSU. He taught general chemistry labs, facilitated workshops for the Louis-Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, and trained students in RISE, a program that provides research opportunities for underrepresented biomedical students. Calabretta also participated in the student chemistry club and mentored young students as a camp counselor at Exploring New Horizons Outdoor School. Calabretta is currently enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

John Tilney will graduate with a master’s in library and information science. He didn’t realize how challenging writing a thesis could be, but his diligence to “dig deeper” has paid off. For his thesis, “Containing Obscenity: The Gathings Committee, Moral Crusades, and Paperback Books,” Tilney studied the attempt to censor paperback books in the mid-20th century. Tilney’s work is the first book-length research project to examine the actions of the “Gathings Committee,” appointed to investigate the threat of obscene literature at a national level. By researching archives at Arkansas State University and New York University, Tilney was able to explore the history of censorship in U.S. publishing, uncover firsthand popular response to paperback books, and expose the social challenges around a cultural medium. Tilney says his work has assisted with his academic discipline and his commitment to completing large-scale projects.