Oxford Woman Honored as a Top Scholar in Connecticut

Kathryn Harner, a senior at Eastern Connecticut State University, given prestigious award for academics, volunteerism.

An Oxford woman is being honored for her tremendous academic accomplishments and altruism at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Kathryn Elizabeth Harner is a senior English major and writing minor who has a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Although she’s had a demanding academic schedule in the past four years, Harner has participated in numerous community service-related projects:

  • She has co-coordinated the college’s "Day of Giving" Thanksgiving meal and food drive;
  • She’s served as president of a campus club called "People Helping People," through which she’s organized several volunteer events, including weekly campus recycling initiatives;
  • She's volunteered at an after school program for Windham Middle School students. 

Harner, who is also a teaching assistant for a fiction writing class and an assistant writer in ECSU’s Office of University Relations, has been lauded as one of 12 outstanding college students from the four Connecticut State Universities. Last week, the Connecticut State University System (CSUS) Foundation for academic excellence and community service honored the 12 students – from Central, Eastern, Western and Southern Connecticut State Universities – at a banquet at the Aqua Turf in the Plantsville section of Southington. 

To be considered for a Barnard Award, a student must have at least a 3.75 GPA, a record of significant community service, and be nominated by their respective universities and presidents. The CSUS Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports education and research within the four state universities. Foundation President Robert J. Bourne described the students as exceptional people who were making a difference not only at their universities but also in their communities.

Gov. Dannel Malloy, the keynote speaker for the event, said: “These students represent the very best our state has to offer. Their commitment to academics, to community service and to their own future career goals is to be commended.” He said he hopes students will stay in Connecticut and "contribute mightily to the economic growth and development of the state."

"Your own personal success guarantees you unlimited potential to affect the lives of many people around you," Malloy said. "I implore you to find a job that makes you happy, and use your brainpower to invest in other people’s success to move your community forward."

Eastern President Elsa Nunez said Harner and Brittney Cava, who also won the Barnard Award at Eastern, are best friends who work together as members of numerous student clubs.

“Brittney and Kate have strong GPAs that reflect their hard work," Nunez said. "If you look at their transcripts, you see they both took rigorous courses. ...Kate (Harner) engaged in challenging research in a business writing class on historical homes in Scotland, CT. (Her) research will  benefit local history tremendously.”

Harner participated in two international field experiences with trips to Florence, Italy, and Dublin, Ireland, as part of study abroad courses offered in the summer months. She was a peer mentor for the First-Year Program and as a volunteer for Joshua’s Trust, an organization that works to preserve more than 4,000 acres in northeast Connecticut, according to a news release from the the ESCU Office of University Relations.

English Professor Miriam Chirico, who hand-selected Harner to be an intern and a peer mentor in several of her courses, said in the release: “Kate has the rare combination of intelligence, lively curiosity, and enthusiasm for a variety of projects, and has the respect of her peers to boot.”

Dwight Bachman, public relations officer at Eastern who has supervised Harner, wrote a glowing, 1,000-word nomination letter for Harner in which he called her mature beyond her years.

“In addition to her excellent people skills, enthusiasm, ethical standards, honesty and integrity, sense of humor and character…she is awesome,” Bachman wrote. “In the 22 years that I have served as Eastern’s public relations director/officer, I have never — I repeat, not ever — worked with a brighter, more wholesome and wonderfully warm individual. Ms. Harner is truly one of Eastern’s very brightest and exceptional students.”

Editor’s Note: Information included in this article comes from the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (ConnSCU), the Board of Regents for Higher Education and the Office of University Relations at Eastern Connecticut State University, which has more than 5,600 students at its Willamantic campus. 


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About the Barnard Award

The award is named for Henry Barnard, Connecticut’s first superintendent of schools and principal of what later became Central Connecticut State University. Barnard was also the first U.S. Commissioner of Education.

Major sponsors for the 24th Annual Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Awards Banquet included CL&P and Yankee Gas – Northeast Utilities Companies, Otis Elevator Company and People’s United Bank.  

The honorees from the four state universities include:  

Eastern Connecticut State University

  • Brittney Cava, Torrington, Political Science Major and Peace and Human Rights Minor, 3.85 GPA
  • Kathryn Elizabeth Harner, Oxford, English Major and Writing Minor, 4.0 GPA

Central Connecticut State University

  • Enisa Alanaj, Bristol, Mechanical Engineering Major and Mathematics Minor, 3.82 GPA
  • Jeremy Bradford, Vernon, Double Major in Physics and Mathematics, 3.95 GPA
  • Nicole Catherine Cloutier, Bristol, Mathematics/Elementary Education Major, 3.77 GPA
  • Kaylah Justine Smith of Bristol, Anthropology/Spanish Major, 3.93 GPA

Southern Connecticut State University

  • Christopher Buter, New Haven, Public Health Major, 3.79 GPA
  • Melanie Ann Guillerault, Enfield, Elementary Education and Psychology Major, 3.82 GPA
  • Christopher Knickerbocker, Hamden, Exercise Science Major with concentration in Physical Education, 3.95 GPA
  • Jonathan Uhl, Beacon Falls, Chemistry Major, 3.98 GPA

Western Connecticut State University

  • Kelley Bradley, Cromwell, Meteorology Major, 3.87 GPA
  • Jennifer Groom-Reid, New Milford, Social Work Major, 3.96 GPA
Paul Singley April 30, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Congrats, Kate! This is a great award, and I know you make your parents and community proud.
Gillian avelaar April 30, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Kate, we are so very proud of you. You are a lovely young woman with great warmth, love and kindness. We know you will go on to do wonderful things in your life. Gill Davelaar
Kenneth Maher May 01, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Sharon, you must be so proud


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