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Melissa Yonelunas of Commack Named Salutatorian of LIU Post’s Class of 2012


Rita Langdon,Associate Provost and Director of Public Relations & Marketing
Long Island University, LIU Post

Melissa YonelunasBrookville, N.Y. – Melissa Yonelunas of Commack, an English adolescence education major, has been named salutatorian of the Class of 2012 at LIU Post, the provost of the campus, Dr. Paul Forestell, announced today. Yonelunas has a perfect 4.0 grade point average and will receive the Association of Parents & Friends of LIU Post Salutatorian Award for her academic achievements.

Known for her accomplished, insightful writing and inquisitive nature, the 22-year-old Yonelunas says she hopes to become an English teacher. Through her student-teaching placements, she says she found a confidence that she is looking forward to bringing into her future classroom.

"Having spent four years sitting behind desks in various classrooms listening to educational pedagogies, developmental philosophies, classroom management techniques, teaching strategies, the importance of teacher-student relationships, and anything else that you could imagine a future educator might need to know, I was finally able to put theory into practice as I took all of that knowledge and actually made something of it by devising lesson plans which helped my new students to learn and grow," she said. "The experiences that I was given in my two placements allowed me to develop my own techniques, find my own voice as an educator, and establish my own effective teaching style."

Actively involved in the LIU Post community, Yonelunas is a member of the Honors Program, the Pep Band and the Flute Ensemble. She also serves as a note taker for the Learning Support Center, providing her class notes for students who need additional assistance. As a student she presented at the Eighth Annual Conference of Elementary-Secondary Teaching and Learning, and her senior thesis, "Reinventing the Vampire: A Byronic Point of View" was recognized as the best honor's thesis for 2012.

"Melissa is very perceptive, and her sensitivity to her reading, delivered in lucid prose, was all that an educator could want from a student," said James Bednarz, a professor of English at LIU Post. "In the future, her students will be so lucky to have her as an instructor. Because whatever intellectual gifts she has been blessed with are allied to a willingness to work hard, and a sense of joy in the act of speculating about what it means to be alive and the responsibilities it imposes on us all."

Off campus, Yonelunas is very involved in the Girl Scouting community. A recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award, she continued to work with the organization through a host of projects including sewing pillows for breast cancer patients and preparing and delivering food to families of women who are fighting the disease. She also worked in a law library.

"Volunteering has shown me how the smallest gesture or action can have a dramatic effect on the people around you, and it has taught me how rewarding it is to reach out to those who need a helping hand," she said.

The salutatorian is selected by a committee comprised of faculty and administrators. Candidates for salutatorian are nominated by faculty members and judged on their G.P.A., number of credits taken in residence, a personal essay, recommendations and an interview with the selection committee.

Commencement exercises for LIU Post on Friday, May 4 at 11:30 a.m. on the Great Lawn. LIU Post, formerly known as the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, is located at 720 Northern Boulevard in Brookville.

Posted 03/23/2012

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