Danbury resident Catherine Costa and Olivia Moore, of New Preston, have been named Western Connecticut State University’s 2022 Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award winners. Both seniors, they will graduate from WCSU on May 15, 2022.
Costa and Moore have taken different academic paths to reach this pinnacle of success awarded annually by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Foundation, but they share several similarities as well. Costa has pursued a Nursing degree and Moore majored in Health Promotion Studies, Allied Health. Both degree programs are in the university’s School of Professional Studies (SPS). The two students both added a minor in Psychology to their primary major.
Another similarity is that Costa and Moore were student athletes on the WestConn Women’s Field Hockey Team.
WestConn Field Hockey Coach Dani McDonnell said, “Catherine and Olivia are driven individuals who strive for excellence in everything that they do. To say I am proud of them is an understatement. Each has their own unique set of skills and traits, but both young women have been a shining example of grit and determination for their teammates and peers. I look forward to keeping in touch with them as they take on the next challenge of their professional lives.”
Costa chose to pursue a nursing degree at WCSU because of its reputation and so she could continue to give back to her community. A Kathwari Honors Program Honors Scholarship recipient, she will graduate Summa Cum Laude, having attained the SPS Dean’s list every semester. She currently has a GPA of 3.95.
While maintaining this degree of academic excellence in the rigorous Nursing program, Costa was a member of the Field Hockey Team from 2018-20, and was named a National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division III Scholar of Distinction and member of the National Academic Squad in 2018 and 2019. She received a Sons of Portugal Scholarship in 2018, 2019 and 2022, and was a member of the NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in 2019-20.
Costa has worked as a Student Nurse Associate/Patient Care Technician in the float pool at Danbury Hospital since 2019, further solidifying her desire to pursue a career as an Emergency Department nurse before undertaking a graduate-level degree program to become a family nurse practitioner specializing in dermatology. Committed to her future profession, she is a student member of the Emergency Nurses Association, a member of the National Student Nurses Association, and was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, Kappa Alpha Chapter, in April 2021.
On campus, Costa has been a peer tutor, a volunteer at Nursing department and School of Professional Studies open houses, and an ambassador for the Kathwari Honors Program. As president of the WCSU Student Nurses Association since 2021, she has been responsible for numerous events that benefitted fellow nursing students, as well as the larger campus community; events included a stethoscope fundraiser for her peers and Basic Life Support training classes for all students.
In the community, she served as a volunteer COVID-19 vaccinator for the Department of Health during the height of the pandemic, as an organist at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish and a flutist for the Sons of Portugal Band. Costa is fluent in Portuguese and aspires to be certified in Medical Spanish.
“I am incredibly honored to have been chosen as one of WCSU’s recipients for this year’s CSCU Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award,” Costa said. “These past four years at WCSU have offered me tremendous opportunities to grow not only as a professional, but as a leader inside the classroom and out. The Nursing department has challenged me academically and taught me valuable life skills, such as time management and perseverance, which will all prove to be incredibly beneficial as I start my career as a registered nurse. I am incredibly grateful for all the guidance and mentorship I received throughout this journey from my professors, clinical instructors, coaches and loved ones. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am today. I would also like to extend my sincerest congratulations to the other winners of this award.”
Moore’s interests in academic excellence, leadership and athletic competition have resulted in multiple honors and awards, as well. The same dedication that has enabled her to carry a GPA of 3.98, has resulted in Moore’s inclusion on the Little East Conference All-Academic Team in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021; the LEC Conference Second Team in 2019 and 2021; and as a ZAG Field Hockey/NFHCA Division III Scholar of Distinction from 2018 through 2021. She was named Female Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2020-21.
A member of the Field Hockey Team since 2018, Moore was team captain in 2020 and 2021. She served the campus community as a Student Athlete Advisory Committee member in 2018-19 and as its secretary in 2020-21, and was HPX Club secretary in 2020 and vice president in 2020-21.
Moore ultimately seeks to earn a master’s in Occupational Therapy, and recognized from the start that maintaining excellence in academics was the best path to that goal. She has been named to the SPS Dean’s List every year; and was the recipient of the Isabelle T. Farrington Scholarship in 2020-21. She currently is an intern with Motion PT in Woodbridge and Southington, where she prepares patients for their visits with the staff occupational therapists.
While pursuing her studies, internship, field hockey and club leadership obligations successfully, Moore also has worked since July 2019 as a Student Ambassador and Senior Ambassador for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, giving tours, answering phones and web chats, greeting visitors to the office and assisting admissions counselors with projects as needed.
Some of the public speaking skills Moore acquired as a Student Ambassador, coupled with her natural ability in competitive sports, led her to become a youth softball coach in her hometown. Moore assisted with the 10-and-under team and hosted pitching clinics, which led to a more recent opportunity to coach the junior varsity girls’ basketball team at Shepaug Valley School.
“It is truly such an honor to have received the Barnard award,” Moore said. “I’m extremely grateful to be honored by the CSCU Foundation as one of the recipients. WCSU is truly an amazing institution and the last four years have taught me leadership, perseverance, hard work, compassion and dedication. The HPX department has prepared me with lots of hands-on experience that have given me the skills I need for my future in health care. I’m incredibly thankful to everyone who has guided me throughout my undergraduate career — they have been a huge part of my success as a student and athlete here at WCSU.”
At least twelve students enrolled in Central, Eastern, Southern and Western Connecticut State Universities receive the Barnard award annually for their outstanding academic achievement, on-campus involvement and dedication to community service. Each student is selected by his or her respective university and has maintained a 3.7 grade point average with a record of substantial voluntary service to their universities and communities.