Students toss their caps in the air at the 2016 undergraduate commencement ceremony at O'Shaughnessy Stadium on May 21, 2016 in St. Paul.

Class of '17 in the Spotlight

We've written a lot about you, Class of 2017, and that's because you've given us plenty of great reasons.

In the ranks of seniors graduating this weekend, we have students who earned the Chief’s Award from the City of St. Paul for helping a woman in distress in 2014, a student who served as an ambassador on a Minnesota trade mission to Mexico and a student who performed with Circus Juventas.

The Class of 2017 has done research on how cynical college students are when it comes to politics, if eye patches helped pirates see in the dark, if writing notes by hand or on a laptop helps students remember them better and how to dry breadfruit. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Below is a roundup of some of the stories the Newsroom has written about graduating seniors.

AFROTC Engineering Students

From the left, mechanical engineering students Nicholas Cox and Joseph Allison, electrical engineering student Molly Amundson and mechanical engineering student Ben Waterfield are in the Air Force ROTC program, as are the cadets behind them.

Joseph Allison, an engineering major and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) cadet, received a joint award between the School of Engineering and Department of Aerospace Studies for being the top AFROTC cadet at St. Thomas. Starting this June, he will serve as a developmental engineer at Edwards Air Force Base, just an hour north of Los Angeles. As part of the Engineering Senior Design Clinic, Allison worked on a robot for Pentair.

Molly Amundson, who also was featured as being part of AFROTC and an engineering major, won a Campus Compact Award for her work during a January Term class on global health immersion. She traveled to Uganda, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. Amundson will be stationed at the Edwards Air Force Base after graduating, where she’ll serve as a developmental engineer and member of the 31 Test and Evaluation Squadron, which helps build top-notch operational systems.

Michaela Andrews and Vang Xiong researched how best to dry breadfruit, a superfood found in Caribbean nations.

Lindsey Bollig

Alex Beaulier assisted a research project that looked at whether wearing an eye patch during the day would help humans see better in the dark.

Jamie Bernard was a student writer for the Newsroom. Her feature stories include: Equality, Inclusion and FemCom; The Iceman Cometh; and Stay and Pray at the Renovated Peace Garden.

Michael Best will be featured in the next issue of St. Thomas magazine for the research he has done on video games and theology with professor Corrine Carvalho.

Lindsey Bollig, a mechanical engineering major, taught us just how 3-D printing works. She should know: She made her own 3-D printer by printing parts of it.

In the 2016 Fowler Business Concept ChallengeJessica Bremseth and Emma Koller took second runner-up in the undergraduate division; Keller Knoll and Derek Ogren took first runner-up in the social venture division.

Isabel Braga-Henebry traveled to Peru with the Festival Choir to perform.

Dahlen (right) performs on the Straps high above the floor.

Nick Dahlen (right) performs high above the floor.

Katherine Connelly is doing research on urban agriculture alongside biology faculty Adam Kay and Chip Small, who were just awarded a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Nicholas Cox was featured as an engineering major and part of AFROTC. He is one of 45 Air Force ROTC cadets selected nationally for the Euro-Nato Joint Jet Pilot Training Program, which prepares pilots for NATO missions.

Nicholas Dahlen was featured for his performance in "Neverland" with Circus Juventas, the largest youth performing arts circus in the country.

Mitch Dietrich participated in the World Series of Wiffle Ball here at St. Thomas, where Saint John Vianney seminarians go head to head during finals week of spring semester.

Thao Do

Thao Do

Thao Do, through the Excel! Research Scholars program, researched whether students remember notes better when they take them by hand or on a laptop.

Hannah Drazenovich was featured in Humans of St. Thomas. She and her St. Thomas roommate met because their grandmothers had been roommates together while they were in college.

Claire Dunford and Gabriel Swanton worked with Pentair on a robot protect as part of the Engineering Senior Design Clinic. As part of the same clinic, Cody Merrell and Nathan Osborne worked with 3M.

Ahmed Eshmawy

Ahmed Eshmawy

Ahmed Eshmawy was featured as a Senior Stride. Eshmawy has been working with General Dynamics Missions Systems part time since February  and will become a full-time employee of the company after he graduates. He also will remain a Tommie when he returns this fall as a student in the M.S. in Manufacturing Engineering program in the School of Engineering.

Stephanie Garcia was featured as a Senior Stride. She took advantage of many research and grant opportunities while at St. Thomas, including studying humpback whales in Maui and primates in the Peruvian rainforest. Garcia is bound for Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, which offered her a fully funded scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in its Biomedical Sciences program.

Rachel Haas started a chapter of Chi Alpha at St. Thomas, a Pentecostal Christian group that has chapters on college campuses around the United States.

Jiwoon Hur is part of a cross-departmental team at St. Thomas that is testing a robot with the overall goal of addressing the world crisis of food shortages and the development of new technologies to grow healthy crops using less man-made and natural resources.

Lauren Keller and Maura Shea were awarded the Chief’s Award from the City of St. Paul for their actions when they encountered a woman in distress in spring 2014.

Cory Kemp stands near a poster featuring Father John Henry Dorsey.

Cory Kemp recommended renaming Campus Way to Father Dorsey Way to honor a pioneering African-American priest of the early 20th century and St. Thomas’ first African-American student. After graduation, Kemp will work for Enterprise in the management fellowship program.

Emma Kopp was featured as a Human of St. Thomas. Kopp also was a leader of FemCom and was a recipient of the Good Sister Award, given by the University Advocates for Women and Equality (UAWE).

Matthew Koppinger shared why he studied Latin, which he received a national award for in 2015.

Laura Kvasnicka was featured for the work she does with her mentor, Amy Finnegan. Kvasnicka was also the recipient of the Sapientia Award for Scholarly or Creative Work Focused on Women, given by UAWE.

Francesca Ippoliti, a chemistry major, was awarded a 2016-17 Barry M. Goldwater ScholarshipEmily Vecchia, a mathematics major, earned an honorable mention the same year.

Natalie Thoresen (left) and Nikki Leland.

Natalie Thoresen (left) and Nikki Leland.

Nicole Leland and Natalie Thoresen did training for VISION trips on a farm owned by St. Thomas alumni.

Gavin Linnihan was featured as a Senior Stride. Linnihan has been a part-timer at In The Groove Music, an audio production company that writes and produces music for advertising, film and television, since his freshman year. He was hired to work full time in catalog administration for the firm in April.

Maria McQuillan analyzed tidal debris – streams of stray, mostly young, stars and gas clouds that shoot out from the core of their main galaxy. She also was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in 2015-16.

Michelle Miller is the 2017 Tommie Award winner.

Jose Munne Caceres, president of the Foreign Affairs Club at St. Thomas, taught us how to be good debaters. He also was honored with a Global Citizenship Award.

Anna Nolan

Anna Nolan

Anna Nolan served as a delegate during a four-day trip to Mexico alongside Gov. Mark Dayton.

Mallory Patrow researched how cynical college students are about politics.

Angel Paucar did research on first-generation students as part of a team made up of St. Thomas and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School students. The group was funded by a Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) grant.

Bekka Peterson

Bekka Peterson

Rebekka Peterson survived a life-changing hit-and-run in 2013. (The Newsroom staff wishes her special congratulations on graduating!)

Hannah Rudkin was featured as a Senior Stride. Rudkin is a social work major with a Spanish minor, who plans to put both areas of her study to use as full-time international volunteer at NPH Mexico.

Hadley Ryan shared her experience as a student in Business 200, which helps business students learn about nonprofits by volunteering.

Jonathan Santos, through the Excel! Research Scholars program, did research on how race is portrayed in internet memes.

Lauren Schaffran was a student writer for the Newsroom. Her feature stories include: Emily Dickinson Marathon Attracts Many Poetry Fans; Tommies Unspoken: Students Share Their Secrets; and Tommie Traditions: Swim Teams Pool Together for an Hour of Power.

Drazenovich and Twiss

Hannah Drazenovich and Shannon Twiss

Bryan Steinsapir was on a team that won the St. Thomas Hult Prize challenge and traveled to San Francisco to compete. The business idea was to employ local residents of India to collect and sort plastic trash that is then melted into injectionable machines and molded into valuable products to be sold in First World markets.

Michael Stevens was featured as a Human of St. Thomas. As a St. Thomas student, he was president of the Theology Club and studied abroad Rome.

Mitchell Sullivan, a triple major in German, international studies and political science, was selected as a Fulbright scholar. Sullivan will travel to Germany under the Fulbright program’s English Teaching Assistantship. Sullivan’s term begins early September of this year and runs through late June 2018.

Anthony Winters

Anthony Winters

Shannon Twiss was featured as a Human of St. Thomas. She and her St. Thomas roommate met because their grandmothers had been roommates together while they were in college. She was also a leader of FemCom and a recipient of the Good Sister Award from UAWE.

Lauren Vallez met engineering professor John Abraham at a fortuitous moment that led her into engineering at St. Thomas. She recently was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, an extremely competitive fellowship that recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) or in STEM education.

Benjamin Waterfield was featured as an engineering major in AFROTC. His career goal is to work on one of the Mars missions. He worked on a flowmeter for 3M as part of the Engineering Senior Design Clinic.

Andrea Westlie shared how doing research in the Chemistry Department has helped her.

Anthony Winters put his baseball skills on display for this photo shoot.