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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Studentmakeshistory with 3 degrees in 4 years

Brandi Walker

Yadira Berigan, assistant professor in the UA Department of Spanish and Portuguese, awards Samantha DiBaise — a senior studying molecular and cellular biology, physiology, and Spanish — the Outstanding Graduating Senior award at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Annual Award Convocation at the UA Poetry Center on Friday. DiBaise will receive three degrees at graduation, a feat that has only been accomplished by seven other UA students.

Samantha DiBaise will be the eighth person in UA history to graduate with three degrees when she walks at spring commencement in May.

“Having a third degree means that you get three diplomas during your graduation, and this is something that has been accomplished only by seven people before Samantha,” said Yadira Berigan, director of undergraduate studies and assistant professor in the department of Spanish and Portuguese, at the department’s Annual Award Convocation on Friday.

DiBaise is currently a senior studying molecular and cellular biology, physiology and Spanish. DiBaise was also presented the Outstanding Graduating Senior award by Berigan during the annual award convocation.

“This is the time in the semester when we stop everything that we’re doing phonetically in April and take a time to honor our award winners,” said Malcolm Compitello, head of the department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Berigan said what amazes her about DiBaise is that she is always happy and is always smiling when she visits the department of Spanish and Portuguese offices.

“I look at her course load,” Berigan said, “and she is taking 22 units, doing volunteer work, doing some work somewhere else, and she is still laughing and happy. I think it is amazing, and I am very, very proud of you, Samantha.”

DiBaise said when she applied to the UA, she declared a major in molecular and cellular biology.

“I have wanted to go to med school since I was in high school, so I decided to add on physiology very early on,” DiBaise said. “And all the way through high school, I had learned Spanish and my teachers in high school had really inspired a love of Spanish in me.”

DiBaise said when she came to the UA on her orientation day, she registered as a Spanish minor. DiBaise also said the professors in the UA Department of Spanish and Portuguese kept her love for Spanish alive, so she decided she wanted to get the major in Spanish and Portuguese.

“One semester, I took 27 units, so that was the hardest part of a triple degree, because you have to get 180 credits,” DiBaise said. “I think I have close to 200, though, because I took extra classes that were just interesting to me. It’s really rewarding, though, because I got to know a bunch of people in the Spanish and Portuguese major. The classes are a lot smaller, which is kind of different from my other two degrees, because in the sciences, you have such large classrooms, unless you decide to take an honors discussion, which is really how I got to know a lot of my professors.” 

DiBaise said next year, she plans to go to Arizona State University and work toward a master’s degree in health care delivery, as well as work as an emergency room scribe before applying for medical school.

Several other students at the graduate and undergraduate level receive praise and awards at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Annual Award Convocation.

Mary Louise Bowen, a senior studying Spanish and history, received high honors and was congratulated for her acceptance to the Franklin Institute Master in Teaching at the University of Alcalá near Madrid, Spain.

Jennifer DiLallo, a senior studying Spanish and speech, language and hearing sciences, also received high honors and was congratulated for being named a Fulbright Scholar who has been given the opportunity to travel, learn and work in Brazil.


Follow Brandi Walker on Twitter.

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