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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Senior Standouts

Brandi Walker

Ben Berger, a senior studying religious studies and Africana studies, poses outside the football stadium a few days before he will graduate. Berger has become known as the unofficial face of the ZonaZoo during his four years, attending every sport at the UA, excluding golf.

Ben Berger

Throughout his four years at the UA, Ben Berger became known as the unofficial face of the ZonaZoo.

Berger will graduate with a degree in religious studies and a minor in Africana studies with a specialization in hip-hop culture, and has been actively involved in the Sports Marketing Association, Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and the Hillel Center. Berger said he is a huge sports fan, and one of the aspects that drew him to the UA was the “really good all-around sports program.” He said during his four years, he has attended games for almost every sport at the UA.

“Just look at where our programs have come in the last four years,” Berger said. “It’s really been amazing to see. My freshman year, in basketball, we didn’t make the tournament. To see where we’ve come from [then] to now is just unbelievable.”

Berger has become well-loved across campus and is even recognizable to people who do not go to the UA. He said when he was in Las Vegas for the Pac-12 Tournament, he couldn’t walk farther than 10 feet without being recognized and asked to pose for photos with fans.

Berger is also known for lining up at UA sports games incredibly early. He said he got in line at 1 a.m. for the Michigan game that didn’t start until 3 p.m. that afternoon.

“I would feel like I was letting people down if I didn’t show up,” Berger said. “People know I’ll be in the front row.”

Berger said one of the most memorable experiences he’s had during college was after the final home basketball game this year. He said all the seniors in “the front row crew” were let onto the court after the game.

“We took a picture in the center of the court with all of us surrounding the ‘A’ at midcourt, and we were all kissing the floor as a goodbye,” Berger said. “It was crazy because it was our last game all together. … This has been such an integral part of our college experience that it was pretty emotional for all of us. We all shed a tear.”

After graduation, Berger said he plans to return to Los Angeles to act. He said he began professionally acting at a young age, and he has a comedy web series called “Freshman at Life.”

“Every day I’m thankful that I chose this place. If you’re on the Mall and look around, … it’s beautiful,” Berger said. “The people here are amazing. I’m going to miss it so much next year — everything about it.”

Samantha DiBaise

Samantha DiBaise is graduating with three degrees after four years at the UA.

She triple-majored in molecular and cellular biology, physiology and Spanish and will be the eighth person in UA history to graduate with three degrees.

DiBaise said she made a four-year plan for these three majors. When it was all planned out, she said it didn’t look as intimidating as it sounds. DiBaise explained that since her two science majors have many overlapping course requirements, her course-load was not as intimidating as it would have been if she were to have selected three different majors.

During her busiest semester at the UA, DiBaise was taking 27 units. She said getting three degrees required her to take at least 180 units of related course work. However, by the end of her senior year, she earned more than 200 units of credit. DiBaise said in addition to all the required course work, she took several classes outside of her major that interested her.

“Personally, I’m a lot better at getting things done when I’m busy, and I can schedule it out,” DiBaise said.

She said some semesters were more manageable than others, but there was a time when she was more involved in her volunteer work and studying for her Medical College Admission Test in addition to classes. As a result, she had to begin to pick and choose where she focused her attention.

On top of her academic requirements at the UA, DiBaise was involved in both Delta Delta Delta sorority and Alpha Epsilon Delta Health Preprofessional Honor Society. She also continued to dance during college for fun and as a stress reliever.

DiBaise grew up in Nebraska, and her family moved to South Phoenix while she was in middle school. She said she always knew she wanted to go into the public health field.

DiBaise applied to the master’s program in the Science of Health Care Delivery at Arizona State University and said she is waiting for its response. She will also apply to medical school this year and volunteer at a free health clinic in Phoenix. DiBaise said she hopes to become a physician and is considering the possibility of opening a bilingual clinic for Spanish and English speakers.

Ben Malisewski

Ben Malisewski is graduating with a degree in management information systems and operations management, as well as a certificate in sports management from the Eller College of Management.

Malisewski was born and raised in Tucson and cites the UA’s affordable tuition for in-state students as one of his reasons for attending. He said he feels the UA is like its own little community, and that he had an out-of-state experience because he immersed himself in the many opportunities the campus has to offer.

During his four years at the UA, Malisewski was involved in Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity and Bobcats Senior Honorary.

“A year ago, I didn’t know the other 12 people that are in Bobcats,” Malisewski said. “Now, I don’t joke when I say they are 12 of my very best friends.”

Malisewski also played for the men’s club volleyball team his freshman, sophomore and senior years.

“Playing on a club team in college is a great way to keep playing and not have the sport dominate your life,” Malisewski said.

He also worked at Eller College all four years in both the IT department and the undergraduate office in the professional development center.

Malisewski said one of the most memorable experiences he has had while at the UA was participating in the lighting of “A” Mountain with his fellow Bobcats to kick off the Homecoming week they had planned.

“That was the coolest thing in the world,” Malisewski said. “There’s not words to describe it.”

After graduation, he will be moving to Reno, Nev., to work for Microsoft at its North American Operations Center. Malisewski interned there last summer for 12 weeks and will go back to the same team he interned for. He said he had a phenomenal experience there and learned more than he ever thought he would.

Malisewski said the biggest takeaway he has from being involved at the UA is the amount of great things you can accomplish when you surround yourself with people who want to push the envelope.


Follow Brandi Walker on Twitter.

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