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Riverton Student Seth Mathern Earns 2011 Tobin Memorial Award

April 29, 2011
Seth Mathern

Seth Mathern of Riverton is the 2011 winner of the Tobin Memorial Award as the University of Wyoming's outstanding graduating man.

The annual award is based on academic excellence and achievement, service to the university, participation and leadership in the community and campus activities and citizenship qualities.

Amy Rieser of Jackson, who will graduate with a B.S. degree in sociology and environment and natural resources, received the Rosemarie Martha Spitaleri Award as the outstanding graduating woman.

"Seth is truly remarkable, both as a student and as a human being," wrote Susan Aronstein, a professor of English. "One of the many things that make him stand out among the numerous excellent students at the university is his commitment to intellectual diversity, a commitment demonstrated by his decision both to participate in the Honors Program and to add a Spanish major on top of his already-rigorous pre-med curriculum."

Another nominator, Margaret Flanigan Skinner, an associate lecturer in the Department of Zoology and Physiology, noted Mathern is more than just an outstanding student, he is also a gifted teacher who was her teaching assistant in two physiology courses.

"I have lost count of the number of students who have written in their evaluations that if it were not for Seth, they would have failed my courses," she says. "In addition to his formal duties in the classroom, Seth volunteers his own time to work after-hours with students who are struggling. My students love him as much as I do -- and deservedly so. And the respect is multi-faceted. Because not only is Seth a self-motivated and committed scholar with excellent knowledge, but he is quite simply, a very, very fine person."

His lengthy list of accomplishments at UW range from studying and volunteering at a clinic in Cuzco Peru that was devoted to caring for the marginalized, impoverished members of the community, to volunteering at Laramie's Ivinson Memorial Hospital emergency room, serving as a resident hall assistant and taking leadership positions on numerous honor societies and campus groups and organizations.

Recently, Mathern volunteered at the non-profit Laramie Reproductive Health Clinic, where he worked to create a sustainable list of translators and interpreters.

"This work comes with the best pay ever: Thankful smiles and wholehearted handshakes from physician and patient alike," he says. "I cannot express how grateful and proud I am of the education I have received at this university and how astounded I am at the endless support I have received - financially, academically, and emotionally.

"As I finish my undergraduate education, I now come to realize just how precious of a jewel this university is," Mathern says.  He says he is currently interviewing at some of the nation's best medical schools, an opportunity he attributes to the university's academic rigor, the support of the faculty and the campus and community activities he has experienced. But he says the education he has received extends beyond academia.

"You see, some institutions create individuals who achieve the highest academic status in the nation; they call those individuals Nobel Laureates. However, the greatest institutions produce individuals who will try to change the world because they cherish humanity; we call those people Wyoming alumni."

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