At an Academic Convocation ceremony Thursday, USC Aiken awarded top students for their achievements and at the same time, demonstrated how diverse students can find their way to the university.

Tomas Greizinger traveled nearly 5,000 miles from Slovakia four years ago. The business major will formally serve as the outstanding senior graduate.

Priscilla Simon, who needed only about four miles to get from Aiken HIgh School, is graduating from USCA's Honors Program as a biology major.

Greizinger is the 5th Slovakian student to attend USCA and the 4th to take the outstanding senior award.

“Being at a smaller school helped me achieve what I did,” he said. “There was a lot of leadership experience, a great education and and lifelong friends.”

As for Simon, she saw many reasons to remain in Aiken for her undergraduate degree.

“I knew it was a great school with all the perks of a small classroom size,” she said. “I've had the experience of doing research in the biology department and wouldn't have been given nearly the opportunities if not for this university.”

Six faculty members received awards as well as follows: Business instructor Karen Edgington, excellence in teaching; Music instructor Dr. Willie Strong, part-time faculty teaching excellence; Mary Millies, excellence in advisement; mathematical sciences professor Dr. Rao Li, scholarly activity; English professor Dr. Lynne Rhodes, community service; and psychology department Chairman Dr. Ed Callen, university service award.

Joseph Kurcharski, a manager at GlaxoSmithKline, received a Distinguished Citizen Award for his service as a public address announcer for many of USCA's sports team. The guest speaker was Dr. Kevin Fox, a senior engineer at the Savannah River National Laboratory.

2012-13 Academic Awards

• Outstanding Senior Graduate - Tomas Greizinger.

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

• Michael Kucharski - Ernestine B. Law Communications Student of Year.

• Andrew Quirk - Mona L. Martin Prize in Freshman Writing.

• Maria LaRocca - Phebe Davidson Prize in Creative Writing.

• Outstanding Students - Frank Morris (English), Michelle Pakla (Philosophy, Studio Art), Jack Reynolds (Political Science), Sarah Offenbacker (Sociology), Jonathan Hallman (Music), Shane Barber (Theatre).

College of Sciences

• Outstanding Students - Brandy Bossle (Biology), Mark Schultz (Geology), Ashleigh Kimberlin (Chemistry), Victoria Leonard (Physics), Joshua Sellner (Exercise and Sports Science), Dillon Gooding (Mathematics and Computer Science), Michael Hornsby (Industrial Mathematics), Nicole Streeb (Psychology), Erika Gerwe (Applied Clinical Psychology).

School of Business Administration

• Outstanding Students - Rolene Roux (Accounting), Finance (Stefanie Lattimore), Eryn Taylor (Management), Nicole Devries (Marketing), Patricia Tamayo (Business Administration).

School of Education

• Outstanding Students - Jennifer Perkins (Early Childhood Education), Amy Brunson (Elementary Education), Whitney Jenkins (Middle-Level Education), Marshal Liebman (Secondary Education), Emilee Losier (Special Education).

School of Nursing

• Outstanding Student - Virginia Cauthen.

• Honors Program 2013 and 2012 Graduates - Brianna Arnone, Asheeba Baksh, Karlotta Duffy, Tomas Greizinger, Olivia Melton, Frank Morris, Michella Pakla, Priscilla Simon, Bradleigh Birchmore (2012).

• Who's Who Awards - Grayson Broskie, Jessie Corbin, Lauren Davis, Shaquanna Dickens, Tomas Greizinger, Amanda Hall, Edward Hazel, Stacee Kingsberry, Briana Kinloch, Samuel LaMunion, Olivia Melton, Brittany Owensby, Jonathan Thompson.