Michael DiRaimo Jr., of State College, Pa., will be honored as the student marshal for the Eberly College of Science during Penn State University's fall commencement ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 17, on the University Park campus. DiRaimo's faculty escort for the commencement exercises will be Thomas Mallouk, the DuPont Professor of Materials Chemistry and Physics and Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry.
DiRaimo will graduate from Penn State with a 4.0 grade-point average and bachelor's degrees in premedicine, international studies, and Spanish (applied option), and he is enrolled in the Schreyer Honors College. In addition, he is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society and is the treasurer of the society's Lambda chapter at Penn State. DiRaimo was awarded a scholarship from the Duffy Premedicine Endowment during his senior year; the Erik D. Steindl Award from the Department of Spainish for academic excellence and community service during his junior year; the Evan Pugh Scholar Award for placing in the top 0.5 percent of his class during his junior and senior years; and the President's Freshman Award and the President Sparks Award for his cumulative 4.0 GPA during his freshman and sophomore years, respectively. DiRaimo also has been on the Dean's List every semester.
When he enrolled at Penn State, DiRaimo wanted to be a physician. During his freshman year, he worked with John Deitch, an orthopedic surgeon with Penn State Orthopedics, to research distal-biceps tendon-repair methods. DiRaimo conducted research on competing procedures, including a new procedure that Deitch had developed. DiRaimo was the first author of a paper that was published in the medical journal Orthopedics, detailing Deitch's new approach. During his junior year, DiRaimo worked in the laboratory of David Puts, assistant professor of anthropology, on projects concerning sexual evolution and attraction. He also worked with Mark Sciegaj, associate director of the Smart Spaces Center in the Department of Health Policy and Administration. Working with Sciegej, DiRaimo researched international policies on elder care. This research evolved into DiRaimo's honors thesis for the Schreyer Honors College, and Sciegej became DiRaimo's thesis supervisor.
Prior to starting his junior year, DiRaimo changed his focus to law. During the summer of 2011 he worked with Thomas Beebee, distinguished professor of comparative literature and German. DiRamo also worked on a project with Rick Hoover, director for research and development at the Materials Research Institute, with the goal of demonstrating Penn State's great economic benefit to Pennsylvania businesses. Hoping to learn more about intellectual-property law, DiRaimo wrote articles about the Penn State Learning Factory -- whose mission is to provide engineering students with practical hands-on experience through industry-sponsored design projects. With Hoover's help, this project led to DiRaimo becoming involved in a project with Lisa Kerchinski, coordinator of career development at the Schreyer Honors College. During the spring and summer of 2011, DiRaimo worked with Kerchinski devising strategies to strengthen programs for students interested in entrepreneurship and innovation. DiRaimo will attend law school in the fall of 2012. He hopes to work for a law firm that has a strong corporate practice representing life-science companies. "I know my science background will remain a real asset when I enter the legal profession," he said.
Upon learning that he would be the college's student marshal, DiRaimo said that he felt gratified by the results of his incredibly long hours of studying. He said he feels prepared for his life after graduation, that he is proud to have been accepted to an elite law school, and that he always will be honored to have been the top student in one of the world's greatest colleges of science.
DiRaimo says that his faculty escort -- Thomas Mallouk, the DuPont Professor of Materials Chemistry and Physics and Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry -- is one example of the invaluable resources that Penn State has to offer and refers to Mallouk as a "superstar scientist who really cares about his students, and who is tremendously engaging, always entertaining and incredibly brilliant."
DiRaimo, a graduate of the State College Area High School, will be accompanied at commencement by his father Michael DiRaimo, who graduated from Penn State with bachelor's and master's degrees in history; his mother Jacqueline DiRaimo; his sister Danielle Brashers, who graduated from Penn State with a bachelor's degree in English; his brother-in-law Brett Brashers, who graduated from Penn State with a bachelor's degree in psychology; and his fiancée Jennifer Stella, who currently is working on both a bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in biotechnology at Penn State.