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Finnegan Award: Cote, Finalists Represent BC ‘Ever to Excel’ Credo

(L-R) Finnegan Award winner David Cote and other finalists Danielle Gautereaux, Megan Cannavina and Joshua Coyne. (Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

By Ed Hayward | Chronicle Staff

Published: May 22, 2014

David J. Cote – who pursued a demanding double major in theology and chemistry and served as editor-in-chief of The Heights – received the Edward H. Finnegan, SJ, Award, BC’s most prestigious undergraduate honor, at the University’s 138th Commencement Exercises on Monday.

Cote, from Burlington, Conn., received the award, presented to the student who best exemplifies the spirit of BC’s motto “Ever to Excel,” for his academic accomplishments, impact on campus life and extensive service activities.

“David is an amazing young man, always willing to go the extra mile to make a positive contribution, whether to the local BC community or to the community in a global sense,” Dean of Students Paul Chebator wrote in support of Cote’s nomination. “His sense of perspective, maturity, and perseverance are those of an individual well beyond his years.”

Cote, who plans to attend medical school, was one of four outstanding senior finalists for the honor, along with Megan Cannavina, Lynch School of Education; Joshua Coyne, Carroll School of Management; and Danielle Gautereaux, Connell School of Nursing.

In addition to his double major – including participation in the chemistry honors track – and three-year commitment to the student newspaper, Cote had leadership roles with Eagle EMS and Eagle Escort, researched HIV/AIDS in Kenya, conducted research in the lab of Assistant Professor of Chemistry Jeff Byers and worked as a coordinator in the Connell School’s Clinical Research Certificate Program.

“My time at Boston College has taught me to care more about the world’s problems and consider the way that I can help solve them,” Cote said. “I could never have predicted the effect that BC has had on me, and I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to spend four great years here.”

[Read an interview with David Cote as part of the Chronicle’s “Seniors to Remember” feature here.]

Cannavina, of Morris Plains, NJ, drew praise for her work as a resident assistant, a part-time class aide at the Campus School and for developing formation and wellness programs for her peers. Her undergraduate research examined interventions for students with severe physical and intellectual disabilities. Last summer she received a LEND Fellowship at the Department of Developmental Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“Megan is truly one of the most academically talented and morally exemplary young women with whom I have worked,” wrote LSOE Assistant Dean of Undergraduates Audrey Friedman. “Humble, gracious, compassionate, she is an outstanding role model and ambassador for Boston College.”

Cannavina, who will attend a doctoral program in psychology at Loyola University Maryland, said she plans to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities.

“Over the past four years, I’ve felt so empowered by my mentors and role models at BC,” said Cannavina, who had a double major in applied psychology and human development and sociology. “I’ve learned to think more critically about the world around me, and they have shown me the value of servant leadership – something I will take with me both personally and professionally.”

Coyne, of Paxton, Mass., was lauded for his academic achievement – he took a finance and information systems concentration with a minor in international studies for management – and his role in helping to shape the spiritual lives of his fellow students through his work with Campus Ministry and Residential Life.   

Carroll School Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Richard Keeley praised Coyne as a “companion” in the Ignatian sense of the word. “He’s someone with a unique gift for accompanying others and his companions span a range of ages and background that is remarkable. In a time riven with differences, Josh creates community.”

Coyne, who will join Deutsche Bank’s Technology Investment Banking group in Boston, said he looks forward to supporting new companies in the tech field, where innovations have the power to change people’s lives.

“I can’t imagine my life going forward without the undertones of philosophy and theology that have become such a centerpiece of my Boston College experience. At the same time, I look forward to using business as a medium for social good and to impact and enrich those around me.”

One of the top students in the Connell School Class of 2014, Agoura Hills, Calif., native Gautereaux served as a group leader for the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Campus Ministry’s Urban Immersion program, and was a health coach for two years in the Office of Health Promotion. In addition to clinical and service assignments, she worked as a nursing assistant in the Geriatric Psychiatry Unit at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, and as an undergraduate research fellow for CSON Assistant Professor Melissa Sutherland in areas of interpersonal violence.

Sutherland described Gautereaux as “a passionate and intelligent individual whose work has been integral in moving my research trajectory forward.”

Gautereaux plans to work as an emergency room nurse before pursuing graduate study and eventually working to establish public health clinics in low-income areas.

“I want to provide better health care and services for all people, especially those who are economically and socially disadvantaged,” said Gautereaux. “My goals are to spread awareness and touch people’s lives in every way that I can.”