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Countdown to Commencement 2023: CJ Leonardo

January 16, 2023

Each year, faculty and staff nominate members of the graduating class for “Countdown to Commencement,” a video series which recognizes the accomplishments of soon-to-be-alumni of the University. Fisher News Highlights features a student every week of the spring semester, as we countdown to the Commencement celebration in May. The first student to be featured is CJ Leonardo, a biology major who was nominated by Drs. Kristin Picardo and Alexey Ignatchenko.

Leonardo wasted no time taking advantage of every opportunity presented to him or pursuing leadership and volunteer positions both on- and off-campus. The Honors student has served the Honors Program as a mentor, and has been a biology learning assistant and biology tutor. As a Service Scholar, he has volunteered at the Friendly Home, Golisano Children’s Hospital, and TRU-Impact Rochester as a tutor and mentor. In addition, he has been a member of the Biology Club E-Board, serving as president in his senior year; a member of the Pre-Health Club; served as a resident assistant for two years; and worked as a student ambassador for the Office of Admissions for three years.

He also found time to participate in myriad research opportunities including conducting research in both the Biology and Chemistry Departments and as a summer research intern at the Golisano Children’s Hospital. Leonardo was in the University’s first cohort of S-STEM Scholars, a scholarship program funded by the National Science Foundation.

“CJ jumped right in and got involved in so many ways. He was in our first cohort of S-STEM Scholars and has exceeded all expectations for his academic performance, engagement in research, and giving back to Fisher,” said Picardo.

In her nomination, Picardo went on to say that Leonardo inspired her to understand how much external funding can make positive changes and impact student success.

“CJ has changed the direction of the NSF funded research in my group from time-consuming gas phase reactions to a high throughput autoclave testing in a liquid phase,” noted Ignatchenko. “He is well on his way to becoming a medical doctor and possibly a president of a medical facility due to his outstanding motivation, leadership, and organization skills.”