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Dennis Chua ’14 named Merrill Presidential Scholar

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dennis Chua has been recognized as a 2014 Merrill Presidential Scholar, the highest recognition given by Cornell University to a graduating senior. Since 1988, the Merrill Presidential Scholars Program has honored Cornell University’s most outstanding graduating seniors who reflect the highest standards of excellence in their class. Merrill Presidential Scholars rank among the top 1% of the class in their respective schools and colleges, and are chosen for their outstanding scholastic accomplishments and community engagement.

A 2008 graduate of Raffles Institution, Singapore, Dennis served two years in the military before attending Cornell to pursue the Bachelors degree in chemical engineering.  Within 3 short years in the department, he has not only achieved the distinction as the student with the highest overall GPA in his graduating class of 85, but has defined a new high standard for extracurricular engagement. In his letter supporting Dennis’ nomination, Director Archer wrote: “Dennis’ record at Cornell is distinguished as much by his uniform excellence in academics as by the astounding breadth and depth of the extracurricular activities he has pursued. Dennis is a credit to Cornell and his presence in the chemical engineering undergraduate program provides a forceful example of the commitment to all-round excellence we seek to instill in all our students.” 

Dennis is a Hunter R. Rawling’s III Presidential Research Scholar, a Tau Beta Pi Scholar and a John G. Karrer Scholar. He is president of the Cornell Chapter of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society; president of Cornell’s BASE Productions dance group; a member of Phi Sigma Pi national honor fraternity; and was the chairperson for professional development of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. As a sophomore, he organized and led a team of engineering students to represent Cornell in the International Mathematical Contest for Modeling. Of the approximately 3600 teams from Universities world-wide that participated in the competition, Dennis’ team emerged as the top US group and was awarded the Mathematical Association of America Award at MathFest 2012. That same year, he led a team of Cornell engineering students in the IBM Watson Two Worlds Case Competition. His team proposed a new concept for Watson, which they dubbed Hello Watson, that applied Watson’s capabilities for technical support for consumer electronics. The team’s entry earned it 1st place in the competition. 

After graduation, Dennis will begin a career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs in New York City. 

Each Merrill Presidential scholar is given an opportunity to recognize the high school teacher who most inspired his or her scholastic development and the Cornell faculty member who most significantly contributed to his or her college experience. This May, the scholars, along with their high school teachers and Cornell professors, will be honored at a convocation hosted by Cornell’s president, David Skorton. 

Dennis will be recognizing Professor Lynden A. Archer, Director of Chemical Engineering, as the Cornell faculty member who most significantly impacted his college experience. Director Archer has been an inspiring mentor, teacher and friend since Dennis’ freshmen year. Dennis also plans to invite his high school chemistry teacher from Singapore to attend the convocation.

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