Michael Dezube and João Machado are Merrill Scholars
Of the seven Merrill Presidential Scholars from the College of Engineering honored on May 23, two are ORIE degree recipients. Michael Dezube, from Newton, MA, will pursue an M. Eng. in Systems Engineering in the fall, with Knight and Master of Engineering Committee scholarships. João Machado, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is a dual-degree student majoring in operations research and mathematics. He is joining Goldman Sachs Investment Management Division.
Merrill scholars have been chosen each year since 1988 in a program established by the late Philip Merrill '55. They are distinguished not only by their scholastic accomplishments but because of their remarkable intellectual drive, energetic leadership abilities, and a propensity to contribute to the betterment of society.
The scholars are asked to recognize both an inspirational high school teacher and a Cornell faculty member who most significantly contributed to their college experience.
As an undergraduate, Dezube worked as a peer tutor, a research assistant, the chief technology officer of a recruiting startup, the technical director of an algorithmic trading startup, a software engineer for Cisco, a web applications developer for Merck, a store specialist for Apple, and developer of a 'reverse dictionary' iPhone 'app,' often working in tandem with his studies. Recently, he was on an inter-scholastic team that won Microsoft's 2012 Firenze|BXT Student Innovation Competition, which brings together students from business (B), design (X), and engineering (T) programs to collaborate in solving a engineering-design-business problem. Dezube graduated summa cum laude in May.
Dezube designated Thomas Lee, a retired actuary, as the high school teacher who most inspired his scholastic development. "Not only did he teach the curriculum well, but he enriched it with more challenging problems taken from the real world," Dezube said. Lee is at Newton South High School. Dezube selected Cornell sociology and information science professor Michael Macy for enabling "me to view the world through a different light," Dezube said. He served as undergraduate research assistant for Macy, analyzing sociological concepts and aiding in Ph.D. students' dissertation research.
As an undergraduate, Machado interned at three asset management companies. He received degrees from both the College of Engineering, in operations research, and the College of Arts and Sciences, in mathematics. He served as a teaching assistant in mathematics, computer science, and operations research courses. He has participated actively in music ensembles at Cornell, focusing mostly on Brazilian music and jazz (he plays acoustic guitar and piano) and has taken courses in jazz and other music of the African diaspora. In April 2011 he presented some models applying probability theory to rankings in sports competitions to the Seaway Section of the Mathematical Association of Americal. Machado graduated magna cum laude in May.
Machado credits music professor Steven Pond, whom he selected for Merrill honors, with inspiring him "to make music a bigger part of my life here," Machado said.
Machado's choice of high school teacher, Barbara Labanca of the British School of Rio de Janeiro, traveled to Ithaca for Merrill Scholar activities. He credits Labanca's lessons in literary analysis as preparing him "to perform well in advanced freshman writing seminars," he said, and adds that he owes his "continued reading of Brazilian poetry to her."