West Virginia University is closer to naming its Mr. and Ms. Mountaineer, as the finalists for the prestigious honor have been announced.

The award recognizes students’ exemplary academic achievement and extracurricular involvement. All applicants must be eligible for graduation by May 2012 to be considered.

Mr. and Ms. Mountaineer are part of Mountaineer Week, which takes place Oct. 26 through Nov. 4.

After an interview in front of the Mr. and Ms. Mountaineer voting committee, one male and female finalist will be named Mr. and Ms. Mountaineer at the Nov. 3 WVU football game vs. TCU at Milan Puskar Stadium.

In the running for 2012 Mr. Mountaineer are: Patrick Cushing of Morgantown, John Higgins of Philippi, Byron Patterson of Upper Black Eddy, Pa., Taylor Richmond of Beckley and Jonathan Turner of Fairmont.

In the running for 2012 Ms. Mountaineer are: Rebecca Durst of Point Pleasant, Kacie Legg of Sissonville, Katrina Weimer of Akron, Ohio, Sarah Beth Yoder of Moundsville and Hilah Zia of Morgantown.

A brief bio of each finalist follows:

Mr. Mountaineer

Patrick Cushing is a senior exercise physiology major from Morgantown. He was a member of the WVU Marching Band, is a practice player for the WVU women’s soccer team, a brother of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, a percussion instructor at Morgantown High School and a peer mentor in the WVU Honors College. He graduated from Morgantown High School. Cushing is sponsored by Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. He will be escorted by Brian, MaryLee and Logan Cushing.

John Higgins is a senior political science major from Philippi. He is a member of the Honors College, assistant section leader and rank leader of the WVU Marching Band, a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha political science honorary and a Frasure-Singleton Intern at the West Virginia State Legislature. He graduated from Philip Barbour High School. Higgins is sponsored by Kappa Kappa Psi, the national band fraternity. He will be escorted by Bob and Susie Higgins.

Byron Patterson is a senior aerospace engineering student from Upper Black Eddy, Pa. He was a 2010 U.S. Department of Homeland Security Scholar, a 2012 National Science Foundation Research Fellow, a 2010 and 2011 West Virginia NASA Undergraduate Research Fellow, a member of the WVU microgravity research team and the World Orphans in conjunction with the College Church. He graduated from Palisades High School. Patterson is sponsored by the Honors Student Association. He will be escorted by Arnold and Sheryl Patterson.

Taylor Richmond is a graduate student in public administration from Beckley. He is a member of the WVU Strategic Planning Committee, was a Student Government Association board of governor, was the alternate Mountaineer Mascot for a year and is a member of the Erie Shriners Hospital Board of Governors. He graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School. Richmond is sponsored by Mountain Honorary. He will be escorted by Ed and Patty Richmond.

Jonathan Turner is a senior chemistry major from Fairmont. He is a Bucklew Scholar, an undergraduate chemistry researcher, a Chemistry 115 and 117 teaching assistant, a member of the Helvetia President Honorary, the Chimes President Honorary, the Mortar Board Vice President Honorary and is part of the MedBound Premedical Program. He graduated from Fairmont Senior High School. Turner is sponsored by Mortar Board Senior Honorary. He will be escorted by Tom Turner and Candace Chidester.

Ms. Mountaineer

Rebecca Durst is a nursing student from Point Pleasant. She is the founding co-chair of the Freshman Advisory Board, was the 2009 Mountaineer Mascot, was named one of the top 10 “people of the year” by The Daily Athenaeum and is a Mountaineer Week committee member. She graduated from Point Pleasant High School. Durst is sponsored by WVU’s Student Nurses’ Association. She will be escorted by Ron and Jody Durst.

Kacie Legg is a nursing student from Sissonville. She is a four-year member of the Sigma Kappa sorority, has taken part in the WVU Dance Marathon, is a member of the Mountaineer Maniacs and a recipient of the PROMISE scholarship and various other scholarships. She graduated from Sissonville High School. Legg is sponsored by the School of Nursing. She will be escorted by Allen and Martha Legg.

Katrina Weimer is a forensic and investigative science major from Akron, Ohio. She is a 2011 president and 2012 senior advisor of the WVU women’s club volleyball team, a judicial board member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the community service co-chair of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, a 2011 and 2012 WVU Eberly College Scholar and a member of the Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society. She graduated from Revere High School. Weimer is sponsored by the WVU women’s club volleyball team. She will be escorted by Andrew and Alison Weimer.

Sarah Beth Yoder is a law student also pursuing a business master’s degree from Moundsville. She has received CALI Awards in business organizations, securities regulation and business transactions drafting, is a member of Mountain Honorary, was a member of the WVU women’s jazz choir, is a student attorney representing West Virginia businesses for the WVU College of Law Entrepreneurship Law Clinic and spent last summer helping NIOSH Project ROVER and Hearts of Gold Service Dogs. She graduated from Wheeling Park High School. Yoder is sponsored by Graduate Programs and the College of Law. She will be escorted by her husband Logan Hartle.

Hilah Zia is a graduate student in public administration from Morgantown. She serves as the president of Student Association of Public Administrators within her master’s program, was a Leadership Studies Milan Puskar Scholar from 2009-11, chapter president of National Society of Collegiate Scholars in 2010-11 and a Gold and Blue Student Ambassador Liaison from 2009-11. She is a sister of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority and was president of Panhellenic Council in 2010. She was named the Greek Woman of the Year as a senior. She graduated from Morgantown High School. Zia is sponsored by the Student Association of Public Administrators. She will be escorted by Ahmad and Suhaila Zia.



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