West Virginia University is recognizing 34 top seniors with the WVU Foundation Outstanding Senior Award. Eight of those students are also being honored with the University’s most prestigious student honor the Order of Augusta.
Established in 1995 to signify the 40th anniversary of the WVU Foundation, the Outstanding Seniors award recognizes students for their contributions and achievements in scholarship, leadership and service.
The Order of Augusta further recognizes the students’ superior scholarship, demonstrated leadership and record of community and public service. The award is named for its historical significance in the state. Augusta was among the original names considered by the Legislature when the state seceded from Virginia in 1863.
These students will be honored during the Celebration of Student Honors on April 8 at 6 p.m. in the Ruby Grand Hall of the Erickson Alumni Center. The event is part of the University’s annual Week of Honors, a week of celebrations that takes place each April to recognize the outstanding achievements of WVU’s faculty, staff and students.
WVU’s honorary societies, Helvetia (sophomores), Chimes (juniors) and Mortar Board (seniors), a national organization, will welcome inductees for the 2013-2014 academic year. Students accepted into these groups have been recognized for their academic merit, leadership and community service.
In addition, students who have secured competitive national awards, such as the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, Critical Language Scholarship and Boren Scholarship, will be recognized for their success.
The 2012 Order of Augusta scholars are: Tonia Ahmed, Morgantown; Caroline Bailey, Belmont; Jessica Carr, Fairmont; Chelsea Hodgkins, Sudlersville, Md.; Surya Mannivannan, Morgantown; Miranda Miller, Morgantown; Byron Patterson, Philadelphia; and Petra Zublasing, Eppan BZ, Italy.
The remaining 26 WVU Outstanding Seniors are as follows:
- Erin Bryant, Morgantown
- Sarah Cordonier, Parkersburg
- Jacob Frame, Maidsville
- Jordan Hamric, Bruceton Mills
- Heather Hill, Grafton
- Jessica Kawalek, Bunker Hill
- Chelsea Kuhn, Burton
- Christopher McBride, Beckley
- Cody McPherson, Parkersburg
- Darrin Nichols, Walker
- Meredith Orndorff, Morgantown
- Alexandra Palmer, Morgantown
- Amanda Pollard, Morgantown
- Sara Rhodes, Washington
- Charles Schuler, Scott Depot
- Sripadh Sharma, Fort Ashby
- Stanley Smith, Morgantown
- Kendra Thorne, Petersburg
- Jonathan Turner, Fairmont
- Emily Lipscomb, Swanton
- Lori McLaughlin, Aberdeen
- Stephani Smith, Bel Air
- John Hall, Cranberry Township
- Kiley Sanders, Pittsburgh
Lagos * Gbolahan Idowu, Victoria Island
- Katrina Weimer, Akron
ORDER OF AUGUSTA
Tonia Ahmed, from Morgantown, will graduate with degrees in chemistry and math from WVU. Ahmed, who was a recipient of a Goldwater Scholarship in 2012, is a full-time researcher at the University and has spent two summers at California institute of Technology learning her trade.
“I strongly believe that the opportunities I have had while an undergraduate student WVU are incomparable to those I would have had at any other institution,” she said. “WVU has provided me with several research opportunities from the time I first enrolled in school.”
Ahmed tutors students in the chemistry and math learning centers. She is the social chair of the Phi Lambda Upsilon honorary chemical society, a member of the American Chemical Society Student Affiliates among many other honors and activities.
She would like to continue her education and obtain a doctoral degree before further developing her skills with post-doctoral research. Ultimately, she would like to find a career in organic and organometallic research at a university.
Caroline Bailey, from Belmont, will graduate with degrees in political science and international studies. She has been a member of the WVU Marching Band since she walked onto campus as a student and has been a rank leader since 2010. As a senior, she was named the piccolo section leader.
“Being a native West Virginian, I have always loved the Mountaineers and WVU, but attending school here has only increased my love of my state and made me grateful to soon be able to call this institution my alma mater,” she said.
She was the alumni relations officer of the Omicron Chapter of the Kappa Kappa Psi national honorary band fraternity as a sophomore. She is currently the treasurer of the organization and has also served as vice president of service. She is a member of the Collegiate 4-H Club, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society among other honors and activities.
Bailey has gained real-world experience as a unit extension camping instructor for WVU Extension Service and through a study abroad trip to rural Tanzania.
Jessica Carr, from Fairmont, will graduate with degrees in chemistry and math. She has spent most of her WVU career in or around the lab. Since 2010, she has been an undergraduate research assistant in the computational condensed matter physics lab and a year later started working as a teaching assistant in the organic chemistry lab for a year.
“I was privileged to begin research as early as my sophomore year. When I was selected for an internship in Changchun, China,” she said. “WVU has played a crucial role in transforming me from an unconfident ‘nerd’ in high school into someone who has a plan for the future and the conviction to claim a purpose in society.”
She is the vice president of the WVU Campus Chapter of Monongalia County Habitat for Humanity. She has also served as secretary of the organization. She is a member of the WVU affiliate of the American Chemical Society, the Alpha Lambda Delta national honor society among other honors and activities.
In the future, following her graduate studies, she hopes to lead research in an industrial or national laboratory, developing new devices for disease diagnostics and therapeutics.
Chelsea Hodgkins, of Sudlersville, Md., will graduate with degrees in geography and international studies. She found her passion to help communities around the world while at WVU.
In her time at the University, she took part in the Community Water Solutions Fellowship program and spent multiple weeks helping villages in Africa. She was awarded the Boren Scholarship in 2012 along with many other awards and honors in her time as a student.
“The experiences that I have had as a student at WVU have built a strong foundation of knowledge and skills upon which I will pursue a career working on development projects in Africa,” she said. “I have gained a multi-cultured perspective in my approach to learning and living, an acquired trait in which I place much value.”
She was the president of the WVU Residence Hall Association in 2010-11, the coordinator of the Arnold Hall Globalization & Political Issues Interest Group among other activities.
Surya Mannivannan, from Morgantown, will graduate with a degree in chemical engineering. She is the president of the Society of Biological Engineers, the secretary of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and a member of the Society of Women Engineers among other activities.
She has worked in research since 2011 and currently has a position in the department of chemical engineering. Via the Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship, she was able to spend a summer at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.
She will continue her education at WVU following graduation, as she will begin medical school in the fall. She would like to play an active role in the field of oncology.
“WVU has provided me a multitude of opportunities, as well as unparalleled guidance, that I could not have obtained elsewhere,” she said. “WVU has also given me the ability and flexibility to explore as an individual who had had various interests, especially with regards to research.”
Miranda Miller, of Morgantown, will graduate with a degree in social work. Since 2009, she has been the president or secretary of the WVU Sierra Student Coalition. She is the president of the WVU Gender Equality Movement and served as vice president for outreach, as well. She is the secretary and treasurer of the WVU “Undergraduate Social Work Organization.
She has done all that while working three part-time jobs since 2010. Miller found a way to study abroad in France, as well.
She was also involved in the reinstatement of the Mu Iota Chapter of Phi Alpha, the social work honor society.
“WVU brought a lot of good people into my life; people I hope to call friends for a long time; people who I laughed with, cried with, cooked with, planned with, worked with, navigated to France with and learned with,” she said. “These people, who are fellow students, faculty, staff and community members at large, have all filled my heart and mind with love, companionship, solidarity, knowledge and wisdom that I will carry with me for as long as I live.”
Byron Patterson, of Philadelphia, graduated with a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering in December 2012. He spent a great deal of time at WVU in the lab as a researcher for the Center for Industrial Research and Applications and as a member of the Microgravity Research Team. He was the treasurer, member of the outreach team and website designer and manager of College Church, as well.
He was an active member in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society and the Pi Tau Sigma mechanical engineering honor society among other honors and organizations.
“Through my experiences, I have learned that the thrilling ride of life is not about the name that one makes for oneself and the accolades garnered, but the lives that have been impacted and the many stories that can be shared with other Mountaineers,” he said. “As I continue my journey through life, I will always remember my cherished stories from WVU.”
Petra Zublasing, of Eppan BZ, Italy, will graduate with a degree in civil engineering. She’ll also leave WVU with national titles. As a member of the rifle team, she led the team to its 2013 national title and won the air rifle and smallbore titles in the competition. She also won the smallbore title in 2012.
She is also the head of junior activities for the Italian Rifle Club, an assistant coach for the Rifle Club and Junior Club. Zublasing placed 12th in air rifle and smallbore at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
“In the future I might not remember how many As I got or how many hours I studied, but I will always remember the wonder for new knowledge that WVU created in me,” she said. “I would call West Virginia my gateway to the United States; it introduced me to the American culture and the American people with their lifestyle.”
Zublasing hopes to make it to the 2016 Olympic games and wants to start her post-undergraduate schooling in Italy for energy engineering.
“In my life thus far, there is no equivalent to the value of my undergraduate experience at WVU,” she said. “I thought being accepted to WVU was the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. Today, I could not agree with that statement more.”
She is a member of the Russian Club and has held the position of secretary since 2012. She is also a member of the Psi Chi national psychology honorary and has been an undergraduate teaching assistant for two introduction to psychology courses. She’s been a tutor for those students, as well. She currently interns at the Monongalia County Courthouse with the victim assistance program.
Sarah Cordonier, from Parkersburg, will graduate with degrees in journalism and international studies. She not only spent her time at WVU working in the classroom but as the downtown chair of the Resident Assistant Council. She has tried to make strides to improve dorm living for students. Cordonier has been a resident assistant since 2010.
“I’ve definitely learned that value isn’t only in the things you do but also in the people you meet,” she said of her WVU experience. “I feel that no matter what career I end up in, I’ll be prepared for it. Anything I don’t already know I can learn.”
Cordonier has been a member of the Swing Dance Club and the French Club. She has gained experience as a lab assistant in the P.I. Reed School of Journalism and via WVU News. She also traveled to Malawi as part of a study abroad program.
Jacob Frame, of Maidsville, will graduate with degrees in geography and history. He is the commander of the Army ROTC battalion, so he is responsible for helping more than 100 students at WVU transform into Army officers. He will be commissioned into the Army as a second lieutenant after graduation.
He has studied abroad in Greece, Vietnam and Cambodia in 2010 and the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Chile in 2011.
“My undergraduate experience at WVU was valuable in the sense that it transformed me into the person I am today,” he said. “Being a man to whom your younger self would have held in high regard is what I believe to be a rare privilege.”
He has been a part of the Boreman Running Club, the Conversation Partners program and a tutor/teaching assistant for biology 115 and 117 classes in 2010-11. In addition, he has volunteered at the Ruby Memorial Medical Center Emergency department and the Aging and Alzheimer’s Research Laboratory at WVU. He traveled abroad to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and China during his time at the University.
“WVU has given me limitless opportunity to expand my knowledge and learn from some of the most distinguished academics in their respective fields,” he said. “WVU has prepared me for much more than a career in medicine.”
Jordan Hamric, of Bruceton Mills, will graduate with a degree in exercise physiology. She is a member of the cross country and track and field teams at WVU, as well, and was a captain of both as a junior and a senior. She was named a first-team Academic all-Big 12 Conference member in 2012-13.
“Being able to compete in a sport, or in my case two sports, while attending WVU has been such a wonderful experience,” she said. “Competing for WVU at such a high level and against the best collegiate track and field athletes in the country has inspired me to work hard and stay determined, aiding in my path toward my future.”
As she attempts to become an optometrist, she has gained much-needed experience over the last three years through assistant positions with Optical 101 and Spectrum Optical.
Heather Hill, of Grafton, will graduate with degrees in history and religious studies. In her time at WVU, she founded the Quidditch Club and co-founded the Circle K organization and the Religious Studies Club. She has been part of many clubs and organizations including Golden Key and the History Club.
She is also a member of the Phi Alpha Theta history honor society and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars among other activities and honors. She is also a resident assistant in Residential Education. She has studied abroad in London and Israel.
“Both of my trips taken while an undergraduate have given me the opportunity to take a glimpse at possible options for my future,” she said.
Gboloahan Idowu, of Victoria Island, Lagos, will graduate with a degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering. He has been active within the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources as an ambassador and president of the National Society of Black Engineers.
“WVU has molded me into becoming a well-rounded engineering professional,” he said. “I know for a fact that my learning experience at this University will go a long way to positively impact my career.”
He’s a member of the African Students Association and the secretary of the American Association of Drilling Engineers. He’s also been a student worker in the WVU Division of Diversity, Quity and Inclusion and a resident assistant.
Jessica Kawalek, of Bunker Hill, will graduate with a degree in psychology. She has been a member of more than a handful of clubs and organizations at WVU. She is the vice president of Delta Phi Alpha, the German honorary society, vice president of the German Club, the secretary of WVU Hillel and safety officer of the WVU Fencing Club among others.
Kawalek has traveled to Germany as part of a study abroad trip in 2012 and has worked in psychology research labs since her freshman year.
“It’s because of WVU that I have found my passion for teaching through opportunities such as Energy Express and a study abroad trip to Germany,” she said. “The opportunities that I have been given here are unbelievable and have led me to be who I am today.”
Chelsea Kuhn, of Burton, will graduate with a degree in speech and pathology and audiology. She is currently conducting research to explore relationships between the perceptions, beliefs and reactions toward stuttering in different populations.
She is a member and woodwind rank leader of the WVU marching band. In addition, she is a member of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, the secretary of Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society and a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
“I have become a better-organized and well-rounded individual through my experiences in the band,” she said. “Being a member of the marching band has meant the world to me, and I will always be thankful that WVU gave me that opportunity.”
Emily Lipscomb, of Swanton, Md., will graduate with a degree in civil and environmental engineering. She is the captain of the Concrete Canoe Team at WVU, which designs and constructs concrete canoes so they will float.
She is the WVU student chapter secretary of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a member of the Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society among other activities. Lipscomb has had numerous internships and completed a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in 2012.
“From the minute I stepped onto this campus, I was overwhelmed by the breadth of opportunities which were available to me,” she said. “In my four years at WVU, I have been able to experience things which I never could have imagined.”
Christopher McBride, of Beckley, will graduate with a degree in chemistry. He has been very involved in Honors Hall. He is the coordinator of the Honors Hall Science Club, is the founder of the Instrumental Club and is or has been an advisor to a handful of other Honors Hall activities or organizations.
He is the chair of the resident assistant amenities committee of the Resident Assistant Council and has been a teaching assistant for chemistry 117 and 118 classes since 2011.
“I could talk about the advantages of my undergraduate educational experiences, but for the most part, those are clear,” he said. “The big changes did not come from a lecture or a textbook. They came from the interactions I had with my fellow students.”
Lori McLaughlin, of Aberdeen, Md., will graduate with degrees in criminology and international studies. She has participated in two Model United Nations conferences in New York.
“My experience representing WVU through the Model United Nations Conference has provided me the means to establish social networking skills, research discipline, presentation confidence and analytical reasoning skills that other university students do not have the opportunity to forge until after graduation,” she said.
In addition, she was a biology 115 and 117 tutor, and she also tutored for all sociology classes. McLaughlin spent the fall 2012 semester studying abroad at the University of Manchester Law School after receiving the Barnette Scholarship.
He is the treasurer of the National Association for Music Education, a member of the North American Saxophone Alliance and has been a singer and conductor of the WVU Mountaineer Chorale, a member of the WVU Chamber Winds among other activities. He is also the vice president and treasurer of Campus Light Ministries.
“I know that much of this university has become embedded within my soul: a passion, a love, a desire to carry on the tradition of what it means to be a Mountaineer,” he said. “It’s because of this that I know, no matter where life takes me, I will never be too far from my West Virginia home.”
Darrin Nichols, of Walker, will graduate with a degree in biology. He is the chartering president of the National Residence Hall Honorary and the treasurer of the Alpha Phi Omega national service fraternity.
He is a resident assistant advisor for the Student Conduct Board and has been a mentor in the Honors College and a tutor for Dadisman and Stalnaker Halls, as well.
“I have grown to understand that being a true Mountaineer is about more than just attending football games with thousands of other fans or simply just going to class everyday,” he said. “Being a Mountaineer entails working hard to achieve my goals, always being respectful, doing more than what is required to just ‘get by’ and never forgetting how I became what I am today.”
Meredith Orndorff, of Morgantown, will graduate with a degree in exercise physiology. She has been an active member, community service chair, tutor and vice president of the Exercise Physiology Club, a member of the Student Health Advisory Board, the secretary of Mortar Board and a community service committee member of the Collegiate 4-H Club, among other activities.
She handled all of that this year alongside jobs as a student worker for the Office of the Provost and as a physical therapy aide.
“The past four years have laid the foundation for my career and my adult life. I am thankful for the exceptional education I have received and the unparalleled opportunities I have had,” she said. “Choosing WVU was one of the best decisions of my life. This school will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Alexandra Palmer, of Morgantown, will graduate with degrees in political science and history. She has been a co-captain of the WVU Debate Team since 2010, which has allowed her to not only improve her critical thinking and communication skills but help others improve. With her on the team, it made national rankings.
She is the community service chair of Mortar Board, a member of the Phi Alpha Theta history honorary and a member of the Phi Sigma Alpha political science honorary. She also studied abroad in Stasbourg, France.
“Whether I was studying at the downtown library, grabbing coffee in between classes at the WVU Bookstore, going to a debate meeting in Woodburn Hall, running to class or hanging out with friends at the Mountainlair, I always felt at home,” she said. “The strong sense of community at the University is what has really made my undergraduate degree enjoyable.”
Amanda Pollard, of Morgantown, will graduate with a degree in exercise physiology. She is the fundraising chair of the WVU Mortar Board and the vice president of the Exercise Physiology Club. She has been the vice president of medicine and the fundraising chair of the WVU Global Medical and Dental Brigades, as well.
She is currently a research intern at the Center for Neuroscience and spent last summer interning with One Heart World-Wide, an international non-profit organization. She traveled to Honduras while at WVU to assist a free medical clinic in rural communities.
“My time at WVU has been kinetic, always changing, never boring and I know that as I leave this place to move into the future that I will take that dynamic quality with me,” she said. “As a graduate of WVU, I will be able to change the world because of the constant force that WVU has been in my life.”
Sara Rhodes, of Washington, was graduate with a degree in social work. She is the president of the Undergraduate Social Work organization of which she has been a member of since 2010. In addition, she is also the vice president of Wishmakers on Campus, an organization she helped found in 2011.
“The value in my education and the opportunities that have been made available because of the quality of education are simply phenomenal,” she said. “Spending four of the most developmental stages of my life at WVU has been nothing short of outstanding and will serve as lifelong learning.”
She also served on the Mountaineer Week committee since 2010 and has been a Collegiate 4-H Club member since 2009 alongside her duties as a Gold and Blue Ambassador.
Kiley Sanders, of Pittsburgh, Pa., will graduate with degrees in international studies, world languages and literature. She is the vide president of the Sigma Iota Rho international studies honorary and a member of the Russian Club.
Since 2009, she has been a part-time aide at the Barber National Institute, where she cared for mentally challenged adults. She was also been accepted as a Peace Corps volunteer in January.
“After every course taught by the helpful, attentive professors at WVU, I grew as a person and as a student, figuring out my way in life,” she said. “As a result of four amazing years, I have determined my future path and devotions and am already on my way to accomplish them.”
Charles Schuler, of Scott Depot, will graduate with a degree in finance. He has spent most of the last two years in the newsroom at The Daily Athenaeum, where he currently resides as the managing editor.
In addition to his duties as a writer and an editor, he received valuable experience in accounting and financing at Ernst & Young during an internship last summer among other internships and jobs over the last four years.
“The things I’ve learned have not been on a single topic, nor have they been confined to a dormant life in my textbooks. They have become a part of the way I think and the way I react to the world around me,” he said. “My experience isn’t about what I’ve done, but rather, who I am today because of it.”
Sripadh Sharma, of Fort Ashby, will graduate with degrees in biology and chemistry. He is currently an observer in the Neurology and Otolaryngology department at Ruby Memorial Hospital. He is also an undergraduate researcher for NanoSURE and the department of chemistry.
“WVU has given me an exceptional education and great friendships to prepare me for my future,” he said. “In fact, I see my undergraduate education as an enormous springboard for me to dive into the future. Because of the academic and social fruits WVU has given me, I cannot ignore the amazing experience I have had at WVU.”
He has been a member of the Chess Club, an assistant in the Taekwondo Club, a resident assistant and a member of the American Chemical Society.
Stanley Smith, of Morgantown, will graduate with a degree in accounting. He is the president of the Beta Alpha Psi, the financial information student honorary, and the social chair of Mortar Board. He is also a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma international honor society.
“I’ve been presented with so many different opportunities that have helped shape me as an individual, and for that I am truly grateful,” he said. “My goal in attending WVU was to graduate as a young professional with the skills for future success, and after all of the valuable experience that I’ve been exposed to here, I can safely say that I will reach that goal on May 18.”
In addition, she is a member of Mortar Board and has been a member of Autism Speaks U, the Student Council for Exceptional Children and the Student Education Association among other activities. She’s been a resident assistant since 2010 and works as an athletic tutor.
“I am so thankful that I decided to apply to WVU that day. I never would have had any of these experiences if I had no made that decision,” she said. “I was climbing mountains before I can to WVU but appreciate the journey even more now that I have had this college experience and have established my identity as a successful Mountaineer.”
Kendra Thorne, of Petersburg, will graduate with a degree in psychology. She is a research assistant with the Traumatic Stress Research Group and the Mental Health and Aging Lab. She has been a teaching assistant, as well.
She is an active member in the Psychology Club, Holding Every Life Precious and the Mountaineer Maniacs. She has been a member of Mountaineer Campus Ministries and the WVU Marching Band. She is a member of multiple honor societies, as well.
“The WVU experience has opened my eyes to a world of possibilities that I never knew existed,” she said. “My educational and extracurricular experiences throughout my undergraduate career have helped to shape me into a driven and responsible individual.”
Jonathan Turner, of Fairmont, will graduate with a degree in chemistry. He has spent much of the last three years at WVU researching as either an undergraduate research assistant or a teaching assistant in the department of chemistry. Since 2009, he has been a member of the MedBound Premedical program.
“I have not taken a single chemistry course that I have not enjoyed; and I have not had a single chemistry professor whom I have no liked,” he said. “The incorporation of undergraduates in teaching assistantships and research is a true testament to our institution’s dedication to its mission. It shows that WVU not only wants to expose its students to a variety of intellectual challenges and circumstances, but also that it respects and values our abilities.”
He also had an internship last summer at the National Institutes of Health’s Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.
Katrina Weimer, of Akron, Ohio, will graduate with degrees in biology and forensic and investigative science. She is part of the judicial council of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the community service co-chair of the Alpha Lambda Delta, a senior advisor and former president and treasurer of the Women’s Club Volleyball Team. In addition, she’s the treasurer of the French Club.
For 14 hours each week over the last two years, she has spent time as a tutor and peer mentor for the Mountaineer Academic Program.
“The people of Appalachia have the mentality that if you work hard things will eventually swing your way. This attitude is contagious, and I have seen it transform incoming freshmen,” she said. “During my tenure at WVU, I met a great group of West Virginians, and they have become a part of my extended family.”
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