Eight students from a variety of backgrounds have been honored with the Order of Augusta, West Virginia University’s most prestigious student honor. They are among 44 students who have been named WVU Foundation’s Outstanding Seniors.
“With both the Outstanding Senior award and the Order of Augusta, we recognize and celebrate some extraordinary young people,” said Provost Joyce McConnell. “These students come from different backgrounds and disciplines and they are heading in many directions when they leave WVU, but they are all poised to do great things and to show the world that Mountaineers can do.”
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.
“I could not be more proud of the outstanding accomplishments of our students selected for the Order of the Augusta,” said WVU Dean of Students Corey Farris. “These truly are WVU’s brightest and best.”
These students will be honored at special ceremony on May 11 at the Erickson Alumni Center.
The 2017 Order of Augusta scholars are:
Amy Cashin, from Werribee, Australia, will graduate with a degree in sport and exercise psychology and minors in psychology and athletic coaching. She is a member of the WVU women’s cross country and track teams and has been selected team captain every season since her freshman year.
She is the representative for her cross country team on the Student-Athletic Advisory Council and co-founder of the Inclusivity Committee, a student-athlete group assembled to address the challenges surrounding the LGBTQ+ community, minorities, mental health, and substance abuse.
Cashin trains daily with her team, runs upwards of 80 miles per week, and has maintained at 3.91 cumulative grade point average.
She volunteers her time with the Special Olympics, Ruby Memorial Hospital and local nursing homes, and she spends her summers coaching and mentoring local youth enrolled in cross country camps.
She has been on the President’s List and Dean’s List, Athletic Director’s Academic Honor Roll, and the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll every semester since her freshman year. She is the five-year recipient of the Division 1 Cross Country and Track and Field Scholarship, and was recently awarded the 2017 Dr. Gerald Lage Academic Award by the Big 12 Conference, the league’s highest academic honor.
She was also named to the 2016 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Teams, NCAA All-Region Team, and Academic All-Big 12 First Team in Track and Field.
Her most rewarding experiences off the track was her senior capstone course when she conducted research in reducing pre-performance anxiety in high school student-athletes.
“Leaving Australia was tough at first. I dearly missed my family while trying to balance my academics and athletics. But the people of WVU have become my family,” said Cashin. “WVU has helped me grow and succeed as an individual and athlete. It’s the place I now call home.”
After graduation, Cashin will pursue a master’s degree in counseling at WVU while she competes in her final year on the cross country and track teams.
Leonor Elisa Cortez Rodriguez, from Barquisimeto, Venezuela, will graduate with a degree in graphic design and minors in art history and Italian studies. She is a former member of the WVU Equestrian Team and has trained extensively with some of Spain’s leading dance teachers and performers.
Rodriguez is an accomplished dancer and teacher in the Spanish dance, flamenco; and since 2014, she has served as an instructor for the World Dance 251 course in the School of Theatre and Dance.
WVU faculty tapped into her experience and expertise by inviting her to help choreograph the opera production of Bizet’s “Carmen,” known as one of the most beloved operas in the world. She has also performed as a singer and dancer in the musicals “Cabaret” and “Kiss Me, Kate.”
Rodriguez has spent two summers working as a graphic design intern; in 2015, she worked at PROA International in Miami, Florida; and in 2016, she traveled to Madrid, Spain to work at the prestigious design studio Interiorismo Label.
In early 2016, she served as an intern with the WVU Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and later that year, she interned with Lozzi Publishing in Rome, Italy, while studying at Richmond University, the American International University in Florence and Rome.
She has volunteered her time as a translator for a bilingual web design project in El Salvador, and she is currently working with the startup business Omniclipz, an innovator who has worked to revise the insulin pump clip to help improve patients’ diabetes management and overall quality of life.
Rodriguez is the recipient of the International Student Merit Scholarship, and has learned to speak Italian while completing her undergraduate degree.
“The cultural diversity at WVU has taught me to value each opportunity of learning and to make the most of each academic experience,” said Rodriguez. “I am forever grateful for my instructors who have inspired me to fulfil my artistic and professional dreams I never thought possible.”
She plans to move to Madrid in September where she has two job offers to work as a graphic designer.
Sundus Lateef, an Honors College member from Bridgeport, will graduate with degrees in biology and chemistry. She is a member of the American Chemical Society Student Affiliates, Mortar Board Senior Honorary Society, and a student ambassador for the WVU Foundation.
One of her most fulfilling activities at WVU has been working as an ambassador for the Eberly College, and Biology Department and Department of Chemistry.
Lateef has maintained a 4.0 while actively engaged in laboratory research on the gastrointestinal tract and liver disease. Her research has focused on evaluating the effects of different diets on the progression of liver disease.
She recently began leading her own research project focusing on caloric sugar intake and brain metabolism. She is also engaged in collaborative research with students at Princeton University on hepatitis C virus transmission and improved interventions. In 2014 and 2016, she conducted research at the WVU Summer Undergraduate Research Experience.
Lateef recently spearheaded a project with a radiologist at WVU Medicine to transcribe and translate 400-year-old coroner records written in Latin of prisoners’ deaths at Newgate Prison in London.
She has published several papers for scientific journals and has presented her research at several conferences, the WV state legislature, and later this month she will to travel to Washington, D.C. to showcase her undergraduate research to congressional members.
Lateef also finds time to tutor, work as a teaching assistant and volunteer her time to several community organizations.
She is a Foundation Scholar, has been endorsed by WVU for the prestigious Rhodes scholarship, and will graduate as a two-time WVU Eberly Scholar.
“I remember the grand ambitions I had as a freshman, and it turns out my actual experiences at WVU have exceeded my most wonderful dreams. I am grateful for the numerous mentors who have supported and encouraged my various endeavors at WVU,” said Lateef. “Although I am still exploring my options for medical school, I know one thing for sure, I will ultimately live and work in West Virginia.”
Colin Lopez, an Honors College student from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, will graduate with a degree in international studies with an emphasis in international business. He is the founding president of the WVU Global Public Health Brigade, the captain of the men’s lacrosse team, former member of the WVU Snowboarding Club, and has been endorsed by WVU for the Rhodes Scholarship.
Lopez has immersed himself in a series of transformative international experiences that have inspired him to work in the field of global health.
In 2013, he traveled to Honduras as a part of a Global Medical Brigade service trip; in 2014, he traveled to Panama to work as a global health intern with the NGO Global Brigades; and in 2015, he led a group of Honors College students to Brazil to assist health care professionals in providing services to isolated communities.
In 2015, he also served as the coordination intern at the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Amman, Jordan, while living there on the Boren Scholarship studying Arabic. Lopez experienced the refugee crises firsthand, and worked with the UNHCR and other leaders in global health to identify service gaps among urban and camp refugees.
He had the opportunity to travel to Morocco as a Critical Language Scholar to continue his study of the Arabic language, and he served as a student delegate at the European International Model United Nations at The Hague in the Netherlands.
Lopez currently serves as a research assistant in the Food Justice Lab, housed in the Department of Geography, researching nutritional and health care disparities, and strategies to improve community food security in West Virginia.
He has been on the President’s and Dean’s lists and will graduate as a WVU Eberly Scholar.
“I am beyond proud to say that I have achieved all of my goals and more,” said Lopez. “Accomplishments that would not be possible without the continuous support from my professors and administration at WVU.”
As a Fulbright Scholar, he will return to Jordan next year to conduct research on healthcare services in the country.
Dillon Muhly-Alexander, an Honors College student from West Union, will graduate with a degree in international studies with an emphasis in international development. He is a Rhodes Scholar finalist, Foundation Scholar, the president of Our Children, Our Future and president of WVU Young Democrats.
Muhly-Alexander’s interest in tackling food insecurity began in high school when he collaborated with his local 4-H to start a backpack program to meet the hunger needs of his schoolmates; however, his passion expanded to the international level after his study abroad in developing countries.
In 2013, he traveled to Nicaragua to study a coffee cooperative and other small-scale development projects. Last summer he was part of the WVU group that was the first American study abroad program to Timor-Leste to write his honors thesis on a $4 billion development projects while simultaneously performing more than 90 hours of service at the Topu Honis Shelter.
In March 2017, he traveled to the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda to work with USAID, the U.S. Government agency which is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid.
Muhly-Alexander has a keen interest in how policy and legislative action can impact poverty and hunger.
He worked in the Senate President’s office of the West Virginia Legislature as a Judith Herndon Fellow and served as a student intern under Natalie Tennant at the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office.
He has represented WVU in Model United Nations conferences in Washington, D.C. and New York, and served as a delegate in The European International Model United Nations Conference in The Hague, Netherlands.
He is particularly proud of organizing the 2015 West Virginia Statewide Policy Summit for the West Virginia Health Kids and Families Coalition.
“It is my earnest hope that one day I will return to work at WVU to give back to the institution, and state, that has provided so many opportunities to me,” he said.
After graduation, he plans to take a gap year and travel before attending law school.
Christopher Radcliffe, a member of the Honors College, from Morgantown, will graduate with a chemistry degree and minors in biology and philosophy. He is the president of Friends of Literacy Volunteers, a member of the WVU Mortar Board, and serves has a conversational partner in the WVU Intensive English Program and a Chinese language partner in the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.
He has maintained a 4.0 while engaging in rigorous coursework, traveling abroad, volunteering, serving as tutor in the Chemistry Department and a teaching assistant in the Biology Department.
In 2014, Radcliffe traveled to Changchun, China as a part of the Summer International Research Experience for students to perform research at Jilin University. While there, he performed research in expedited drug discovery. In 2015, he served as a research assistant at the Hillman Cancer Center and other campus facilities through the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Summer Undergraduate Research Program. His research focused on the efficacy of various chemotherapeutics on colorectal cancer.
He also performed extensive research in the WVU Chemistry Department. In spring 2014, he worked on organometallics, a subfield of organic chemistry; and since early last year, he has been performing research on synthesizing compounds which may contribute to the development of carbon nanotubes.
In 2016, he had the opportunity to travel abroad to Timor-Leste where he shadowed a physician who treats hundreds of patients every day and is committed to providing free, essential healthcare for the poor and underprivileged people of Timor-Leste through the Bairo Pite Clinic. Radcliffe also volunteered his limited spare time at the Topu Honis Shelter.
Radcliffe volunteers his time to Ruby Memorial Hospital and the Literacy Volunteers of Monongalia and Preston Counties. Through LVMPC, he gained his ProLiteracy certification and began working as a personal ESL tutor.
He is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and the recipient of the Eberly and Morrissey-Ropp Scholarships, among many other awards and honors.
“WVU faculty never fail to point students towards opportunities or extend an offer for an adventure,” Radcliffe said. “Through my opportunities at WVU, I recognize my future in medicine will invariably entail efforts directed at global inequities in healthcare access, quality and outcome.”
As a Fulbright Scholar, Radcliffe plans to work as an English teaching assistant in Taiwan and will attend Yale School of Medicine once he returns.
Gabrielle Schwind, an Honors College student from Scranton, Pennsylvania, will graduate with degrees in accounting and finance. She is the president of Alpha Kappa Psi, and a member of The American Institute of CPAs, Mortar Board National Senior Honorary, and the Business Ethics Club, among many other organizations.
Dubbed the “quintessential” student ambassador whose fervor will make you fall in love with WVU all over again, she is the team leader of the College of Business and Economics Student Ambassador Program. She has also been credited with restoring the program to a robust, active recruitment platform.
Schwind currently works as an accounts payable intern with Citynet, LLC, an integrated communications provider in Bridgeport; and in 2016, she served as an audit intern at Maher Duessel, a Pennsylvania based CPA firm trained in the government and non-profit sector.
She has served as a leadWell mentor and has tutored student-athletes in business courses at the Academic Athlete Performance Center.
She is known for donating her hair to Locks of Love every other year, and volunteers her time to the Ronald McDonald House and Habitat for Humanity.
She is particularly proud of her invitation from Dean Javier Reyes to lead a comprehensive campus climate assessment and devise new solutions to student retention in the College of Business and Economics. Schwind presented her findings and student engagement solutions to B&E’s senior administration and the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Advising.
She is the recipient of the Intermediate Accounting Outstanding Student Award and Excellence in Personal Finance Advising Scholarships, among other awards.
“I am so thankful that I took a chance on this university. B&E has helped me pinpoint my career path and land my dream job,” said Schwind. “I will always have an ever-present love for WVU. And no matter how far away I travel, I know one day country roads will lead me back home.”
After graduation, she plans to move to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and work as a staff auditor at Maher Duessel.
Amanda Stoner, an Honors College member from Harpers Ferry, will graduate with degrees in international studies and geography. She is the co-founder and former president of Oxfam American at WVU, and a member of the West Virginia Sierra Club, Student Advocates for Legislative Advancement, International Justice Mission, and the Sierra Student Coalition.
Stoner founded OAWVU her sophomore year to foster cohesion among student groups dedicated to sustainable development and issues surrounding poverty, hunger, and injustice. One of her most rewarding accomplishments has been organizing two annual Hunger Banquets, an interactive event that brings hunger and poverty issues to life.
She recently collaborated with the members of UNICEF at WVU to help launch the WVU Syrian Refugee Campaign in an effort to raise money, and support, for Syrian refugees, raising more than $1,000 in the first week of the campaign.
In 2014, she had the opportunity to study abroad and work with community development in rural Jamaica; and in 2016, she studied abroad at the University of Strasbourg, EM Strasbourg Business School, in France.
She has spent two of her summers working as an intern; in 2014, she worked at the National Wildlife Federation in Washington, D.C.; and in 2015, she worked at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry. She also served as a recycling intern with the City of Morgantown.
Stoner currently serves as an outreach coordinator with the WVU Food Justice Lab and a student ambassador for the Eberly College and has volunteered her time to the WVU Food Recovery Network.
She has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average and is the recipient of the Udall and Eberly Scholarships. She is also the recipient of the Public Interest/Public Service Scholarship, the American University Washington College of Law’s most prestigious full-tuition merit scholarship for students pursuing a public service career upon graduation.
“I feel that WVU has prepared me for future challenges and instilled in me a passion for combatting environmental injustices,” said Stoner. “As a lawyer, I aspire to work alongside non-profit environmental advocacy organizations to protect the beautiful natural resource and communities of my Appalachian home.”
She will attend American University Washington College of Law in the fall.
The remaining 36 WVU Outstanding Seniors are as follows:
- Taylor Albertini; Wheeling,(Honors College)
- Rachel Bainbridge; Weirton, (Honors College)
- Alexander Battin; Morgantown, (Honors College)
- Jacob Byrne; Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania
- Kallin Closson; Fairmont,
- Holly Cogar; Dixie, (Honors College)
- Madeline Collins; Princeton, (Honors College)
- Megan DeJong; Fairmont, (Honors College)
- Zachary Diable; Harrison City, Pennsylvania (Honors College)
- Margaret Drazba; Saint Marys, (Honors College)
- Ashley Driscoll; Bridgeport,
- Emily Ernest; Beckley, (Honors College)
- Michael Fouts; Bridgeport, (Honors College)
- Janice Hartleroad; Parkersburg, (Honors College)
- Daniel Hepner; Charles Town, (Honors College)
- Blake Humphrey; Wheeling,
- Abby Humphreys; Huntington, (Honors College)
- Jacob Ivey; Oak Hill, (Honors College)
- Jonah James; Bridgeport, (Honors College)
- Matthew Koh; Beckley, (Honors College)
- Kurt Kowalski; Burgettstown, Pennsylvania (Honors College)
- Joshua Lokant; Oak Hill, (Honors College)
- Christopher Luzader; Flatwoods, (Honors College)
- Kristen Mastrantoni; Weirton, (Honors College)
- Louisa Morgan; Blenheim, New Zealand
- Margaret Neely; Morgantown, (Honors College)
- Gina Paugh; Jane Lew,
- Esther Raub; Cross Lanes, (Honors College)
- Bayan Razzaq; Morgantown, (Honors College)
- Claire Reece; Peterstown, (Honors College)
- Anna Royek; Corry, Pennsylvania
- Anna Schles; Charleston, (Honors College)
- Emma Van Der Aarde; Martinsburg, West Virginia (Honors College)
- Layne Veneri; Princeton, (Honors College)
- Janelle Vickers; Moundsville, (Honors College)
- Katherine Warner; Morgantown, (Honors College)
CONTACT: Corey Farris, Student Life
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