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WVU’s top seniors named, eight honored with 2019 Order of Augusta

Four women and three men stand together against a dark background

Andrea Pettit, Karen Laska, Michael Amato, Jacob Bumgarner, Rodney Elliott, Emma Harrison and Elizabeth Blemings are the 2019 WVU Order of Augusta inductees. Virginia Thrasher, not pictured, is studying abroad and was not available for the group photo.

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An Olympic gold medalist, a retired master sergeant of the U.S. Air Force, a musician, a humanitarian and a legacy who has carried on the Mountaineer spirit as the 21st family member to attend West Virginia University are among those who will receive WVU’s highest student honor, the Order of Augusta.

“We are so proud to recognize some of our extraordinarily talented graduates with the Outstanding Senior award and the Order of Augusta each year,”said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Joyce McConnell. “Not only have they already made a tremendous positive impact on our campus and in our community, they are poised to head out into the world and truly make it a better place, today and tomorrow.”

A majority of the 2019 Order of Augusta scholars are members of the Honors College

“This year’s outstanding seniors have demonstrated a breadth of intellectual achievement and a deep commitment to making our community, state and world better,” said Dean of Students Corey Farris. “Representing the University’s best and brightest minds, opportunities for success abound far beyond our doors for these graduating seniors.

These eight students, who are among 41 students named WVU Foundation’s Outstanding Seniors, will be honored at a ceremony Thursday (May 9) at 10 a.m. at the Erickson Alumni Center.

Michael Amato, a member of the Honors College from Rochester, Massachusetts, will graduate with a degree in political science with an emphasis in pre-law and legal studies; world languages, literatures, and linguistics with an emphasis in Spanish, and history; and a minor in Native American studies.

Read more about Amato.

Elizabeth Blemings, a member of the Honors College from Morgantown, will graduate with degrees in finance and economics. She is the founder of the WVU Chapter of Amnesty International, a former vice president for professional activities for Delta Sigma Pi, former member of the WVU Equestrian Club and has served as the captain of the intramural softball and basketball teams.

Read more about Blemings.

Jacob Bumgarner, from Charleston, will graduate with a bachelor of music in piano performance. He has performed as a pianist in the WVU Steinway Campaign Concert, WVU Jazz Combos and WVU Symphony Orchestra, among several other performances.

Read more about Bumgarner.

Rodney Elliott, a non-traditional student and retired master sergeant of the Air Force from Bogata, Texas, will graduate with degrees in physics and Russian studies. He served as a Russian linguist in the military, president of the WVU Astronomy Club, serves as a teaching assistant in the Physics and Astronomy Department and telescope operator for the WVU Planetarium & Observatory.

Read more about Elliot.

Emma Harrison, a member of the Honors College from Morgantown, will graduate with a degree in political science and multidisciplinary studies (Africana, leadership, and women’s and gender studies). She an ambassador for the Honors College and a former member of the Student Government Association and Model United Nations, and a two-time competitor in the Dancing with Our Mountaineer Stars.

Read more about Harrison.

Karen Laska, a member of the Honors College from Wheeling, will graduate with degrees in international studies, Slavic and East European studies, and world languages (French) and a minor in history. She is a member of Pi Delta Phi, WVU UNICEF Club, WVU Oxfam and WVU Russian and Eastern European Club.

Read more about Laska.

Andrea Pettit, a member of the Honors College from Morgantown, will graduate with a degree in immunology and medical microbiology. She is a member of the WVU Cross County and Track & Field teams, community service chair of the WVU Student Athlete Advisory Committee, treasurer of Alpha Epsilon Delta and co-founder of the WVU Cross Country Ski club.

Read more about Pettit.

Virginia Thrasher, a member of the Honors College from Springfield, Virginia, will graduate with a degree in biomedical engineering. She is a member of the WVU Rifle Team, WVU Student Athlete Advisory Council, WVU Biomedical Engineering Club, Mountain Honorary and U.S. National Rifle Team.

Read more about Thrasher.

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 Legislature when the state seceded from Virginia in 1863.

The remaining 33 WVU Outstanding Seniors are:

  • Mia Antinone; Weirton (Honors College)
  • Marissa Bailey; Clarksburg
  • Graeson Baker; Paden City (Honors College)
  • Erin Bradley; Thornton (Honors College)
  • Seth Burk; Sunbury, Pennsylvania
  • Jillian Clemente; Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania (Honors College)
  • Killian Coyne; Wheeling (Honors College)
  • Haley Craig; Shady Spring (Honors College)
  • Cristin Dolan; Morgantown (Honors College)
  • Brian Donaldson; Morgantown (Honors College)
  • Nicole Fama; Daniels (Honors College)
  • Haleigh Fields; Berkeley Springs (Honors College)
  • Jessica Francis; Bridgeville, Pennsylvania (Honors College)
  • Paula Goetz; Rottenburg
  • Lauren Griffin; Franklin, Tennessee (Honors College)
  • Andrew Jemiolo; Orchard Park, New York
  • Timofei Kharisov; Hinton 
  • Soofia Lateef; Bridgeport (Honors College) 
  • Alexander Martin; Charleston (Honors College)
  • John McLaughlin; Wheeling 
  • Michael Mingyar: Altoona, Pennsylvania (Honors College)
  • Kayley Morrow; McMurray, Pennsylvania (Honors College)
  • Traci Nelson; Petersburg
  • Brittany Osteen; Shenandoah Junction (Honors College)
  • Kinsey Reed; Berkeley Springs (Honors College)
  • Adam Roh; Morgantown (Honors College)
  • Abigail Rosiello; Morgantown (Honors College)
  • Samantha Stocksdale; Gaithersburg, Maryland (Honors College)
  • Gabrielle Wagner; Bridgeport
  • Benjamin Weisburg: Matawan, New Jersey 
  • Nathan Williams; Morgantown
  • Sean Worix; Coal City (Honors College)
  • Ahmed Zanabli; Charleston 



CONTACT: Corey Farris
Student Life

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