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Top WVU seniors named, eight honored with 2024 Order of Augusta

The eight Order of Augusta recipients are shown in a grid.

The 2024 WVU Order of Augusta scholars are (clockwise from top left) Jillian Blair, Olivia Dowler, Azeem Khan, Petal Palmer, Natalie Wonsettler, William Turman, Lauren Sexton and Madison Santmyer. (WVU Graphic)

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Eight members of the West Virginia University Class of 2024 who have made remarkable achievements across academic disciplines while using the power of purpose to serve others and foster innovation for a sustainable future are among the talented student leaders honored with the Order of Augusta, the most prestigious University student award.

“Each year, we honor our best and brightest May graduates with the WVU Order of Augusta and Outstanding Senior awards,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed said.

“These students are top of their class in many ways. Not only are they top performers in their academic coursework, but they are also leaders and changemakers with a passion for service. We are honored that they chose WVU as their home and look forward to their future success.”

Most of these students are members of WVU Honors College, some have maintained a 4.0 cumulative grade point average, and all of them have distinguished themselves in the classroom and in their communities.

“I am always in awe of everything these students have accomplished. Not only do they have stellar academics, their out of classroom experiences are amazing,” Dean of Students Corey Farris said.

“Those experiences are well-rounded and have made a positive impact on the WVU community. I look forward to seeing what their futures hold and have no doubt we will continue to see great things from these outstanding graduates.”

The Order of Augusta honorees, who are among 53 students named the WVU Foundation Outstanding Seniors, will be recognized at a drop-in event from 12:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, May 10, in Elizabeth Moore Hall, Betty Boyd Lounge.

The 2024 Order of Augusta scholars are:

Jillian Blair from Wheeling will graduate with a degree in environmental and energy resources management and minors in sustainable design and geology. This 2020 Foundation Scholar has immersed herself in entrepreneurial and other opportunities to develop sustainable alternatives and build an equitable economy in Appalachia.
Read more about Blair.

Olivia Dowler from Weirton will graduate with degrees in history, philosophy and Spanish. This Foundation Scholar and first-generation college student has maintained a cumulative 4.0 grade point average while working to expand resources for victims of sexual assault and amplify marginalized voices.
Read more about Dowler.

Azeem Khan from Charleston will graduate with a degree in political science and minors in business cybersecurity and philosophy. The University’s 26th Truman Scholar, he has worked tenaciously to improve the accessibility of mental health and addiction services on campus and across West Virginia.
Read more about Khan.

Petal Palmer from Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, will graduate with a degree in exercise physiology. A member of the WVU track and field and cross country teams, she has maintained a 4.0 grade point average while bravely battling through cancer treatments and working to improve patient care with storytelling.
Read more about Palmer.

Madison Santmyer from Purcellville, Virginia, will graduate with degrees in political science and international studies and minors in Spanish and geography. The 2023-24 Student Government Association president has maintained a 4.0 grade point average while serving as a leader and liaison focused on elevating the student experience and success at WVU and across the state.
Read more about Santmyer.

Lauren Sexton from Williamstown will graduate with a degree in biology and minors in psychology and music performance with a focus in violin. Sexton has maintained a 4.0 while immersing herself in community service focused on helping others and developing skills needed for patient-centered care as a future physician.
Read more about Sexton.

William Turman from Barboursville will graduate with a degree in economics and minors in finance and military science. This four-year cadet in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps and 2020 Bucklew Scholar has served in ROTC leadership roles while conducting experimental research focused on supporting marginalized communities.
Read more about Turman.

Natalie Wonsettler from Morgantown will graduate with a degree in biology and minors in English and medical humanities and health studies. Named a 2023 Mountaineer of Distinction, she has maintained a 4.0 grade point average while advocating for foster children in West Virginia who are “often overlooked and underserved.”
Read more about Wonsettler.

The remaining 45 WVU Outstanding Seniors are:

     ·      Julianna Baibos; Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, international studies, political science (Honors College)  

     ·      Aimee Ballard; Harpers Ferry, biology (Honors College)  

     ·      MacKenzie Barr; New Haven, exercise physiology with an emphasis in aquatic therapy (Honors College)  

     ·      Allison Barr; Moorefield, animal and nutritional sciences, biology (Honors College)

     ·      Nathaniel Beer; Buckhannon, communication studies (Honors College)    

     ·      Alexandra Benyola; Williamstown, New Jersey, neuroscience, psychology (Honors College)

     ·      Jessica Burke; Kearneysville, biology (Honors College)  

     ·      Ronan Butts; Wheeling, aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering (Honors College)  

     ·      Gabriel Cardella; Belcamp, Maryland, mathematics

     ·      Sydney Cowell; Richwood, management information systems

     ·      Claire Dursa; Carmichaels, Pennsylvania, marketing (Honors College)  

     ·      Sophia Flower; Fairmont, biology (Honors College)

     ·      Owen Gerdes; Morgantown, chemical engineering and mathematics with emphasis in computational mathematical science

     ·      Cambrie Gerdes; Morgantown, dance

     ·      Sabrina Gorbey; Mentor, Ohio, animal and nutritional science

     ·      N'Diya Harris; Welch, psychology

     ·      Ruoxuan Huang; Morgantown, finance

     ·      Alice Johnson; Hurricane, industrial engineering (Honors College)  

     ·      Lauren Keplinger; Gassaway, chemistry (Honors College)

     ·      Riley Klug; New Martinsville, art history, anthropology (Honors College)  

     ·      Bethany Knight; Clarksburg, biomedical engineering (Honors College)  

     ·      Emma LaBombard; Harpers Ferry, accounting and management information systems (Honors College)  

     ·      Kennedi Lewellyn; Buckhannon, biology

     ·      Emily Loh; Wheeling, forensic chemistry (Honors College)  

     ·      Jordan Murray; Newburg, international studies, political science (Honors College)  

     ·      Kaitlin Nutter; Morgantown, economics (Honors College)  

     ·      Jules Ogden; Morgantown, English, journalism (Honors College)  

     ·      Adelle Pacyna; Morgantown, biology (Honors College)  

     ·      Rushik Patel; South Charleston, biomedical engineering (Honors College)  

     ·      Kylie Pell; Wheeling, communication sciences and disorders

     ·      Riley Pierce; Kent, Ohio, forest resources management (Honors College)  

     ·      Bethanny Prascik; Fairmont, anthropology, dance (Honors College)  

     ·      Aidan Priest; Baldwinsville, New York, accounting, finance (Honors College)

     ·      Justin Riggs; Wheeling, physics

     ·      Ryleigh Rosta; Warrington, Pennsylvania, psychology, undergraduate certificate in behavior analysis (Honors College)  

     ·      Bryn Shunney; East Greenwich, Rhode Island, biometric systems engineering (Honors College)  

     ·      Hannah Smart; Lewisburg, neuroscience (Honors College)  

     ·      Madison Smith; Allegany, New York, interactive design for media (Honors College)  

     ·      Olivia Suazo; Ellicott City, Maryland, finance

     ·      Natalie Trout; Charleston, mathematics (Honors College)  

     ·      Mark Vodianyi; Morgantown, political science

     ·      Juliet Wanosky; Parkersburg, industrial engineering (Honors College)  

     ·      Olivia Whittington; Leonardtown, Maryland, exercise physiology, emphasis in aquatic therapy

     ·      Thomas Williams; Old Fields, exercise physiology (Honors College)  

     ·      Sierra Worden; Charleston, journalism (Honors College)

Established in 1995 to signify the 40th anniversary of the WVU Foundation, the Outstanding Senior award recognizes students for their contributions and achievements in scholarship, leadership and service.

The Order of Augusta further recognizes superior scholarship, demonstrated leadership, and a 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 what is now West Virginia seceded from Virginia in 1863.



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