Individual Leadership Awards Winners
This page lists the individual award winners of 2022 Student Life Leadership Awards. For a listing of organization award winners, visit the Organization Winner webpage. Also be sure to check out the Leadership Awards highlight on @StudentLifeOSU on Instagram.
Outstanding First-Year Student Award | Outstanding Graduate/Professional Student Award | Stanley D. Gottsegen Leadership Award | Kaplan Humanitarian Award | Dr. Ellamae Simmons Award | Boehm Holistic Wellness Award | Scarlet, Gray and Green Award | Outstanding Student Life Employee Award | Outstanding Student Life Supervisor Award | Diversity Engagement Award | Student Organization Indvidual Contribution Awards | Spirit of Ohio State Award | Outstanding Senior Award
The Outstanding First-Year Student Award is designed to recognize the efforts of first-year students on Ohio State’s campus. Award recipients have engaged in experiences both in and out of the classroom that have increased their responsibilities to the campus community. These students have demonstrated an ability to balance academics with their involvement and have shown promise for future leadership at Ohio State.
Jalahan Kamara is a pre-med Psychology major from Gahanna, Ohio. Jalahan started her campus involvement early with the Program for Advancing Scholarship and Service (PASS) early arrival program, where she built strong relationships with diverse peers that helped her find her place at the university. She uses the confidence PASS gave her to be a leader among her peers in her classes and labs. Jalahan also plans to pursue leadership roles within her student organizations, Alpha Epsilon Delta and African Youth League, as well as a College of Arts and Sciences student ambassador.
A Visual Communication Design major from Columbus, Elaine Smith is already making her mark with campus athletics. In addition to being a club swimmer with plans to compete at nationals this April, Elaine serves as a manager of the men’s and women’s varsity swim teams, where she has helped organize a memorial for Coach Watley and has connected with aquatics peers and alumni. She has also fostered her commitment to fitness and leadership through the Dunn Sport and Wellness scholars, for which she will chair the volunteer committee next year.
A Medical Anthropology major from Toledo, Ohio, Seneba Thiam also found her community early through the PASS program, where she plans to become a peer leader next year, as well as serving as a College of Arts and Sciences ambassador. In Seneba’s own works, “above all being a leader requires the ability to be a servant. It isn't just being at the front of the line, it’s also clearing a path, trusting the people you are leading, and supporting those who have fallen behind.” We look forward to how she will put this philosophy in action during her time at Ohio State.
Siddharth Tiwari is an Economics major who calls both New Delhi, India, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates his hometown. This international student has found a sense of home and community with the Cricket Club at Ohio State, where he currently serves as President. Siddharth defines leadership as “an ability to be able to get the best result out of people as a group” and he puts this in action on the cricket field and his on-campus employment. Having recently been selected for Buckeye Leadership Fellows, we only expect his leadership to continue to grow.
Among the highest honors conferred to graduate and professional students, this award recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to Ohio State in leadership and service outside their academic program. To be selected, students must demonstrate their ability to balance scholarship with their leadership and involvement.
Having already received his bachelors and masters from Ohio State, Fishers, Indiana native Austin Cool is a dedicated scholar and Buckeye pursuing his doctorate in Biophysics. He has been involved with Ohio Staters, Inc. since 2015, serving as Secretary, President, and now Alumni Liaison where he re-established this alumni society. He has also been involved with graduate research since 2015, serves as one of 10 graduate student senators on faculty senate, and leads the Biophysics Student Organization. After he completes his doctoral journey, he plans to put his well cultivated leadership skills to action in the field of computational biology.
Kush Kumar Yadav
Receiving a nearly unprecedented number of nominations, Kush Kumar Yadav is a Veterinary Medicine student from Bhairahawa, Nepal. While he has been very active in organizations such as Fight for Her, Infectious Disease Institute Trainee Association, Graduate Student Unit, and the Cricket Club, Kush Kumar’s most significant contribution as a graduate student is his research related to viruses that affects humans. His dream is to be “a scientist with leadership ability” and secure a role as a scientist at Moderna or Pfizer after graduation.
First awarded in 2006, the Stanley D. Gottsegen Leadership Award recognizes one student leader each year who has demonstrated outstanding involvement in co-curricular activities with a monetary award of $1,000. Students must be undergraduate juniors or seniors involved in one of the following organizations: Undergraduate Student Government, Ohio Union Activities Board, Greek Governing Councils, Makio or Ohio Staters, Inc. Stanley D. Gottsegen graduated from Ohio State in 1954 with a BS in Business Administration. During his time at Ohio State, Mr. Gottsegen was involved in a wide variety of campus activities and programs. He served as Secretary for Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, Chairman of the 1952 Dad’s Day events, Secretary-Treasurer for the Fraternity Council, President of the Ohio Student Party Association and Vice President of Sphinx. Additionally, he was involved with Fraternity Affairs, Makio and May Week Committee, Ohio Staters, Inc., Ohio State Sesquicentennial Committee, Student Senate and Sundial.
Jacob Chang is a senior Psychology and Political Sciences major from Nanjing, Jiangsu, China who has made a profound impact at Ohio State as the first international student to serve as student body president. Jacob has left a legacy of initiatives that amplified minoritized student voices and pushed the campus to embrace diverse understandings of who can be a student leader, including the #EmbraceTheDifference and Immigration Story campaigns, the campaign that elect USG’s first Black woman as president, and increased international student membership in USG. After graduation, Jacob aims to continue his advocacy work as a civil rights attorney.
The Kaplan Humanitarian Award was first awarded in 1961 to honor Rabbi Harry Kaplan who served as director of the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation for 34 years and whose love for all people personified what has helped make Ohio State a world-class leader in higher education. This award is given each year to acknowledge students whose efforts, on behalf of intercultural, interfaith and/or interracial understanding, have made a distinctive contribution toward achieving the ideas for what Rabbi Kaplan stood.
A senior Community Leadership, Community & Extension Education major, from Chillicothe Ohio, Maddie Allman’s journey towards intercultural engagement at Ohio State started her first week on campus in the Buckeyes First early arrival program. Through Buckeyes First, she was able to connect with other first-generation students with whom she founded the Buckeyes First Student Organization to help other first-gen students find community. In her own words, “BFSO taught me how to navigate higher education, push my limits, and inspire others. Becoming a founding member encouraged me to step up my leadership, think of the community first, and share in the successes of first-generation college students."
Born in 1918 in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Dr. Ellamae Simmons dreamed of becoming a physician. Throughout her life, she experienced racism and sexism on a frequent basis as a Black woman. She was initially denied from Ohio State’s nursing program because of her race but ended up joining the Red Cross and served in the U.S. Army Nursing Corps for more than three years during World War II. Following the war, she applied again to Ohio State and was accepted to the Biological Sciences program. Dr. Ellamae Simmons went on to earn her Masters in Social Work from Ohio State, and her medical degree from Howard University. This award recognizes students who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and service – with particular regard to issues at the intersection of race and gender.
Tabitha Renee Willis
Tabitha, who has been recognized several times today for her exceptional work, is a senior from Country Club Hills, Illinois majoring in Medical Anthropology and Biology. She is being recognized for her commitment to addressing healthcare inequities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. While volunteering at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in their emergency department undergraduate program, Tabitha found herself in a position to leave her comfort zone and speak up about racial and sexual complexities that influence our everyday lives. She will continue this work after graduation while pursuing a master’s in public health or medical anthropology and hopes to work in the intersection of medicine and anthropology.
Sponsored by the Student Life Wellness Center, this award is presented in both individual and organization categories. The award recognizes Buckeyes who have promoted holistic wellness through leadership.
Tabitha Renee Willis
A senior Medical Anthropology and Biology major from Country Club Hills, Illinois, Tabitha is being recognized this year for her holistic commitment to the 9 dimensions of wellness, at home and on campus. She has supported her father through cancer and stroke rehabilitation while also helping launch a non-profit to honor the legacy of her neighbors lost to gun violence. On campus she advocates for engaging Black and other racial minority folks in movement as one of just 10 students selected through Nike’s Project Move. Tabitha’s commitment to wellness has been recognized nationally, as she has worked with the Obama Foundation and the Malala Fund to promote wellness and empower youth on a global scale.
The Scarlet, Gray, and Green Student Leadership Award was established in 2011 by the Office of Student Life and the President’s and Provost’s Council on Sustainability. The award is now presented each year by the Energy Management and Sustainability group within Facility Management and Logistics. This award recognizes undergraduate, graduate or professional students who have shown outstanding leadership in furthering sustainability efforts at The Ohio State University. Candidates are evaluated based on demonstrated leadership, scale of environmental impact, creativity and innovation and measurable results.
Shanvanth Rayal Arnipalli
Shanvanth Arnipalli is an Environmental Science major from New Albany, Ohio with a proven track record in sustainability advocacy. After receiving a SWACO grant as a first-year student to design and oversee a compost system for the New Albany School Campus, Shanvanth committed to engaging others in sustainable work. At the beginning of the pandemic, he took over as President of Leadership of Environmental Athletes for Sustainability where he has led initiatives like a sustainable food blog, biodegradable newspapers, and planning a Big Ten Student-Athletes Sustainability Conference.
Sylvia Cressman is a Mechanical Engineering major from North Canton, Ohio who is reimagining how to leverage her major to contribute to sustainable efforts. During her first year, Sylvia traveled to Tanzania to collaborate with researchers in designing, building, and installing a fully functioning solar system. This early experience inspired Sylvia to join the Solar Education and Outreach Club. The most rewarding part of Sylvia’s Ohio State experience has been seeing the engagement younger generations are able to have with solar energy, bringing hope to the future.
An Environmental Science major from Landen, Ohio, Alex Poling jumped right in and joined the Sustainability Committee of Undergraduate Student Government during his first semester where he helped plan the 30-Day Green Challenge and the Sustainable Fashion Show. In his role as USG Vice Chair of Capital Planning, Alex has worked with President Johnson to request funding for the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, helped update Ohio State’s Sustainability Goals, and reestablished a Student Sustainability Council. Alex centers social justice in his sustainability advocacy, focusing on marginalized communities.
On-campus student employment is one of many ways for students to get involved at Ohio State and build skills that will serve them throughout their lifetimes. Sponsored by the Student Employee Experience, this award is selected based on nominations received from supervisors or co-workers, and recognizes the contributions of student employees in Student Life offices. Recipients have gone above and beyond their basic job responsibilities and made significant contributions to their offices.
Ashley Bruns is a Public Policy Analysis and Economics major from St. Charles, Illinois, working both as a Member Services student supervisor and a student Operations Manager in the Department of Recreational Sports. In these roles, Ashley is charged with supervision, supporting sales and facility staff, and assisting with staff personnel and team culture. She has created the extraordinary student experience by planning and executing the interviewing, hiring, and onboarding of over 100 employees and infusing equity into the recruitment process that will last in Recreational Sports for years to come.
A Human Nutrition major from Newberry, Ohio, Lexi Hammer has contributed to creating a culture of wellbeing within the Ohio State community during her nearly four years as a Group Fitness employee within the Department of Recreational Sports. As a Group Fitness Instructor and Room Monitor, Lexi teaches participants how to better connect with their bodies, empowering them to find joy in movement while choosing how they want to be challenged before, during and after class. Lexi has been an invaluable resource and mentor to her peer team of instructors, Rec Sports, and the Buckeye community.
Joey M. Januszewski
Joey Januszewski, an Aerospace Engineering major from Parma, Ohio, is a Student Facility Coordinator within the Adventure Recreation Center. Joey’s forward-thinking has helped the recreational facilities grow and improve. He has built strong relationships with the student staff team that helps oversee. Joey is never afraid to challenge process or address conflict in ways that challenge his team to think critically and solve problems. Joey is passionate about the ARC and his legacy there, and he will be very missed after graduation.
Julia Jones, a Psychology major from New Carlisle, Ohio, is a Student Facility Coordinator on the RPAC facility operations team. Julia has worked to support the staff culture among the team of 90+ student employees and 2 newly formed work teams. Nearly every single student that worked under Julia applied for a promotion this year, a testament to Julia’s mentorship and leadership capacity. In reflecting on their time working with Julia, her nominator stated, “I’m I so proud to have Julia on our staff, and she will be severely missed when she graduates this spring.”
As a building manager in the Ohio Union, Hannah MacDonnell serves as the primary contact for up to 10,000 clients and guests, assisting daily with Union events, and facilitating excellent customer service. When a school group with several high-risk students came to visit, this Logistics Management major from Austin, Texas went out of her way to find a clean reserved space for them to eat with a lower risk of COVID-19 exposure. Hannah is best known for her reliability and her welcoming and vibrant demeanor that makes the Union a home.
Christina Negray is a Dental Doctoral student from Avon, Ohio, and has served as a Reservations Student Manager in the Ohio Union for both her undergraduate and doctoral career. Christina always has an infectious smile and a positive attitude. She has been central to creating a positive impact for a primarily new team of student employees by developing an efficient and effective onboarding schedule for new Student Managers. Whether it is among students or staff, Christina is known for providing the highest level of customer service.
A Health Science major from Mason, Ohio, Catherine Richards works in Recreational Sports as both a Group Fitness Instructor and Supervisor supporting over 5,000 unique participants. Catherine's proudest moment has been introducing Art and Asanas, a brand-new event that guides participants through a yoga practice where they can also express themselves on canvas. Catherine’s ability to turn her aspirational visions into tangible and unforgettable moments for her peers will continue to impact the Ohio State community long after she graduates.
Zara Sen is a senior Economics major from Needham, Massachusetts. As an Ohio Union Information Desk student employee, Zara speaks up for students, assists prospective Buckeyes, and goes above and beyond for everyone she encounters. Zara is ready to pick up shifts to support her team, adapt to changes to support student organizations, and accommodate guests to ensure they can access Union facilities equitably. To Zara, she does her work to help the Union feel like a true family room for campus.
A City & Regional Planning major from Columbus, Will Wilder can always be counted on to say hi, ask someone about their day, and flash a big smile. As one of the few Recreational Sports student staff working during Summer 2021, Will assisted professional staff in cleaning and reorganizing 3 recreational facilities for a new layout in response to COVID-19 policy. Will has grown as a supervisor, creating a welcoming atmosphere for new-hires as well. Will’s leadership and willingness to develop a leader have left a deep impression on the Rec Sports team.
Savannah Youngholm is an Early Childhood Education major from San Diego, California. Savannah brightens the Adventure Recreation Center with her positive attitude and her fun, kind spirit. She not only makes the ARC a great place for patrons, but she has helped shape the culture and turn it into a place where people want to come to work, enjoy their time at work, and still balance making sure that everything is getting done in a timely fashion. Savannah is seen as a go-to among the professional staff as they know they can lean on her for help in any situation.
Student Life staff who supervise students use employment as a means to teach leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving. Sponored by Student Life Human Resources, this award recognizes these supervisors have gone above and beyond in their efforts to use campus employment as a means to develop student leadership.
Matthew Altendorf is the Coordinator of Student Staff Training & Development within Recreational Sports. Despite the challenges faced throughout the pandemic, he consistently advocates for his team and the students. Matthew is always one step ahead of the problem and provides feedback in ways that imagines what more you can do, rather than what you are doing wrong. His nominator shared that, “I am beyond thankful to have had a supervisor that helped developed a sense of purpose in my life to focus on the small changes and how to create meaningful change every day.”
Seneca M. Crump
While he has recently taken on a new adventure at University of Southern California, Seneca Crump served as the primary advisor to the Multicultural Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council within Sorority and Fraternity Life. Among students and colleagues, Seneca is known as a “go-to” for advice and campus resources. He is someone who will always lend a helping hand, work long hours, and even discreetly help students find their next meal if they are struggling. His dedication makes a big impact in supporting the SFL student employee team.
Alex Jimenez is the Coordinator for RPAC Operations within Recreational Sports. Alex prioritizes the growth and development of his staff. He believes that his staff’s work is more than cleaning machines and enforcing policy, and he regularly invite the staff into professional development opportunities and personally checks in to see how they are doing as students and humans. His nominator notes that they have become “a better leader, communicator, student, employee, and person” because of working with Alex.
John McGowan Jr.
John McGowan is an Assistant Hall Director in Torres Hall from Hopedale, Massachusetts. His kindness, willingness to listen to whatever issues student-staff face in and out of the RA position, and enthusiasm for staff bonding have all helped his team immensely. He balances the line between support and discipline and his staff view his office as a safe space to be themselves without judgement. John has instilled in his team that no matter how busy you are, you can take a few minutes to check in on others and show genuine care.
Sponsored by the Student Life Multicultural Center, this award is presented to students that have demonstrated a significant commitment to fostering intercultural impact as part of ongoing efforts to create a globally engaged citizenry among students at The Ohio State University. The award recognizes efforts put forth by students to encourage a deeper understanding of diversity and social justice and create intercultural understanding.
Tabitha Renee Willis
Tabitha Willis recognized the importance of diversity in education at a young age growing up in the Chicago area. A Medical Anthropology and Biology major, she worked hard to create access programs that would get young students of color interested in STEM work. She has infused justice and equity into the local service programs she has led through her 3 years as a leader in the Pay It Forward cohort. Her main focus has been to advocate for the correction of health care inequities through her advocacy and volunteer work with Nationwide Children’s Hospital. As a Black woman pursuing a career in health care, we know she will continue to pursue that work for the rest of her career.
This award, also sponsored by the Student Employee Experience, recognizes those students, faculty, and staff who have made extraordinary contributions to a student organization through their involvement, leadership, and dedication to the organization and its mission. Recognizing that organizational success requires individual contribution in a variety of formats and at all levels, this award is presented in four different categories:
Karen Macbeth, Ph.D.
Karen Macbeth, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning and advisor to the Buckeye Y.A. Reading Group, a winner of several awards today. As an advisor, Professor Macbeth has fostered a safe space for international and domestic students to engage with social topics over young adult literature. She has also created opportunities for Reading Group members to present their work among colleagues in the ESL program or co-sponsor seminars on literature produced by diverse authors.
Sultana N. Nahar
A professor in the Department of Astronomy, Dr. Sultana Nahar is the advisor of the International Society of Muslim Women in STEM at Ohio State. Professor Nahar has worked to make STEM accessible by presenting and promoting the organization’s work throughout the Astronomy Department and Ohio Supercomputer Center, as well as inviting students to conferences. Professor Nahar is an excellent example of academic leadership paving the way for inclusive student success at Ohio State.
Aimee Ulstad, P.E, is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Integrated Systems & Engineering and advisor to The Society of Women Engineers, a winner of many awards today. Since becoming the SWE advisor in 2015, Professor Ulstad has provided invaluable support and guidance to the organization’s 300+ members each year through professional development training, balancing SWE’s operating budget, coordinating events and retreats, and connecting members to industry professionals.
Outstanding New Member
Sadie Hunter is a first-year Biology major from Middleburg Heights, Ohio who came to Ohio State with a purpose: jumping headfirst into Circle K International. In her first year of membership Sadie has helped with several service projects and now serves as chair for three separate committees, one of which she took on to help fill a vacancy. Among new members, Sadie has attended the most meetings and actively participates in service programs, bringing new initiatives to the organization and serving as a mentor to other members. You can expect to see more of Sadie’s leadership in the years ahead.
A first-year Economics major from Mason, Ohio, Jack Tumulty has already gotten deeply involved with the Undergraduate Student Government. Jack's enthusiasm and devotion to USG have helped the Academic Affairs committee execute projects, such as the Textbook Exchange Program. Jack has also taken initiative to attend meetings with university staff leaders, such as the University Registrar and Student Life, to work toward other institutional equity initiatives tied to food security, campus safety, and college affordability. We look forward to the impact Jack makes in his future years with USG.
Emma Wells is a first-year Mechanical Engineering student from Loveland, Ohio who has already gained valuable leadership experience as a new member of the Society of Women Engineers. Through SWE’s Early Leader Ambassador and Big-Little mentoring programs, she has been able to engage in strategic planning and executive board meetings while also advocating for marginalized communities in engineering. Emma’s emerging leadership will only grow as she pursues increased responsibility in SWE and Ohio State.
Outstanding General Member
A sophomore from Niles, Ohio studying Biomedical Engineering, Anthony Elbon is being recognized for his dedication to service and fellowship in Circle K International. Serving pancakes as a fundraiser, volunteering to solicit donations during the Teeter Totter Marathon service project, and coordinating blanket donations to children in foster care are just a few ways Anthony has worked with other general and executive members of Circle K to serve their community. His nominators acknowledge Anthony’s ability to build relationships among Circle K members, both at Ohio State and across other colleges, as a key factor of his success.
Kiley Grilliot is a Junior studying Civil Engineering from Greenville, Ohio. As a member of the Society of Women Engineers, Kiley has been a force for inclusive mentorship among the members through SWE’s Big-Little mentorship program. Kiley also extends that mentorship outside of the organization by serving as a pen pal to high school women interested in engineering and to professionals engaged in the national SWE organization. Kiley has earned recognition as the "most involved member” in the organization for the past two years.
Outstanding Positional Leader
A winner of several awards this year, Maddie Allman is also being recognized for her leadership as president of Collegiate 4-H. A senior from Chillicothe, Ohio studying Community Leadership & Community and Extension Education, she has been pivotal in revitalizing the organization throughout the pandemic. In addition to her work in Ohio, Maddie developed a national network of 4-H leaders across 20 universities through virtual meetings, which has evolved into Collegiate 4-H United. Her leadership has created a stable foundation for Ohio State’s Collegiate 4-H to flourish for years to come.
Vivian Corey is a junior pursuing a dual degree in Dance and Exercise Science from Brentwood, Tennessee who is being recognized for her unparalleled leadership as president of Circle K International. Thanks to Vivian’s collaborative leadership, the organization has completed over 300 hours of service at over 40 different service projects while raising over $4,500 for the club and charitable organizations this year. In addition to these outstanding metrics, Vivian has placed an emphasis on long-term sustainable service rather than simple one-time projects, a focus that will be her legacy in Circle K.
As president of the Biomedical Engineering Society, Arnav Divekar’s efforts helped Ohio State gain recognition at the 2021 BMES National Conference. A junior Biomedical Engineering major from Mason Ohio, Arnav created a corporate sponsorship program and helped implement development skills workshops for members to gain technical professional skills. He may be best known for being an approachable, supportive leader with an exceptional focus on long-term goals that will create a stable future for BMES.
Emma McLaughlin is a senior studying Biological Engineering from Hilliard, Ohio. As Professional Development Director of the Society of Women Engineers, Emma executes impactful events in collaboration with industry professionals that have helped secure internship and job opportunities for hundreds of SWE members. Emma’s attention to diversity and inclusion in STEM has permeated her event planning work in SWE. Emma leaves a legacy of spreading equity and justice to SWE, and Ohio State as a whole, to create better and more inclusive environments.
The Spirit of Ohio State Award recognizes students and student organizations that strongly represent the values, traditions, and spirit of Ohio State through their engagement in and commitment to the campus community.
An Industrial and Systems Engineering major from Westerville, Ohio, Maddie Carson was born and raised to be a Buckeye. Maddie’s nominator says that “she has often been a powerful voice for her fellow women in engineering and encouraged several to pursue the engineering path despite their belief they could not do it.” They went on to say, “positivity and passion are two of Maddie’s greatest strengths, and the powerful part of these two strengths is they are contagious. Perhaps the greatest impact that Maddie has had during her time at Ohio State is inspiring a new generation of leaders, who will help Ohio State grow and will take the skills and passions beyond the university.”
An International Studies and Economics double major from Dayton, Ohio, Aayushi Chandra has lived out what it means to be a Buckeye as an International Affairs Scholar. After navigating personal challenges at home, Aayushi returned to campus and dove headfirst into her role as a Teaching Assistant for the Scholars seminar course. In this role, she goes out of her way to support her students one-on-one and inspires her peers to think critically and through an interdisciplinary lens about a variety of topics. To quote her nominator, “In a word, Aayushi symbolizes perseverance. I cannot think of anyone who exemplifies the Buckeye Spirit more than Aayushi.”
Tabitha Renee Willis
Our final individual recipient of this year’s Spirit of Ohio State award, Tabitha Willis radiates Buckeye Spirit, as recognized by her role on the 2021 Homecoming Court. A senior Biology and Medical Anthropology major from Country Club Hills, Illinois, Tabitha’s involvement has been well chronicled by her many well-deserved Leadership Awards this year. In the words of her nominator, “Tabitha has truly blossomed through her time at Ohio State. She not only tries to facilitate social change through her organizations and community work, but also displays this with her actions on a daily basis. Tabitha has helped me come to understand what it means to be a Buckeye.”
The final award we will recognize is the Outstanding Senior Award. Each spring, The Ohio State University recognizes seniors who have made significant contributions to the University and community. To receive this recognition, students must have demonstrated exemplary scholarship, leadership and service over the course of their college careers. More than a grade point average, scholarship includes contributing to the academic life of the University. Leadership may be a concentrated effort to make a difference in one facet of the University, or through responsibilities in more than one organization. Service involves working in partnership with communities to make positive social change. This award is given to less than 1% of Ohio State’s graduating seniors.
A recipient of several awards today, Maddie Allman is a proud first-generation college student hailing from Chillicothe, Ohio and co-founder of the now 500 member Buckeyes First Student Organization. This Community Leadership and Community & Extension Education major has also been working with Ohio 4-H and the College of Food Agriculture and Environmental Sciences to establish programs that engage Ohio youth in extension programs, as well as allow Ohio 4-H members to receive college credit for their 4-H work, making college more accessible for youth around the state. Maddie plans to continue this advocacy in her future career as an extension educator.
A fierce advocate for the Black and trans* student experience at Ohio State, Oseremhen Arheghan is a double major in Political Science and Chinese from Shaker Heights, Ohio. Ose has been extremely involved with the Athletic Band, Buckeye Leadership Fellows, and their academic department. Most notable is their 4 years with the Undergraduate Student Government, where their activism helped form the Black Caucus. Ose has also been integral in organizing Black Lives Matter student demonstrations. Directly after graduation, Ose will be participating in a two-month summer leadership intensive with their class of Harry S. Truman Scholars in DC and then moving to New York City to begin their role as a Policy Specialist in Google’s Legal Department.
A Public Policy Analysis and Economics double major from Loveland, Ohio, Josh Badzik has put the knowledge he gained through the Mount Leadership Society Scholars program to action within the Undergraduate Student Government. As Chief Justice for USG, Josh helped make the virtual election process both equitable and accessible for students. He was also appointed to be a University Area Commissioner by Mayor Andrew Ginther, where he advocates for all Columbus campus students, faculty, and staff. After graduating, he will begin a full-time role in government and public services consulting, where he will work with government, nonprofit organizations, and higher education to solve complex problems.
A winner of multiple awards this year, Maddie Carson is an Industrial and Systems Engineering major from Westerville, Ohio. Maddie quickly found a home and passion for her work in the Undergraduate Student Government, where she served as undergraduate chair for the University Senate and was awarded Shared Governance Member of the Year. Maddie has spent her senior year founding and leading Wellness Advocacy at Ohio State (this year’s Boehm Holistic Wellness Award organizational winner) through which she promotes a culture of wellness through collaborative programming with other student organizations. After graduation, Maddie hopes to continue building on her passion for the values-based consulting work at Accenture working as a Consulting Analyst, but also as a life-long learner.
Madeline Conley will be graduating with a dual degree in English and History and hails from Plain City, Ohio. Madeline put the knowledge and leadership skills she gained through the Sesquicentennial Scholars Leadership Program into practice. Having been involved with the Film and Video Society and Mosaic Magazine for all 4 years at Ohio State, Madeline has moved into President and Editor and Chief roles respectively to help promote a well-developed arts and culture experience through the COVID-19 pandemic. She will be building on her student employee role at University Archives after graduation and pursuing a Master of Library Science with a specialization in Archival Records and Management.
As an out of state student from Lisle, Illinois, Lauren Etzkorn quickly got involved in finding a new home within our campus community. Lauren got involved with the Residence Halls Advisory Council as a first-year student, and has served as president the past 2 years, where she is responsible for advocating for over 12,000 residential students at Ohio State. Being a leader during the pandemic taught her how to be a strong and compassionate leader who fosters a safe sense of community. As Biochemistry major, Lauren sharpened her leadership and mentorship skills as a Peer Leader in the Department of Chemistry as well as a TA for General Chemistry. She plans to attend medical school after graduation.
An Aerospace Engineering major from right here in Columbus, Cielo dove headfirst into their STEM education at Ohio State. After an impactful experience in the PREFACE bridge program, Cielo got connected to the College of Engineering and found a home and a support system in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and National Society of Black Engineers. She helped found Student Community of Progressive Empowerment (a winner of Outstanding Student Organization this year) to create community for undocumented students at Ohio State. All of Cielo’s involvements created a support network to allow them to work toward their dream of being an aerospace engineer after graduation.
Danielle R. Gershen
Danielle Gershen is a Sport Industry major from Princeton, New Jersey who made her mark in the Panhellenic Community, serving as a leader in Alpha Epsilon Phi as well as the VP of Recruitment Guides for the Panhellenic Association. She brought her out-of-state student perspective to her work as a University Ambassador, helping prospective Buckeyes imagine their future at Ohio State. Danielle’s work interning with the Athletics’ Marketing and Fan Experience department has helped her develop skills that will serve her well in her future. After graduation, she will be moving to Phoenix, Arizona to attend the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University to pursue a dual degree – Juris Doctor and Master’s in Sports Law and Business.
Richard Ton Giang
A New Media & Communication Technology major with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction from Liberty Township, Ohio, Richard Giang is a leader and innovator. An engaged member of both Buckeye Leadership Fellows and SPHINX Senior Class Honorary, as well as the only undergraduate student speaker selected for TEDxOhioStateUniversity’s Bloom main event this spring, Richard has worked hard to make his mark at Ohio State. On top of all of that, he co-founded a company with three of his closest friends and participated in the Best of Student Startups competition. After graduation, Rich is looking for opportunities in tech as a UX Product designer and pursuing his own venture in the tech food industry.
Like many of our Outstanding Seniors this year, Kate Gomez found her voice, confidence, and leadership skills within Buckeye Leadership Fellows. This Human Development and Family Science major from Columbus credits BLF with teaching her how to be curious, empathetic, patient, driven, and direct. She drew on these skills while serving Pi Beta Phi as chapter president through rising crime concerns and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as when she joined the OSU Task Force on Community Safety and Well-Being. After Kate graduates, she will be moving to Austin, Texas to work for Dell Technologies in their Next Generation Sales Academy.
An Industrial & Systems Engineering major from Madison, Mississippi, Fikunmi Idowu has spent her life blending cultures to create her own path. As the Director of Marketing, New Member Educator and Diversity & Inclusion representative for the Ohio Union Activities Board, she has fostered an inclusive community OUAB and blended her art and engineering skills. She has worked towards the same goals of creating an inclusive community through her work in the Undergraduate Student Government, especially for campus-change students. She will be putting her critical thinking and creative skills to the test when she joins Deloitte this fall as a Strategy Consultant.
Another proud member of Buckeye Leadership Fellows, Ellen Joyce is a Marking major from Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Ellen found mentorship and meaning through the Student Philanthropy Council and the OSU Foundation Board as the student delegate. Under her leadership, SPC has launched the Buckeye Impact Grant Challenge, which funded 5 different student organizations’ community engagement projects, and reestablished the Graduating Class Gift Council to create an opportunity for students to give to the institution they love so much as part of their senior experience. These leadership skills will serve her well as she enters the technology sales industry after graduation.
Faith Elise Metlock
A Nursing major from Cleveland, Faith Metlock has been involved with The African American Heritage Festival since her freshman year. The leadership skills and confidence she gained through AAHF helped her found and serve as President of Nursing Students of Color, the only minority-focused organization in the College of Nursing, as well as pursue her involvements with SPHINX Senior Class Honorary, Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Nursing Society, and President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. After graduation, Faith will continue to pursue her passions for engaging the Black community in self-care as she pursues a PhD in Nursing and becomes a nursing-researcher.
An activist, leader, and role model, Durya Nadeem-Khan explored her leadership style and her passions through the opportunities provided by Buckeye Leadership Fellows. A Biological Sciences and Public Management, Leadership & Policy dual-degree student from Hilliard, Ohio, Durya has defied stereotypes about American-Pakistani and Muslim women, particularly through her leadership raising awareness about Period Poverty and menstruation with Period: The Menstrual Movement. Durya’s organizing and activism through Period played a key role in Governor DeWine repealing the Tampon Tax in Ohio. After graduation, she will continue her education and pursue a J.D./M.B.A and a future legal profession.
Kavya Narayanan is a Biomedical Engineering major who calls Dublin, Ohio home. Kavya credits the Mount Leadership Society Scholars with the leader she is today. As president of SWE (a winner of many organization Leadership Awards this year), she helped the organization navigate the challenges of COVID-19 to still be an impactful community for women, making engineering a more inclusive field. Kavya will be continue her education at Ohio State, pursuing her Master’s degree in pursuit of her ultimate goal of working in the prosthetics and implants industry with a focus on the spine.
The brain is everything to George Oshiotse, a Neuroscience major from Milford, Ohio who has made his mark in the neuroscience community. George has become a leader in the brain health world through his multiple involvements in Nu Rho Psi neuroscience fraternity, 119: power to the Patient, Universal Health Aid Columbus, and eventually founding the student organization Power in Neuroscience. Given his commitment to the neurological health community, it should come as no shock that George will be pursuing his M.D. as well as a Masters in Global Public Health to better understand, treat, and solve global health problems as a neurosurgeon.
A Strategic Communication major with a minor in Design Thinking from Grove City, Ohio, Dalina Phomphengchane has worked hard to make Ohio State a welcoming community for herself and those like her. Dalina found her home with the Pilipino Student Association and as a co-founder and president of Buckeyes First Student Organization. Her desire to connect and support first-generation college students has fostered not only her self-confidence, but her belief in the power of the student voice. Dalina hopes to apply the skills she’s learned through her leadership roles to pursue a career about which she is passionate as she continues to serve as a resource to Buckeyes First as an alum.
Ben Smith has lived his time as a Buckeye For The Kids. An Accounting major from Cincinnati, Ohio, Ben applied the foundational knowledge of leadership, diversity, and inclusion he learned in the Mount Leadership Society Scholars to his involvement in BuckeyeThon, where he went from being an engaged general body member all the way to President. Under Ben’s leadership, BuckeyeThon returned to being a million-dollar fundraising program and engaged thousands of students. After graduation, he will be applying his tenacity and problem-solving skills to a role as a Consulting Analyst at Accenture.
Ashley A. Stroud
An Animal Sciences major from Spencer, Ohio, Ashley Stroud has been an engaged student employee with Dining Services. As a Student Manager at Campus Grinds, she has learned to thrive in high-pressure environments, work on a team, and develop interpersonal skills, all of which she plans to use in her future career. She has cultivated her leadership skills as a Peer Leader for the Center for Life Sciences Education program. As a member of the Animal Science Community Alliance, she helped plan crucial student programs to foster community within the College of Food Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences. She will be attending veterinary school after graduation with a focus on food animal veterinary medicine.
Tabitha Renee Willis
A familiar name today, Tabitha Willis is a Medical Anthropology and Biology major from Country Club Hills, Illinois. In addition to the 3 years she has spent leading local service programs with the Pay It Forward cohort, culminating with serving as co-director this year, Tabitha has also been an engaged member of the Buckeye Leadership Fellows program. In the words of her recommender, “she leads with a strength, humility and humor that is unmatched.” Tabitha’s commitment to the betterment of not only herself, but her peers, shines through all of her involvement and will continue to serve her well after graduation as she pursues a graduate degree in the healthcare.