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Four UC Graduates Are Awarded The Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence

The award is UC’s most prestigious honor for undergraduates.

Date: 4/25/2012 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Lisa Ventre

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The 2012 recipients of the UC Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence will be introduced at the University Recognition Ceremony at 4 p.m., Sunday, May 6, in the Great Hall of Tangeman University Center. UC President Gregory H. Williams will present the Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence to Kaitlin Dauner, Naomi Fitter, Thomas Meyer and David Watkins.

Medal recipients

A UC tradition since 2002, the recipients of the Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence are selected for their academic excellence, their commitment to co-curricular activities, their citizenship in support of the university’s goals and values, their dedication to diversity and their potential for future success and achievement. The recipients will receive special recognition at their All-University Commencement ceremonies June 8-9 in Fifth Third Arena.

The bronze medal features the university’s crest on the front and the recipient’s name on the back. The 2012 honorees were selected from 26 applications of graduating seniors and 13 finalists. They are:


Kaitlin Dauner – Dauner is from Kenwood and is a graduate of Indian Hill High School. She is earning a bachelor’s degree in communication from the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) and a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP). Dauner says she plans to dedicate her career to improving the educational equality of all students while inspiring others to reach their own potential. She has served as an outstanding student ambassador to UC through her service with the ROAR Student Tour Guides through the UC Office of Admissions, in addition to guiding thousands of new students and their parents through orientation while working as a Student Orientation Leader (SOL) and Student Orientation Coordinator (SOC). Through her dedication to the New Student Orientation Office, she was named the University of Cincinnati Student Employee of the Year. Her work with the Serve Beyond Cincinnati UC student-founded service organization has taken her to El Salvador, Guatemala, Louisville and Louisiana – offering service over her breaks from academic studies. Dauner holds numerous positions throughout campus as a result of her academic excellence, including membership in the Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society, CWEST Women's Honorary, Sigma Phi Women's Honorary, Omicron Delta Kappa, Orientation Board, C.A.T.S, Programs and Activities Council, Rho Lambda Panhellenic Honorary, Order of Omega Honorary and Cincinnatus Honorary Service Society. She has also held offices in her sorority (including chapter president), Kappa Alpha Theta. Upon graduation, she will join the Teach For America corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit to teaching for two years in high-need schools and becoming lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity. She will teach middle school language arts in St. Louis, Missouri.


Naomi Fitter – Fitter is from Milford and is a graduate (and valedictorian) of Milford High School. The National Merit Finalist was the first UC student to be awarded a Choose Ohio First Scholarship – a state supported program to attract students talented in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Fitter is earning her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), as well as a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from A&S. Fitter was the first female president of the UC Robotics Team. She has achieved research experiences through the UC PACE Automotive Design Program as well as at the University of California – San Diego (UCSD). Her cooperative experience involved working with the oral care division of P&G. Fitter has been a member of the UC Bearcat Bands and Tau Beta Sigma, the honorary band sorority, throughout her years at UC and has served in numerous positions in those organizations. The University Honors student has also been involved in the UC Women’s Chorus and Theta Tau, as well as a number of honorary organizations including Tau Beta Sigma and Theta Tau, as well as Tau Beta Pi, Pi Tau Sigma, Golden Key International Honour Society, Cincinnati Women in Excellence and Spirit Together (CWEST) and Sigma Phi. Her commitment to service led her to live at UC’s Center for Community Engagement House for a year, where she helped organize a team to participate in UC’s annual spring Relay For Life fundraiser to benefit the American Cancer Society. She has also participated in UC’s Bearcat Buddy program to provide tutors for students in Cincinnati Public Schools. Her Spanish academic pursuits have evolved into service as a translator and interpreter for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Su Casa Hispanic Ministries and the Children’s Law Center. Upon graduating from UC, Fitter will be entering directly into the mechanical engineering PhD program at University of Pennsylvania, where she is also considering pursuing a master’s degree in robotics. The University of Pennsylvania has also awarded her a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Igert Fellowship to support her continued studies.


Thomas Meyer – Meyer is from North Royalton, a Cleveland suburb, and is a graduate of Padua Franciscan High School. The University Honors student is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and is earning a minor in materials engineering. His co-op experience has involved working at Kaleidoscope Design, AtriCure Inc., and Avtron Industrial Automation. Meyer’s talents also extend into music. He played cello with the UC Symphony Orchestra and recently lent his baritone to the Men’s Chorus. Ever since he started at UC, he has served as a student ambassador to UC through the Campus Tour Guide volunteer program with UC Admissions. Meyer is one of the founders of a Bearcats 101 Challenge – an initiative and blossoming website to build campus spirit by promoting exciting places and events on campus. He spread the idea by serving as a peer leader with UC’s First Year Experience (FYE) program. Meyer is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and the Student Alumni Council. His leadership and service as president of Engineers Without Borders has led to outreach in Tanzania and Kenya, where he worked on a now-completed community water system to serve more than 500 people, as well as a new school building which is set for construction this summer. He also traveled on service trips to Guatemala as part of his involvement with the UC student organization, Serve Beyond Cincinnati, and to India as part of a seminar with the University Honors Program. As a member of the student organization, Colleges Against Cancer, Meyer photographed and designed promotions for UC’s annual Relay For Life fundraiser to benefit the American Cancer Society. He belongs to the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership honorary, Cincinnatus Honorary Society and the Men of Metro Honorary Society.


David Watkins – Watkins is from Sidney, Ohio, and is a graduate of Lehman Catholic High School. The University Honors student is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science as well as a bachelor’s in international affairs. He is also achieving a minor in economics and certificates in security studies, Arabic language and culture and Middle Eastern studies. Watkins’ study abroad experiences at UC have taken him to France, Israel, Egypt and Morocco. He ended his experience in Egypt after only two weeks, as he was evacuated from the Egyptian Revolution. Only one week after returning to the U.S., he left to study in Rabat, Morocco and served as an intern at the Moroccan Center for Contemporary Studies and Research, where he researched the U.S. relationship with Islamists across the Middle East and North Africa. He also served an internship with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of the Coordinator of the Foreign Policy Advisor Program (POLAD), where he led the design and organization of an orientation program for foreign policy advisors. His campus activities have included serving as co-chairman of the UC College Republicans, playing intramural soccer and volleyball and participation in Relay For Life. In addition to serving an internship with the Hamilton County Republican Party, Watkins’ Cincinnati community outreach has included volunteering with the Flying Pig Marathon, the Cincinnati Park Board, the Boy Scouts and serving as a tutor to children in Over-the-Rhine. He was recently selected for Robert Patterson McKibbin Medal for the Outstanding Undergraduate Male Senior, an honor from the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences. Upon graduation, he will begin a Seasongood Fellowship with the City of Cincinnati.