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UC Announces Full-Scholarship Cincinnatus Presidential Award Recipients

The scholarships recognize students for academic talent and dedication to service.

Date: 7/15/2013 2:00:00 PM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Lisa Ventre

UC ingot   The University of Cincinnati is announcing the newest batch of Bearcats receiving top awards for their achievements both in and out of the classroom. Nine incoming freshmen are recipients of the full, four-year $92,000 Cincinnatus scholarships to pay for tuition, room and board, books and fees.
University Pavilion
University Pavilion

Since 1997, UC’s Cincinnatus Scholarship Program has provided different levels of awards for academic achievement, leadership and commitment to community service. As part of their scholarship commitment, each scholarship recipient will perform 30 hours of community service each year.

This marks the first time in the scholarship program’s history that two students from the same high school were selected for full scholarship awards in the same year – they are Laura Mersmann and Samantha Riser, graduates of Seton High School.

Here are all of UC’s newest Cincinnatus XVII Presidential awardees becoming Bearcats this fall:

Jeffrey Back – The 18-year old resident of West Chester, Ohio, is a graduate of Lakota East High School. The National Merit Finalist will be majoring in industrial design in UC’s top-ranked College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP). “I have wanted to study industrial design since the eighth grade,” says Back. “I’m fascinated by the combination of creative thinking and problem-solving that makes up industrial design.” Back’s high school activities included serving as editor-in-chief and sports editor for his high school news magazine. He also served as captain of his school’s cross country team and was a member of Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society, National Honor Society, his school Latin Club and the Student Athlete Leadership Team. His dedication to service included involvement in Relay For Life to benefit the American Cancer Society; Special Olympics and volunteering at St. Rita’s Haunted House, as well as serving through his church. His hobbies include designing jewelry and playing ultimate Frisbee. He will be joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students. I’m looking forward to engaging myself on campus as early as possible,” says Back.  “I’ve been spending time on campus this summer with current students, and I can’t wait to begin working with them in various organizations.”

Amelia Brownstein –The 18-year-old resident of Bexley, Ohio, is a graduate of Bexley High School. She will be majoring in archaeology and geology in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S). “In second grade, most children wanted to be an astronaut or president of the United States. I was the little girl who raised her hand and said, ‘I want to be a forensic archaeological anthropologist,’” says Brownstein, who has attended the prestigious summer camp at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colo. Brownstein served on her high school’s academic team and was also involved in the National Honor Society, the arts (including awarding-winning vocal performance), cross country and track. Her service activities included staffing elementary school theatre shows and volunteering in her school’s English Resource Center. She will be joining UC’s University Honors Program for academically talented students. “I’m particularly excited about the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research with UC’s world-renowned archaeologists,” says Brownstein. “I also hope to take advantage of some of the UC faculty-led archaeology digs.”

Kaitlin Burnam – The 18-year-old resident of West Chester is a graduate of Ursuline Academy. The National Merit Commended student will be majoring in computer engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS). “I’m fascinated by modern technology and the way it develops so rapidly, and I want to find ways to take advantage of that growth. Specifically, my goal is to create tools that will help people with special needs, especially autism, have greater communication capabilities.”  Burnam excelled in academics and athletics. She was a member of her high school competitive Academic Team and chemistry club and also played on four different hockey teams during high school. Her service activities include judging a third-grade writing contest at Bethany School in Glendale that her Girl Scout troop began in 2009. She has also participated in fundraisers to research autism, as well as the Relay For Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. “When I saw the results of some of the research that has already been conducted at the University of Cincinnati, I was highly impressed and knew that I wanted to be a part of that environment,” Burnam says. “Additionally, everyone I talked with at UC was kind and helpful, with a genuine interest in answering any questions I had.”  Burnam will also continue a family Bearcat tradition. Her mother, Krista Dooley, graduated with her degree in chemical engineering in 1996; her uncle, Keith Dooley, earned a degree in communication in 1997; and her aunt, Sara Dooley, graduated in 1991 with a degree in sociology. Burnam will be joining the University Honors program for academically talented students.

Katarina Dewey – The 18-year-old resident of Prospect, Ky., graduated summa cum laude from North Oldham High School. She will be majoring in fashion design in the internationally-ranked School of Design in the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP). “I developed a love of clothing and fashion at a young age and was able to develop and explore it though a modeling program that also taught me about the fashion industry. I went on my first trip to New York Fashion Week when I was 14, and knew then that I wanted a career in fashion.” Dewey was awarded first place in a state speech and drama competition and was editor-and-chief of her school newspaper. She was on her school’s speech team and involved with the photography club, Beta Club and Women’s Leadership Board. Dewey was also service coordinator for her school’s National Honor Society. A passionate advocate for animals, she served more than 100 hours at her local humane society. She will be joining UC’s University Honors Program for academically talented students.“When I first toured UC, I was so impressed by the beautiful campus, friendly and informative students and faculty, and, most importantly, UC’s academic and artistic programs. I’m looking forward to moving into my residence hall and decorating my room with my roommates. I’m also excited to start my art classes at DAAP and to explore the facilities at the Campus Recreation Center.”

Laura Mersmann – The 18-year old resident of Delhi was salutatorian at Seton High School. She will be majoring in marketing through the Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS program. “I love to experience new cultures and lifestyles and to try to understand their different wants and needs and how to translate to their buying practices.” Mersmann was a recipient of her school’s Principal’s Award and was a member of the National Honor Society and the National Art Honor Society. She also was involved in student council and competed in lacrosse and cross country. Her service activities included Habitat for Humanity and participation in mission trips to the Appalachian regions of Kentucky as well as to Guatemala. Mersmann is the daughter of two Bearcat alumni. Her mother, Tina Roell Mersmann, earned an associate’s degree in medical secretarial technology in 1978, and her father, Mark, earned his bachelor’s in geology in 1978 and his master’s degree in 1981. She will be joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students. “I am so excited for classes to begin and for my first honors seminar class,” she says. “I am ready to try living on my own and making new friends.”

Samantha Riser – The 18-year-old resident of Western Hills is a graduate of Seton High School. She will be a double major in mathematics (actuarial science track, A&S) and economics through the Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS Program .  She says her high school calculus teacher, Lois Childers, helped point her toward her college pursuits. “She informed me of all of the possibilities a degree in actuarial science has in terms of jobs, including company leadership. I also want to major in economics so that I can have a good business background to better my chances in the corporate world.” Riser was an officer of the National Honor Society, a member of the National Art Honor Society and graduated in the top 10 percent of her senior class. She also was a member of her school’s varsity volleyball team, Student Council, Student Ambassador Program and Campus Ministry, and was recognized by her high school as a Spanish and AP Scholar. Her service activities included coaching a grade-school girls volleyball team, organizing book drives and organizing her high school’s first Nonprofit Awareness Drive, which brought together around 20 nonprofit organizations to promote service opportunities to students.  Riser is the latest in her family to become a Bearcat. Her mother, Catherine, graduated in 2002 from the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy. Two of her aunts are also alumnae: Janis Lohman Hertzfeld (Pharmacy, ’94) and Roberta Riser Jennings (Communication, A&S, ’84). “UC seems like a miniature city, always teaming with life and supplying anything a student can dream of needing or wanting,” says Riser. “I’m excited to be a part of it all.” She will be joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students.

Dillon Staub – The 18-year-old resident of Florence, Ky., was valedictorian of his graduating class at Saint Henry District High School. He will be majoring in mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS). “I have always been interested in the way things work,” says the National Merit Commended student. “Technology has definitely influenced my decision to pursue engineering because new advancements and breakthroughs have enthralled me for years.” Staub was captain of his school’s Academic Team and was also a member of the math team, Academic WorldQuest Team, National Honor Society and president of his school’s Spanish Honor Society, as well as vice president of the Spanish Club. He was also a member of the varsity swim team and the varsity soccer team. His service activities include volunteering at the Special Olympics of Northern Kentucky, the Ronald McDonald House, Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home and Saint Paul Parish.  He also comes from a long line of Bearcats: mother, Lisa Staub (MA in communication sciences and disorders, ‘93); aunt Lynne Dillon Bartley (fashion design, ’87); uncle, David Dillon (accounting, ’89); uncle, Steve Dillon (’95, economics); uncle, Michael Dillon (2001, finance and marketing); uncle, Ken Bartley (’87, industrial management); and aunt, Vicky Staub Pille (master’s in radiation therapy) and a great uncle, Ralph. “The University of Cincinnati has a tremendous reputation in terms of its academic programs, and especially in my case, the engineering program. The ability to earn a master’s degree in 5 years through the ACCEND program was a major aspect in my decision. The tradition of the co-op at UC was a definite factor in my decision because UC has one of the strongest co-op programs in the country,” says Staub. “I look forward to meeting new people and learning about the career I plan to pursue.” He is joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students.

Chantal Woodson – The 17-year-old resident of Mason graduated magna cum laude from William Mason High School and received the Principal’s Award for maintaining a grade point average above 4.0 through her four years in high school. She will be majoring in biology in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences and was accepted into the Connections Dual Admissions Program. Through that program, she will reserve her admission into the UC College of Medicine upon completion of her bachelor’s degree. “I always have had a passion for medicine and I dream of becoming a surgeon.” Her service activities included volunteering in the emergency department of West Chester Hospital, which she is continuing this summer. She also volunteered in a school program that organized social outings to bring together special needs students and the general student population. Woodson was a member of her high school’s German National Honor Society and at one time had lived in Germany. She was a member of her varsity dance team and was also a competitive gymnast at Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy. She will be joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students. Woodson says she looks forward to becoming a member of the UC Dhadak Dance Team, studying abroad and gaining experience at UC Medical Center. “Being of a multi-racial background and having an extremely diverse family, I find the depth of culture at UC to be very valuable.”

Gregory Ziton – The 18 year old resident of North Royalton, Ohio, is a graduate of Saint Ignatius High School. Ziton, who is entering the Kolodzik Business Scholars Program, will be majoring in finance in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business. “Business and finance just interest me more than anything else,” says Ziton. “I have always had an affinity for mathematics, my parents are both business analysts and I’ve been intrigued by my exposure to the business world, most notably through the Saint Ignatius Entrepreneurial Academy and my current internship at a venture capital firm.” The National Merit Commended Scholar and member of the National Honor Society has been honored for his excellence in math, science and extracurricular activities. Those activities included serving as co-president and announcer for his high school’s internet broadcasting network; co-president of his high school sports information department; columnist and sports page editor for his school newspaper; and membership in his school’s Investment and Entrepreneurial Club.  His service activities included volunteering at a summer camp for underprivileged children, tutoring elementary and middle school children,  and service with his church youth group. “There are numerous aspects about UC that I admire, such as the campus, the co-op program and UC’s location,” says Ziton. “I’ve always enjoyed visiting Cincinnati, and it’s a great place to be as far as business markets are concerned. The tremendous opportunities offered through both the Cincinnatus and Kolodzik Business Scholars programs were extremely influential in my decision making.” Ziton is also joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students.