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National Reputation Lures the Nation’s Top Students to UC


UC announces the recipients of the university’s full Cincinnatus Presidential Awards for outstanding academics and service.

Date: 6/23/2014 9:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Lisa Ventre

UC ingot   They’re the most heavily recruited students by institutions around the nation and this fall, they’ll be entering the University of Cincinnati from near and far. Eleven incoming freshmen are recipients of the full, four-year $92,000 Presidential Cincinnatus awards to pay for tuition, room and board, books and fees.
University Pavilion

Not only do the 2014 recipients represent Ohio and Kentucky, but also Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Many say it was UC’s national reputation in co-op (founded at UC), top-ranked academic programs and opportunities for global study that set them packing for UC.

Since 1997, UC’s Cincinnatus Scholarship Program has provided different levels of awards for academic achievement, leadership and commitment to community service. The 2014 awards totaled more than $22 million in different levels of scholarships including the 11 Presidential Awards. As part of their scholarship commitment, each scholarship recipient in the program will perform 30 hours of community service each year.

Despite the shrinking population nationally of students reaching college age, the University of Cincinnati is once again planning to welcome a record freshman class on the Uptown Campus this fall, with confirmations indicating the most academically prepared freshman class for the Uptown Campus. Among that top academic talent is UC’s incoming Cincinnatus XVIII Presidential Award recipients:

Pushkar Aggarwal – The 18-year-old resident of Gaithersburg, Maryland, is a graduate of Poolesville High School. Aggarwal will be majoring in health sciences in UC’s College of Allied Health Sciences. Aggarwal was accepted into UC’s Connections Dual Admissions Program, which guarantees admission into the UC College of Medicine upon completion of his bachelor’s degree. Aggarwal’s academic credentials include membership on the school math team, and numerous honors including one-time national champion of the American Mathematics Contest and qualifying for the U.S. American Mathematical Olympiad and the U.S. American Junior Mathematical Olympiad. He was also a national competitor on his school’s computer team.  His service activities included volunteering at a health camp for elderly people in Nashville, Tennessee; collecting eyeglasses to donate to developing countries; and service with the Civil Air Patrol. He will be joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people at UC, making new friends and taking courses,” says Aggarwal.

Jeremiah Greer – The 18-year-old resident of Florence, Kentucky, is a graduate and salutatorian of Covington Catholic High School and is a National Merit Commended Scholar, as well as a Kentucky Governor’s Scholar. He will be majoring in computer science in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS). “Through my education at UC, I hope to move ahead with advances in the areas of artificial intelligence and quantum computing – important concepts that are still in the fairly early stages of development,” says Greer. His high school activities included serving as president of the Engineering Club and the National English Honor Society. He was also a member of the National Honor Society of high school scholars. He had previously competed at UC’s national JETS (Junior Engineering Technical Society) TEAMS (Test of Engineering Aptitude Mathematics and Science) competition, hosted by CEAS. His service activities included assistance to tornado victims in Kentucky, as well as volunteering more than 100 hours at St. Elizabeth Hospital. He will be joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students. “I’m excited about the tremendous number of opportunities for me at UC, especially working with professors in interesting new areas of computer science,” says Greer. “UC has a beautiful campus, and beyond that beauty is a great educational environment with opportunities in cooperative education. I’m also looking ahead to pursuing a study abroad experience from the many programs that UC offers.”

Samantha Harrell – The 17-year-old resident of Bensenville, Illinois, is a graduate of York Community High School. She is also an Illinois State Scholar, an AP Scholar and a National Achievement Scholar, a national competition that recognizes outstanding African American high school students. Harrell will be majoring in civil engineering in UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS). “I was most interested in the co-op program at UC, and the prospect of gaining field experience before graduation.” Harrell was captain of her high school track and field team and was also captain of  the women’s basketball team. She was a member of the Vintage Club and Key Club, served as a student ambassador for her high school, and mentored high school freshmen. Harrell’s volunteer service included serving as an assistant girls’ basketball coach for a fourth grade travel team. She also volunteered at her high school’s basketball camp.

Dean Hayes – The 18-year-old resident of Strongsville, Ohio, graduated in the top 5 percent of his class from Strongsville High School. He will be majoring in nursing through the UC College of Nursing. “UC has an excellent nursing program with several hospitals within minutes of campus. UC also appealed to me because of its track record of academic excellence and its diverse student culture.” Hayes was on his varsity soccer team all through high school and was team captain his senior year. He was honored with his high school’s award for sportsmanship his senior year. Hayes also served on Student Council and was a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta (math honor society) and Rho Kappa (social studies honor society). He will be joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students. “As I get ready to attend UC, I’m most excited about immersing myself into the culture and lifestyle of college,” says Hayes. “I want to be very involved on campus, and I can’t wait to meet my fellow Bearcats!”

Isaac Hickox-Young – The 18-year-old resident of Reno, Nevada, is a graduate of Damonte Ranch High School and is a National Merit Finalist. A son of professional musicians, Hickox-Young is majoring in dramatic performance in UC’s internationally acclaimed College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). “I grew up with an understanding that the arts are invaluable,” says Hickox-Young. “As I got older, especially when I was in high school, I found theatre to be a remarkable method of expression, capable of inciting great change, so I opted to pursue it as a career.” The Advanced Placement (AP) scholar was active in high school drama (and was an International Honor Thespian), choir and orchestra. His service activities included volunteering with the Reno Historical Preservation Society and Theatreworks of Northern Nevada. He will be joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students. “As a prestigious and challenging arts institution, CCM is very well known, even in a smallish west coast town like Reno,” says Hickox-Young. “That’s what originally led me to the University of Cincinnati.”

Colton Kinman – The 17-year-old resident of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, is a graduate of Beechwood High School, played on the varsity football team and is a recipient of the Iron Man Award in football, which is awarded to players who have excelled in the sport. In addition to being an outstanding athlete, Kinman performed in two high school musicals. He will be majoring in operations management in the nationally-acclaimed Carl H. Lindner College of Business. Kinman says UC’s outstanding co-op program and “quality of jobs in the business field in Cincinnati” confirmed his decision to come to UC. He was involved in Chess Club, Spanish Club, Astronomy Club, National Honor Society and National Hispanic Honor Society. His service activities included five mission trips to Guadalajara, Mexico (he will be going on a sixth trip to Jamaica in August) and also service with Isaiah House Ministries. He will be joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students. “I’m looking forward UC this fall and to studying topics that will have real application in my future jobs. I’m also looking forward to meeting a wide variety of new people.”

Mackenzie Mayernik – The 18-year-old resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a graduate and high school valedictorian of Avonworth High School and received numerous academic awards. She will be majoring in finance through the Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS program,  a program that recognizes students who demonstrate excellence in academics and leadership. She’ll be joining her sister, Lauren, who is also in the program and is graduating from UC in 2017. “With its foundation in co-op, international exposure, leadership development and service, Lindner Honors-PLUS is unlike any other business program at any other university,” says Mayernik. “No other business program comes close to offering what Lindner Honors-PLUS does, and the fact that UC’s prominence as a nationally-ranked university is on the rise makes it that much more appealing.” Mayernik had played on both her high school women’s varsity basketball and volleyball teams and served as captain of the basketball team for two years. She also was active in Student Council, National Honor Society, the high school yearbook staff, peer mentoring and theatre. Her service activities included organizing a summer basketball camp for girls and serving as a volunteer coach for the middle school girls’ basketball team. She was also a summer volunteer at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). She will be joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students. “I look forward to becoming active in service projects in the Cincinnati community and beyond while I’m at UC, and in continuing to foster my passion for service to others,” says Mayernik. Because she’s in a five-year program, Mayernik will be graduating as the university celebrates its bicentennial in 2019. “Since I have the unique opportunity to be a graduate of the Class of 2019, I eagerly  look forward to being involved in committees preparing for the bicentennial celebration,” says Mayernik.

Abigail Miller – The 18-year-old resident of Leawood, Kansas, is a National Merit Finalist, ACT Scholar and graduate of Blue Valley North High School. She will be majoring in UC’s industrial design program in the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP). The program was ranked no. 1 in the nation in 2014 by DesignIntelligence.  “I am really excited about DAAP and the co-op program, because I’ve heard how important it is to get job experience and make connections. UC also is very study-abroad oriented, which has really appealed to both my sense of adventure and desire to learn as a global citizen,” says Miller, who adds that her great-grandfather, Burke Miller, had studied architecture at UC. Miller excelled in academics and the arts in high school. She was on her debate team and was a member of the Latin Honor Society (she received a gold medal on the National Latin Exam) and the National Honor Society. She was also involved in cross country, musical theatre and other art pursuits. Her service included volunteering with a community theater group and serving on a young adult advisory council at her local library. She will be joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students. As she looks ahead to college in the fall, she’s also looking forward to tasting a traditional Cincinnati dish. “Apparently, Cincinnati has good chili, and I suppose I’m looking forward to confirming or disproving those allegations! But I’m also looking forward to meeting my classmates and finding out what it’s like to live under permanent, DAAP-influenced sleep deprivation.”

Zachary Moore – The 18-year-old resident of Galena, Ohio, is a graduate and valedictorian of Big Walnut High School. The UC Kolodzik Business Scholar plans to major in finance in the Lindner College of Business. “I really appreciate the co-op opportunities that UC provides. I look forward to traveling internationally for a co-op or internship program while I’m at UC,” says Moore. “Studying business is a typical career path in my family. It’s fantastic to be able to earn a great education while having co-op opportunities just a few blocks down the road.” Moore was a member of the Delta Epsilon Phi German honor society as well as Mu Alpha Theta (a national math honor society), Social Studies Honor Society and National Honor Society. He was also a member of his high school’s mock trial team, and was involved in marching, concert and jazz band. He has the Eagle Scout ranking with the U.S. Boy Scouts and was a senior patrol leader for a local Boy Scout troop. His service with Sunbury United Methodist Church involved assistance to hurricane disaster areas, including Costa Rica. He will be joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students. “I look forward to making new friends and becoming active on campus. I hope to get involved in Student Government and other student organizations. Most of all, I look forward to giving back to UC everything that it has provided me through the Cincinnatus Presidential Award,” says Moore.

Shivank Singh – The 18-year-old resident of Mason, Ohio, is a National Merit Finalist and a summa cum laude graduate of William Mason High School. He is currently undecided on a major, so he will begin his academic advising through UC’s Center for Exploratory Studies. Singh was active in student government at his high school and was Student Body President his senior year. He is also a staff member for middle and high school programs with the Ohio Association of Student Councils and served as State Board President his senior year. Singh’s service activities include fundraising to buy gifts for young patients at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. He also says serving as a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters was one of his best experiences in high school. He received William Mason High School’s Principal Award for achieving higher than a 4.0 grade point average through all four years in high school. He will be joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students. “The University Honors Program has some great study abroad opportunities that I am eager to pursue. Also, once I have decided on a major/career path, UC will be able to provide me good field experience in the forms of internships or co-ops. I’m excited about being in Cincinnati and experiencing this great sense of community, and I’m ready to be independent and explore life on my own.”

Austin Songer – The 18-year-old resident of DuBois, Pennsylvania, is a graduate of DuBois Area Senior High School and was class treasurer through all four years of high school. He will be majoring in neuroscience in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S), and was accepted into UC’s Connections Dual Admissions Program, which guarantees admission into the UC College of Medicine upon completion of his bachelor’s degree. He says he was inspired to pursue this track of study after reading the autobiography of actor Michael J. Fox. “When I was younger, I read Michael J. Fox’s autobiography, “Always Looking Up,” in which he described his life with Parkinson’s disease. Since then, I’ve been hooked. The brain is incredibly fascinating to me and the opportunity to explore the structure, diseases and other matters involving the brain and the nervous system is too good to pass on.” Songer excelled in academics and athletics, and lettered in football, basketball and volleyball. He was also president of his chapter’s National Honor Society, captain of the Academic Team and received the national President’s Volunteer Service Award. His service included volunteering at his local hospital’s emergency department, organizing blood drives for the Red Cross, organizing benefits to support Make-A-Wish and his local animal shelter and serving on mission trips with his church. He will be joining the University Honors Program for academically talented students. “Initially, the Connections Dual Admissions Program was what led me to apply to UC,” says Songer. “On our interview day for the program, we took a tour of campus and it was under a layer of snow and was beautiful. The students we talked with seemed to be very enthusiastic and down to earth. Overall, the atmosphere of UC really jived with me. Having lived in a rural area, the opportunity to be in a city is really exciting to me. Meeting new people and experiencing new cultures are things that I value, and UC seems to be a great place to do just that.”

Fall semester at UC begins on Monday, Aug. 25. UC’s formal freshman Convocation welcoming ceremony will take place at 10 a.m., Friday, Aug. 22, in Fifth Third Arena.

The admission application deadline for freshmen interested in Cincinnatus awards and planning to enter UC in 2015 is Dec. 1.

Cincinnatus: Rewarding Scholarship and Service

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