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Five UC Graduates to Receive the Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence


The springtime honor is the university’s most prestigious award for undergraduates.

Date: 3/26/2013 7:32:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover

UC ingot   The 2013 recipients of the UC Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence will be introduced at the University Recognition Ceremony at 4 p.m., Sunday, April 14, in the Great Hall of Tangeman University Center.
Medal recipients

UC President Santa J. Ono will present the Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence to Lane Hart, Megan McDonald, William McIlwain IV, Nicholas Shah and Mark Schutte.

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 April 27 in Fifth Third Arena.

The bronze medal features the university’s crest on the front and the recipient’s name on the back. The 2013 honorees were selected from 28 applications of graduating seniors and 12 finalists. They are:

Lane Hart

Lane Hart – Hart, who is also the recipient of the 2013 Mr. Bearcat Award, is from Lewisburg, Ohio, and is a graduate of Tri-County North High School. The Kolodzik Business Scholar and 2012-13 Student Body President is earning his bachelor degrees in information systems and finance, with a minor in Asian studies. His study abroad experiences included studying Mandarin at the Dalian Jiaotong University in Dalian, China. His expertise in technology helped implement the Bearcat Transportation shuttle tracker that is widely used by students. Hart served as a student ambassador at UC since he was a freshman, when he first volunteered as a ROAR student tour guide with UC Admissions to welcome visitors to campus. As a former member and later co-director of Student Government's First Year Leadership Program (FYLP), Hart was passionate about mentoring peers. While serving terms as Senator-At-Large and Speaker of Senate, he worked to develop a diverse leadership pipeline for the organization by expanding the FYLP program. For two years, he served as co-president of the student-founded Serve Beyond Cincinnati student organization to build young global leaders in service. He participated in UC’s award-winning Racial Awareness Program (RAPP), a year long, comprehensive experience to educate students on social justice issues. He was also an active member with the Student Alumni Council (SAC), an organization that fosters stronger relationships between students and alumni. His co-op experience includes four terms of working in the Information Technology Leadership Program for General Electric Aviation. In 2005, he started his own business – Lane Hart Consulting, LLC – a consulting company for local and national small businesses. Hart will be heading to New York after graduation to work for IBM’s global business services division.

Megan McDonald

Megan McDonald – McDonald is from Western Hills and is a graduate of Seton High School. She is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders and has served as a student ambassador for the College of Allied Health Sciences. McDonald has excelled in academic scholarship and service and was involved in numerous student professional organizations relating to her major. During her senior year at UC, she served as vice president of the UC student chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. She also held a number of offices with the student service organization, Serve Beyond Cincinnati (including vice president her senior year), and participated in or directed service trips to El Salvador, Haiti, India, Guatemala and Americus, Ga. During her undergraduate career, she served 1,300 hours at organizations including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center; the Ronald McDonald House; Freestore Foodbank; YMCA Special Olympics; Stepping Stones Center; and Head Start in Cincinnati. Additional service overseas included assisting U.S. mission teams at the Agua Viva Children’s Home in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. She sponsors two children who live at the home and is planning her sixth trip in June. She is a member of the Sigma Phi Women’s Honorary, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society. “After 45-plus years of service to this university in two colleges; and after working with untold numbers of medical and communication disorders students over that time, I have never met a student who is more inspiring and committed to serving humanity throughout the world,” said Robert W. Keith, adjunct professor of audiology, emeritus professor of otolaryngology. McDonald plans to continue her education and earn a master’s degree in speech-language pathology.

William McIlwain IV
Photo provided by William McIlwain IV

William McIlwain IV – McIlwain is from Fairfield, Ohio, and is a graduate of Fairfield High School. He is earning bachelor’s degrees in international affairs and French, as well as a certificate in Middle Eastern Studies with a concentration in North Africa. He exemplifies experiential learning through study abroad. With the support of a grant from UC International, he spent the academic year at Université de Caen in Caen, France, studying French and conducting his senior research project. As a prestigious William J. Clinton Scholar in spring 2012, he studied at American University in Dubai to explore international business and learn Arabic. The Clinton Scholarship is a nationally competitive award that promotes American education in the Middle East. The previous summer in 2011, he worked as a program analyst intern for the U.S. Department of State’s Office for Foreign Policy Advisors (POLAD), where he wrote a speech for former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The following fall, he was selected as a Gilman International Scholar to study abroad in Tunisia. “The experience was most rewarding, given that my stay in Tunisia took place in the midst of the first Arab Spring Revolution, and I was able to witness the first free election in Tunisian history,” says McIlwain. As an undergraduate Taft Research Scholar in 2010, he explored Islamic politics and Arabic in Morocco, which led him to become a peer ambassador for UC International Programs. His travels abroad also included a service-learning spring break trip to provide post-earthquake relief in Haiti. In Student Government, McIlwain served as director of international student affairs. He was also active in UC’s African American Cultural and Resource Center (AACRC), Resident Education and Development (RED), Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity. He is interested in pursuing an international master’s degree in business administration and a juris doctor (JD) in International Law. McIlwain was recently selected for the prestigious Rangel Graduate Fellowship, an honor reserved for just 20 scholars nationwide.

Nick Shah

Nick Shah – Shah is from Monroe, Mich., and is a graduate of St. Mary Catholic Central High School. The full Cincinnatus Scholarship recipient, University Honors student and University Honors Ambassador  is earning a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and minor in Spanish. He has been accepted into the UC College of Medicine and has been studying Spanish medical interpreting to assist diverse cultures seeking medical treatment. Part of that pursuit included studying abroad in Spain for three months and shadowing an interpreter at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. He is planning on taking the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters exam this summer. He has researched pharmacology and protein detection at the University of Michigan. He was able to increase the sensitivity of a protein detection device by more than 1,000 times, and presented this work at national conferences in Hartford, Conn., and Atlanta. His capstone project included working with UC’s department of electrical engineering and Shriner’s Hospital to redesign a flow cytometer to measure certain properties of cells more accurately. In his dedication to explore different cultures, he participated in service-learning trips to Appalachia and Nicaragua with the University Honors Program for academically talented students. An aspiring musician, Shah’s service activities included serving as pianist for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the Ronald McDonald House. “Everything that Nick does is centered around his desire to have a positive influence on the people around him,” says Debbie Brawn, administrative director of the University Honors Program. “Nick leads with integrity. He is sincere and thoughtful. He has great potential for future success and achievement,” says Brawn.

Mark Schutte

Mark Schutte – Schutte is from Mason, Ohio, and is a graduate of St. Xavier High School. The full Cincinnatus scholarship recipient and University Honors student is earning a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS). Schutte traveled the world to pursue study abroad opportunities and offer service, the latter through Serve Beyond Cincinnati (SBC), a UC student-founded organization to build global citizens. The SBC trips took him to Peru, Haiti and El Salvador. His service with the UC student chapter of Engineers Without Borders resulted in applying the skills from his major toward service projects in Tanzania and Kenya. Schutte also took part in service-learning and study-abroad opportunities in India and England as a student in the University Honors Program for academically talented students. Schutte also has delved into sustainability-related undergraduate research opportunities through the summer National Science Foundation-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at UC. He spent one semester working with engineering professor Timothy Keener in an air pollution control laboratory at UC on a pelletized waste fuel project to explore coal alternatives for the utility plant. Another research project involved working with associate engineering professor Mingming Lu to analyze trap grease as a source of biodiesel fuel. Schutte also worked environmental-related co-ops for O’Brien & Gere, LLC consulting firm in Cincinnati; General Electric (Baltimore and Cincinnati); and the environmental practice group for Frost, Brown and Todd, LLC. Schutte worked with students on campus as the Director of Sustainability for Student Government, planning and leading the second annual Sustainability Summit, creating the first-ever sustainable homecoming float, and helping co-director Ron Gillespie create the first UC Green fund, which will fund sustainable initiatives on campus. Schutte is awaiting notification on whether he’ll be a recipient of a graduate-level student Fulbright Fellowship at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, where he wants to continue research that applies toward efficient and less costly methods of the water supply system. Schutte is the last of three brothers to graduate from UC and his parents are also UC alumni.

Background on the Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence

University of Cincinnati to Award More Than 6,360 Degrees

UC Commencement Information