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Five Outstanding Graduates Receive UC’s Highest Award for Undergraduates

UC names the recipients of the Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence.

Date: 3/25/2014 3:30:00 PM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover and Jay Yocis

UC ingot   They represent UC’s highest ideals in academics, leadership, community participation, and diversity and global engagement. Five UC graduates have the distinction of holding the university’s most prestigious honor for undergraduates. 

The recipients of the University of Cincinnati 2014 Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence are Amara Agomuo, Kyle Quinn, Brad Theilman, Mahima Bala Venkatesh and Katie Wesler. The recipients will receive special recognition at their All-University Commencement ceremonies April 26 in Fifth Third Arena.

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 finalists for the award were reviewed by a UC committee represented by faculty, staff and student leaders.

The bronze medal features the university’s crest on the front and the recipient’s name on the back. The 2014 honorees were selected from applications of 23 graduating seniors from across the university and 12 finalists. They are:

Amara Agomuo

Amara Agomuo – Agomuo is from Mason, Ohio, and is a graduate of William Mason High School. She is graduating from UC this spring with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S). Agomuo’s academic excellence includes being a student in the University Honors Program for academically talented students. She is also a scholarship recipient in UC’s Darwin T. Turner Scholarship Program to promote academic success, foster diversity and build future leaders, as well as a Cincinnatus scholarship recipient. Agomuo was awarded a national Ralph Bunche Fellowship from the American Political Science Association. As a result, she presented at the organization’s 2013 annual meeting in Chicago. An NBC internship led to working directly with the network’s news bureau in Washington, D.C., where she researched topics on contemporary politics for programs such as “NBC Nightly News.” She also served an internship with the Cincinnati Mayor’s Office, where she worked on a committee to preserve the city’s historic murals. Her undergraduate research experience included conducting an independent research study on military bases of multinational teams. She has participated on UC’s Student Alumni Council, Student Government (as an at-large senator), the United African Student Association and the P&G STEER Mentorship Program. She served on the student advisory board for UC’s McMicken College of Arts and Sciences. Her commitment to service included teaching an integrated reading curriculum to middle school students through her service with the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools. She’s a recipient of UC’s 2014 Marian Spencer Diversity Ambassador Award. After graduation, she plans to either attend graduate school to further her political science endeavors or further her broadcast journalist interests.

Kyle M. Quinn

Kyle M. Quinn – Quinn is from Mount Pleasant, Mich., and is a graduate of Mt. Pleasant High School.  The scholarship recipient in the Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS Program and alumnus of the University Honors Program graduated from UC last December with a bachelor’s degree in accounting/international business and a certificate in Business Spanish.  He is now employed at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago. As a freshman, he was appointed by the governor to serve a two-year term as a student delegate on UC’s Board of Trustees. As a member and former president of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, he led the coordination of the UC chapter’s centennial celebration. He was honored by the national fraternity as the most outstanding undergraduate in the nation. He placed in the nation’s top five winners in the PricewaterhouseCooper’s xTax competition in 2009, and presented his findings on tax reform to fund federal health care initiatives in Washington, D.C.  He was also a recipient of a StartingBloc fellowship, sponsored by Harvard University, to study social innovation in business. He worked on six cooperative education rotations with Ernst & Young. His dedication to service included preparing free tax returns for low-income citizens, mentoring aspiring business students at his high school participating in Business Professionals of America competitions, as well as international service in El Salvador and Nicaragua. As a recipient of a Boren Scholarship for international study, he studied accounting and tax law at the top business school in Brazil while gaining experience in U.S. national security projects. Quinn is fluent in both Portuguese and Spanish. He serves as co-chairman of the student alumni committee for UC’s Presidential Bicentennial Commission. He is a member of Sigma Sigma, Men of METRO, Cincinnatus, Omicron Delta Kappa and Order of Omega – all honorary organizations at UC.

Brad Theilman

Brad Theilman – Theilman is from Milford, Ohio, and is a graduate (and valedictorian) of Milford High School. The first-generation college student is a full Cincinnatus Scholarship recipient and member of the University Honors Program. He is graduating from UC with bachelor’s degrees in biomedical engineering (College of Engineering and Applied Science) and mathematics (A&S). In 2012, Theilman was selected as a recipient of the national Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for his leadership in mathematics, science and engineering, and has also been recognized with awards from UC’s chemistry and mathematical sciences departments. He is co-author on a published research paper and has presented his research nationally and at UC undergraduate research presentations. Other honors have included a research fellowship at the Janelia Farm Research Campus, operated by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and selection for the McDonald Cadet Leadership Conference at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. His research background includes a UC College of Medicine Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship at the Nanobiological Systems Laboratory. Since the age of 5, he has been a member of the Mensa International Honor Society, where the IQs of its members are in the top 2 percent of the world’s population. His service experience includes volunteering at the Cincinnati Computer Cooperative, where he refurbishes computers for students, and volunteering at Over-the-Rhine Community Housing. Since his freshman year, he has participated in the UC Amateur Radio Club, one of the university’s oldest student organizations, serving as treasurer, vice president and president. Since his sophomore year, he has also worked for special events for UC’s Office of the President. After graduating from UC, he plans to enter graduate school to work toward a PhD in neuroscience, focusing on computational neuroscience.

Mahima Bala Venkatesh

Mahima Bala Venkatesh – Venkatesh is from Strongsville, Ohio, and is a graduate of Strongsville High School. She is graduating from UC a year early with a bachelor’s degree in biology (A&S) and a minor in Spanish (A&S). As a scholarship recipient in UC’s Darwin T. Turner Scholarship Program, she received the 2013 Turner Scholar of the Year Award for her work as Turner Ambassador VP of Service. She is also a student ambassador for the University Honors Program. Joining GlobeMed during its initial year, she has helped to raise more than $15,000 each year as campaign coordinator (2013) and co-president (2014) to support community outreach programs for Burmese migrant workers in Thailand. Her service with the Crossroad Health Clinic’s volunteer internship program (C-VIP) helped her gain experience in providing health care to low-income populations. A lifetime member of the Girl Scouts, she served as a mentor to young girls of diverse backgrounds. She has also served as a tutor in UC’s Bearcat Buddies program for children in Cincinnati Public Schools. Her research experience includes Cleveland Clinic pediatric neurology, Case Western pediatric oncology and UC oncology departments.  Her passion for travel has taken her to Ghana and Spain and promoting study abroad as a student worker at UC International. She was selected to be part of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honorary Society, Cincinnati Women in Excellence and Spirit Together (CWEST) Honorary, Sigma Phi Women’s Honorary, and 2013 Commencement Ivy Chain. For her passion to work in global women’s health, she received university endorsement for her Harry S. Truman Scholarship application. This summer, she will be part of a five-week GlobeMed internship in Thailand to participate in grassroots health service initiatives. She plans to continue her studies at UC after graduation, pursuing a master’s degree in public health. As part of the university’s Connections dual admissions program, she is also guaranteed admission into the UC College of Medicine, where she plans to graduate in 2019. As an enthusiast of Bharathanatyam and Karagattam Indian dance, she has performed and choreographed various forms of Indian dance at numerous events, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s World Festival, hoping to connect people of all cultures.

Katie Wesler

Katie Wesler – Wesler is from Birmingham, Ala., and is a graduate (and valedictorian) of Shades Valley High School. The University Honors student is graduating from the UC College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) this spring with a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theatre. She played the role of Kathy Selden last fall in CCM’s adaptation of the musical comedy, “Singin’ in the Rain,” and has appeared in six main stage shows in addition to numerous studio shows. Wesler has dedicated hundreds of hours of community service at UC, including creating and presenting a series of “Disney Loves Broadway” shows for young hospital patients in partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She also created a program highlighting the classic songs of Broadway to perform for nursing home residents, and created musical workshops for children in the inner city. Her study abroad experience includes a trip to Japan to explore aspects of theatre unique to Japanese culture.  She is a recipient of the prestigious Kurt Weill Foundation for Music Emerging Artist Award, as well as the Actors’ Equity Association Roger Sturtevant Musical Theatre Award. She is also a recipient of the Amanda May Memorial Award for Musical Theatre for outstanding dedication in dance. Her professional experiences include performances in theatres spanning Wichita, Kan.; Springfield, Mo.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Mount Carroll, Ill. She belongs to the following college honoraries: Cincinnati Honors Association; Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society; Golden Key International Honour Society; and National Society of Leadership and Success. She also works as a fitness instructor at UC’s Campus Recreation Center. Wesler is pursuing a career performing in New York City in Broadway musicals or touring with a national or international tour of a Broadway production.

Background on the Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence

All University Recognition Ceremony

UC Commencement Information