A UC tradition since 2002, the Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence recognizes UC graduates who are outstanding in academics, leadership and service. Marcus Bethay II of Kennedy Heights (Cincinnati), Andrew Burke of West Chester (Cincinnati), Ohio, Benjamin Hines of Belpre, Ohio, Jessica Kinnemeyer of Harrison, Ohio and Denise Leone of Strongsville, Ohio were selected for the award from among 24 nominations submitted by UC administrators, faculty and staff.
To be considered for the award, the graduates must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and a demonstrated record of leadership on campus and in the community. At UC’s All-University Commencement on Saturday, June 10, the following graduates will be wearing the medal, which features the university crest on the front and the graduate’s name on the back:
Marcus Bethay II
Marcus Bethay II – Bethay will graduate with a bachelor of business administration in marketing as well as a minor in international business and a specialized minor in sports management. The Cincinnati (Kennedy Heights) grad, who’s a graduate of Walnut Hills High School, studied abroad in Santiago and Conception, Chile, and worked co-ops with Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America. After graduation, he’ll move to Torrance, Calif., to work as a management trainee for Toyota Motor Sales.
Bethay, a Darwin T. Turner Scholarship recipient, is truly active on UC’s campus and in his service to the Cincinnati USA community. He is co-founder of the UC chapter of Collegiate 100 Black Men; served as two-time president and executive chairman of the Association of Black Business Students; treasurer of the METRO Men’s Spirit and Leadership Honorary; is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity; United Black Student Association; Council on Student Affairs; the UC chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); and Sigma Sigma, a UC men’s honorary that recognizes students who have made significant contributions to the university.
His community service activities include participation in the Crosstown Helpout, Walk-As-One, serving as a Junior Achievement instructor at Clifton Elementary School, director of a Hurricane Katrina clothing drive and spending two years as a soup kitchen volunteer. “The service that I am most proud of and had the most fun with was the after-school program at Emmanuel Community Center in Over-the-Rhine,” he says. “I went once a week and would spend time talking with the young men in the program about the life issues they had and about one day attending college. Most of these children did not have positive male influences in their lives, and it was good to show them they had other options than what they saw on a regular basis.”
“Marcus is one of our most dynamic Darwin T. Turner Scholars,” says Stacy Downing, associate director of UC’s Ethnic Programs and Services. “His ability to achieve academic excellence is illustrated through his 3.4 GPA and being on the dean’s list six times in his collegiate career, while being very active in co-curricular activities. Marcus epitomizes what a true leader should be inside and outside the classroom.”
Andrew Burke – UC’s outgoing Student Body President is graduating with a bachelor’s of business administration in finance and real estate. After graduation, Burke has accepted a full-time position with Alpine Investors, a private equity firm based in San Francisco.
As Student Body President, the Lakota West High School grad and UC Honors Scholar developed a personal money management course that will be launched next fall and implemented a student-funded Bearcat Transportation System launched this spring that takes members of the UC community to surrounding neighborhoods as well as Uptown, downtown and Cincinnati USA eateries and entertainment outlets. Burke advocated on issues of higher education with city, local and state leaders and lawmakers, representing the student voice on issues such as campus safety, tuition and student rights.
Burke also is representative of the success of cooperative education – founded at UC a century ago – serving an IT co-op at the Cinergy Corporation, and has study-abroad experience from his spring break in Belgium to study international business.
In addition to serving as Student Body President, Burke was vice president of Sigma Chi Fraternity; chief justice of Interfraternity Council; a member of the Student Activities Board and president of Student Alumni Council; and president of the UC volunteer tour guides. He is a member of the Men of Metro honorary; Sigma Sigma men’s honorary; the Cincinnatus Honorary Society and Order of Omega National Honorary Society
His community service activities include planning university efforts to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina and organizing talent shows to raise money for the Lighthouse Youth Shelter. Burke documented 20 hours of community service through every quarter in college.
“Andrew dedicates himself completely and without reservation to the causes he believes in, and his energy and optimism are contagious,” says Marianne Lewis, associate dean for Innovation and Program Development, College of Business.
“I am proud of what I have achieved at the University of Cincinnati,” Burke says. “I believe that my successes would rival any graduate from an Ivy League school. I cannot thank the university enough for fostering an environment that allowed me to gain the experiences I have had. For that I will always dedicate myself to perpetuating the influence and prestige of the University of Cincinnati.”
Benjamin Hines – Hines will graduate with a bachelor’s of business administration in marketing and biomedical innovations. After graduation, he’ll move to Washington, D.C., to continue working for the company where he held a co-op, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, on the Global Public Sector Industry Team.
Hines, a graduate of Belpre High School, says financial challenges almost shut him out of college, but then he was accepted into UC’s Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS Program, which integrates a demanding business honors curriculum with work-related experiences. Students admitted to the program receive merit scholarships sufficient to cover all in-state academic and general fees. His co-op experience led to travel across the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Hines was former Homecoming King and Student Body Vice President from 2004-2005, as well as president of Sigma Chi Fraternity and president of Calhoun Residence Hall. Additional activities include director of corporate wellness for SparkPeople, Inc.; UC tour guide, Summer Orientation Leader, Student Alumni Council; and membership in the Sigma Sigma Men’s Honorary, Cincinnatus Honorary Society and University Honors Association.
Hines recalls one of his earliest experiences on campus when he started at UC in 2001 was working as a member of the Hall Opening Team, welcoming students into the residence halls. As a result, he got to move in before other students headed back to campus, and recalls the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. “I sat alone in the lobby of Calhoun Hall without a friend, a phone to call my family or any place to go.
“I have not felt lonely on this campus since that day, and made it my personal mission to foster a welcoming community – here to inspire, challenge, share and add value to each student life.”
He founded a group to support students interested in offering volunteer service specific to the medical field, and has served on mission trips in Mexico and Africa.
“In 25 years of teaching, I have rarely been so touched by a student, and so impressed with their passion and their determination to live their personal convictions to their fullest,” says Jeri Ricketts, director, Lindner Honors-PLUS Program. “Ben Hines is not only an outstanding scholar with a brilliant mind but he is also a leader of people, and a model of integrity and sound character. His compassion for his fellow man and desire to improve the world in whatever way he can is inspiring to those of us who have had the honor of getting to know him.”
Jessica Kinnemeyer – Kinnemeyer, a Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS scholar from Harrison, Ohio, is graduating from the College of Business with a BBA with concentrations in operations management, marketing and international business. After graduation, she will work for a company where she served several co-ops – GE Aviation – in the company’s Operations Management Leadership Program. “I completed all six of my co-ops with GE Aviation, gaining more responsibility with each new rotation,” she says. “As a long-term co-op at GE, I had the opportunity to mentor many younger co-ops, providing not only practical training but advice. My strong track record helped me to secure a full-time position in GE’s prestigious Operations Management Leadership Program, which I will start immediately after graduation.”
Kinnemeyer’s study abroad experience took her to Chile and Europe. “The first-hand experience of these trips proved to be extremely beneficial to my understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity,” she says.
Her campus leadership activities include serving as president of Student Alumni Council, Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honorary and Advancing Productivity, Innovation and Competitive Success (APICS). She has also been an active member of Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honorary, Delta Sigma Pi, a professional business fraternity, CWEST (Cincinnati Women in Excellence & Spirit Together), Order of Omega national Greek leadership honorary and Sigma Phi women’s honorary.
Her dedication to community service includes the March of Dimes WalkAmerica fund-raiser (serving as team captain for the past three years); Junior Achievement consultant at an elementary school, Crosstown Helpout, National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) Walk-As-One, Cancer Free Kids and GE’s community service fund.
“A proven leader, Jessica blends a desire to succeed along with commitment to service and empathy for those around her,” says Susan Sadlier, College of Business Director of International Programs. “She understands that by using the talents she possesses, she can impact others to make a difference.”
Denise Leone – Leone has the added honor of representing the College of Nursing as student marshal when she graduates Magna Cum Laude in June with her bachelor’s of science degree in nursing. The Honors Scholar from Strongsville, Ohio, plans to enter Case Western Reserve University in the fall to pursue a doctorate degree as a pediatric nurse practitioner while earning experience as a pediatric nurse. She is also graduating with a distinguished honors diploma and a Global Studies certificate, which led to study abroad experiences in England, Italy and Paris.
In the Honors Scholar Program, Leone served as University Honors Association President for two years, as well as an undergraduate teaching assistant. She was also vice president of Omicron Delta Kappa, co-captain for March of Dimes and Relay for Life teams, a member of the UC Leadership Speaker Series Advisory Committee and a member of the St. Monica-St. George Student Leadership Team. Leone's other activities include the Golden Key International Honour Society; the National Society of Collegiate Scholars; Sigma Theta Tau, the national nursing honor society; and the Cincinnati Contemporary Dance Theater.
Leone was awarded the Cincinnati Women in Excellence and Spirit Together (CWEST, a UC women’s honorary) Red Rose of Sincerity as well as numerous academic scholarships. She also was runner-up for 2005 Homecoming Queen.
Leone has been working on an independent nursing research study at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
“Nursing, as a discipline and a practice, requires a significant amount of time in the classroom, clinical setting and personal study,” says Assistant Nursing Professor Beverly Reigle. “To participate in extracurricular activities and maintain a strong academic and clinical focus, a nursing student must possess excellent organization skills, be intellectually astute and be creative in his or her approach to learning. Denise is able to do this and do it with distinction.”