Elisabeth Hieber is just getting started at UC as a freshman, but says she’s thrilled about the opportunities she has found here with her education, as well as with the new passion she found outside the classroom.
A total of 730 pre-registered students are expected to compete for scholarship awards including 10 Cincinnatus awards of $80,000 ($20,000 per year).
The nation’s top high school seniors were invited to compete in Cincinnatus XIV after applying to UC last fall. Eligible students were determined based on academic program and awarded $2,000 in renewable scholarships. Scholars were further reviewed with the highest achieving students admitted to the University Honors Program and invited to compete on campus Feb. 5 and Feb. 12 for awards ranging from $3,500 to full tuition, room, board and a book allowance.
Hieber is one of seven current UC freshmen who was awarded a full, four-year $80,000 Cincinnatus award after last year’s competition on campus. The 18-year-old student in the University Honors program for academically talented students is a double major in sociology and political science in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S).
Hieber says the one thing she noticed as she set foot on campus last fall is that it was considerably larger than the population of her hometown. Fairborn reports a population of 32,052. UC’s student enrollment is at a record 39,667. In addition, UC has 9,698 faculty and staff.
Despite the size, Hieber says the UC experience is very personal. “I felt the advising was very personal – like each advisor wants to get to know each student. I also felt the University Honors Program held incredible support systems to help students achieve their goals. Also, with UC International and cooperative education, there are no limits to what you can do, and I feel like there is always someone there to help us achieve our goals.”
Hieber hit the ground running, picking up a second major, political science, after first declaring sociology. She joined the Model United Nations and for the upcoming Model United Nations conference, she’ll be representing as a delegate for Costa Rica.
“I recently joined the UC women’s rowing team and I love it,” she says. “It’s my favorite aerobic sport so far.
“This has definitely transformed me and given me new levels of motivation,” Hieber says. “I have never before been so driven by an activity that I would want to get up at 5:30 in the morning to go to practice.”
During her years at Fairborn High School, Hieber was awarded 12 varsity letters for athletics (including varsity cross-country, varsity swimming and varsity track and field), as well as for her involvement in seven other organizations such as Chess Club and symphonic orchestra. She received multiple awards for being a scholar athlete, including the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award and State Farm Scholar Athlete Award. She was Fairborn High School’s 2009 Prom Queen.
During her high school years, her dedication to service included volunteering at Four Paws for Ability (an organization that provides service dogs for people with disabilities), the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. She also assisted in planning her high school’s annual blood drive. Her participation in philanthropic fundraisers included the March of Dimes, Habitat For Humanity and Four Paws for Ability.
It was that commitment to service that also factored into Hieber’s scholarship award. Cincinnatus scholarship materials state, “Service to the community, performed without thought of personal gain, is an important aspect of the University of Cincinnati’s prestigious scholarship competition.”
Each scholarship recipient performs 30 hours of community service per academic year. UC’s Student Financial Aid Office reports that 3,235 students are currently Cincinnatus scholars, which would amount to 97,050 hours of community service that these students will contribute to serving the community over this academic year. Those activities include tutoring students in after-school programs, raising money for service agencies or medical research and providing assistance at area soup kitchens.
Hieber’s university service commitment includes volunteering as a Girl Scout leader at the Corryville Recreation Center. It’s her first experience with the Girl Scouts – she was never involved in the organization when she was a child. “It’s been pretty fun. It might go into my book of life experiences.”
Speaking of books, one of Hieber’s academic goals through the University Honors Program is to complete a book of poetry. She says she also wants to pursue one of UC’s many undergraduate research opportunities.
“I’ve found that students really need to perfect their time-management skills to explore everything that UC has to offer,” she says, “but I’ve found you don’t have to limit yourself here.”
Her advice to the upcoming competitors: “I just remember seeing how many people were here when I competed, and I thought there was no way I was going to make any big achievements,” says the full scholarship recipient. “Just be comfortable in your communication abilities and be the leader that you are!”