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Three Graduating Seniors Honored With UC’s Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence

The bronze medal, worn at UC’s Commencement ceremonies, is the highest honor awarded to an undergraduate.

Date: 5/18/2009
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover and Ashley Kempher
Three University of Cincinnati graduates are honored with the university’s most prestigious honor for their academic excellence, leadership, character, service and dedication to the ideals of the university. Sonya Mueller of Mason, Ohio, Ryan Rosensweig of Clifton, and Ashley Verhoff of Kalida, Ohio, are the recipients of UC’s 2009 Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence.
Recognition Ceremony

A tradition since 2002, the medal recognizes graduating seniors with a minimum 3.2 GPA who can demonstrate additional high levels of academic achievement, such as participating in undergraduate research, the creative arts or through receiving recognition from their college for their high achievements. Students must also be connected to campus outside the classroom by demonstrating involvement in co-curricular activities. They must exemplify UC’s commitment to citizenship as well as the university’s commitment to embrace diversity among its core values.

The 2009 honorees were selected from 25 nominations from across the university and 13 finalists. UC Interim President Monica Rimai presented the medals to the recipients at the UC Recognition Ceremony on May 16. Each recipient will wear the bronze medal, featuring the university’s crest on the front and the honored graduate’s name on the back, at the All-University Commencement Ceremonies on June 13.

The 2009 recipients of the Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence are

Sonya Mueller
Sonya Mueller

Sonya Mueller – The 22-year-old Mason, Ohio, resident and Kings High School graduate is earning a bachelor’s degree in electronic media from the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). The University Honors Program graduate has the added honor of representing her college as a student marshal in the 9 a.m. Commencement Ceremony. After graduation, she has committed to two years of service with the AmeriCorps Teach for America program, teaching Spanish in an inner-city high school in St. Louis. “I believe it is my duty to serve others, no matter where I am on my journey,” she says. “It keeps me grounded and respectful of the blessings that I have been given in life.” Mueller, together with a small group of e-media students, founded the UC student television news station, UCAST. Her dedication to service includes mentoring a fifth grader at an elementary school in Covington as a big sister with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. She has also participated in UC’s Relay For Life events to benefit the American Cancer Society and donated her hair to UC’s participation in the 2008 Pantene Beautiful Lengths Campaign to create real-hair wigs for women battling cancer. Her leadership and campus involvement includes serving as vice president of public relations for the UC chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She is UC’s female recipient of the 2008-2009 Order of Omega Greek Outstanding Achievement Award which recognizes excellence in character, scholarship, leadership and service. She is a membership chair of the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership honorary and secretary for the UC women’s honorary, Cincinnati Women of Excellence and Spirit Together (CWEST). A regular on the dean’s list (she maintains a 4.0 GPA) and Cincinnatus Century Scholar, she was UC’s 2008 Homecoming Queen and was selected one of UC’s Resident Advisors (RA) of the Year in 2007.


Ryan Rosensweig
Ryan Rosensweig

Ryan Rosensweig – The 23-year-old Clifton resident, Walnut Hills High School graduate and Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS scholar and University Honors student is earning his bachelor’s degree in marketing, sustainable urban engineering and design intelligence from the UC College of Business. The 2008-2009 Student Body President plans to continue his studies in graduate school at UC, focusing on the Live Well Collaborative (LWC), a non-profit organization that creates product and service innovations to the over-age-50 population. His co-op experiences have included working for Cintas Corporation and designing Web sites for online charitable giving with local social entrepreneurs. Rosensweig led the reestablishment of UC’s Alpha Epsilon Pi Jewish Fraternity in 2004 and has previously served as fraternity president. In 2007, the chapter was recognized as the most outstanding delegation in the Midwest. He serves on the board of UC’s Hillel Jewish Student Center. Rosensweig was active in the establishment of Think Ohio, a statewide student initiative to lobby the state for support in higher education. His study abroad experiences in Paris, China, Thailand, Korea, Nicaragua and India all focused on driving positive change. As a Presidential Fellow with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, Rosensweig pursued an independent research project examining the U.S. president’s role in overcoming social, environmental and economic challenges. Additionally, Rosensweig fulfilled commitments made to the Clinton Global Initiative University and SHOUTAmerica, creating campus-wide sustainability and health care initiatives. He is a founder of UC’s Cat Pack A Cappella Group and is a member of UC’s Men of Metro, Order of Omega, Omicron Delta Kappa and Cincinnatus Society honoraries. “I have known Ryan throughout his career at UC and have always been impressed not only by his dedication to learning and growing professionally, but also by his focused dedication to making the world a better one,” says Ric Sweeney, a member of the marketing faculty in the College of Business. Rosensweig is about to become a third-generation UC alumnus. His 101-year-old grandfather, Herman Rosensweig, says he entered UC in 1944 through a government program, focusing on advanced forms of mathematics geared toward developing workers for war defense factories during World War II. Ryan Rosensweig’s father, Hugh, is a graduate of the College of Business (’57) and his mother, Maureen, earned a master’s degree from the UC School of Social Work in 1977.


Ashley Verhoff
Ashley Verhoff

Ashley Verhoff – The 22-year-old Kalida, Ohio, resident and graduate and valedictorian of Kalida High School is a first-generation college student and holds a 3.99 GPA at UC. The University Honors student will graduate this June with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, continuing to follow a childhood dream of one day becoming an astronaut. She has been accepted into the PhD program in aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan. Verhoff’s cooperative education experiences included working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, where her responsibilities ranged from researching the biological effects of lunar dust to designing and testing the reaction control system thrusters to be used in the upcoming NASA test flight program. Verhoff has also been named the Herman Schneider Medalist in recognition of cooperative education achievement in the College of Engineering. She was awarded numerous scholarships to UC, including a College of Engineering Scholarship, Cincinnatus University Scholarship, Richard T. Gosser Scholarship and Ohio Academic Scholarship.  She is an Ohio Space Grant Consortium Senior Scholar, which allowed her to conduct her own research project under the guidance of a faculty member and present her research to students with academic backgrounds ranging from engineering to math and science education. She serves as secretary of the UC chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), which encourages students to design and build flight hardware and participate in intercollegiate competitions. She was the assistant lead for this year’s “Battle of the Rockets” team, which won first place in the precision altitude competition. She is also vice president of the UC chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the professional society of aerospace engineers, and is treasurer of the Ohio Beta Chapter of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. Her numerous service activities included participation in UC’s Relay For Life to benefit the American Cancer Society and UC’s annual fall “Into the Streets,” offering a day of service in the Uptown community, and volunteering in the visitors center of the NASA Glenn Research Center, where she assisted children in making space-themed crafts.  Other campus activities include participation in the University of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (UCSO) for non-music majors. She served as secretary of the organization for two years. Verhoff credits her hometown family values for her academic success. “Although neither my mother nor my father attended college, this does not exclude them from being the most important role models in my life,” she says. “They have never allowed me to forget the infinite opportunities that education can offer and they continue to provide constant encouragement of my passions, no matter what they may be.”

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