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C-Ring Winner Grateful to UC for Strong Sense of Community

Graduating University of Cincinnati senior Amy Schlegel has won the 2008 C-Ring Award, given to an outstanding undergraduate woman.

Date: 6/2/2008
By: Wendy Beckman
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photos By: Dottie Stover, photojournalist
The C-Ring Award has been given since 1922 to an outstanding graduating senior woman. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious awards at the University of Cincinnati. Eligible women must have a 3.4 GPA, be community or university leaders and demonstrate advocacy for women or girls. This year’s C-Ring recipient, Amy Schlegel, was announced May 17, 2008, at the annual dinner.

2008 C-Ring winner Amy Schlegel graduates with a bachelor
2008 C-Ring winner Amy Schlegel graduates with a bachelor's in psychology.

When Amy was applying to colleges and started comparing them, “It was all UC!” she says. She explains further that she was drawn by the strong emphasis on and commitment to being involved in the community. At the time, she was not heavily involved in community activities but did consider it an important part of her life.

“I can’t imagine not being involved in community now,” she says. It’s hard to imagine Amy not being involved. She has travelled internationally and volunteers regularly in numerous community efforts, from the Avalon After School Youth Program to the Walk as One.

And now the McMicken Arts & Sciences biopsychology major has expanded her community beyond the borders of UC and across an ocean. When May cyclones devastated Myanmar, killing more than 100,000 people and leaving a million more without shelter, food, water and clothing, Amy felt a personal need to do something — because she had seen these people first hand.

As part of the “Semester at Sea” program in 2006, Amy spent a week in Myanmar (historically known as Burma). With her memory of the friendly Burmese people in her mind, Amy set about doing everything she could to help them. She made flyers to hand out at commencement, knocked on doors and made phone calls to the local media. They held a coin drive, even accepting donations at all hours, of all sizes.

“I had people calling me saying, ‘I have $12 in change. Can I drop it off at your house?’” Amy says, smiling.

“We’ve just now finished the paperwork on our new organization,” she adds. “I’m handing it off to the people who’ll be staying here to continue the work in Cincinnati.”

Amy is definitely not going to be staying here in Cincinnati. In her words, she is going to be “taking a year off.”

To start her “year off” after graduation, Amy will be heading back to Upstate New York to the Double “H” Hole in the Wall Ranch Camp near Lake Luzerne. It will be her second summer working at the camp, which was founded by the actor Paul Newman to provide specialized camping and year round services for children and families dealing with life-threatening or chronic illnesses. This year will provide a special bonus for Amy: as her younger sister will be there, too, after undergoing recent surgery. She has a chronic illness but for the first time will be able to do the ropes course. And Amy will be right there, cheering her on.

After spending the summer in the Adirondacks at Lake Luzerne, Amy will then serve in AmeriCorps for 10 months. AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) is a team-based program for young men and women aimed at strengthening communities and developing future leaders through national and community service. Sounds like our Amy.

“I’ll be starting in Sacramento in October helping people with housing issues and doing some tutoring — whatever they need me to do,” she says. Because Amy was a full Cincinnatus Scholar, she graduates without any college debt and won’t have to worry about paying back college loans.

“So I want to take advantage of the opportunity to give back,” says Amy. “It’s my way of saying ‘thank you.’”

As a Cincinnatus Scholar, Amy was asked to speak at the Herman Schneider Legacy Luncheon.
As a Cincinnatus Scholar, Amy was asked to speak at the Herman Schneider Legacy Luncheon.

Amy’s career at UC began in the healthcare field as a biomedical engineering major in a special dual-admission program with the College of Medicine. After two quarters, however, she realized that it was not the career path for her. She then heard that psychology had a track in biopsychology, looking at brain function with an emphasis on why people do what they do.

Understanding the different ways that people think was another aspect that Amy had appreciated from the Semester at Sea program, during which the group had visited 10 countries besides Myanmar (Burma).

“It was a very cross-cultural experience,” Amy says. “I learned a lot about what makes people tick. As a result, I gained a better understanding of how people think — including myself!”

Finally Amy realized when she found herself “lecturing” a friend on malnutrition in India that what really moved her were public health issues in the community at large. When she graduates, she will be receiving a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a (biopsychology track) with certificates in global studies and leadership. Then a few years after graduation, Amy hopes to return to college for a master’s degree in public health (MPH).

While growing up, Amy’s parents wanted her and her two sisters to be well read and rounded. “Our vacations always included a stop at a museum. They called it ‘enrichment,’” Amy says (rolling her eyes a bit). “We didn’t always appreciate it then, but I sure do now. And I make it a point stay that way.”

As a student at Coshocton High School, Amy found her home in the community choirs and found that her participation in the All-Ohio State Youth Choir was particularly a turning point for her.

“I ask myself now, ‘If not for that, what would I have done?’” she says. “But it’s like any other situation — the options are there if you take advantage of them.” She certainly found lots of options at the University of Cincinnati. Her volunteer activities would almost make a good children’s alphabet book:

Amy's definition of community has grown as large as her commitment to serving it.

• Avalon After School Youth Program
• Cincinnati Arts Museum Family First Days
• Cincinnati Youth Collaborative
• Cincinnatus Scholarship student panels
• City Gospel Mission Clothing Drive sorting
• Clifton Community Clean-up
• Cross-town Help-out
• Free Store Food Bank
• Girl Scouts of America (experiential helper)
• Go OTR 5K
• Great American Clean-up
• Green-Up Day
• Hoxworth blood drives
• Into the Streets
• Nightwalk
• Project Halloween Happiness (trick-or-treating for canned goods)
• Reign Dog Parade
• Relay For Life (team captain)
• St. Joe's Orphanage
• UC College of Medicine — Dual Admissions freshman retreat leader
• Make a Difference Day
• Operation Warm-up
• Valentine’s Day Dance for special needs students
• Walk as One

Besides Amy’s volunteer activities, she also has received many honors. She is a Cincinnatus VIII Scholarship recipient (Presidential Level) and a University Honors Student, and is in Sigma Phi, women’s honorary; Omicron Delta Kappa, National Leadership Honor Society; Alpha Epsilon Delta, National Health Professional Honor Society; Golden Key International Honor Society; National Society for Collegiate Scholars.

Bearcat Lucy
Bearcat Lucy 'Hearts' Amy — So do we, Lucy!

Finally, Amy has participated in a number of extracurricular academic groups such as the Engineering Tribunal, Engineering Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Caducea, Alpha Phi Omega, Kappa Kappa Gamma, was a “What’s In a Doctor’s Bag” charter member, ROAR and Serve Beyond Cincinnati.

In her C-Ring essay, Amy wrote, “If I can enable my peers and the younger generation to become active in a cause they believe in, as well as their own worth and ability to bring about change, then I will consider myself a success.”

Sounds as if Amy is well on her way there!


Read the list of this year's eight finalists.

Commencement Web Site