This year's eight recipients of the Order of Augusta, the most prestigious West Virginia University student award, are among the 52 students named WVU Foundation Outstanding Seniors. They will be recognized during an event on May 12 at Elizabeth Moore Hall. (WVU Graphic)

Top WVU seniors named, eight honored with 2023 Order of Augusta

A four-year Army ROTC National Scholar beginning medical school in the fall, a Fulbright Scholar eager to work as a teaching assistant in Bulgaria and an aspiring teacher who has reached out across the state to help combat stereotypes about Appalachian dialects are among the graduating seniors receiving the Order of Augusta, the most prestigious West Virginia University student award.

The eight students exemplify academic excellence and a passion for helping others, and are poised to take the next steps toward becoming the new generation of physicians, engineers, writers, teachers and advocates focused on addressing health care and educational disparities and finding innovative solutions to global challenges.

“The WVU Order of Augusta and Outstanding Senior award recipients represent the best and brightest of graduating seniors at the University,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed said. “Each of these students is exemplary and has made a positive impact through academic excellence, leadership and service. They will undoubtedly be forces to be reckoned with, as they lead change in their local communities and the world.”

All the 2023 Order of Augusta scholars are members of the WVU Honors College.

“Each year, I continue to be awed by the momentous contributions our students make, both inside and outside of the classroom,” Dean of Students Corey Farris said. “As the top 1% of their graduating class, these students have made an everlasting impact on the quality of student life at WVU. I look forward to seeing what their futures hold and have no doubt we will continue to see great things from these outstanding graduates.”

The honorees, who are among 52 students named WVU Foundation Outstanding Seniors, will be recognized at a drop-in event from 12:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, May 12, in the Betty Boyd Lounge of Elizabeth Moore Hall.

Lillian Bischof from Wheeling will graduate with dual degrees in chemical engineering and finance. She has maintained a 4.0 grade point average while conducting undergraduate research on clean energy solutions and serving in leadership roles to help empower women in business and foster STEM interest in young girls.

Read more about Bischof.

Michael DiBacco from Elkins will graduate with a dual degree in biology and English. He is an Eberly Scholar who has maintained a 4.0 while immersing himself in genetics research and projects that bridge his intellectual interest in fiction and creative passion for writing.

Read more about DiBacco.

Marleah Knights from Morgantown will graduate with a degree in biology. She is an Eberly Scholar who has immersed herself in undergraduate research and other experiences focused on bridging the health care gap in rural areas of West Virginia and around the world.

Read more about Knights.

Giana Loretta from Shinnston will graduate with degrees in political science, philosophy and communication studies. She is a Newman Civic Fellow who has maintained a 4.0 while advocating and searching for solutions to educational inequity through research and outreach projects and studying abroad this semester.

Read more about Loretta.

Sonia-Frida Ndifon from Yaoundé, Cameroon, will graduate with a degree in biomedical engineering. Named a 2022 Mountaineer of Distinction in recognition of her academic achievement and campus involvement, she has also immersed herself in biomedical research and rural medicine learning experiences.

Read more about Ndifon.

Lowell Parascandola from Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, will graduate with a degree in biology. In addition to his rigorous coursework, he has served as the ROTC Commander of the Mountaineer Battalion and immersed himself in military medical research and other learning experiences.

Read more about Parascandola.

Lauren Volk from Cross Lanes will graduate with a degree in English/secondary education. This Eberly Scholar has maintained a 4.0 grade point average while immersed in research and outreach focused on destigmatizing Appalachian dialects and student teaching in middle and high schools.

Read more about Volk.

Callyn Zeigler from Charleston will graduate with a dual degree in computer engineering and computer science and a minor in mathematics. Named a 2022 Mountaineer of Distinction in recognition of her academic achievement and campus involvement, she has also immersed herself in outreach initiatives across the state to foster interest in engineering careers among young females.

Read more about Zeigler.

The remaining 44 WVU Outstanding Seniors are:

  • Ali Albowaidey; Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia, immunology and medical microbiology
  • Raeanne Beckner; Bridgeport, journalism and multidisciplinary studies (Honors College)
  • Bailey Cahill; Brookeville, Maryland, accounting and management information systems
  • Ethan Combs; Wardensville, political science and philosophy
  • Grace Crankovic; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, economics (Honors College)
  • Deanna Crumm; Wheeling, marketing and organizational leadership (Honors College)
  • Aubrey Cumberledge; Wallace, biology (Honors College)
  • Ashley Elswick; Charleston, political science and philosophy
  • Heather Fetty; Fairmont, computer science
  • Wenjuan Gu; Charles Town, biochemistry (Honors College)
  • Joelle Hebbard; Bethel, Ohio, aerospace engineering (Honors College)
  • Katilyn Hepler; Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, computer science (Honors College)
  • Hank Herald; Morgantown, political science
  • Grant Holzemer; Fairfax, Virginia, computer science
  • Matthew Hudson; Teays Valley, immunology and medical microbiology (Honors College)
  • Andrew Johnson; Charles Town, nursing
  • Wren King; Morgantown, anthropology, women’s and gender studies, geography (Honors  College)
  • Teagan Kuzniar; Morgantown, environmental microbiology (Honors College)
  • James Lamp; Martinsburg, neuroscience (Honors College)
  • Zoey Lim; Selangor, Malaysia, music composition
  • Mary Linscheid; Morgantown, English (Honors College)
  • Payton Litton; Summersville, advertising and public relations
  • Laura Loeffelbein; Morgantown, neuroscience (Honors College)
  • Victoria Longava; Lorton, Virginia, energy land management
  • Maria Maddy; Peterstown, musical theatre and dance (Honors College)
  • Melina McCabe; Wheeling, biomedical engineering (Honors College)
  • Caitlin Mead; Wheeling, English and psychology (Honors College)
  • Lily Neilsen; Frisco, Texas, environmental soil and water sciences and political science
  • Brandon Neiswonger; Moundsville, political science and philosophy (Honors College)
  • Kiran Patel; Parkersburg, biology (Honors College)
  • Portia Peterson; Smithfield, North Carolina, multidisciplinary studies (Honors College)
  • Devin Price; Weirton, history and English (Honors College)
  • Madison Seman; Morgantown, exercise physiology 
  • Jenna Sergent; Hurricane, social work and multidisciplinary studies (Honors College)
  • Timothy Shaw; Syracuse, New York, marketing (Honors College)
  • Anthony Siler; Glen Dale, biology (Honors College)
  • Trevor Swiger; Grafton, communication studies and interdisciplinary studies (Honors College)
  • Savannah Toney; Chapmanville, mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering (Honors College)
  • Pareera Uqaily; Morgantown, accounting and management information systems (Honors College)
  • Raafay Uqaily; Morgantown, biomedical engineering (Honors College)
  • Brooke Welch; Scott Depot, mechanical engineering (Honors College)
  • Rhett White; Clendenin, biology (Honors College)
  • Joshua Witt; Franklin, environmental microbiology 
  • Ram Zaveri; Surat, India, computer science (Honors College)

Established in 1995 to signify the 40th anniversary of the WVU Foundation, the Outstanding Seniors award recognizes students for their contributions and achievements in scholarship, leadership and service.

The Order of Augusta further recognizes the students’ superior scholarship, demonstrated leadership and record of community and public service. The award is named for its historical significance in the state. Augusta was among the original names considered by Legislature when the state seceded from Virginia in 1863.

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