Two West Virginia University students have been named to the 2008 USA Today All-USA College Academic Team.
Kerri Phillips, a doctoral student in aerospace engineering from Weirton, was named to the third team, and Emily Renzelli, a senior political science and philosophy major from Bridgeport, received an honorable mention.
The team, comprised of 60 students on the first, second and third teams and 20 honorable mentions, was selected by a panel of judges from almost 500 students nominated by colleges and universities across the United States. Judges considered grades, leadership, activities and, most importantly, how students extend their intellectual talents beyond the classroom.
The announcement was made in todays (Feb. 14) issue of USA Today and brings WVU s total number of academic team honorees to 11.
For Phillips, the announcement is an affirmation of many years of hard work, but also provides an opportunity to highlight the University.
The greatest honor is being able to represent WVU and the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources because I truly feel this is one of the best universities in the country, and it has supported me throughout my endeavors,she said.I am proud to be listed in USA Today with WVU beside my name.
We are exceedingly proud of Kerri, not only for her many academic accomplishments, but also for her commitment to helping others and to making a difference in our world,said Gene Cilento, Glen Hiner dean of the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.
Phillips graduated with dual bachelors degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering from WVU in December, but she already has a wealth of experience in the field. Her interest in developing technologies and aerospace engineering led her to undergraduate research with NASA and The Boeing Co.
From 2005-06, as part of the NASA Reduced Gravity Flight Opportunities program, Phillips worked to develop a research proposal on jet impingement cooling. She also spent the summers of 2005 and 2006 working at NASA s Goddard Space Flight Center to design and construct an autonomous underwater vehicle. Most recently, she performed flight control lab testing on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner project during the summer of 2007.
Some of my most memorable experiences include flying aboard NASA s �€~Weightless Wonderaircraft conducting an experiment in microgravity that our WVU team developed,Phillips said.The NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium has supported my internships and research projects, and they have helped fulfill my goals of working with NASA on interesting projects.
Phillips was named a 2006 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarthe nations premier award in math, science and engineering. She has received several honors from NASA , including a space grant scholarship (2004-05 and 2005-06) and undergraduate research fellowship scholarship (2006-07). She was also a WVU Presidential Scholar and PROMISE Scholar, and shes been involved with the Sigma Gamma Tau National Aerospace Engineering Honorary, National
Outside the classroom, Phillips has participated in several community service projects that are close to her heart. Inspired by her parentsexample, she has been actively involved in animal rescue efforts and community outreach programs, and she has worked with middle and high school students to encourage them to pursue higher education.
Renzelli, who received an honorable mention on the USA Today list, has demonstrated a passion for community service that has taken her from the small towns of West Virginia to the arid plains of Africa.
Emilys story is a dramatic enactment of the possibilities offered by a true liberal arts education,said Mary Ellen Mazey, dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.With an open heart, an open mind and a dedication to public service, Emily not only became one of WVU s most distinguished undergraduate students, she became a citizen of the world.
As an exchange student at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, Renzelli studied HIV and AIDS prevention services and treatment available in the Western Cape area. She said she discovered a more pressing problem during her worka disregard for the privacy rights of patients being treated in the clinics and hospitals, which can lead to HIV and AIDS patients not seeking treatment due to the social stigma. Over a six-month period, she analyzed the problems and developed several key recommendations for hospital administrators which resulted in sweeping policy changes to protect the confidential information of their patients.
In addition to HIV and AIDS , Renzelli is working to increase awareness of malaria. She was one of 12 national finalists in the 2007 Nothing But Nets contest to establish malaria campaigns on college campuses and ultimately increase the distribution of mosquito nets throughout Africa.
And in June of this year, she will travel to Malawi, Africa, as one of 10 students taking part in a research trip to study the impact of poverty. The project is supported by a National Science Foundation grant recently awarded to two faculty members in WVU s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.
Renzellis campus activities include being the founder and president of Students Taking Action for Needed Change, an organization that encourages student participation in local and global issue awareness campaigns, and the Ubuntu Project, which promotes cultural awareness through a pen pal program linking students in West Virginia with those in the Kyamandi Township, South Africa. She also founded the WVU chapter of the Roosevelt Institution, a campus-based think tank that conducts policy research on political issues and was appointed a senior fellow of its national organization.
Renzellis other activities include the Debate Team; she was the winner of the World Debate Institutes 2004 national tournament. She has also had internships with Congressman Alan Mollohans office, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Her academic achievements include being named the 2007 Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Deans Leadership Scholar, a 2007 WVU Mountain Honorary inductee and the 2006 and 2007 Chilton Scholarship winner.