West Virginia University is recognizing 34 top seniors with the WVU Foundation Outstanding Senior Award. Eight of those students are also being honored with the University’s most prestigious student honor – the Order of Augusta.

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 the Legislature when the state seceded from Virginia in 1863.

These students will be honored at an event on April 15 at the Erickson Alumni Center.

The 2014 Order of Augusta scholars are:

Brooke Bertus, from Parkersburg, W.Va., will graduate with degrees in biology and chemistry from WVU. She is the vice president of Mortar Board National Senior Honorary, the co-president of the WVU Dance Marathon Executive Board and the vice president of fundraising outreach at Unite for Sight. She has been a part of Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Honorary since 2010, as well.

Bertus took two trips to Honduras over Spring Break in 2012 and 2013 as part of a Global Medical Bridges service trip. She also traveled to China in 2011 with the WVNano IRES internship during her time at the University and performed research, where she really found a passion for it.

“I have learned to support myself and to work independently thanks to these experiences at WVU,” she said. “With my research experiences, I have been able to mature as a student researcher and learn about scientific techniques in varying fields.”

Following graduation, she will be enrolling in a Master’s of Public Health program in Epidemiology and later WVU’s School of Medicine. She would like to apply her epidemiology and medicine in rural, international situations.


Zachary Claudio, from Charleston, W.Va., will graduate with a degree in chemistry. He is a member of the WVU men’s soccer team, the representative for his team on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and member of Phi Lambda Upsilon Honorary Chemical Society.

Last summer, Claudio held a research internship under Jessica Hoover, assistant professor of chemistry, where he learned proper etiquette and how to better communicate his research results to others. In 2012, he spent time job shadowing at the Charleston Area Medical Center Trauma and Intensive Care Unit.

“When it comes to academic opportunities like undergraduate research and student-led organizations, WVU is second to none in the number of possibilities available to each student,” he said. “Looking back, these academic and extracurricular activities have been an invaluable component in my growth as a student while at WVU.”

Claudio wants to stay within the state upon graduation and plans to become a reconstructive plastic surgeon.


Jessica Harlee, from Bel Air, Md., will graduate with a degree in industrial engineering. She is best known for her success with the women’s basketball team, winning the program’s first Big 12 regular season championship earlier this year. She is the women’s basketball representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. In addition, she’s a member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and Alpha Pi Mu, the Industrial Engineering Honorary Society.

She has a slew of professional experience, including time as an administrative intern at Mon General Hospital and in manufacturing administration at Mylan Pharmaceuticals.

“My experience here at WVU is one unlike any other person’s, but I have had the time of my life. My original impression of West Virginia as a state was that it was very country. Now I feel as if it’s my home.”

After graduation, Harlee will join a consulting group in Pittsburgh.


Priyanka Jagannath, from Charleston, W.Va., will graduate with a degree in chemistry. She is the president and four-year member of Emergency USA, the fundraising chair of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the premedical honor society and an active member of the American Chemical Society Student Affiliates. Previously, she was the president of the Global Medical and Dental Brigades.

She has had various research opportunities in her time as a student including at the Eye Institute or at the Summer Undergraduate Research Institute for Neuroscience, among others. As part of the Global Medicine and Dental Brigades, she took two trips to Honduras, as well.

“I am very fortunate to work in a lab here at WVU as I realize that at may other large institutions undergraduate students do not have as much access to research as we do here,” he said. “It is unique here at WVU to have undergraduate students working so closely with their mentors and have the opportunity conduct independent projects without the help of graduate students.”

Jagannath will attend WVU medical school in the fall and hopes to become a retinal surgeon.


Rachel James, from Crawford W.Va., will graduate with a degree in civil engineering. She is the recipient of the 2013 Goldwater Scholarship. In addition, she has been a member of the Society of Women Engineers for the past four years – currently serving as the professional development chair. James is also a four-year member of American Society of Civil Engineers.

She has participated in some type of research since 2010. Since September 2011, she has been an undergraduate research assistant for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She was a teaching assistant for that department as well in the Spring 2013 semester.

“WVU has had this uncanny ability to provide me exactly what I needed when I needed it,” she said. “WVU gave me the opportunity to explore various majors outside of the classroom until I found something that fit me.”

She hopes to one day become a civil engineering professor with an emphasis in transportation and infrastructure management.


Rachel Manning, from Huntingtown, Md., will graduate with degrees in agriculture and extension education and agribusiness management and rural development. She is a very involved student within the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design including Student Council, the Welcome Back to School BBQ and the Spring Formal. Manning is the historian of the Dairy Science Club and was the president of the Block and Bridle Club in 2012-13 among many other activities and organizations.

Manning has also visited Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands on study abroad trips while at WVU. In addition, she has worked as a student teacher at Graton High School.

“As a modern mountaineer, I am exploring new areas in agriculture and technology such as teaching students about growing hydroponic plants,” she said. “Exploring these new frontiers in agriculture takes the same enthusiasm and passion that drive students to pursue their future goals in agriculture.”

She will continue her studies upon graduation to pursue a doctoral degree and hopes to one day become a high school agricultural education teacher.


Caroline Miskovsky, from Hedgesville, W.Va., will graduate with degrees in English literature and Slavic and East European studies. She has been a student assistant for the Summer Study Abroad WVU at Oxford, a teacher’s assistant for a Polish film class and a member of the WVU women’s club ultimate Frisbee team.

In addition, Miskovsky spend the Fall 2012 semester in the Czech Republic studying as an exchange student at Masaryk University. She also worked two part-time jobs to pay her way through college.

Miskovsky plans to stay at WVU and pursue a master’s degree in curriculum and education with a certification in secondary English.

“I am grateful to WVU for giving me the opportunities to study abroad while I was a junior and senior, because that experience ? allowed me to grow into a much more mature person,” she said. “I would like to expand my knowledge of the field and develop the tools I need to turn a passion for the subject into a concrete career option for me.”


Benjamin Seebaugh, from Parkersburg, W.Va., will graduate with degrees in international studies, political science and women’s and gender studies. He was the 2013-14 student body vice president. He has been a two-term vice president of Young Democrats along with student representative duties in the Council for Women’s Concerns, the Student Conduct Board and the OneWVU Social Justice Committee among other activities and organizations.

Among all that, Seebaugh has found two opportunities to study abroad – the first in 2012 in Santander, Spain and the second a year later in England at the University of Manchester. He was named a Truman Scholar in 2012.

“WVU made me who I am today. I have lived in four countries and visited 13 others. I have accomplished my all-time goal of receiving the Truman Scholarship, and I’ve been accepted to my top-choice for graduate school to boot,” he said. “None of these things would be possible without the phenomenal courses offered within my departments, the immense amount of financial aid provided to me and the outstanding advising and support I have received from numerous facets of the University.”

Seebaugh’s career goal is to fight against international human rights violations and to do that is pursuing more experience in the non-profit and government sector of human rights advocacy.


The remaining 26 WVU Outstanding Seniors are as follows:
  • Cassandra Baylous; Washington, W.Va.
  • Megan Bean; Shepherdstown W.Va.
  • Samuelle Beeson; Morgantown, W.Va.
  • Benjamin Carrero; Downingtown, Pa.
  • Felix Colaciello; Waldorf, Md.
  • Ryan Coleman; Cross Lanes, W.Va.
  • Guy Cordonier; Parkersburg, W.Va.
  • Lauren Daub; Harrisburg, Pa.
  • Jackson Flesher; Grafton, W.Va.
  • Derrick Gallagher; Boonsboro, Md.
  • Paul Garton; Jane Lew, W.Va.
  • Cyrus Hajiran; Wheeling, W.Va.
  • Amanda Harker; Fairmont, W.Va.
  • Lakyn Hose; Martinsburg, W.Va.
  • Alec James; New Manchester, W.Va.
  • Daniela Londo�o-Bernal; Envigado, Colombia
  • Nathan Mickinac; Bluffton, S.C.
  • Maria Miller; Wheeling, W.Va.
  • Skyler Minke; Wiley Ford, W.Va.
  • Nainika Nanda; Daniels, W.Va.
  • Kellene O’Hara; Caribou, Maine
  • Rebecca Posa; Kearneysville, W.Va.
  • Carl Rice; Mannington, W.Va.
  • Robert VanDervort; Elkview, W.Va.
  • Madeline Vandevender; Smoot, W.Va.
  • Karina Walker; Grantsville, Md.



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