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WVU's top seniors awarded WVU Foundation Order of Augusta

Eight West Virginia University students will be awarded the Order of Augusta, the University’s most prestigious student honor, for their outstanding academic performance, campus leadership and public service.

WVU President Mike Garrison will present the students with the Order of Augusta commemorative medallion during the University’s Commencement Honors Convocation at 7 p.m. Friday, May 16, at the Coliseum.

The 2008 recipients are Joshua Austin of Grafton, Matthew Delligatti of Fairmont, Angela Dial of Morgantown, Seth Gainer of Elkins, Gwyndaf Garbutt of Morgantown, Jason Likens of Terra Alta, Kerri Phillips of Weirton and Chad Wilcox of Wheeling.

“These students represent a proud tradition of excellence in education at WVU,” Garrison said. “They have achieved extraordinary academic success and will undoubtedly become leaders in their respective fields.”

The WVU Foundation, the private nonprofit corporation that generates and provides support for WVU, established the award in 1995. The Order of Augusta was 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. The District of Augusta was the original name for the northern region of West Virginia, including Monongalia County.

“We congratulate these exceptional students,” said Foundation President R. Wayne King. “The Order of Augusta is the most prestigious honor a WVU senior can attain. These students have consistently demonstrated the University’s highest ideals through their hard work and contributions to the campus community.”

Recipients of the Order of Augusta are chosen from 50 WVU Foundation Outstanding Seniors – also to be recognized May 16 – for their achievements.

Brief bios of Order of Augusta recipients follow:

For Joshua Austin of Grafton, a future in journalism – preferably in Moscow – is on the horizon. He currently has a 3.93 GPA and will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism.

Austin feels his time spent at WVU has prepared him to traverse the world and expose human rights injustices.

“I have concluded that WVU teaches more than just material from textbooks and writing on a chalkboard,” he said. “Life lessons and values are the heart of this university. Charity, humbleness and objectivity, among other positive character traits, are what define a true Mountaineer.”

His greatest learning experience came through assisting Sophia Peterson, visiting professor of political science, with teaching an international human rights course. The experience inspired his interest in earning a doctorate, teaching and becoming a journalist.

Recently, Austin earned a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship, which will permit him to teach the class and study for one year at the University of Glasgow. The award is valued at over $23,000 and will help fund his work toward a master’s degree in international politics.

Other awards include the PROMISE, Ronald E. McNair, Harry C. Hamm Family and Loyalty Permanent Endowment Fund scholarships. He also received the Robert E. DiClerico Scholarship in Democratic Institutions and Public Leadership and has been a member of the National Dean’s List, as well as the WVU President’s and Dean’s lists.

Austin is a contributing reporter for The Dominion Post and WVU Alumni Magazine. In his spare time, he has volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House, served on the community advisory board for The Dominion Post and helped organize a triathlon to raise money for the Save Darfur Coalition.

He is the son of Sandra Johnston.

To say that Matthew Delligatti has an interest in politics is putting it lightly. The senior from Fairmont will graduate in May with a degree in political science and a 3.92 GPA.

“Since the time that Matt was my student, I have watched him grow into a leader on campus and in his home community,” Garrison wrote in his recommendation letter. “On campus, Matt continues to be one of those students who can always be counted upon. Matt has distinguished himself on campus as someone who is both a thoughtful leader and a friend to all he encounters.”

Delligatti was named a Harry S. Truman Scholar in 2007, in part because of his vast experience in public service. The process of applying for the scholarship helped him focus on his future plans, which include a career as a public defender or state’s attorney.

“My principle reason for wanting to assist the community is that I want to provide all the citizens of West Virginia the same opportunities with which I have been blessed,” he said. “I want to make our political and judicial system truly fair for all of our citizenry.”

Delligatti is a PROMISE Scholar and member of the Mountain Honorary, and he has been named to the WVU President’s and Dean’s lists. He interned for Delegate Mike Caputo through the Frasure-Singleton Student Legislative Program.

His love for politics led him to become a member of the Fairmont City Council and Fairmont Planning and Zoning Commission. In addition, he is a member of the Executive Board of Directors Fairmont Senior High School Foundation, Fairmont State University Community Service Advisory Board and Young Democrats.

His community service includes Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America, the Growing Up Fun handicap playground project and the Knights of Columbus and Marion County Meals on Wheels program. He has also been an instructor for American Legion Mountaineer Boys State.

At WVU, he has served as parliamentarian of the Italian-American Organization, and he’s been a member of the WVU Sociology and Criminology Club.

His parents are John and Karen Delligatti.

Angela Dial of Morgantown plans to attend graduate school in Europe after graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in textiles, apparel and merchandising and 3.85 GPA.

“I am driven and willing to do the necessary work to accomplish any task set before me,” she said. “I will work with my best commitment and passion to make WVU proud of me as one of its alumni.”

Dial entered WVU with a PROMISE Scholarship, and during her college years, she earned many other honors including the Sloan Presidential; WVU Mountaineer; Ruth Weibel Memorial; and Agriculture, Forestry and Family Resources Alumni scholarships. She has also been on the President’s and Dean’s lists and is a three-time award recipient from the state-level design competition for Fashion Illustrators.

Active in the Fashion Business Association, she has served as president, vice president and treasurer, and she helped coordinate several service-learning activities.

Dial is the first WVU student to gain portfolio space on a fashion resource Web site hosted by WGSN, an international news and research service within the fashion, design and style industries. She will also be the first WVU student to attend graduate school at the Domus Academy in Milan, Italy – a prestigious school for postgraduate educational programs in fashion design.

Her design work was chosen by the Division of Design and Merchandising to be featured in a display at the WVU Visitors Resource Center, along with the division’s program advising book and Web site.

As a student ambassador for the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, Dial traveled to Brazil following her high school graduation. Her interest in learning about international cultures continued at WVU, where she joined the Brazilian Association, learned to salsa with the Latin American Association and chatted with Italians in her Italian language classes.

She is the daughter of David and Jackie Dial.

A career in government service awaits Seth Gainer of Elkins after he graduates with bachelor’s degrees in history and international studies and a 4.0 GPA.

Gainer has already started to build his experience in government. He is currently a research assistant for a member of the British House of Commons as a result of the WVU Parliamentary Scholarship awarded through the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. Gainer has also been named to the Model Organization of American States activity, which simulates international affairs and foreign policy situations, and he has studied abroad at the University of Tartu in the Republic of Estonia, taking classes on the European Union and Russian foreign policy.

“Big Ben is the single most impressive monument I have ever seen,” Gainer said. “I can see the clock tower from my window across the street, and it never fails to remind me of where I am and how I got here. It’s an hourly reminder of how lucky I am because I am here working in Parliament.”

“What I find so striking about Seth is that he has taken on each of these challenges carefully and ultimately gone on to thrive in these experiences,” said Joe Hagan, chair of the Department of Political Science. “He does not simply participate; rather, he immerses himself in the work of these activities and gets the maximum out of them.”

Gainer has been awarded the John Maxwell Historical Research Prize; Joseph and Theresa Cody, Wunschel Memorial and PROMISE scholarships; and Eberly College Award for Excellence. He was also named to the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Eberly College Dean’s List of Outstanding Scholars and WVU President’s List.

An avid musician, Gainer has played guitar for the Elkins High School and Davis and Elkins College jazz bands. While in Morgantown, he performed at local venues and contributed an original song for an album to support liver disease research.

He is the son of Phil and Tammy Gainer.

Gwyndaf Garbutt of Morgantown will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and 3.96 GPA. His plans include earning a doctorate in the history of science and teaching at the university level.

“I look forward to researching and teaching for a living and the opportunity to pass on my love of history to the next generation of students,” he said. “As with all academics, my driving purpose is to help advance our general knowledge of history and significantly contribute to the overall understanding of the history of science.”

To gain a different perspective on history, Garbutt also studied medieval history in Wales as part of an undergraduate academic enrichment program through the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. He feels the experience provided him a different perspective on history.

“History in Britain is an ever-present thing; the entire country is so steeped in a sense of continuous history and age that you can almost feel it in the air,” he said. “History there is treated as a fluid thing, something that flows unbroken across thousands of years, connecting the ancient to the modern.”

Garbutt is a recipient of the PROMISE and WVU Mountaineer scholarships. The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences also awarded him three certificates of achievement for academic excellence, and he was named to the Helvetia sophomore honorary, WVUPresident’s List, Eberly College Dean’s List of Outstanding Scholars and Alpha Lambda Delta National Academic Honor Society for freshmen.

Community service has been a key part of Garbutt’s college experience. As the Alpha Phi Omega memorial bell-ringing coordinator, he organized memorial services for WVU students who passed away and provided comfort to families.

His parents are Keith and Christine Garbutt.

Jason Likens of Terra Alta will graduate with a 3.86 GPA and Bachelor of Science degree in biology. He plans to attend the WVU School of Medicine in the fall.

“My undergraduate experiences have significantly impacted who I am today and the career path I have chosen,” he said. “My experiences, both inside and outside the classroom, have fostered my strong determination and enthusiasm for pursuing a career in medicine.”

Likens received the Ronald E. McNair, PROMISE, Mountaineer and Dr. Isaiah A. Wiles scholarships. He has been a part of the WVU Honors College and earned spots on the WVU President’s and Dean’s lists. In addition, he received the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Certificate of Achievement six times.

He credits the McNair Scholars program with preparing him for his postbaccalaureate studies.

“I’ve been afforded the opportunity to visit numerous colleges and universities, attend conferences, participate in a six-week summer research internship, undertake my own research project and partake in numerous other opportunities,” he said. “In general, being a McNair Scholar has allowed me to further develop, both personally and scholastically, while allowing me to continue my insatiable pursuit of knowledge through research.”

Likens has participated in many research projects. He co-authored the article, “Limb Regeneration and Molting Processes Under Chronic Methoprene Exposure in the Mud Fiddler Crab, Uca Pugnax,” and presented a research poster at Undergraduate Research Day at the state Capitol.

Other activities include the Beta Beta Beta biology and Alpha Epsilon Delta premedical honoraries and National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Likens, a first-generation college student, has also been involved as a committee chair for Planning for College Success, an organization that visits high schools to educate students about the college application process. The goal is to motivate students, who might not otherwise think about attending college, to consider continuing their education, and he feels his personal background has a positive impact on the students he speaks with.

He is the son of Clifford and Cindy Likens.

Kerri Phillips of Weirton said she always knew she wanted to attend WVU and pursue a degree in engineering. In December, the dream came true when she graduated with bachelor’s degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering.

But her WVU days are not over yet; Phillips was accepted into the doctoral program in aerospace engineering and began her graduate studies in January.

“I’m excited about this next chapter of my education,” she said. “The WVU community has had an everlasting impact on my life, and I look forward to my next four years as a Mountaineer.”

In her junior year, Phillips was selected to be part of the WVU Microgravity Team, which allowed her to go to NASA to fly an experiment aboard the DC-9 “Weightless Wonder” aircraft. She also received the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the nation’s premier award for math and science. Recently, she was named to USA Today’s All-USA College Academic Team.

In addition, Phillips has received the NASA Space Grant Scholarship and NASA Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

She spent two summers working for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center where she helped develop an autonomous underwater vehicle project for future applications to explore Jupiter’s Galilean moon, Europa.

“Without the education I received during the first two years of college and the opportunities provided by the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium, I would not achieved my lifetime dream at 20 to work for NASA,” she said. “The research experiences also improved my understanding of the material I was learning in classes, enabling me to apply my knowledge to my internships at NASA and Boeing.”

Among her other awards are the Sallie Lowther Norris Showalter Excellence in Mathematics, Gay R. Larsen Educational Trust, PROMISE and WVU Presidential scholarships. She is a member of the WVU Honors College and Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Gamma Tau honor societies.

Phillips has also been involved in community service programs, raising funds for an animal rescue shelter and encouraging middle and high school students to pursue higher education.

She is the daughter of Jon and Darla Phillips.

Chad Wilcox, a senior from Wheeling, will be graduating with a 4.0 GPA, Bachelor of Science degree in biology and Bachelor of Arts degree in history. He intends to become a physician.

“All of my courses have shown me something,” he said. “Biology and its associated pure sciences have taught me the how, history has taught me the when, and philosophy has taught me the why. In college, I have learned so much, but my most important lesson has been that I must never cease learning.”

Wilcox came to WVU as a PROMISE and Presidential Scholar. He has been involved in the WVU Honors College, student newspaper, several honor societies and student organizations. He is the president of the WVU chapter of the Beta Beta Beta biology honor society, and he has studied abroad at Richmond, The American University of London, Rome Campus.

Wilcox has been awarded Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and Student Government Association Memorial Leadership scholarships, along with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, and he was a Mr. Mountaineer finalist.

Besides his campus activities, he has volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House, Ruby Memorial Hospital and a local elementary school.

“From helping families get situated in the Ronald McDonald House to keeping patients in the emergency department company, I have felt the satisfaction of the opportunities to be involved and give back to the community of West Virginia University, which has become my home,” he said.

His parents are Craig and Debbie Wilcox.