MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – They have excelled academically, helped better their communities and are reaching for the stars. They are West Virginia University’s 2010 Order of Augusta and Outstanding Seniors scholars. Thirty-five of WVU’s top graduating seniors are being recognized with the WVU Foundation Outstanding Seniors Award. Eight of the Outstanding Seniors will also be awarded the University’s most prestigious student honor, the Order of Augusta.
The students will be formally recognized during WVU’s Commencement weekend on May 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Morgantown Event Center.
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.
“It is an honor to serve as the chair to select WVU’s Outstanding Senior and Order of Augusta scholars. Having taught at a number of universities throughout the world, I can truly say that WVU’s best students are among the best in the world,” said David Stewart, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students. “This year’s Outstanding Seniors and Order of Augusta scholars distinguished themselves not only in the area of academics, but also in community service, travel abroad experiences, leadership positions held and originality. These students will make a positive contribution to the world and will be leaders in the area they choose to work in.”
The 2010 WVU Order of Augusta scholars are: Emily Calandrelli, Morgantown; Nina Chase, Manchester, Mass.; Gavin Hall, Westover; Jonathan King, Charleston; Benjamin Levesque, Assoret, Mass.; Mehran Mohebbi, Morgantown; Shalini Moningi, Charleston; and Jonathan Storage, Milton.
Mehran Mohebbi, the son of Bijan and Touba Mohebbi of Morgantown, West Virginia, will be graduating with a 3.96 GPA and duel degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering and physics. He intends to spend his life promoting science and plans to pursue a graduate degree in particle physics.
“My dream is to honor the sacrifices that my parents made and implement the lessons and skills that my teachers taught me,” Mohebbi wrote in his application. “I will dedicate my knowledge to bettering the lives of not only my fellow citizens in the United States and my home country Iran, but the citizens of every country through a lifetime of promoting science.”
At WVU, Mohebbi has served as the team leader for WVU’s Second High Altitude Research Team and team leader of WVU’s Sixth Microgravity Research Team. He has also been the co-founder of the Student Partnership for the Advancement of Cosmic Exploration (SPACE) and a member of Sigma Pi Sigma physics honorary and Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, The Astronomy Club, Engineers Without Borders and the NASA Academy Alumni Association.
Mohebbi has also been an active part of the community. He helped build a greenhouse for a local family in Queretaro, Mexico.
“Mehran has a wonderful personality and his communication skills are excellent. He is a natural leader; he leads by example, acting as a mentor and a coach for his fellow students and team members,” wrote Majid Jaraiedi, in his recommendation letter.
Shalini Moningi, the daughter of Dr. Venkata R. Moningi and Dr. Prasuna Jami of Charleston, South Carolina, will be graduating with a 3.97 GPA and duel degrees in chemistry and history. Moningi says she has always wanted to be a physician, but WVU gave her endless opportunities to explore other interests.
“WVU gave me endless opportunities to pursue my interest in science from research to mentoring to being a part of the American Chemical Society,” Moningi wrote in her application. “I soon realized that medicine is not just completely dependent on the sciences and that the art of being a physician requires a good meshwork of the sciences and ethics.”
A focus on science and ethics while at WVU is exactly what has led to Moningi’s accomplishments. While at WVU, she has served as a tutor for the WVU Philosophy Department, a member of the Student Health Advisory Board, editor of “THINK” WVU’s first undergraduate philosophy journal, and a member of the WVU Ethics Bowl Team, which won second place at the regional competition and participated in the first national competition. She has also been a member of Helvetia Sophomore Honorary, Chimes Junior Honorary and Mortar Board Senior Honorary.
Moningi has also been active in her community through volunteering at Ruby memorial Hospital.
Yue “Rebecca” Mao, the daughter of Mathis Frick and Lijuan Zhao, came from China speaking no English prior to her time at WVU. She is now set to graduate with a 3.87 GPA and will begin employment in the fall with Ernst & Young, a global accounting firm, as the result of a summer internship.
“Despite her lack of prior work experience in the public accounting profession and her relative youth, she was quickly performing tasks generally assigned to experienced professionals,” said Vaughn Cook, a senior manager with Ernst & Young.
Trained in traditional Chinese dance, Mao performed this past year with the West Virginia Dance Company as a guest artist. She is a member of Beta Alpha Psi, Beta Gamma Sigma and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She also participated in study abroad programs and serves as a tutor in Chinese.
Mao, an accounting major and Morgantown resident, hopes one day to work for the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She has received four Presidential Awards for Excellence in Scholarship and the Robert Witschey Award.