Jesup Scott Honors College

Student of the Week Profiles


Zoe Castillo

When Zoe Castillo walks across the graduation stage later this semester proudly sporting her Honors medallion, she will be celebrating the culmination of one chapter in her life as a Rocket alongside the start of another. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, she will begin work in the Fall here on her doctorate! Zoe eagerly anticipates a career following that as a licensed school psychologist dedicated to the promotion Zoe Castilloof mental health awareness and wellness.

Though ultimately motivated by this passion, Zoe’s experience as an Honors student has helped facilitate her impressive academic journey. She completed a project for her Honors “Science and Cinema” seminar last year that she later presented at a research exhibition – a short film documentary that Zoe produced and edited. Titled Working in Mental Health, it highlighted the experiences and perspectives of the mental health staff in the inpatient adolescent psychiatry unit at the UToledo Medical Center. Zoe also utilized her Honors thesis as an opportunity to investigate the ways that social media use affects an individual’s personality. The research assessed the impact of TikTok videos on the moods, self-esteem, and cognitions of female college-aged students who demonstrate varying degrees of borderline personality disorder symptoms.

Outside of class, Zoe has been working as a mental health technician at UTMC’s adolescent psychiatry unit for a year-and-a-half. She has found the hands-on experience the job provides while completing her degree invaluable. Zoe is also part of UToledo’s Psi Chi Chapter and currently serves as its secretary. The organization provides Psychology students the guidance and resources needed to succeed in their careers while also connecting them meaningfully with one another.

Value of Honors: “Being a part of the Honors College has benefited me in so many ways during my time as an undergraduate! I was encouraged to expose myself to new experiences and to explore different ideas in my Honors classes. The skills I acquired in these courses go beyond knowledge – they have helped me become more confident as a student and more open-minded as a person.”

Jackie Budrevich

Jackie Budrevich has known she wants a career in her dual majors of Accounting and Management ever since she enrolled in the high school course that first introduced her to the fields. Now as a graduating senior on the cusp of earning her Honors medallion, this Rocket is over the moon Jackie Budrevichto start her job at Pease Bell CPAs after she earns her certified public accountant license this Summer!

For her Honors capstone project, which helped prepare Jackie for her upcoming position, she researched and created a training manual for the small accounting firm she is interning at currently. The firm had no prior resources to offer new employees, many of whom are recent college graduates without extensive career experience. The completed manual ended up being over fifty pages in length and featured eight different sections! Jackie’s work proved quite useful for the firm, offering their future employees a standardized onboarding experience and thus an easier transition.

Beyond the capstone project, Jackie also found herself benefiting thoroughly from her Honors core courses. She grew her professional skills in HON 3010 “Community Engagement” after the class challenged her to create a database for the Historic South Initiative. Jackie researched, cataloged, and organized vital information for over one hundred houses located in the Old South End neighborhood of Toledo for the project. She also cherished the Honors literature courses HON 2020 and HON 2030, both of which introduced her to different types of novels and cultures that she had not previously encountered. She says, “I was able to read so many books and stories from authors all over the world in those classes – they were some of my favorite!”

Fun Personal Fact: “I am a member of the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority. I loved becoming friends with all my sorority sisters there!”

Shereen Yassine

In selecting UToledo as her collegiate destination, Shereen Yassine demonstrated that you don’t have to travel a great distance to go far in life. When the Sylvania native and Bioengineering major enrolled on campus, attracted by its Bacc2MD pathway program into the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, little did she know that her journey would culminate in award-winning research, a medical mission trip abroad, and nominations for two prestigious and nationally competitive scholarships!Shereen Yassine

Shereen’s research, which began in the Summer of 2022 under Dr. David Kennedy and Dr. Steven Haller, centers on environmental toxicology and its connection to human health. Funded through the First-Year Summer Research Experience program, she developed then animal models of chronic kidney disease and atopic dermatitis in mice. Shereen next applied for the Undergraduate Summer Research and Creative Activities Program the following year. The support she earned there allowed her to further her work and subsequently net other citations at on-campus exhibitions as well as at national conferences. Ultimately, the experience helped Shereen secure her current co-op at Johnson & Johnson investigating hip issues – where she was even selected as Vice President of Communications for the company’s North America Intern and Co-op Association!

The next stage in her evolution as an academic may, however, be the most impressive. Any day now, Shereen will learn whether she is a recipient of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship! This distinguished award encourages college sophomores and juniors to pursue research careers in STEM fields. As if one ambitious fellowship weren’t enough, Shereen has also advanced as a campus nominee this year for the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship. This honor recognizes students who demonstrate leadership, public service, and commitment to challenges in the environment, tribal policy, or native healthcare. “These distinctions can open doors to remarkable graduate school, research funding, and networking opportunities that a candidate might not otherwise receive,” she said.

Transcending Boundaries: “Not to sound cliché, but my medical mission trip to Honduras earlier this year was truly a life-changing experience! I was able to be really involved with the patients and in community as well as experience how medicine is approached differently outside of the United States. I was amazed at how the community and environment drive the healthcare approach in Honduras.”

Ananya Bhatt

Ananya Bhatt’s academic story centers around a familiar element of many college students’ lives: stress! While this Presidential Scholar may experience anxieties of her own about a looming deadline or final exam, what drives her everyday is not her own emotional states. This Psychology major eagerly anticipates a career studying stress disorders and their long-term effects in others as a psychiatrist, paying special attention to the Ananya Bhattsocial determinants of both physical and mental health.

Not content to wait years from now to help others in that capacity or even sooner as a medical student, Ananya has already started doing so in her first year of college! She is involved in a research project for UToledo’s campus chapter of HOSA – Future Health Professionals that examines childhood anxiety and the way parental relationships impact the development of stress. She is also active in Camp Kesem, where she gets to connect with children whose families have been impacted by cancer – providing them with support during the challenging time. Ananya is also involved in Project Sunshine, which is dedicated to childhood cancer patients, and serves as the social media manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Ohio. She mentors children from at-risk communities for the latter, offering them guidance and an opportunity to develop their career and academic goals.

Ananya attributes her worldview, which obviously expands well beyond herself, in significant part to her participation in Honors. Not only has she learned improved critical thinking, communication, and writing skills through the Honors curriculum. HON 1010 “Ideas and Society” has allowed Ananya to engage in meaningful conversations about important issues and hear new perspectives from students who span the academic spectrum!

Favorite Honors Course: “I'm really enjoying my HON 1010 class this semester. Being pre-med and taking a lot of STEMM classes means I don't get to talk a lot about social sciences and current events, but HON 1010 gives me an opportunity to do that – which is meaningful!”

Ali El-Khechen

A curious mind with a penchant for problem-solving, Ali El-Khechen was practically programmed for his major in Computer Science and Engineering and his minor in Mathematics. As an aspiring software developer, he looks forward to offering his career the perfect blend of methodical logic and innovative creativity to achieve the coveted output of success.Ali El-Khechen

For now, Ali’s talents are being nurtured by professors like Dr. Sonmez Sahutoglu, his “Calculus II – Honors” instructor. He embedded a deeper understanding and appreciation for mathematics in Ali and his peers at the end of each class period by having them work through difficult problems together on the blackboard. Dr. Sahutoglu was always supportive, Ali said, and enjoyed introducing them to new opportunities.

One such opportunity was tutoring at the Escuela SMART Academy, a local elementary school. After class on Mondays and Wednesdays, Ali would offer kids enrolled in kindergarten through sixth grade help in mathematics. The topics ranged from the names of shapes to multiplication and division. Ali and the other tutors would often make the lessons fun and clarify complex concepts through art projects. They had the students draw and color a Fibonacci spiral, for example, as well as glue together cutouts of geometric shapes to create new ones. Ali relished the chance to engage more with mathematics and teach others to love it as much as he does!

Fun Personal Fact: “I like to read science fiction books and am currently enjoying Douglas Adams’s 'The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.' I also spent last summer in Lebanon visiting family members and playing soccer at the beach!”

Megan Wolff

A lifelong dancer, Megan Wolff’s journey to a career in physical therapy will be the culmination of two passions propelling her forward in seamless embrace. Her fascination with movement of the human form has been paired perfectly with a dedication to watching others flourish by her Exercise Science major!

Megan WolffMegan was helped in finding her pre-professional footing so quickly by the endless opportunities to grow and get involved on campus. She is the Career and Personal Development Director for Chi Omega, a social sorority. Megan loves being surrounded by these strong women who encourage her every day to achieve her best. Many of them are now her closest friends! She is also involved in Delta Rho Tau, a physical therapy fraternity, and functions as the Vice President of Membership for Alpha Phi Omega.

Beyond these social and professional organizations, Megan has also pushed herself to evolve through service leadership on campus and in Toledo. She is the General Manager of College Mentors for Kids – a group that supports the learning of Old Orchard Elementary School students with fun activities every week. Megan has also earned invaluable skills and insights that will stick with her for life as the Service and Outreach Coordinator for Levis Leadership UToledo.

Had it not been for the Honors College, though, Megan’s impressive résumé and career future may have looked quite different! Its discussion-based and collaborative courses helped her initially get out of her comfort zone. “Multicultural Toledo” and “Community Engagement” subsequently introduced Megan to her environment outside of campus while also lending her a new perspective on life. Becoming an Honors Student Ambassador further cemented these skills through frequent interactions with JSHC alumni and prospective Rockets!

Rocket Recommendation: “I have learned the most by talking to my professors. I'm so grateful that I did because it allowed me to take a closer look at some of the research opportunities offered at UToledo. It's amazing how starting one conversation has the potential to lead you in so many different directions!”

Abby Owens

As the study of life in motion, Exercise Science was a natural major choice for Abby Owens. An aspiring osteopath who helps run a student organization serving first-generation pre-med students, a Relay for Life participant, and a part-time medical scribe, her life never stops moving!

As Vice President of UToledo’s First-Generation Pre-Medical Association, Abby helps her peers access the resources they need when applying toAbby Owens medical school and as they begin their careers. She also supports fellow board members in the execution of their roles and even fills in for the organization’s President if they are absent. Involvement in the group has helped diminish the infamous stressors of the pre-med experience for Abby, a comfort she wants to see widely shared. She encourages other first-gen pre-med students on campus to follow their Instagram page @utfirstgenpremed for information about upcoming meetings and other opportunities!

Abby’s concern for others also led her to join Relay for Life, a charity that raises money for the American Cancer Society to boost research and assist families impacted by the disease. Abby is one of two decorating coordinators in its campus chapter, but she was attracted to join Relay for Life precisely because of the national scope of its advocacy. Abby wanted to be a part of something much larger than herself – to offer hope to those who need it most.

Her eventual career doing just that will benefit immensely from her work as a medical scribe managing health records and aiding physicians. Abby works in a neurosurgery office, so she often charts CT, MRI, and X-ray scans in the role. Her daily exposure to new medical terminology and the complexities of each patient’s case are challenging her to learn more every day.

Pre-med Advice: “I balance my workload by prioritizing tasks and making sure I start my schoolwork earlier than I think is needed. Doing this allows me to be flexible if one task takes longer than I thought it would. It can be hard to determine when to stop for the day, but I just have to remember to be flexible with myself!”

Zach Schmitz

It is hard to imagine a student who personifies UToledo Honors more than Zach Schmitz. With an appreciation for first principles, interdisciplinarity, and innovation for the future, he found his way to Chemical Engineering as a major due to the fundamental importance of chemical interactions in our daily lives alongside the exciting applications of the field to his desired career in aeronautical engineering. But Zach’s Zach Schmitzembrace of Honors is perhaps best illustrated by his active participation in its student programming.

A member since he arrived on campus, Zach has been a fixture at the on-campus mixers and trips to Toledo’s cultural and entertainment destinations hosted by the Honors Learning Community. “Honors is where I’ve made friends and some of my favorite memories,” he observed. The group’s trek to The Ribbon ice skating rink at Glass City Metropark in December was a highlight. Zach had not been skating since he was a kid, and the outing reignited his love for it. “I’ve never had more fun falling over,” he said. Previous HLC excursions took him and his Honors peers to Toledo Walleye hockey and Toledo Mud Hens baseball games, on an afternoon Maumee River cruise aboard The Sandpiper, as well as to multiple musicals including Mary Poppins, SIX, and The Lion King. He even was invited to dance onstage with the Fly Dance Company last year after being dared to do so by his fellow HLC members!

Zach’s passion for programming has also played itself out through his involvement in Campus Activities and Programming as well as the Global Latinx Student Union. He helps host for both organizations movie screenings, karaoke nights, and tournaments. His enthusiasm for Honors in particular, though, has made him a natural Honors Student Ambassador. Inspiring connections with prospective Rockets and alumni is simple when you reflect Honors in all that you do!

Favorite Honors Course: “HON 1010 was the first open-discussion class I’ve ever taken. It was eye-opening to hear so many different perspectives from my classmates while also sharing my own!”

Madeline Shumaker

While many Rockets who study abroad do so for just a semester or over Spring Break on a week-long service learning or medical mission trip, Madeline Shumaker’s foray into the global classroom is taking up her entire junior year! This Environmental Science major’s passion for aquatic biology has fittingly taken her “across the pond” to study at the University of Salford in England since the beginning of the Fall 2023 semester.
Madeline Shumaker
The UToledo-Salford Exchange Program has been bringing Rockets majoring in the natural sciences to Manchester for a year of study ever since 1994. There, Madeline and her peers take classes needed for their program and engage in specialized research while also expanding their worldview. Besides meeting some amazing people through the experience, she has also been challenged to adapt to the learning style and curriculum utilized in England. The traveling breaks built around her courses there have also provided Madeline an unparalleled opportunity to grow as a person while laying the foundation for her career.

Though she has been having the time of her life over the last several months, Madeline is looking forward to rejoining her favorite student organizations when she returns to the United States after this term. These include Levis Leadership UToledo and Greening UToledo Through Service Learning – which advances biodiversity on campus with native plantings and garden projects. Madeline is also involved in the Society of Environmental Advocates, Knits for Charity, and CHAARG – an exercise group on campus.

Value of Studying Abroad: “I’ve learned how to adapt and become more flexible while gaining a new perspective on the world!”

Owen Schassberger

Owen Schassberger isn’t just defining his own future through the Environmental Studies program at UToledo. With a passion for activism and research focused on sustainability, he is everyday helping to reimagine a better tomorrow for all of us.

Owen SchassbergerOver the last four years, Owen’s efforts on campus and around Toledo have transformed projects into progress. He helped install the campus rain garden near the tennis courts and Lot 10 – a field of native plants that can absorb pollutant runoff from these hard surfaces before it seeps into the Ottawa River. Owen has also worked with Michael Green, UToledo’s Director of Sustainability and Energy Effectiveness, to construct campus picnic tables from recycled plastic and lumber, to organize UToledo’s Earth Fest, and to redesign the Office of Sustainability’s Web site.

As President of the Society of Environmental Advocates since the Fall of 2022, Owen’s ecological ethos has even extended into the broader Northwest Ohio region. The student group, which is sponsored by the Department of Environmental Sciences, has collected DNA samples at Stranahan Arboretum, surveyed fish populations in the Ottawa River using large nets, hiked in area parks, and built bird houses.

As much as Owen has already accomplished on campus and in our community, his research promises to have an even greater impact on our shared future. He has been assisting Dr. William Hintz in tracking the growth and survival of threatened lake sturgeon in the Maumee River using acoustic telemetry. Owen’s Honors thesis additionally evaluates the effects of exposure to varying road salt concentrations on zooplankton living in the waterbodies of the Maumee Area of Concern.

Rocket Fuel: “The support of the faculty and staff from my department has been the central pillar of my intellectual and personal growth at UToledo. They clearly care about their students and our success.”

Emma Simons

Emma Simons has always known that she wants to work in a healthcare career that emphasizes lifelong learning. Having just entered the Pharmacy professional division with aspirations of practicing in ambulatory care so she can work directly with patients, Emma is well on her way to realizing her life’s calling.
Emma Simons
Her passion for the major started early on – excelling in her pre-requisite classes while also joining both Alpha Zeta Omega and the Pharmacy Student Council. Emma has fulfilled a variety of roles in the former, a co-ed professional fraternity for Pharmacy students, but currently serves as Co-Chair of its Fundraising Committee. In the role, she helps plan philanthropic outreach for the chapter and the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Next year she is set to become President of the chapter! Emma also functions as the Event Planner for Pharmacy Student Council, working in part to create the same kinds of enduring friendships among its members that she has found in both organizations.

Emma isn’t only contributing to the extracurricular opportunities enjoyed by her classmates, though, as she is also dedicating her Honors thesis work to improving the clinical rotation experiences of her peers in the Pharm.D. program. The goal of the study is to identify and analyze the most and least desirable attributes of both their overseeing preceptors and the sites of their clinical rotations as judged by Pharmacy students in short-answer survey responses.

Signature Achievement: “Receiving my white coat was an extremely meaningful day as we had all been working towards that moment for years! It signified the start of our professional Pharmacy education.”

Chloe McLeod

With graduation fresh in her mind, Chloe McLeod has been in a reflective mood as of late. Earning a degree in Chemistry while a member of multiple student organizations (the Japanese Student Association, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Advisory Council, and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi), Chloe’s memories as a Rocket will be cherished for years to come – hopefully outlasting even the “forever Chloe McLeodchemicals” she researched for her Honors thesis!

Conducting this work in Dr. Emanuela Gionfriddo’s lab over the last two years, Chloe investigated for her thesis whether per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are absorbed by microplastics. If so, then microplastics may act as a transport vector for these chemicals, introducing them into environmental systems. She developed a method of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis for these pollutants to determine how they migrate through and interact with their surroundings. Recognizing the implications Chloe’s thesis may have for the removal of these chemicals from the environment, she was granted the Highest Potential Impact on Community Award at this semester’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Exhibition!

Despite this and all of the other recognitions Chloe has earned over the last four years, she still identifies her favorite campus memory as when she got to operate the NSM Instrumentation Center’s Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility for the first time. These instruments utilize radio waves to interact with certain atomic nuclei, providing useful information about the structure of molecules. Chloe was awestruck by the ability through technology to see atoms and molecules, an experience that helped cement her love of science.

Now a proud UToledo graduate, Chloe will head to Aichi, Japan to teach English for one year. Upon her return to the United States, she plans to pursue a graduate degree in Chemistry and continue conducting environmental research.

Research Reflection: “Countless times at UToledo, exciting experiences have reminded me of my love for science and why I chose to study Chemistry!”

Elise Essenmacher

Elise Essenmacher wasn’t just interested in building her own future when she selected UToledo as her collegiate destination. The Mechanical Engineering student was motivated by the unparalleled opportunity to craft a more sustainable future for all humanity as a Rocket! She believes the environmental challenges our planet faces can be uniquely addressed through the research and development of green technologies and alternative energy sources – solutions Elise hopes to help secure in her forthcoming engineering career.Elise Essenmacher

Given her commitment to improving the human condition, it may come as no surprise that Elise was among those select few awarded the Presidential Scholarship from her incoming class. As a Presidential Scholar, she is often asked by senior administration to provide input on university operations from a student’s perspective. She also benefits enormously from the time she gets to spend with her Presidential Scholar peers – an impressive assembly of some of the most engaged students on campus who represent a variety of majors.

Perhaps the best perk of the distinction, though, has yet to materialize for Elise. Next semester, she will use the generous experiential learning stipend afforded to Presidential Scholars to travel to Spain for her co-op. She will be working there for Fersa – a company specializing in the design, manufacturing, and distribution of bearings – in the ancient city of Zaragoza!

Major Motivation: “While there are certainly fewer women in the engineering field overall, especially in Mechanical Engineering, I have always enjoyed an incredible support network of mentors, friends, and family who encourage me to pursue the things about which I am passionate.”

Nina Ligman

English is not a major commonly found among Honors students – but then again, Nina Ligman is not your average Rocket! The consummate reader who designs high school curriculum in her free time for fun is an avid fan of ballroom dance, a resident advisor at the Honors Academic Village, a Secretary for Toledo Hillel, and a member of an organization that aims to provide humanitarian support to trafficking victims.
Nina Ligman
While some students spend their recreational hours thinking about anything other than coursework, Nina’s thoughts occasionally drift to classes in which she isn’t even enrolled. She has thus far sketched syllabi for high school courses in creative writing, American literature, and British literature. Reflecting on class structures that have been effective for her in the past as part of the project proved a rewarding experience for Nina. The texts she included in her curriculum sample diverse authors and feature the classics that, she says, “teach important lessons and are referenced frequently in modern literature.” This exercise helped Nina develop her considerable insight as an English major, prompting her to analyze many of these influential works. She even drafted essay questions for these fictional courses that drew on the themes and meanings of the books assigned in them.

Nina’s enthusiasm for her major is inspired by courses such as “World Literature and Cultures” taught by Dr. Parama Sarkar – Nina’s favorite thus far at UToledo. The class last Spring further stoked her passion for reading and did much to expand Nina’s worldview. Additional encouragement of her extracurricular endeavors has been offered by Sigma Tau Delta, an international honorary society for English majors, of which she is a member.

Choice of Major: “The English major is the butt of a lot of jokes, but I love it and do not regret my choice at all!”

Danisha Ray

Immersing herself in her culture has been a vital part of Danisha Ray’s college experience. As the President of the Indian Student Cultural Organization, Danisha has had the opportunity to not only better connect with her own roots but to also create a space for her fellow Rockets to do the same!Danisha Ray

Danisha joined the ISCO in the Spring of 2022 and began serving as the organization’s Director of Marketing responsible for promoting its events to students and the wider community. She then became the Director of Administration the following Spring before being asked to assume her current role of President. Danisha now oversees all initiatives and events planned within the group. This included the recent Diya ceremony celebrating the Hindu holiday Diwali. It both offered Indian students at the university an opportunity to feel at home and to share their culture with other students and community members. Preparing for Diya was “a whirlwind,” but Danisha said it was worth it to host such an incredible event. Since she was on co-op during the planning process, the Bioengineering major had to collaborate with her Executive Board members virtually – whom she thanked for their outstanding service.

Though attending college as an international student can be intimidating, ISCO helped Danisha feel safe and comfortable by connecting her with other students possessing similar apprehensions. She hopes as President that she can continue to make international and domestic students alike feel included within the organization.

Campus Involvement: “UToledo has played a pivotal role in nurturing my personal and academic growth, helping me adjust to the changes in my environment. In a relatively short period, I found myself not only adapting to this new place but also genuinely calling it home. My desire is for other students to feel the same warmth and connection that I have experienced, and I believe that ISCO plays a crucial role in making this happen!”

Ramya Talla

While her Biology major will equip her with the content knowledge and technical expertise needed to heal others, Ramya Talla’s confidence as a future physician will be inspired at least as much by her experience in Greek Life as a Rocket. Ever since her second semester on campus, Delta Delta Delta has served as a safe and welcoming space to explore her passions and express her true self.
Ramya Talla
The lingering pandemic restrictions in the Spring of 2021 made it difficult to form social connections at the time but joining Tri Delta and making friends there felt effortless for Ramya. The community has continued to nurture her self-confidence, allowing her to network with fellow students and alumni of the sorority. She even met her best friend as a “big sister” and mentor in the group!

Just as important as fellowship and growing one’s professional brand in Greek Life is giving back to the community. Ramya is no exception and currently serves as Tri Delta’s Director of Philanthropy. She is entrusted with planning and executing fundraising events such as Delta House of Pancakes, Sincerely Yours, and the Stars and Crescent Gala. The sorority just recently hosted Wrap-Up Toledo, an event that raised money and blankets for those in need in the metropolitan area.

Though her dreams of practicing medicine stretch at least back to high school, when she began researching with Dr. Jennifer Hill at UToledo’s Health Science Campus, Ramya’s time in Greek Life has helped her further define her aspirations. She hopes to continue her service to the vulnerable as a doctor at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital after graduation.

Major Inspiration: “My choice to major in Biology with a pre-med concentration stems from the inspiration I draw from my mother. Her remarkable journey of being born and raised in India to now practicing family and geriatric medicine at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Texas, despite numerous adversities, has ignited my passion to follow in her footsteps.”

Tanner Schultz

Though it began as just another way to get involved on campus with his friends, Tanner Schultz’s time in Student Government has evolved into something so much more – a defining feature of his college years and a powerful outlet to advocate for his fellow Rockets. After all, as the student body Vice President, his voice carries weight.Tanner Schultz

Following his first meeting with the organization, Tanner immediately knew that Student Government was the place for him. A Biology major, he was appointed as a representative for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and was overcome by motivation to make positive changes on behalf of those he represented. As he progressed, Tanner gained more leadership and was elected as the Campus Culture Chair at the end of his first year on campus. Then, after another session of hard work, he was elected as student body Vice President alongside his running mate, President Lucas Will.

Tanner’s time is now consumed by meetings with campus officials such as UToledo President Gregory Postel voicing the needs, values, and perspectives of his undergraduate peers to the administration. It is this service to his university community that inspires Tanner – the connections he has made with its students, faculty, and alumni working to elevate their shared experience. Reflecting on all that has been accomplished, Tanner is proud of his effort and the progress Student Government has made since he joined it.

Campus Involvement: “I’d like to thank everyone that has helped me to get to this point. Alumni, faculty, and most importantly my fellow students have supported me throughout my experience in Student Government and my tenure as student body Vice President.”

Morgan Schuld

As a member of the swim team and a student researcher carrying a few minors and as many leadership roles in student organizations, Morgan Schuld somehow manages to keep her head above water. She wouldn’t have her life as a Rocket any other way, though: never dull, and always challenging!
Morgan Schuld
The Chemical Engineering senior hopes to move back to Cleveland after completing her undergraduate degree to pursue her career – possibly in the personal care products industry. Morgan’s Honors thesis offered the opportunity to blend her related Cosmetic Science & Formulation Design minor with her major work in Dr. Matthew Liberatore’s rheology lab. They are studying the mechanical characterization of anion exchange membranes for fuel cell applications, focusing on crosslinking a copolymer that forms membranes typically used in hair conditioners. After recently receiving a patent on their work, Morgan and her teammates are now aiming to publish a paper about the research.

When she isn’t making waves in the pages of academic journals, Morgan is hard at work exercising the values of teamwork, communication, and time management skills as a member of UToledo’s swim team. She also serves as the treasurer for HOPE, an organization that raises awareness and educates others about organ donation. Morgan additionally sits on the Executive Board of the UToledo Engineering Council as the group’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Liaison. This position has given her the opportunity to lead efforts improving DEI initiatives on campus and in the community, including their recent Women in STEMM Panel event.

Value of Honors: “Being in the Honors College has really helped me expand my outlook on my education and knowledge outside of just my major. HON 3010 was one of the coolest classes I have ever taken because I got to do meaningful work in the community with the nonprofit organization my group chose to collaborate with. The lessons and skills I have learned in my Honors classes are transferrable to so many different contexts!”

Vanessa Hernandez

Of the six “C”s that ground the Honors curriculum, few Honors Rockets embrace the value of “community engagement” more thoroughly than Vanessa Hernandez. Whether it is through the folk dance group that keeps her connected to her Mexican heritage, her work on campus as a supportive resident advisor, or her Early Childhood Education classes that are training her to inspire young minds, Vanessa enriches the Toledo region and this campus every day.Vanessa Hernandez

A passion of hers since an early age, Vanessa has been dancing with El Corazon de Mexico Ballet Folklorico for years. The group was founded in 1996 by her mother, Elaina, and has flourished ever since. Now its Assistant Director, Vanessa’s role in the group includes teaching choreography, curating cultural performances, and working with students of all ages who dance with them. She cherishes her involvement in the art for how it celebrates traditions and informs her identity. In fact, Vanessa is excited to perform in the group’s annual Día de los Muertos showcase on Nov. 1st at Lourdes University! She encourages anyone who is interested in seeing the group to come check out their exhibition.

Though Vanessa is much newer to her role as a resident advisor, she has found the experience to be similarly uplifting. Working with her residents has helped her practice patience and understanding – a cue she has taken from her helpful and caring peer advisors. Vanessa has also relished the opportunity to implement programming for the “diverse and wonderful group of people” living in the Honors dorms. “Everyone brings something different to the table, and I enjoy hearing about all of their activities, studies, and interests,” she said.

Extracurricular Involvement: “El Corazon de Mexico Ballet Folklorico is a unique environment where my students and I have the ability to embrace ourselves and Mexican culture through traditional dance. However, the group is open to all persons – not just Mexican Americans!”

Mary Gstalder

Mary Gstalder has always possessed a knack for numbers. She understands that when you take an Accounting major, add in Economics coursework, and multiply by experience managing the finances of student organizations on campus, you get a budding professional ready to excel in her future career as a Certified Public Accountant!
Mary Gstalder
Mary serves as the Treasurer for Student Government and as the Chair of the Student Allocation Committee. The latter, often referred to as “SAC,” is a group of appointed students whose responsibility it is to parcel out to all other campus organizations a budget for their programming. She joined SAC her freshman year as a general member, was promoted to Vice Chair in her sophomore year, and now works as Chair of the Committee as a junior. In this position, she handles correspondence with all other campus organizations that deal with budgets, runs SAC meetings, helps to recruit members, and presides over debates. Even though she is not a voting member, she still wields significant influence within the organization.

Mary was prepared well for these hefty duties in her Accounting and Business Administration classes. They didn’t just equip her with the technical know-how needed to project costs and reconcile expenses with available funds. Her courses also trained her to exercise her authority ethically and wisely. In both her Student Government Treasurer and SAC Chair positions, Mary must be careful to operate fairly while protecting the best interests of the student organizations she helps to support. “All of the professional development I have received from my major has really helped me become the best chairperson I can be,” she said.

Leadership Style: “I have really enjoyed making a difference on campus quietly while in the background. I’d rather have an impact without being in the spotlight!”

Cale Wright

While the Fall semester is an exciting time for many students, few other than Cale Wright know the thrill of entertaining thousands of screaming fans from the sidelines of a packed Glass Bowl. The Honors sophomore isn’t a hard-driving linebacker or an agile wide receiver, though. Cale is instead one of the dozens of talented musicians who help build excitement for each touchdown and turnover as a member of the Rocket Marching Cale WrightBand.

This year is Cale’s second participating in the Rocket Marching Band as a first part on the alto saxophone. He has performed in every UToledo football game since he joined the group – including against the University of Illinois last month and at the Boca Raton Bowl last year. The schedule can be grueling, but the buzz of energy the band elicits among fans and players through their music keeps Cale motivated to attend each practice session and game.

The energy that Cale feeds his fellow Rockets on game days is returned twofold on any given day by his supportive bandmates. He has met most of his closest friends through the Rocket Marching Band – none of whom would hesitate to lend him a helping hand. Playing in the band also led Cale to join Phi Mu Alpha, a music fraternity that has strengthened the ensemble’s creative bond.

Though joining the Rocket Marching Band as an Honors Pre-Pharmacy student has set a demanding tempo for Cale’s life, he is committed to achieving harmony between the two. He chose the major to help those in need, drawing inspiration from a mission trip to Haiti he took when he was fourteen. Seeing how impactful simple medications could be there encouraged him to do all that he could to heal others through his future profession. He will take an important step toward that career in cardiovascular pharmacy next year when he enters UToledo’s Pharm.D. program.

Campus Involvement: “Balancing band with school can be very difficult, especially if there are multiple games back-to-back – mostly because we have to learn a whole new show each week. It takes a lot of personal accountability and working ahead of schedule for me to stay semi-balanced.”

Sean Hanna

Honors Rockets won’t be celebrating this year’s UToledo Homecoming Parade simply by lining the streets that carry the promenade or by just joining its merry ranks. Students like Sean Hanna have been hard at work for months planning its every detail and registering all of the participants who will be winding their way around campus and through the Old Orchard neighborhood tomorrow.
Sean Hanna
Sean serves as the Added Attractions Chair for the Homecoming Parade – a position he earned through his participation in Blue Key National Honor Society. His role is to involve in the parade notable figures and organizations from the Toledo community as well as a diverse array of student groups from campus. Sean and his Blue Key collaborators even play a part in determining the route for the parade. In short, their efforts are crucial to achieving a robust attendance and lively ambience for the event – work that began during and stretched through the Summer! “All of my Blue Key brothers have done a phenomenal job preparing for the parade this year,” Sean said.

In addition to acting as the Community Service Chair and Alumni Outreach Chair for Blue Key, Sean is also the Vice President of Programming for Sigma Phi Epsilon. Though Homecoming is a highlight, the Biology major’s campus involvement and support of philanthropic initiatives runs all year long. What Sean has valued most about his time with Greek Life and Blue Key has been the opportunity to surround himself with others like him who are motivated to invest in their university and community.

Campus Involvement: “It was an absolute honor to be chosen as a member of Blue Key. I’ve loved participating in Homecoming and Songfest the past two years, so it is extremely exciting to have an impact on them again this year!”

Allyson Givens

Passionate about educating young minds while aspiring to travel the world, Allyson Givens wasn’t forced to choose between a career-simulating internship and a semester of study abroad – despite her tightly packed program of study. The tandem ambitions of this plucky Adolescent and Young Adult Education and English dual-degree seeker would find serendipitous satisfaction in UToledo’s Rocket KidsAllyson Givens program.

As a participant, Allyson was able to teach the children of American military personnel for two months over the Summer in Brunssum, Netherlands. Filled with fond memories of the instructors who made her own schooling experience such a positive one, she wanted to pay the feeling forward and inspire a love of learning among the world’s youth.

The highlight of the internship for Allyson was collaborating with the other Rocket Kids interns, all of whom shared her enthusiasm for teaching. They gave her a sense of belonging in a new environment, a gift she treasured. “I went into the internship as part of its first cohort, not knowing what to expect,” Allyson said. “I traveled to my base with a group of strangers in the program and returned home with lifelong friends.”

Her Rocket peers were not alone in making the trip an enriching one, though. “The children I took care of surprised me with their unique and vibrant personalities every day,” Allyson said. “Outside of work, I found a home in my placement community and made connections with locals I will never forget.”

Apart from the professional skills she gained through the program, Allyson cherishes the boost of confidence it offered in her ability to make decisions and explore the world around her. The trip also taught her to be more open-minded and flexible in new environments, encouraging her to learn more about cultures while making time for things that bring her joy.

Life’s Next Steps: “I plan to earn a Master’s degree in Comparative International Education and teach abroad after graduation, but for now I am pursuing a graphic design internship with a cultural nonprofit organization.”

Malachi Fruits

When college students move on to campus and exchange introductions with their roommates for the first time, they are often meeting their new best friends. But the squad that Malachi Fruits gained in the fateful Fall of 2020 wasn’t just an entourage for late night fast food runs or a supportive study group. The crew would one day comprise a decorated spikeball team!
Malachi Fruits
Malachi along with Tyler Bishop and Raymond Loyal were all taught the game by fellow College of Engineering Honors student Cedric Bosi as first-year students. Not long after that, Malachi and Cedric entered themselves into a spikeball tournament and walked away as winners! The group has since been playing as much of the game as their schedules will allow.

Following the end of the pandemic, Malachi noticed that no student organization dedicated to the growing sport existed at UToledo and decided to start his own – the Roundnet Club. He worked diligently to launch the club by researching similar ones across the country, recruiting other members, writing a constitution, and planning tournaments. By October 1st, 2021, it was officially recognized on campus.

“This club has allowed me to not only be more active, but to make more friends and meet more people than I would have otherwise,” Malachi said. It has even earned this Computer Science and Engineering student a paid position with the American Spikers League helping make spikeball more accessible to communities around the country.

The Roundnet Club practices on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 6:00 pm until 7:30 pm at Carter Field on UToledo’s Main Campus. If you are a student interested in spikeball, you are invited to join!

Fun Personal Fact: “I have a twin sister, Mylee Fruits, who also attends UToledo – but I am a foot and a half taller than her.”

Zoe Bauman

Zoe Bauman had barely started her first semester at UToledo when her focus shifted from exploring life as a college student to traveling with the Honors College to see the world. Despite the challenges of planning for an international excursion on a whirlwind timeline, her persistence paid off when she joined a group of Honors students and faculty over Spring Break last year on a service learning trip to Riverton City, Jamaica.Zoe Bauman

As a Bioengineering major aspiring to a career as an orthopedic surgeon, Zoe was drawn to the opportunity to help others in need. The group worked with the residents of Riverton City and members of International Samaritan, a global nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of those in dump communities across the world, to create works of “found art” that could be sold online. The resultant revenue streams will help lift out of poverty those who earn their income scavenging in the Riverton City dump.

For Zoe, the experience was life-changing – its undeniable highlight the school children and the families she met along the way. “They showed me what it means to work hard and to be a part of a community,” Zoe said. “They taught me how to work towards achieving a better world for all of humanity.”

Her gratitude doesn’t stop there, though. “I would like to thank the Honors College, Dr. Ashley Pryor, International Samaritan, and the donors who supported our travel for making it all possible,” she said.

New Perspective: “So often we complain that we have to go to school in the mornings – that 8 a.m. classes are the worst. What I experienced in Jamaica was so different. School was cherished as a precious opportunity – a chance to better yourself and to build your life.”

Caitlin Heinze

As a member of the swim team on campus and a marketing intern for UToledo Athletics, Caitlin Heinze has sure made a splash in her first two years as a Rocket! This Marketing major is gaining real-world professional experience while also blending a passion for athletic competition with her drive to promote powerful messages that improve the lives of others.
Caitlin Heinze
Caitlin’s responsibilities include maximizing fan awareness of and attendance at UToledo athletic events while also hyping the atmosphere at games. You might see her on the football field or basketball court this season promoting fan engagement by throwing t-shirts into the stands, picking contestants for games, or handing out giveaway items. She also does a lot behind the scenes and in the office. The experience has been so enjoyable for Caitlin that she now hopes to work in a marketing role for college athletics following graduation.

When Caitlin isn’t inspiring Rocket pride on the sidelines, she is gliding through the water in competition for it. She has loved getting to meet and engage with others on the swim team who enjoy the sport just as much as she does. The group is defined by a supportive camaraderie where each teammate is seen as a person and a student before they are an athlete, Caitlin says. This encouraging environment reduces the pressure to always win and allows the team to focus on enjoying the sport rather than becoming overwhelmed.

Value of Athletics: “Being on the swim team has provided me with numerous opportunities to grow as a person. I have gained independence, confidence, and further cultivated my work ethic. I love being able to still surprise myself when I improve my times or swim different events than usual!”

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Last Updated: 4/12/24