Miami celebrates student contributions to campus and the community through service.
Miami celebrates student contributions to campus and the community through service.

Twenty-three students earn President's Distinguished Service Award

Miami University President Gregory Crawford honored 23 students for their contributions to campus and the community through service and leadership.

This year’s recipients of the President’s Distinguished Service Award are:

Spencer Aitken – classical humanities, clssical languages, history and biology quadruple major. Aitken has presented at Miami’s Undergraduate Classics Conference each year he has been at Miami, as well as serving as the conference student lead in 2015 and 2016. Aitken has also been active in Spectrum, twice serving as president of the organization and diligently working to raise awareness and advocate for GLBTQ students at Miami.

Ryan Anderson – women, gender and sexuality studies and film studies double major with a community-based leadership minor. Anderson has been instrumental in creating and sustaining two advocacy groups on campus that do awareness work on gender: the Men and Masculinities Committee and Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault (MARS). He is also a student employee in GLBTQ services and a member of Miami’s glee club, serving as the operations chair and tour manager for their winter tour around the Midwest.

Chelsea Appiah – professional writing and women, gender and sexuality studies double major. Appiah has been involved across campus, serving as orientation leader, resident assistant, president of her sorority, MADE@Miami peer leader, career assistant and student court justice and on the National Panhellenic Council. She was deeply involved in the Black Action Movement during the 2015-2016 academic year, providing leadership in conversations with Miami’s administration related to diversity issues on campus.

Katherine “Katie” Bruce – chemical engineering major with a management and leadership minor. During her first year at Miami, Bruce joined the Society of Women Engineers, and was elected to president the next year. In addition to increasing membership during her two terms as president, Bruce developed a tutoring program for all engineering students, implemented professional development programs that brought organizations such as Raytheon and the U.S. Navy to speak to the organization, and greatly expanded the organization’s annual Girl Scout Day, all with the goal of increasing the number of women in the field of engineering.

Rachel Cacchione – special education major with a Teaching English Language Learners (TELLs) certification and Spanish minor. Cacchione has worked tirelessly in the area of inclusive education for young people with intellectual disabilities by working closely with the Inclusive University Program, serving as the co-president of the Student Council for Exceptional Children and helping found the Inclusive University Program Allies organization for students with disabilities who attend Miami. She has also served as a member of the dean’s student advisory council for the College of Education, Health and Society since her sophomore year.

Ifeolu Claytor – political science and social justice studies double major. Claytor’s leadership involvement focused on creating a more supportive climate for all Miami students, including work in the Associated Student Government as the secretary for diversity affairs, the National Panhellenic Council and the Council on Diversity and Inclusion. He also served as the lone student representative on the search committee that selected President Crawford to lead Miami, representing the voice of students while maintaining confidentiality.

Allyson Cousino – international student development and Italian studies double major. As a first-year student, Cousino co-founded a student organization with the goal of getting Miami recognized as a fair-trade university, including fair-trade products in food service outlets, catering and retail establishments. It helped Miami take a large step forward in social responsibility. She also held positions as a resident assistant and University 101 undergraduate associate.

Anna Lucia Feldmann – social justice studies major with ethics and women’s, gender and sexuality studies minors. Feldmann has worked to provide support, advocacy and care for marginalized students on campus through roles with the women’s center and Feminists Working on Real Democracy, as well as serving as an orientation leader and a scholar leader. She was instrumental in creating the list of demands presented to the Sexual and Interpersonal Violence Education, Prevention and Response Committee, with the goal of collaboratively filling gaps that exist in Miami’s current efforts.

Jennifer Kelleher – marketing and psychology double major. Kelleher has focused on student wellness and research through her involvement as a HAWK peer health educator, presenting on a wide variety of college health topics to student groups. She was promoted to the office manager position within the organization and tapped to be the lead developer of Flourish Miami, which focuses on everyone’s ability to positively impact their own mental health. Her research explores various aspects of drunk-o-rexia, the intentional avoidance of eating to save calories for planned alcohol consumption.

Kenna Koehler – biochemistry and premedical studies double major. Koehler has been extensively involved with Opening Minds through Art, an intergenerational art program for people with dementia, where she served first as a volunteer, then a student leader and currently as the treasurer. She also served as a sexual assault crisis advocate with Women Helping Women and an honors ambassador and conducted cardiac research with a faculty member on campus.

Allison Kumnick – biochemistry major with a neuroscience minor. Kumnick has been extensively involved in individual and group tutoring and supplemental instruction roles for various math classes on campus. Outside of the classroom, she has served two years on the executive board of Miami’s Med Life chapter and one term as president. Through Med Life’s Medical Brigades, she spent two winter terms traveling to provide basic medical care to rural impoverished communities and organized a fundraiser through Med Life to benefit the Oxford Free Clinic.

Halle Miller – environmental science and engineering management double major with a humanitarian engineering and computing minor. Miller’s involvement and leadership in Miami’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders led to a five-year water supply project in Ecuador resulting in a better drinking supply and community members trained to maintain it in the future. She also headed a team of five group members who won first place in the American Institute of Chemical Engineering’s “Chemical Engineering for Good” competition.

Anne Marie Misey – speech pathology and audiology major with a gerontology minor. Misey has been involved with Opening Minds through Art since her first year at Miami, serving as a volunteer, student leader, treasurer and president. She extended this dedication to community elders through her work with the Miami chapter of the Threshold Choir which sings to people in hospice programs who are at the end of their lives. Additionally, she was a member of Miami’s varsity synchronized skating team, helping the team win their 11th and 12th consecutive national championships.

Imokhai Okolo – social justice studies major. Okolo has focused on creating a community where all students feel welcome to be their authentic selves by serving as the director of campus climate for the Diversity Affairs Council, a connections coach peer mentor, and the director of community outreach for Miami Ambassadors Creating Change. He has also held positions including career assistant, resident assistant, student court justice, student manager in dining services and multiple leadership roles in his fraternity including president of the Black Presidents Caucus and president of the Black History Month Planning Committee.

Pruthvi Patel – information technology major. Patel drew from her own experiences as a self-described proud deaf student to fundamentally impact the way that Miami’s Regional E-Learning Initiatives serves students through online courses, where accessibility is at the forefront of the work. In addition to these contributions, Patel’s warm and eager personality is exemplified by one nominator who wrote that she jumped at the last-minute request to introduce a speaker during the Regionals Recharge Conference.

Lana Pochiro – political science and urban and regional planning double major with an Arabic minor. Pochiro became involved with Feminists Working on Real Democracy during her first year and rose to the role of co-president. She has also worked in the women’s center for two years, assisting with the work of the center and mentoring other student employees. Additionally, Pochiro conducted research through Miami’s Altman Humanities Center, where she worked as part of the “Queer Cartographies” project.

Maggie Reilly – political science major with entrepreneurship and rhetoric/writing minors. Reilly immediately jumped into Associated Student Government when she arrived at Miami, serving in roles such as senator, secretary for on-campus affairs, chief of staff and, this year, student body president. She was also a law and public policy scholar, University 101 undergraduate associate and volunteer with Opening Minds through Art.

Gianna Sheffield – computer science major with mathematics minor. Sheffield led the effort to found Miami’s chapter of Girls Who Code, which works with sixth through 12th-grade women to expose them to programming through a supportive and community-oriented environment. Through her leadership, the club has served 25 local students and has worked to expand this opportunity beyond the local school district.

Sydney Stevens - special education major with Teaching English Language Learners (TELLs) certification. Stevens has been dedicated to education for people with disabilities through her involvement as co-president of the Student Council for Exceptional Children, collaborating with Autism Speaks and Miami’s chapter of Best Buddies to set up the first inclusive soccer match on campus. She was also instrumental in developing the Inclusive University Program.

Toreya Townsend – psychology major with management and leadership and child studies minors. Townsend worked as a resident assistant for three years as well as being involved in the Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton, mentoring through Dream Keepers of Cincinnati and hosting prospective students through Miami’s Bridges Program. She has committed to the betterment of the Miami experience through her work with the Black Student Action Association and as the president of Miami Ambassadors Creating Change.

Caroline “Carly” Traynor – professional writing major with a marketing minor. Traynor has worked to destigmatize and raise awareness of mental health concerns through her membership on the Suicide Prevention Team and the Student Health Advisory Board. She served as president of Active Minds and co-chair of the first annual Out of the Darkness 5K, which raised almost $10,000 for suicide prevention efforts.

Olivia Vandervoort – political science major with an English literature minor. Vandervoort is the current Associated Student Government chief of staff and president pro tempore of the senate. In her first year at Miami, she was selected for the first class of law and public policy scholars and then served as the vice chair of the first University Scholars Student Advisory Board, overseeing all 13 divisional university scholars programs at Miami. She has also served as an undergraduate associate in University 101 and a member of the University Lecture Series board.

Kelsi White – political science and East Asian languages and culture double major. White has spent four years on Miami’s varsity field hockey team, serving as the president of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) council of students and the vice chair of the student-athlete advisory committee for the NCAA. In these roles, she was instrumental in organizing a partnership between the NCAA and the MAC to be the only athletic conference to host a mental health awareness summit.

All award winners will be honored at a ceremony with the president on Sunday, April 23. They will wear a medal with their robes at commencement for this achievement.