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Published May 01, 2019
Three students from Laramie were finalists for the University of Wyoming’s highest honor as top graduating seniors.
Ella DeWolf, Jasper Hunt and Shelby Mikkelson were among 11 students nominated for the Rosemarie Martha Spitaleri and Tobin Memorial Award, which recognizes the most outstanding graduates from the 2018-19 undergraduate class.
The award is based on academic excellence and achievement, service to the university, participation and leadership in the community and campus activities, and citizenship qualities.
Jess Fahlsing, from Rock Springs, and Dylan Rust, of Green River, were the recipients of the Rosemarie Martha Spitaleri and Tobin Memorial Award. The announcement was made at the Friday, April 26, luncheon at the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center.
DeWolf is majoring in molecular biology and microbiology. Hunt is pursuing majors in psychology and philosophy and minors in neuroscience and honors. Mikkelson is majoring in criminal justice with minors in psychology and statistics.
One of the nominators for DeWolf pointed to her many talents in various fields, and in and out of the classroom.
“Her intellect, analytical ability, research prowess, athletic passion and love of the microbial world knit together in an afghan of complexity the likes of which is unmatched,” says the nominator. “She unabashedly unfolds her afghan and blankets all around her with the confidence of someone who will change the reality of tomorrow for women scientists.”
Another nominator says DeWolf has all the makings of a great student-athlete: “She has come to embody all the passion, dedication, thoughtfulness, toughness and academic focus that I have come to expect from great scholar-athletes.”
Although DeWolf did not intend skiing to become anything more than a hobby, she is glad for the experiences the UW Nordic ski team and the educational programs at UW have brought her.
“In my senior year, I shifted my focus from discovering my passions to sharing them with others,” DeWolf says. “My journey at UW has taken me to new heights, both literally with each mountain I have run and skied up, and figuratively as I have taken my love for science to another level by sharing it with others.”
According to one of Hunt’s nominators, he is not like other students, and his work ethic allows for class time to be elevated.
“He is an original,” the nominator says. “He is so exceptionally intelligent, insightful and full of curiosity! Every text we read, he had already read and had synthesized the meanings, nuances and done research. He made this class special.”
Another nominator echoed the first nominator’s sentiments on the level of curiosity and insight Hunt exhibits.
“Jasper has incredible experimental intuition like none I have ever seen,” the nominator says. “He thinks, talks and writes with unusual clarity, insight and precision.”
During his time at UW, Hunt dedicated his time to service, and is thankful to the university for allowing him to do so.
“I continue to volunteer with too many causes to count, having held leadership roles in several campus organizations,” Hunt says. “As I prepare for the next steps in my education, there are few ways in which I can describe how incredibly thankful I am for the opportunities, support and love I have received throughout my education at UW.”
Mikkelson was nominated by an individual who praises Mikkelson for the way she consistently performs well in the classroom while also caring for her daughters.
“She comes to class prepared, is willing to contribute to group discussions and, while strongly opinionated, also is willing to listen to diverse perspectives and consider issues from all viewpoints,” the nominator says. “While Shelby’s academic record in itself is impressive, her achievements become even more remarkable when you consider that she has to balance her academic responsibilities with being a mother to her two young daughters.”
Mikkelson, however, uses her daughters as motivation to continue her pursuit of academic excellence, and hopes to one day become a professor so she can have the same type of impact on students that she feels her professors have had on her academic career.
“During my time at UW, I have had the privilege of having many great professors, some of whom saw something in me I was not sure I had,” Mikkelson says. “My experiences at UW have set me up to continue being a positive role model for my daughters, and I am excited to show them that with hard work and perseverance, you can reach your goals.”