University News – March 27

North senior candidate for scholars program

Columbus North High School senior Ujwala Pamidim-ukkala recently was selected as a candidate for the 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

The program was established in 1964, by executive order of the president, to recognize and honor some of the most distinguished graduating high school seniors in the nation. It has been extended twice, once in 1979 to recognize students with talent in visual, creative and performing arts; and again in 2015 to include students with accomplishments in career and technical education fields.

Pamidimukkala, the son of Sateesh and Suryakala Pamidimukkala, was chosen based on academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, character and community and school involvement, according to a news release. Pamidimukkala joins more than 4,000 other candidates selected from nearly 3.5 million graduating high school seniors.

Submissions will be reviewed and 800 semifinalists will be selected in early April. The Commission of Presidential Scholars will select finalists. The 161 winning scholars will be announced by the U.S. Department of Education in May.

All scholars will be invited to Washington, D.C., in June for the National Recognition Program and will receive their Presidential Scholars Medallion during a White House-sponsored ceremony.

Area resident named presidential intern at IU

Columbus resident Kaitlynn Milvert is among five Indiana University students to be appointed as this year’s IU presidential interns.

Milvert is a sophomore majoring in Spanish and English. She began her internship earlier this month. She will work with two other students and IU President Michael McRobbie on a research project on the ancient origins of the modern university.

“I am incredibly excited about this opportunity to contribute to such a wide-ranging historical research project,” Milvert said. “It goes beyond researching ancient civilizations in its attempt to understand the tradition of the university in a new, more expansive context.”

Milvert is a Wells Scholar, an opinion columnist for the Indiana Daily Student and a member of the humanities editorial board for the IU Journal of Undergraduate Research. She also serves as treasurer for Grupo de Teatro VIDA, a Spanish- and Portuguese-language theater group, and a member of the Awareness, Advocacy and Accessibility on Campus group.

The presidential internship, established in 2009, is designed to provide high-achieving IU students the opportunity to gain valuable leadership skills and experience while working on important issues for IU.

Resident initiated into Phi Kappa Phi society

Joni Montgomery, Columbus, was recently initiated into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi at the University of Findlay in Ohio.

Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest and most selective all-discipline collegiate honor society. Membership is by invitation only and requires nomination and approval by a chapter. Its mission is “to recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others.”

Montgomery is among 30,000 others to be initiated into Phi Kappa Phi this year.

Jennings resident earns foundation scholarship

Jennings County resident Jackson Shepherd was among 18 Indiana students serving in public safety organizations who will receive a scholarship from the Indiana Homeland Security Foundation to supplement their 2016-17 college education.

Each student attends an Indiana college and has volunteer experience at a public safety organization. All students were required to have a grade point average of 2.8 or higher on a 4.0 scale.

Shepherd will receive a $2,000 award. He currently studies criminal justice and computer science at Franklin College. After finishing his degree, he hopes to work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or the U.S. Marshals Service.

East grad on first-place team in Goldberg contest

Former Columbus East student Jacob Villiger participated in and led his team to a first-place win in the Rube Goldberg 2017 Machine Contest (RGMC) on Feb. 18 at Purdue University.

The RGMC is an international competition named after cartoonist, sculptor and author Rube Goldberg, who was best known for his inventions. The competition challenges students from middle school to college age to build a hilarious and elaborate Rube Goldberg Machine, according to the RGMC website. A Rube Goldberg Machine is described as “an overly complex contraption, designed with humor and a narrative, to accomplish a simple task.”

This year’s simple task was how to apply a Band-Aid. The catch: Teams had to use 25 to 75 steps in two minutes.

Villiger, a junior at Purdue and member of the Purdue American Society of Mechanical Engineers, was co-captain of his team. The team explained 57 steps within the determined amount of time with a set that included a small microwave, tea kettle, picture on a wall, rolling pin and other kitchen items. They earned first place in the college division.

The Purdue team qualified for the national competition in late March in Columbus, Ohio.

Villiger’s parents, Dan and Jennifer, of Columbus; brother, Aaron Villiger, of Columbus; and his grandparents, Don and Patsy Harris of Hope, attended the event.

Students graduate from Western Governors

The following Columbus residents received degrees from Western Governors University on Feb. 11:

Malissa Retz, Master of Science in nursing — leadership and management

Jill McCain, Bachelor of Science in nursing

Melissa Streeval, post-baccalaureate teacher preparation in elementary education (K-8)

University of Wyoming fall dean’s list announced

Samuel Darey Loescher, of Columbus, earned a spot on the fall 2016 dean’s list at the University of Wyoming.

To be eligible, students must have been enrolled for a minimum of 12 credit hours taken for letter grades. Undergraduates above freshman standing must earn a 3.4 or better grade-point average, and freshmen must earn a 3.25 or better grade-point average.

Scholars make Olivet Nazarene fall dean’s list

Cody Hempstead and Shelby Stamper, both of Columbus, were named to the 2016 fall semester dean’s list at Olivet Nazarene University. Both earned at least a 3.5 grade-point average in order to make the list.

Student named to Northern Illinois dean’s list

William Anderson, Columbus, earned a spot on Northern Illinois University’s fall 2016 dean’s list. Anderson is enrolled in the College of Business at the university.

To earn this distinction, students must meet a minimum semester grade point average of 3.75 on a 4.0 scale in the college of business.

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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at or 812-379-5633.