McConnell Scholars graduate with top awards

(May 8, 2020) By GlyptusAnn Grider Jones
McConnell Scholars graduate with top awards

While their final semester at the University of Louisville turned out much differently than anyone could have anticipated, the McConnell Scholar Class of 2020 ended their undergraduate experience by winning top university and national awards.

“What memories I have of each of you,” McConnell Center Director Gary Gregg said. “This class has excelled in their leadership positions on campus, in their travels abroad and their ability to win national and competitive awards. I know they will continue to excel as they head into their next adventures."

Due to the coronavirus, university classes transitioned online earlier this semester, and graduation ceremonies, including the center's annual celebrations, have been postponed.

This graduating class marks the 25th in the center's history. Notable highlights for each graduating Scholar include:

  • Eric Bush, of Louisville, Ky., was named the Most Outstanding Finance Graduate at UofL. He also earned the political science department's O’Sullivan Award and the Best College Thesis Project in Social Sciences award. He served as the chair of the McConnell Scholars Program.
  • Evan Clark, of Owensboro, Ky., won a Fulbright English Teaching Scholarship (Spain) and Critical Language Scholarship (Russia). He won several departmental awards, including being named Outstanding Senior in Liberal Studies, the Tachau Award for Excellence in History and the Department of Classical and Modern Languages Award for Excellence. He served in numerous leadership positions on campus, including president of the UofL chapter of the United Nations Association and the Spanish Club.
  • Celia Cusick, of Elizabethtown, Ky., won a Boren Scholarship (Croatia) and the Barber Award for Academic Excellence in Philosophy. Among her undergraduate activities included serving as an intern with a US House of Representatives Committee, working for U.S. Representative John Yarmuth and organizing with the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.
  • Garrett Kasey, of Elizabethtown, Ky., will pursue an MBA in the fall. As an undergraduate at UofL, he was elected a College of Business Senator and served as a McConnell Center Young Leaders Academy Counselor and intern with the Center's Military Education efforts.
  • Dasha Kolyaskina, of Lexington, Ky., won the Woodcock Medal for the Outstanding UofL Arts & Sciences Graduate; Outstanding Economics Graduate; Strickler Award for Leadership in Economics; political science department's O’Sullivan Award; and was ranked #7 as a National Moot Court Orator.
  • Jasper Noble, of Fort Thomas, Ky., served as UofL Student Government Association President and was ranked #6 as a National Moot Court Orator. He was won the Henry Clay Internship for Public Policy, spending a summer interning for Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.
  • Jared Thomas, of Cynthiana, Ky., won a Fulbright English Teaching Scholarship (Malaysia). As an undergraduate, he served as the national president of the Campus YMCA, on the UofL Arts & Sciences Student Council and as editor of White Squirrel

During the course of four years, these Scholars traveled to the People’s Republic of China, took part in behind-the-scenes tours of Washington, DC, and participated in annual leadership retreats around the Commonwealth.

Students met with several national political leaders through the center's Distinguished Speaker Series, including U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer; Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch; CIA Director Gina Haspel; U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo; U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper; U.S. Senator Tim Kaine; and two ambassadors to the U.S.

The McConnell Scholarship is considered among the university’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships.