MISSOULA – The Davidson Honors College at the University of Montana recently announced recipients of the 2023 Presidential Leadership Scholarship, the University’s most prestigious academic recognition for incoming students.

The 32 Presidential Leadership Scholars were chosen from a competitive pool of more than 800 applicants from across North America and represent the pinnacle of academic excellence, leadership and service to the community.

The scholars will enroll in UM’s Davidson Honors College alongside their chosen undergraduate disciplines. At UM, they will contribute to interdisciplinary scholarly and creative innovation, garner personal and professional development opportunities, and enhance their leadership skills.

“These scholars chose to attend the University of Montana because of the institution’s academic reputation and the enhanced opportunities and support offered through our engaging honors community,” said Tim Nichols, DHC dean. “We are thrilled to welcome these leaders to Missoula and UM, where they will learn, grow and make meaningful progress toward their career and life goals. They will be well-positioned for future success and will strengthen UM’s vibrant campus community.”

The Presidential Leadership Scholarship is a four-year scholarship for incoming UM students. Students’ applications and interviews are reviewed by a committee of honors faculty, students, alumni and campus partners. Student recipients are recognized for their meritorious academic achievements, demonstrated leadership skills and professional potential.

“This fall’s diverse and dynamic class of Presidential Leadership Scholars includes future scientists, physicians, journalists, lawyers, educators, business leaders and performing artists,” Nichols said. “They are valedictorians and varsity athletes, student council officers and all-state musicians. They are advocates for diversity, the environment and social justice. They already have and will continue to make a difference in their communities.”

The Presidential Leadership Scholars will enroll at UM in the fall and represent 15 states, including 15 from Montana. The 2023 UM Presidential Leadership Scholars from Montana are:

Susan Connelly 
of Browning will study microbiology at UM. Her Blackfeet name is “Holy Beaver Woman.” She is student body president and a member of the National Honor Society at her high school. She has been involved in volleyball, basketball and softball throughout high school. In her spare time, she likes to hike, read, sew and cook

Aiden Agostinelli of Missoula will study physics with a focus on astronomy and astrophysics. Agostinelli loves math and science and also is passionate about the arts as an avid theater performer in the community. He has a background in environmental activism and hopes to continue this work throughout college. He attended UM’s SEA Change summer camp and was the tenor section leader of his high school’s audition choir. Agostinelli aspires to become a university professor.

Isabel Beasley of Helena is interested in studying psychology. She is the student body president and Key Club President at Capital High School. Beasley is also the head choir officer and was selected as a member of the 2022 Montana All-State Chorale. Most often you'll find her with a book full of poetry in one hand and a hot cup of coffee in the other, or snowboarding. When she’s not planning school assemblies and dances, she enjoys working part time at Starbucks and volunteering with Key Club.

Emaurice Flat Lip of St. Ignatius is interested in a career in medicine. Fat Lip is a member of the Crow Tribe and is also Salish. She loves to draw and make art in her free time. Dancing at powwows is also one of her favorite things to do. Last summer, she was crowned Miss Salish Pend d' Orielle, and she has represented the Arlee powwow celebration and the Salish people. After medical school, Fat Lip hopes to become a traveling pediatric dentist and to work on the teeth of Native children across many reservations.

Selah Frederickson is from Helena. She will study sociology at UM in hopes of pursuing a legal career focused on educational policy. Frederickson has studied ballet with a premiere dance academy, plays bass, sings, has participated in Academic World Quest and is in the National Honor Society. She participated in Stanford University’s Summer Session and believes her “unending thirst for new information” exemplifies a “perfect match” with the Davidson Honors College.

Olivia “Liv” Gertz, who currently lives in Japan, will major in pre-law and environmental science at UM. They have lived in six different countries but always came back to Montana for the summers. They are passionate about human and animal rights, the environment and the rights of marginalized communities. A committed vegan, Gertz has been working with children during their gap year, as a surfing and snorkeling instructor, and as a teacher for the Marine Corps School-Age program in Okinawa. Gertz is a certified rescue scuba diver and loves hiking, alternative music and fashion, as well as all things ocean.

Cadence Hatten of Helena is interested in studying communicative sciences and disorders at UM. She is passionate about public education and served as the student representative for the Helena Education Foundation. Hatten was captain of her high school’s cross-country team and has been an advocate and helper for children with disabilities. She enjoys ceramics, music, running, challenging herself and spending meaningful time with family and friends.

Maya Kowski of Gardiner and is interested in environmental sciences and studies, as well as resource conservation and mathematics. She grew up on the edge of Yellowstone National Park. Kowski was involved in student government, volleyball, speech and drama throughout high school. Her experiences in and around Yellowstone have informed her interests in conservation and the environment. She enjoys hiking, camping, backpacking, skiing and all things outdoors.

Nelia Lyngholm of Kalispell is interested in political science, international relations, art and business. She grew up exploring Glacier National Park and the Flathead Valley and is passionate about learning and creating art through ceramics and theater. She was Montana Youth Action president, captain of her speech and debate team and a National Honor Society officer.

Ephraim Mortenson of Bozeman is interested in the medical field, including emergency, outdoor and search-and-rescue medicine, as well as neuroscience. He’s been involved in the Special Olympics, varsity basketball and student council, serving as senior class vice president. He loves the outdoors and often can be found skiing, biking, mountaineering, hiking, fly-fishing, climbing or playing basketball. Mortenson has been a bassist in orchestra and a tenor in choir. He hopes to keep music as an important part of his life.

Ella Rowland of Helena is interested in pursuing a degree in the arts. She grew up in Montana and Maryland. She participated in National Honor Society, varsity cheerleading and student council and was president of the French Club. She is interested in scientific and medical illustration, which would allow her to combine her love for drawing with her interests in biology and the human body, with the ultimate goal of improving scientific literacy. She started her own business selling her artwork using insight she gained from her job at a downtown consignment store and from volunteering at the Holter Art Museum. Rowland plans to further develop her French language skills while studying abroad in order to form connections with creative individuals across the world.

Broderick Smith of Bozeman is interested in English, political science, and pre-law. Smith grew up in Laramie, Wyoming, and Parker, Colorado, before moving to Montana before his senior year. He was varsity tennis captain and first chair oboist in the orchestra, and is “incredibly excited” to make a positive impact in on Missoula and beyond.

Julio Stier of Missoula is interested in learning more about his many interests, including, psychology, physics, computer science, art, film and statistics. While in high school, Stier helped organize a soccer tournament for World Refugee Day. He enjoys playing soccer, hiking, biking, reading about scientific subjects and trying new things, and he describes himself as a “deeply curious” person who loves to learn.

Sylvie Tower is a graduate of Missoula’s Sentinel High School and will pursue pre-medical sciences at UM. She participated in UM’s SEA Change Initiative Summer Camp and has mentored middle school students. She’s also on EmPower Montana’s Youth Advisory Council. Originally from Ethiopia, Tower describes herself as a “proud Gryffindor” who enjoys a good book and “being a goofball with her dogs.” Her work with a school mural project allowed her to combine her love of art making with interest in understanding her own and other cultures.

Rylin Wilde of Kalispell is interested in political science, international relations, history, art, music, environmental sciences and languages. Wilde was drum major for his high school marching band, president of Interact and founded Flathead Valley Youth for Change. While he explores possible majors, Wilde wants to keep asking questions, exploring nature and making the world a better place. He is driven by a love of learning and an openness to new information and experiences.

- MSU News Service -



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