Walsh Honors Top Students with Outstanding Student and Tower of Excellence Awards


School News

Walsh University students Austin "AJ" Hanna and Dominica Rhein were honored on Sunday, March 22 with the top awards the University bestows its graduates - the Outstanding Student Award and Tower of Excellence Award.

The Outstanding Student Award, Walsh's most prestigious academic honor, is awarded to the graduating senior with a very high cumulative grade point average. This year's honoree is AJ Hanna.

During his educational career at Walsh, Hanna has earned a cumulative GPA of 4.0 while pursuing a double major in Mathematics and Education. His hard work has consistently placed him on the Walsh Dean’s List every semester. 

Hanna came to Walsh University from Wadsworth, Ohio, where he graduated Salutatorian and was inducted into the National Honor Society. He played on the tennis team, receiving a scholar athlete award, and also performed in the Show Choir where he helped choreograph Jr. and High School performances.  AJ was a Student Council Representative, as well as Senior Class Treasure/Secretary. He volunteered much of his time and talents to school and church activities, and attended his church Youth Group, where he felt blessed to go to a Catholic Heart Work Camp, serving residents in Nashville, TN.  Hanna worked all through high school at a local coffee shop while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

During his tenure at Walsh, Hanna served in the Admissions Office, organized campus tours and tutored elementary children. He was an RA and was inducted into the National Residence Hall Honorary. He was also inducted into the Math and Science Honors Society, Sigma Zeta; and the Education Honors Society, Kappa Delta Pi, where he serves as their Foundations Representative.  He is Vice President of the Education Club, and the Open House Coordinator for Campus Ambassadors.  During the summer of 2014, Hanna traveled to Uganda through the Walsh Service/Learning Program. He was also commissioned this past year as a Eucharistic Minister.

Hanna will graduate in May with a double major in Mathematics and Education and is looking forward to starting a career as a high school math teacher and utilizing his skills to make a positive impact on the young lives in his classroom.

The Tower of Excellence Award is Walsh University's most prestigious and long-standing honor that a Walsh student can attain for work and service beyond the classroom. This year's recipient, Dominica Rhein, has consistently shown the leadership and service characteristics of a Tower of Excellence recipient during her educational career at Walsh University.

Dominica graduated in December 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a dual major in English and Education, with dual minors in Theology and Communications. Rhein graduated Summa Cum Laude, earning Dean’s List Honors each semester at Walsh. 

While a student at Walsh, Rhein worked in the Brother Edmond Drouin Library as a Front Desk Associate each of her four years. In addition, she served as a Peer Minister in our Peacemaker program in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In this role, she served approximately 120 women per year in the Residence Halls, fostering a faith community.

Joining the student Campus Ministry Club beginning in her freshman year, Dominica grew into leadership positions in this organization, including Vice President during the 2012-13 academic year.  In addition, Rhein served as a core team member for the AGAPE retreats during the 2012-13 year and as the Director of that program in 2014.  Most notably, Rhein served on the Youngstown Diocesan Committee for the Theology of the Body Symposium during the 2011-2012 year

Dominica has participated in the March for Life in Washington, D.C., volunteered for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service from 2011 through 2013, and was a monthly volunteer for Project Homeless Connect in downtown Canton during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years. 

She held membership in the Sisters in Christ campus organization in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, where she served as Director during the fall 2014 semester.  Dominica also served as a monthly volunteer for the Bethany House nursing home during the 2013-2014 academic year.  In addition, Rhein holds memberships in TREK backcountry club and the Residence Hall Association.

Academic excellence earned her induction into Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honors Society, and served as their President in 2014.  Dominica received the Deshayes Merit Scholarship in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.  Her academic achievement and commitment to service earned Dominica the Brother Charles St. James Endowed Scholarship in 2014; the Brother Theodore Letendre scholarship for involvement in campus ministry in 2014; the Brother Francis Blouin alumni scholarship for campus leadership in 2014 and the Perrico Award for Best Creative Writer in 2014.   Rhein received the Silver Student Service award in 2012 and 2013 and the Gold Servant Leader award in 2014 and 2015.

Dominica Rhein joined the staff of Walsh University full-time in January 2015 as a Campus Minister/Residence Life Outreach.