2021 Tower of Excellence Award Finalists Announced

The TOWER of Excellence Award is the most prestigious non-academic award given at Walsh University.  It is presented to the senior who had during his/her Walsh years displayed outstanding leadership qualities, exemplary interest in co-curricular and extracurricular work, and social and moral behavior that fulfills the mission of Walsh University. Carefully screened by the University according to these strict criteria, the TOWER of Excellence laureate reflects the core values of:  

Talented Leadership (Demonstration of Leadership Activities and Qualities) 
Outstanding Service to the Campus and Community 
Walsh Commitment 
Ethical, personal and spiritual integrity (character) 
Responsible extra-curricular distinction   

Congratulations to our 2021 TOWER Finalists:  

  • Daniel Gil 
  • Karen Klatt 
  • Alan (AJ) Miller 
  • Madison Markus 
  • Varney Pelima



Daniel Gil 

A career-ending football injury led Daniel Gil to transfer to Walsh University his freshman year. Daniel made the move from California to Ohio, and hasn’t looked back. Daniel is expected to graduate from Walsh in May 2021 with a degree in Exercise Science and minors in Sociology and Forensic Science. Daniel is currently in the last recruitment stage for a position as a Police Officer in San Jose, California. 

Once at Walsh, Daniel immediately became involved with Special Olympics, representing the Campus Ministry team in a basketball tournament. That experience inspired Daniel to seek additional ways in which he could learn and grow in his own Catholic faith while also ministering to his peers. He pursued leadership roles with Campus Ministry Club, serving as both Treasurer (2018-2019) and President (2019-2020); March for Life Group Leader (2018-2020); Virtual Rosary Leadership Team (2020); Agape Administration Team (2019) and Agape Director (2020). 

In addition, Daniel has remained active on campus through membership in organizations such as The Brotherhood, Cavs for Life, Cavs Crew, Hoover Hop, Cavathon, Mennaisian Family and the Cav Bash. He also participated in enrichment opportunities including 40 Days for Life, Joy in the Journey Bible Study and the Veritas retreat team. 

During his time at Walsh, Daniel sought opportunities for service locally and beyond. As a member of Matthew 8:20, a ministry of Little Flower Catholic Parish, he helped feed and provide clothing for the Stark County homeless on Friday nights. He also volunteered with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank’s Operation Orange and participated in two mission trips to Nazareth Farm in Salem, West Virginia. 

“Looking back, I realize that God had always planned for me to be here at Walsh University and grow into the man He calls me to be. I thank all of these amazing service opportunities for their impact in allowing me to discern and find what it is that I wanted to do after college.”



Karen Klatt 

Karen Klatt will graduate from Walsh University in May 2021 with degrees in Art History, Education (High School English Grades 7-12) and English, as well as a minor in Studio Art. Following graduation, she will pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Art History at Kent State University, where she has accepted a Graduate Teaching Assistant position for fall 2021. 

As a member of the Honors Program, Karen authored a Senior Honors Thesis focused on the representation of historical female arts in Ohio high school visual arts classrooms and has had research accepted into the 2020 National Collegiate Honors Competition. She also served as the Freshman Honors Class Representative and interviewed on a panel of professors for Honors Interview Day. 

Many of Karen’s extracurricular activities on campus related to her passion for art and her deep Christian faith. In her role as Art Club President (2018-2021), she established two annual campus events, pioneered a partnership between the Art Club and the Christmas Tree Festival at Akron Children’s Hospital, and hosted two guided painting events for veterans and their families at Pegasus Farms and for geriatric patients at Windsor Medical Center. Karen also served as an Agape Retreat Leader (2018-2020). In addition, she was a Tutor Mentor in the Academic Support Center (2018-2020), Editor-in-Chief of The Spectator (2019-2020) and is a Lead Ambassador for Walsh’s International Ambassador Program. 

Karen’s faith, leadership and service extend beyond the Walsh campus. In May 2019, she traveled to Italy, Bosnia and France through the President’s Pilgrimage. During her senior year, she completed field experiences at Louisville High School and the Canton Museum of Art. Karen also is active in the community, lending her talents as a volunteer with Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank’s Operation Orange (2017), an Elementary After-School Art Teacher (2017), an Adult Painting Instructor (2018-2019), a STEM Summer Program Teacher (2020) and through service at First Christian Church Special Needs Ministries (2018-2019) and Matthew 8:20 Food and Clothing Ministry (2019). 

“As a result of the God-honoring atmosphere at Walsh University, I have grown into a young woman of character and integrity. My faith in Jesus Christ is the first and foremost priority in my life, and thus, I strive to honor Him with my God-given talents and opportunities.”



Madison Markus 

After graduating as a member of the Honors Program in May 2021 with a degree in Behavioral Science, Madison Markus plans to remain at Walsh University where she will continue working toward a master’s degree in Counseling and Human Development, with the ultimate goal of becoming a school counselor. 

Much of Madison’s work and internship experience has prepared her for this role. Examples include Instructor at Inspire Performing Arts Center (2017-2018), Telecounselor and Tour Guide at Walsh University (2017-2019), Assistant Cheerleading Coach at Northwest High School (2018-2020), Resident Assistant (2018-2021) and Guidance Counseling Intern at Northwest Local Schools (2021). In addition, Madison serves as a Sacristan for Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel and a Walsh University Admissions Representative. 

Among her academic honors, Madison is the recipient of the Walsh University Woman of Distinction Award (2019), New RA of the Year Award (2019) and Residence Life Director’s Award (2020). She was also inducted into the Psi Chi International Honor Society of Psychology in 2019 and named Walsh University Founders’ Festival Royalty in 2020.

In addition, Madison served as Morale Captain for the Walsh University Dance Marathon (2017-2019), a Maroon and Gold Mentor (2018-2019) and a Resident Assistant Mentor (2019-2021). She also participated in the WU Resident Assistant Advisory Board (2018-2020), Agape Retreat Leadership Team (2018, 2020), the Mennaisian Family Core Team, and is a two time Walsh University Intramural Champion. 

Beyond her academic and extracurricular activities, Madison is also active within the Walsh University and surrounding communities. Her service experience includes work with Cavs in the Community Day (2017), Operation Orange at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank (2017-2018), Brothers of Christian Instruction Service Experience in Maine (2019), St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Community Kitchen (2018, 2020), Cav Bash (2020) and Matthew 8:20 Food and Clothing Ministry at Little Flower Catholic Parish (2020). 

“Serving others does not have to be done in extreme ways—I believe it can be done by offering a smile to those you pass while walking to class, or by creating a conversation with someone who feels alone. This is what the Brothers encompass as they strive to serve those around them. Their small gestures of love show the face of God in every encounter. This is how I strive to serve others, as well.”


Alan Miller 

Alan (AJ) Miller will graduate from Walsh University in May 2021 with a degree in Biology – Pre-Physical Therapy and a minor in Government and Foreign Affairs/International Relations. After graduation, AJ will continue his education at Walsh as a direct admit into the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. 

As an undergraduate student, AJ has exhibited his leadership abilities in a variety of ways. He led the trumpet section for Walsh Bands (2018-2019), served on the Agape Retreat leadership team (2019-2020), managed the David Center reception desk (2018-2021), worked as a Student Outreach Coordinator in the Career Center (2019-2020), co-founded two Bible studies, and has supported Walsh students as a Resident Assistant since spring 2019. 

In addition to his leadership roles, AJ has also contributed as a member of numerous campus organizations including Pre-Physical Therapy Club (2017-2020), Ignite Praise and Worship (2018-2019), Stations of the Cross (2019-2020), Mennaisian Family (2019-2020), March for Life (2020), Peace Corp Prep Program (2018-2021), Student Conduct Board (2018-2021) and the Honorary Degree and Commencement Committee Board (2018-2020). 

In 2019, AJ participated in two Global Learning experiences through Walsh. In March, he traveled to Mexico as part of the university’s Comparative Healthcare Experience, and in May he embarked on the President’s Pilgrimage in Europe. Also in 2019, AJ presented his publication from Columbia University’s Journal of Global Health at Walsh’s All Politics is Local Conference.  

Inspired by Walsh’s founders, the Brothers of Christian Instruction, AJ has committed much of his time to community service, helping organizations such as Central American Medical Outreach (2016-2018), Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank (2017-2018), Disability Ministry at First Christian Church (2018-2019), Matthew 8:20 Ministry (2019) and Pegasus Farm (2019-2020), as well as a service trip to Nazareth Farm in West Virginia (2020). 

“As I graduate from Walsh and begin a new journey, the mission of the Brothers will always be imprinted on my heart. The Brothers dedicated their livelihoods to exemplifying the love of Christ to all. As a physical therapist, it is my goal to facilitate not only physical healing, but spiritual as well. Luckily, I am blessed by the example and leadership of the Brothers to carry me throughout my mission.” 


Varney Pelima 

A member of the Walsh University Honors Program, Varney Pelima is expected to graduate in May 2021 with a degree in Exercise Science – Pre-Physical Therapy and a minor in Psychology. 

In addition to his academic honors on the Dean’s List and President’s List, Varney is a standout Track & Field student-athlete who has earned 2018 Outdoor All-Conference Third Team, 2018 Indoor All-Conference Third Team and 2019 Outdoor All-Conference Second Team.

During his time at Walsh, Varney has gained experience in numerous departments across campus. These include volunteering with the Office of Multicultural Affairs (2017-2021), working in the Office of Admissions as a Cavalier Guide (2018-2021) and serving as a Group Exercise Intern in the Office of University Wellness. Additional extracurricular activities include Physical Therapy Club, Black Student Union and Walsh Physical Therapy Fellow. Varney has also worked off campus mentoring high school students and performing administrative duties at Stark State College (2019) and Beyond Expectation Barber College (2015-2021). 

An active community volunteer, Varney has sought service opportunities including Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank’s Operation Orange (2017-2018), MLK Day of Service (2017-2018), Cavs in the Community Day (2017), Parkside Church Green Basketball Camp (2018), Delay the Disease (2019) and Cav Bash (2019). 

“What I have learned from all these experiences is that a community flourishes when there are those willing to selflessly serve it and that those servants are the true leaders in the community. Walsh has established an environment that creates service-minded leaders, and this is something I appreciated because I feel that the best leaders are the ones that look to serve instead of looking to be served.”