Incoming UM Students Earn 2023 Presidential Leadership Scholarships

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 are:

British Columbia, Canada

A picture of Thomas McivorThomas McIvor of Merritt, British Columbia, is passionate about Native American studies, and his career goal is to become a lawyer to fight for the rights of Indigenous people. He was born into the Nlaka’pamux tribe. McIvor started his own photography business and enjoys volleyball, being outdoors, hiking, camping, backpacking, kayaking and collecting rare Indigenous books.






A picture of Dylan Van RossumDylan Van Rossum of Los Angeles will study psychology at UM. She loves to bake, play volleyball and spend time with friends and family. In high school, she played volleyball and was the lead peer counselor in her school’s therapy and wellness center, which sparked her desire to become a therapist. She describes herself as a “city girl” but believes that “her heart belongs in nature.”






A picture of Aida KerzeeAida Kerzee is from Littleton, Colorado. She will study art education at UM. Kerzee, who has learned four languages, has interned at an outdoor education school, participated in a Bagging for Homelessness service project, and was vice president of her school’s National Art Honors Society. Kerzee believes “… everyone deserves a little kindness and compassion – even ourselves.”





A picture of Grazia NovakGrazia Novak of Berthoud, Colorado, will study dance and enroll in UM’s pre-law program at UM. In high school, she was involved in student council, National Honor Society and Sources of Strength. She was also the chair of the Berthoud Youth Advisory Commission. She hopes to one day be a lawyer while continuing to pursue her passions for dance, positively impacting her community and making our world a better place.






A picture of Perrin PenningtonPerrin Pennington of Athens, Georgia, plans to study business at UM. Pennington spends much of her time with a soccer ball at her feet and is “beyond excited” to represent the Griz on the soccer field next year. When she’s not on the field or in the classroom, she is passionate about making a difference in her community. She has been an active volunteer for Books for Keeps, an organization that collects books for children to help foster a love of reading and prevent summer slide. She also organizes a yearly school supply drive and Christmas gift event for 300 children in need in her hometown. Pennington served as a representative to the Girls Academy League Advisory Panel, an elected position tasked to provide a voice to league players nationwide. In her free time, she loves to ski and is always up for an adventure. She can’t wait to explore the beautiful mountains of Montana.



A picture of Kaden LeverenzKaden Leverenz of Mount Vernon, Indiana, will major in terrestrial wildlife biology, with an interest in ornithology. She will be on the Griz track and cross-country team at UM. In addition to wildlife biology, she is interested in policymaking and the Spanish language. When she is not training, Leverenz is an “absolute bird nerd” and loves the outdoors. UM has been her dream school for many years because of its world-class wildlife biology program.





A picture of Elsie FlemingElsie Fleming of Paola, Kansas, is interested in natural history and studio art and illustration. She has volunteered at a local wildlife refuge and food bank. She is passionate about science and art, and she looks forward to bringing her passion for learning and appreciation of the rich diversity of people and the environment to UM. Fleming attended the DHC’s Schwanke Honors Institute in 2022.





A picture of Isabella TarasovaIsabella Tarasova of Covington, Louisiana, is interested in exploring opportunities in biology, creative writing and entrepreneurship at UM. She is enthusiastic about learning in all aspects of her life and strives to explore the world and approach life with curiosity and humility. She currently is working on a horror novel with the supervision of her English instructor, has studied classical voice and has conducted two projects that received recognition at the Louisiana State Science Fair. She will attend the DHC’s Kermit and Kathleen Schwanke Honors Institute this summer.





A picture of Grace ChenGrace Chen of North Potomac, Maryland, will study terrestrial wildlife biology at UM. Chen loves animals, birding, hiking – pretty much anything to do with the great outdoors. For Chen, UM is the perfect fit, with its breathtaking campus nestled right in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and globally acclaimed W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation. Chen completed the Advanced Global Research Internship Program studying the biology and ecology of the gray wolf. She will attend DHC’s Kermit and Kathleen Schwanke Honors Institute this summer.





This is a picture of Aiden AgostinelliAiden 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.




A picture of Isabel BeasleyIsabel 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.




A picture of Susan ConnellySusan 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.





A picture of Emaurice Flat LipEmaurice Flat Lip of St. Ignatius is interested in a career in medicine. Flat 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, Flat Lip hopes to become a traveling pediatric dentist and to work on the teeth of Native children across many reservations.




A picture of Selah FredricksonSelah 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.




A picture of Olivia GertzOlivia “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.



A picture of Cadence HattenCadence 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.




A picture of Maya KowskiMaya 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.




A picture of Nelia LyngholmNelia 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.





A picture of Ephraim MortensonEphraim 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.




A picture of Ella RowlandElla 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.



A picture of Broderick SmithBroderick 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. 





A picture of Julio StierJulio 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.




A picture of Sylvie TowerSylvie 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.




A picture of Rylin WildeRylin 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.





A picture of Ronnie AvansinoRonnie Avansino of Reno, Nevada, is interested in musical theatre and psychology. Avansino is an aspiring theater educator. She is involved with both the technical and performing sides of musical theater. Outside of performing arts, she has a second-degree black belt in mixed martial arts and a job teaching younger children martial arts. She can do a 15-second handstand, and, with musicals and sports, has won a “most team spirit” award five different times.





A picture of Amelia BohacAmelia Bohac of Bay Village, Ohio, is interested in biology with a pre-veterinary focus. She has cultivated her passion for animals and conservation through her volunteer work at the Cleveland Zoo. In Bay Village, she has been involved in Key Club and with the Fairytale Foundation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, making friendship bracelets and spending time with friends and family. If given the opportunity, she would “drop everything” to join the Star Wars universe.





A picture of Bodhi Tripathi
Bodhi Tripathi of Austin, Texas, will study wildlife biology at UM. Through time spent recreating outdoors, he developed a passion for understanding and preserving wild places. As a lifelong athlete, Tripathi advanced to regionals in varsity cross country and captained his Ultimate Frisbee team. Tripathi completed the Semester in the Rockies with the National Outdoor Leadership School. He is also an avid musician, mechanic and ski instructor.




A picture of William WheelerWilliam Wheeler of Austin, Texas, is interested in biology with a pre-medical focus. In addition to his academic interests, he loves to swim and was on varsity swim and captain of the water polo team. He has played the saxophone since sixth grade and is in his second year of piano instruction. He was involved in the Peer Assistance Leadership and Service program, which focuses on giving back to the community through various programs such as mentoring elementary school students each week and organizing school events and fundraisers. He received Academic All-American distinction from USA Water Polo.





A picture of Charlotte-Anne BoyerCharlotte-Anne Boyer of Lacey, Washington, is interested in biology, microbiology or neuroscience, with a pre-medical focus. She is president of the National Honors Society, captain of the girls’ cross-country team and a varsity track athlete. She has a second-degree black belt in taekwondo. Boyer helps her community by volunteering to clean up the local parks. Her hobbies are CrossFit, hiking, crocheting, reading and baking.




A picture of LiliAnn DenhamLiliAnn Denham of Clarkston, Washington, will study exercise physiology or forestry at UM. Denham is an avid athlete and enjoys being outdoors, whether that is fishing, hunting or hiking. She was her high school’s student body treasurer, is a long-distance runner and volunteers at a local adult family home.






A picture of Madison OdenbachMadison Odenbach of West Salem, Wisconsin, will study wildlife biology at UM. She has studied at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, fulfilling general education credits while completing high school. She is the president of Ecology Club, president of Barre Badgers 4H, and secretary of National Honor Society. Madison is also a delegate in the DNR-run Wisconsin Youth Conservation Congress and is currently working on writing an environmental policy with the Wisconsin Conservation Leadership Corps. When not in class or studying, you can usually find her volunteering at the West Salem Outdoor Education Center, hiking through the bluffs, or looking for her next goal to accomplish.





A picture of Vivianne OstheimerVivianne Ostheimer of Buffalo, Wyoming, will pursue degrees in journalism and environmental science and sustainability at UM. She dreams of seeing the world and writing about complex environmental issues in ways that the public can understand and care about. Ostheimer wants to be a problem solver and has started by facilitating a recycling collection program at community events and creating a social media platform for her local recycling center to help them connect with the community. At Buffalo High School she was president of Students Against Violating the Earth, vice president of the Student Council, alto section leader in the Select Choir, editor for the school newspaper, actress in the theater company, a Future Business Leaders of America officer and a three-sport varsity athlete. She is passionate about the outdoors, health and fitness, community service and the performing arts.




Contact: Tim Nichols, UM Davidson Honors College dean, 406-243-2534,; Kaetlyn Cordingley, DHC assistant dean, 406-243-2579,