“With both the Outstanding Senior award and the Order of Augusta, we recognize and celebrate some extraordinary young people,” said Provost Joyce McConnell. “These students come from different backgrounds and disciplines and they are heading in many directions when they leave WVU, but they are all poised to do great things and to show the world that Mountaineers can do.”
Leonor Elisa Cortez Rodriguez, from Barquisimeto, Venezuela, will graduate with a degree in graphic design and minors in art history and Italian studies. She is a former member of the WVU Equestrian Team and has trained extensively with some of Spain’s leading dance teachers and performers.
Rodriguez is an accomplished dancer and teacher in the Spanish dance, flamenco; and since 2014, she has served as an instructor for the World Dance 251 course in the School of Theatre and Dance.
WVU faculty tapped into her experience and expertise by inviting her to help choreograph the opera production of Bizet’s “Carmen,” known as one of the most beloved operas in the world. She has also performed as a singer and dancer in the musicals “Cabaret” and “Kiss Me, Kate.”
Rodriguez has spent two summers working as a graphic design intern; in 2015, she worked at PROA International in Miami, Florida; and in 2016, she traveled to Madrid, Spain to work at the prestigious design studio Interiorismo Label.
In early 2016, she served as an intern with the WVU Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and later that year, she interned with Lozzi Publishing in Rome, Italy, while studying at Richmond University, the American International University in Florence and Rome.
She has volunteered her time as a translator for a bilingual web design project in El Salvador, and she is currently working with the startup business Omniclipz, an innovator who has worked to revise the insulin pump clip to help improve patients’ diabetes management and overall quality of life.
Rodriguez is the recipient of the International Student Merit Scholarship, and has learned to speak Italian while completing her undergraduate degree.
“The cultural diversity at WVU has taught me to value each opportunity of learning and to make the most of each academic experience,” said Rodriguez. “I am forever grateful for my instructors who have inspired me to fulfil my artistic and professional dreams I never thought possible.”
She plans to move to Madrid in September where she has two job offers to work as a graphic designer.
“I could not be more proud of the outstanding accomplishments of our students selected for the Order of the Augusta,” said WVU Dean of Students Corey Farris. “These truly are WVU’s brightest and best.”
The Order of Augusta further recognizes the students’ superior scholarship, demonstrated leadership and record of community and public service. The award is named for its historical significance in the state. Augusta was among the original names considered by the Legislature when the state seceded from Virginia in 1863.