STUDENTS OF THE YEAR 2012: Portraits of the peerless

Illustration by Nolan Loh
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BY THE DAILY STAFF

Published March 20, 2012

More than 40,000 students attend the University and they all stake claim to the epithet “the leaders and the best.” How could you whittle the “champions of the west” down to just 11 Students of the Year featured in 10 articles? With plenty of viable choices, it wasn't easy.

Nominees were gathered via e-mail submissions and suggestions from Michigan Daily staff members. The resulting pool of nominees was difficult to cut down to just a handful of finalists. That said, we're confident our selection is a representative sample of the best the University has to offer.

The students profiled include star athletes, an actress starring on Broadway and an engineer building equipment to shoot into the stars. Their achievements are made more impressive when you consider that they take classes, deal with relationship drama and juggle social lives.

For those profiled who are not seniors, we can expect more great things in years to come. For those leaving the University this year, we get to throw in our lot with the legacy they leave behind. And for those not tossing their graduation caps in the air this spring, you could land on these pages next year.


Shawn Hunwick: The End of a Fairytale

Meet LSA senior Shawn Hunwick, the most unlikely star goaltender in Michigan hockey history.


Nick Lemmer: The Sweet Spot

Nick Lemmer sits at a small metal table inside Iorio’s Gelateria working on his laptop as customers at an adjacent table chat over two small cups of gelato. Lemmer, with his stained shirt and scraggly beard, looks just like another customer.


Taylor Louderman: To Broadway and Back

With blonde hair and bright blue eyes, Taylor Louderman looks like your stereotypical high school cheerleader, but she hadn't ever cheered until she landed a starring role in Bring It On: The Musical.


Fitzgerald Toussaint: The Frontrunning Tailback

Michigan football coach Brady Hoke's arrival last year brought the return of the pro-style offense to Michigan football. With this return came the re-emergence of the traditional Michigan tailback.

That tailback was redshirt LSA junior Fitzgerald Toussaint.


Emily Pittinos: Spinning Yarns

While most students kill time on Facebook or do homework in their rooms in the residence halls, LSA sophomore Emily Pittinos writes award-winning poetry and fiction, and makes unique art out of the yarn she spins in her room in the Residential College in East Quad Residence Hall.


Jessica Kaltz and Samira Monavvari: The Drive to Save a Life

Call it a coincidence, a twist of fate or a viral chance of luck.

LSA junior Jessica Kaltz, a student volunteer with the DKMS Bone Marrow Donor Center, had spent months organizing a bone marrow registry event to occur on campus in February.


Mohammed Tayssir Safi: Being a Good Listener

For Rackham student Mohammed Tayssir Safi — hired by the Michigan Muslim Alumni Association as the University’s first Muslim chaplain in January — listening is as much a religious duty as a line item in his job description.

Connie Shi: What is the Right Answer

LSA junior Connie Shi has all the answers.

The cellular and molecular biology major advanced to the semi-finals of the College Jeopardy! Championship after winning a quarter final that aired Feb. 2, finishing with $19,000 in winnings.


Forrest Cox: Inspiring Higher Education for Native Americans

Public Policy junior Forrest Cox is an active member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe, which led him to become the external co-chair of the University’s Native American Student Association.


Duncan Miller: The Rising Star

Though he’s too modest to admit it, Engineering junior Duncan Miller is a rising star in the field of aerospace engineering.