BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College announced the recipients of the prestigious Oreon E. Scott Award, which recognizes the student(s) who has the highest academic standing in the graduating class during graduation on Saturday, May 6. The namesake of this historical award was a longtime Bethany trustee and a graduate of the Class of 1892. 

Provost and Dean of Faculty Dr. Anju Ramjee presented this year’s honor during the College’s 183rd commencement ceremony. Natalia Chavez-Brown, of Fredrick, Md., Ian Nelson, of Monongahela, Pa., Katelyn Marie Huck, of Lewisville, Ohio, and Kevin Andrew VonScio, of Washington, Pa., were all named valedictorians and bestowed with the Oreon E. Scott Award. 

Learning who achieved this prestigious standing during Commencement is a tradition at Bethany College, with the news annually being shared by the Provost and Dean of Faculty. 

It is indeed a special commencement when, for the first time, we have four Oreon E. Scott award winners,” said Ramjee. “These students are a testament to their academic excellence, their motivation and drive, and their growth as leaders with compassion and spirit of generosity.  I believe they will be extremely successful in whatever they pursue and represent Bethany well in all their endeavors.” 

All four seniors graduated were named to the President’s list each semester, meaning they achieved a perfect 4.0-grade point average while completing a minimum of 12 graded credit hours. They also passed their comprehensive exams with distinction – an honor reserved only for those who perform exceptionally well and show mastery of their field of study in both written and oral assessments. 

Chavez-Brown, a Presidential Scholar who graduated with a B.A. in elementary education, has racked up quite a list of accomplishments since her freshman year. In March of 2021, she was inducted into Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. She is also a member of the Honors Program, Phi Mu Beta Nu, Sigma Delta Pi Honor Society in Spanish, Gamma Sigma Kappa Scholarship Society, and the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society.  

Chavez-Brown has also received multiple awards over the course of her Bethany career. She most recently received the Caldwell Award for Leadership in the Art and Science of Teaching, which is awarded to the outstanding senior elementary education major who has demonstrated exceptional academic accomplishment. She also received the Richard B. Kenney Freshman Leadership Award and was recognized in 2022 at the annual Ann Wilkin Trombadore Women & Leadership Symposium for her academic performance.  

To add to her list of accomplishments, Chavez-Brown participated in “Cell Out” where students turned off their cell phones to raise awareness for the mineral that powers our phones and has caused conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She also worked with Nelson and the Wheeling YWCA to host a series of discussions based on locally produced short films that focus on racism, drug abuse, domestic abuse, and mental illness.  

Following graduation, she plans to teach English abroad in Madrid, Spain, with a non-profit organization through a Fulbright grant. Upon returning to the U.S., Chavez-Brown aspires to pursue a career as an elementary ESL teacher. 

Student Government Association Vice President and Presidential Scholar Nelson graduated with a B.S. in chemistry. Nelson is the president of Greener Bethany, a student group that began in 2020 with a mission of making the campus eco-friendly. Through this group, he executed a grant proposal to help eliminate Styrofoam plates and to go boxes. He received a research award through NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium for studying the quantification and identification of microplastics in terrestrial ecosystems, and the Francis O. Carfer Prize for Service to the College, which is presented to the senior who has made the most outstanding contribution to the College. He also received the Jerry R. Allison Award, the 2021 Community Service Award, and the W.F. Kennedy Prize. 

During his time at Bethany, Nelson was a member of the Honors Program, the Gamma Sigma Kappa Scholarship Society, the Gamma Sigma Epsilon Chemistry Honor Society, the Beta Beta Beta Recognition Society in Biology, and the Kappa Mu Epsilon National Honor Society in Mathematics.  

During his time at Bethany, Nelson minored in environmental biology and mathematics. Following graduation, he plans to become a chemistry teacher.  

As Panhellenic Council president, Huck, who graduated with a B.S. in psychology with a minor in visual arts, was named the 2023Greek Woman of the Year. She also received the Thomas R. Briggs Award, which is presented to the senior in psychology who has maintained the highest academic average in the department. On top of those prestigious awards, she has also been presented with the Wes Wagner Award and is a member of the Gamma Sigma Kappa Scholarship Society, the Gamma Sigma Alpha National Greek Honor Society, and the Kappa Pi Visual Art Honor Society.  

Huck was also a Cochran Hall resident assistant, LEAD class participant, and a member of the Student Activities Council. 

After graduation, Huck will attend the University of Dayton to obtain an education specialist degree in school psychology. Her hope is to work in schools, helping students receive special education services and counseling. 

VonScio, a Presidential Scholar who graduated with a B.A. in communications, is best known at Bethany as the “Voice of the Bison,” for his work as the College’s sports announcer during his time here. Vonscio has officially been accepted into the top journalism program in the country at Syracuse University, where he plans to obtain his M.A. in broadcasting and digital journalism post-graduation.  

President of his class, VonScio, has received multiple awards during his four years at Bethany—most recently the Bethany 2000 Prize, which recognizes the senior who has best-demonstrated loyalty and commitment to Bethany College in a wide range of activities over the course of their studies. On top of this, he received the Charlotte Manion Yurko Award and is a member of the Gamma Sigma Kappa scholarship society. 

VonScio was a member of the men’s soccer team. Recently, he was named runner-up for the prestigious Jim McKay Sports Award, which recognizes student-athletes from D1, D2, and FD3 schools for their outstanding academic achievement and their potential to make a major contribution to the sports communication industry.