Presidential Scholars poised for success

The University of Tulsa’s Presidential Scholarship is the most prestigious academic merit award given by the university. Established by President Emeritus Bob Lawless in 1996 to attract the best and brightest scholars to TU, the Presidential Scholarship Program recognizes students poised to make a difference in the world.

To earn a Presidential Scholarship, students must excel in a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, score in the top percentile on the ACT or SAT and demonstrate leadership and service throughout their high school career. The scholarship covers full tuition for eight semesters, plus room and board as long as recipients maintain a 3.25 cumulative GPA and meet special event attendance requirements.

The Collins College of Business welcomed four Presidential Scholars as incoming freshmen for the 2015-16 academic year. Hailing from as close as Tulsa to as far away as Providence, Rhode Island, each brings a fresh perspective as they begin their time at TU.

09-02-15 murial and madalyn unseth-108(1)Madalyn Unseth
Muriel Unseth

Business majors, best friends and roommates Madalyn and Muriel share an affinity for many of the same things, from singing to sushi. Both graduated high school in Dunlap, Illinois, as valedictorians and National Merit scholars. Both enjoyed performing with the madrigals group at school and on the worship team with their youth group. Both ran on the school’s cross country and track teams. And both applied for and were awarded TU’s Presidential Scholarship.

Muriel and Madalyn Unseth also happen to be fraternal twins.

Choosing to attend the same university wasn’t necessarily a given – at least, not as far as one half of the duo was concerned.

“At first, I didn’t want to go to the same school because I didn’t want to follow Muriel around,” said Madalyn. “I didn’t want to be identified as the ‘twin person.’”

Heading into the college search process, Madalyn and Muriel created similar checklists. “We were looking for a smaller school with a strong academic environment and intentional, present professors who would be invested in getting to know students,” said Madalyn. “We also wanted a college that offered a scholarship package for National Merit finalists.”

With identical selection criteria, the twins knew they would be considering the same group of universities, but chose to make their decisions separately. “If it happened to be the same choice, that would be okay,” said Muriel.

“Out of seven schools we visited, TU really stood out,” she continued. “We both liked the campus, and everyone we met was friendly. TU offered study abroad opportunities and so many ways to get involved in the community. We narrowed it down to three options and TU presented the best financial package.” Madalyn adds, “It was cool that we both got the Presidential Scholarship. The decision would have been harder if that hadn’t happened.”

Hearing the pair talk about the bond they share as twins and their experiences so far at TU, it’s hard to imagine them separated by a marked distance.

“As we left for Tulsa, I was so glad we made the decision,” said Madalyn. “Emotionally, the transition has been a lot smoother than I expected and most of that is because we’re here together.”

Looking at majors that would offer solid job prospects and the opportunity to apply a wide skill set, Muriel and Madalyn chose to study in the Collins College of Business. On her decision to major in accounting, Madalyn explains, “I’m detail oriented, and I like things organized. I thought accounting would be a good fit based on some career exploration I did with the accounting department at Caterpillar. You can do so many things with the degree.”

Both want to study abroad during their time at TU. “Our mom studied in Germany when she was a student and always talked about how much she grew during that experience,” said Muriel.

“We also look forward to taking advantage of services the Business Career Center offers, like career preparation, interviewing and résumé workshops and networking events,” said Madalyn.

And as for life on campus as a twin, it couldn’t be better for the two. “You’re never really alone — you always have someone to talk to and eat lunch with. And it’s nice having someone who understands where I’m coming from,” said Muriel. Madalyn smiled as she added, “It’s also great having a built-in study partner.”

Justin Guglielmetti02-09-16 justin guglielmetti-105(1)

Fifteen hundred miles separate Justin Guglielmetti from his family in Cumberland, Rhode Island, but a Tulsa connection helps to bridge the distance. “My grandparents live here,” said Guglielmetti. “My grandpa is from Rhode Island, but worked for Amoco Oil and lived in Iran and Trinidad before settling in Tulsa. I had visited them several times over vacations and last summer when I was in town, he suggested I visit TU.”

Guglielmetti did visit and ended up liking what he saw. He applied for and was awarded the Presidential Scholarship. The final choice came down to TU and Fordham. “I didn’t have any set characteristics about the school I was looking for,” he said. “The decision came down to a sum of all parts — the feel of the school, what it had to offer and academic rigor. TU had all of those things.”

In high school, Guglielmetti ran track and cross country before sustaining an injury that sidelined him. “It was a blessing in disguise, though, because I got involved in theatre during my senior year,” he said. “It’s one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done. Theatre helps with public speaking, since an audience is really the same in a presentation and a performance. You’re trying to put yourself in the best possible light – it makes you more of a people person.”

Guglielmetti also played the trumpet in his high school band, so he joined the Golden Hurricane Marching Band. The only catch? He’d never marched before. There was no marching band in Rhode Island, so Guglielmetti got a crash course during band camp the first week of freshman orientation. “Marching from 9 to 4 every day was definitely a lot at once,” he said. “But I’m glad I stuck with it. I’m having a lot of fun and have met some great friends.”

When it came time to choose a major, Guglielmetti looked back at the high school classes he enjoyed the most – and those he didn’t. He ruled out engineering fields in favor of accounting. “My dad was an accounting major and worked for the state energy office in Rhode Island. My grandpa was an accounting major and the chief accountant for Amoco. So, I read up on it and discovered that it’s the language of business. You can get into so many areas of business with an accounting degree. I don’t have a set career path yet, so it makes sense to have that flexibility.”

02-24-16 wyatt evans-100(1)Wyatt Evans

Native Tulsan Wyatt Evans grew up attending TU football games and hearing about the university from his mom, an alumna. In the fall of 2014, he visited campus during the Tulsa Time overnight program that offers potential students a chance to experience life at TU firsthand. “I fell in love with the university,” said Evans. “Then, I learned about the Presidential Scholarship. It’s hard to say no to that kind of opportunity.”

An academic all-star in high school, Evans capped off his time at Tulsa’s Bishop Kelley with a memorable finish. He competed on the school’s academic bowl team for each of his four years there, securing the state title for three of those. As the team’s captain during his senior year, Evans led his teammates to a third place national finish in 2015. He also was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

At Bishop Kelley, Evans also ran cross country and played soccer. He earned Eagle Scout, the highest achievable rank in the Boy Scouts of America, last fall. “I’ve stayed fairly busy since arriving at TU,” he said. He joined Sigma Chi fraternity and was elected treasurer for 2016. Evans hopes to get involved in the university’s academic bowl team when his schedule allows.

Though he doesn’t compete on TU’s cross country team, Evans still makes time to run. “I actually didn’t start running until my junior year in high school. My younger brother started running and encouraged me to get into it,” he said. Evans ended up loving the sport and losing 20 pounds in the process. He ran his first half marathon in December 2014, and then decided to train for a full marathon. With a goal to finish Tulsa’s Route 66 Marathon in four hours, he can proudly check that accomplishment off of his list with an official finish of 3:59:56.

Evans chose to major in finance and plans to add accounting as a second major. He looks forward to getting involved in the Student Investment Fund and building his leadership skills. As for the future, Evans says he is considering the possibility of furthering his education in graduate or law school, but wants to keep his options open.

For now, taking classes like “Reasoning” gives him the chance to exercise a new way of thinking. “Diagramming arguments, finding fallacies and practicing logical thinking is putting names on things I’ve always known how to do,” he said. “I find it interesting.” And just for fun, he maintains his quiz bowl acumen by reviewing questions from previous tournaments and watching episodes of Jeopardy. “I just naturally take to that kind of information.”