Meet the 2024 President’s Award Winner

Emily Barrett, associate director of communications
Leo-Paul Wahl poses on campus in his graduation cap and his regalia cords.
Leo-Paul Wahl ’24, the 2024 President’s Award winner.

A few days ahead of commencement, Leo-Paul Wahl is outside of Metro Hall for a graduation photo in front of the university seal on the building’s façade. 

The biomedical engineering student, in keeping with the commencement theme, donned his cap, stoles and cords, each representing his academic and extracurricular achievements. 

After a few minutes of carefully and thoughtfully putting on each stole and cord – 15 in total -- Wahl proudly smiled. His remarkable undergraduate career at Widener, marked by academic excellence and service to others, had come to an end.

Wahl is the winner of the 2024 President’s Award. 

The prestigious award recognizes a graduating senior on the Chester campus who has contributed the most to campus life through scholarship and participation in extracurricular activities. 

“For me a lot of it ties into being able to give back and be a part of something that's larger than just yourself as an individual,” said Wahl, who is enrolled in the 4+1 biomedical engineering program.

Community service has played an integral part of Wahl’s life. Coming to Widener allowed Wahl to build on that foundation and get involved in organizations, including fraternal organizations and honor societies, that shared in his values to serve others.

“That's what drew me to some of the fraternities that I'm involved in,” said Wahl, president of both Phi Delta Theta and Alpha Phi Omega.

He continued, saying that he was attracted to “the community service aspects, implementing the aspects of them, as well as just being able to give back and be involved with organizations that shares a lot of the same values and principles that I want to incorporate into my life and sort of the way I live my day-to-day.”

His involvement and leadership roles extended into nearly all corners of campus. 

Wahl was a Center for Civic Engagement Scholar, Student Government Association Senator, Resident Assistant, University Ambassador, and a C.R.E.W. Leader all while maintaining top grades, earning him both engineering honors and advanced honors in general education. 

Reflecting on his college experience, Wahl said he learned the importance of time management and how to balance academics and extracurriculars with passion projects and work-study jobs. 

For instance, Wahl worked for UPS as part of its tuition reimbursement program during his junior year. He was assigned the graveyard shift at the Philadelphia Airport loading and unloading cargo planes from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. 

“Working to pay for school and to pay to live off campus was valuable and helped me to make sure that I was spending my time being involved with either organizations or my academics and my research in a way that was meaningful,” said Wahl.

The grueling hours paid off when Wahl was chosen for the SMART Scholar program through the Department of Defense. The highly-competitive program, an acronym for Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation, provides an annual stipend, sponsored internships, and full tuition which covered Wahl’s final year and graduate program costs.

“It's a rewarding feeling seeing the work and effort that you put in sort of coming to fruition,” Wahl said. 
The scholarship also guarantees employment with the DOD after graduation. 

Wahl will be stationed in the non-ionizing radiation division at Aberdeen Proving Ground South, a U.S. Army facility near Baltimore. The role will position Wahl to innovate national security technologies and serve the greater good through the DOD’s civilian workforce.

Looking back on all that he has accomplished, Wahl continues to put others first and encourages his peers to find ways to leave a legacy of service. 

“My advice for any student would be to make sure that you’re putting your time into things that you're passionate about and being involved in organizations and with people who share the same values that you hold dear and try to live your life by.”

Celebrate Commencement 2024

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