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Seniors receive top honors

  • University News
  • Students
  • Commencement 2022
  • College of Business Administration
  • Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Nearly 200 undergraduates were celebrated at the April 29 Senior Honors Convocation, which recognized the achievements of students who have distinguished themselves through academics and leadership.

“I enjoyed the opportunity to recognize and celebrate our student leaders during the Senior Honors Convocation,” said Vice Provost Kenyon Bonner. “The students who were recognized demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of those around them, to making a meaningful impact in our community and to ensuring that Pitt will be a better place for those who follow.”

Of the honorees, two students received Pitt’s highest undergraduate honors: the Omicron Delta Kappa Senior of the Year Award and the Emma W. Locke Award.

Honoring a future doctor

The mission of Omicron Delta Kappa, a prestigious national honors society, is to promote the values of collaboration, inclusivity, integrity, scholarship and service.

The Pitt ODK award went to Aboli Kesbhat of Cincinnati, Ohio, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and psychology in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. She also minored in gender, sexuality, and women's studies and chemistry.

Kesbhat plans to attend medical school next year and credits her leadership activities for preparing her for her future career.

“My ultimate career goal of being a doctor relies heavily on my current ability to communicate with students across disciplines and future ability to communicate with patients from all walks of life,” she wrote in her application for yet another honor she’s won: the Brackenridge Research Fellowship.

While at Pitt, Kesbhat contributed to several campus organizations including the Student Government Board, the American Medical Student Association and the Blue and Gold Society. She was also a dedicated volunteer with Be My Eyes, The Woodlands DIVA Program and the Hospital Elder Life Program at UPMC Shadyside.

“I’m so honored to receive this recognition because each ODK Senior of the Year finalist has contributed to helping Pitt get better as a campus, so we are even more inclusive and welcoming. I can’t wait to see how Pitt changes and gets even better in the future,” said Kesbhat.

Her name will join those of previous awardees on the Omicron Delta Kappa Walk outside the Cathedral of Learning.

See all the ODK finalists.

Bound for law school

The Emma W. Locke Award recognizes a senior of high scholarship, character and devotion to the ideals of Pitt. The deans from each undergraduate school nominate one student who rises to the occasion.

Tyler Viljaste of Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, received this year’s Emma W. Locke Award. He is graduating with a Bachelor of Philosophy in politics and philosophy from the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and a Bachelor of Science in finance from the College of Business Administration.

During his tenure at Pitt, Viljaste held several leadership roles on the Student Government Board and founded the Pitt Votes Student Task Force and the LGBTQIA+ Resources and Center Task Force. In addition to his on-campus leadership activities, he interned with the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations, where he designed and led a series of “Know Your Rights” trainings. He was also a Keefe congressional fellow.

He will attend Georgetown Law School this fall.

“Making sure that everyone has found their identity and sense of belonging was a key motivation in everything I did at Pitt. It’s such an honor to be chosen for this award because all the candidates did so much to create an incredible environment at Pitt and excel academically simultaneously,” said Viljaste.

See all the Locke Award finalists.


— Nichole Faina