DELAWARE, Ohio – For only the second time in history, an Ohio Wesleyan University student has earned the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity’s prestigious Wilkinson Award. The annual award, first presented in 1961, honors the young man deemed by the fraternity to be its “most outstanding senior” in the United States and Canada.
Memme Onwudiwe, who graduated in May, was selected as the 2015 Wilkinson Award winner from among 142 Phi Gamma Delta (“Fiji”) chapters and 13 colonies in North America. He will receive the award and give remarks at the annual Fiji Leadership Academy in January in St. Louis.
“I am honored to receive this award,” said Onwudiwe of Centerville, Ohio, a double major in international studies and French. “To get such recognition is incredible, but I am sure that it’s just the beginning of what our chapter has to offer. Fiji has given me an outlet to be creative and constructive, as well as lifelong friends. I am, and always will be, proud to be a Fiji.”
Since he graduated in May, Onwudiwe has been working as a research fellow with the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an organization promoting transparency in the usage of and payment for Nigeria’s natural resources.
While at Ohio Wesleyan, Onwudiwe served as chair of the fraternity’s scholarship and brotherhood committees, worked to co-create and co-chair a new Fiji health committee, helped to co-create the OWU chapter’s website, served as captain for three seasons of Fiji’s intramural soccer team, and served as co-chair of Ohio Wesleyan’s 2013 Heritage Day celebrating Greek Life.
He was a member of the Honors Program and earned induction into Phi Beta Kappa, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor societies, as well as induction into four additional honor societies: Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership), Theta Alpha Kappa (religious studies), Sigma Iota Rho (international studies), and Phi Sigma Iota (foreign language). He also served in leadership roles with the Ohio Wesleyan Model United Nations Club, President’s Club, Pre-Law Club, and International Studies Student Board.
Onwudiwe also served on the university’s technology council and academic policy committee, was a residential representative on the Wesleyan Council of Student Affairs (student government), participated in the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program, traveled to Haiti as part of a spring break mission team, studied abroad for a semester at L’Institut Catholique de Paris, competed in American Collegiate Moot Court Association national competition, played varsity soccer for two seasons, and more.
“Memme is a superstar,” said OWU President Rock Jones, Ph.D. “During his freshman year, he was named the university’s Outstanding First-Year Student – and he has never stopped working toward his goals. Memme exemplifies the power and potential of students who receive a liberal arts education, and, I have no doubt, he will continue to make us proud throughout his lifetime. Congratulations, Memme!”
In addition to Onwudiwe, Ohio Wesleyan alumnus Derek Dickey, Class of 1997, earned the Wilkinson Award following his senior year. Dickey, who majored in history and minored in philosophy and management, currently lives in Bethesda, Maryland, and works as chief operating officer for Colgate Consulting Group, LLC. Both Onwudiwe and Dickey are members of Fiji’s Theta Deuteron chapter, founded at Ohio Wesleyan in 1869.
The Wilkinson Award itself also has ties to Ohio Wesleyan: It is named in honor of Cecil J. “Scoop” Wilkinson, OWU Class of 1917, who served as Fiji’s first executive secretary and editor of The Phi Gamma Delta magazine for 36 years.
Since its founding in 1848, the fraternity has initiated nearly 180,000 brothers. Today, it has about 9,000 active undergraduate student members. According to Fiji: “Phi Gamma Delta exists to promote lifelong friendships, to reaffirm high ethical standards and values, and to foster personal development in the pursuit of excellence. Phi Gamma Delta is committed to provide opportunities for each brother to develop responsibility, leadership, scholarship, and social skills in order to become a fully contributing member of society.”
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers 86 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world experience. OWU’s 1,750 students represent 46 U.S. states and territories and 43 countries. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the latest President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.