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Nicole Gilette named 2016 President’s Award recipient

Nicole Gilette was the President's Award recipient for 2016. 

Nicole Gilette of Audubon, Pa., addressed her fellow Widener University graduates at Commencement on Saturday, May 21 as the recipient of the President’s Award. The award is given annually to the senior who has contributed the most to campus life through scholarship and participation in extracurricular activities.

“It’s a huge honor,” Gilette said of receiving the award. “I don’t think I realized how important Widener would be for me. Being able to have such a strong connection to an institution that shared my own core values has really allowed me to respect and love Widener.”

A biology and biochemistry major, Gilette made a name for herself at Widener and in the community. President of the Student Government Association, Gilette has received a number of honors and has been very engaged in volunteer activities in Chester.

In her address to the Class of 2016, Gilette challenged her peers to not let their Widener experience end. “This experience will not be forgotten unless we forget it,” she said. “And these four years will not be meaningless unless we do not actively choose for it to produce something meaningful. Our experience and impact at Widener University as undergraduates is not over yet, because there is still so much potential that we have.”

In both 2014 and 2015, Gilette received the Clinton Global Initiative Research Grant. In 2015, she won first place for the summer research symposium poster competition. She also received the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award, the Presidential Scholarship, and was named to the dean’s list for seven consecutive semesters, as well as the President’s list.

Outside the classroom, Gilette has been engaged in community service since her freshmen year. Gilette was a member of the Presidential Service Corp (PSC)/Bonner Leaders Program, which requires members to donate 300 hours of community service. She served as a senior intern where she was responsible for training and coordinating the international service retreat to Belize. She also helped coordinate the Freshman Day of Service in 2014, and was the coordinator for volunteers for the Chester Boys and Girls Club. 

Gilette spent a lot of time volunteering as a bedside buddy at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she supported nursing staff by fulfilling the needs of patients and their families outside of medical care. She was also a volunteer for Headstart in Norristown, Pa. before attending Widener.

A member of the honors program, Gilette is also a member of Phi Eta Sigma, national honor society; Sigma Alpha Pi, national society of leadership and success; and Omicron Delta Kappa, national leadership honor society.

Gilette served on the Science Alumni Committee and in 2015 she was the student representative on the Presidential Search Committee. She was also member of the university’s modern dance company and plays piano for the Chamber Music Program.

After graduation, Gilette will spend time volunteering at a community hospital in Belize through the Medical Electives Belize program. Following that Gilette will return to the Boston Children’s Hospital to participate in a two-year research assistant program with Dr. Elizabeth Engle through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Last June, Gilette was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Exceptional Research Opportunities Grantee, which she studied the role of the development and guidance of cranial nerves and extraocular muscles under Engle. Gilette hopes to continue her education with an MD/PHD program.

Gilette is the daughter of Diane and Raymond Gilette and sister to Amy who live in Audubon, Pa.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development, and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del. are proud to be a tobacco-free. Visit the university website,