On May 13, thousands of students will walk the stage and graduate from the University of Arizona. Among them, 13 young people who have especially distinguished themselves will be moving on from undergraduate life, but their journey as Wildcats is just getting started.
The Bobcats Senior Honorary is a prestigious on-campus organization advised by alumni and dedicated to “preserving the unity and welfare of the University of Arizona.” It is composed of 13 seniors who are deeply committed to the school and were selected following a rigorous application process. The organization dates back to 1922 and was created with 13 members to honor the 13 UA students that were killed in service in World War I.
This year’s group was particularly special, being the 100th class of Bobcats. They held an anniversary celebration attended by many alumni of the program in February. The Bobcats are also responsible for major events like Homecoming and represent the university in a variety of ways, interacting with alumni and top leadership. Each class outlines their goals and discusses the legacy they wish to leave. This year, their intent was to serve as a “unifying light” for the UA community.
Members of the Bobcats are some of the most involved and motivated seniors at the UA. They may come from all different majors, backgrounds and involvements, but when it comes to the university, they share a set of values and a true commitment to their school.
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As physiology and medical sciences major Troy Weinstein explained, being a Bobcat goes far beyond senior year.
“It’s a lifetime thing,” Weinstein said. “Our time as a student Bobcat is coming to an end but our Bobcat relationship is just beginning.”
Business economics and entrepreneurship double major Kay Badenhuizen heard about Bobcats through older friends as an underclassmen and was intrigued by the idea of giving back to the school.
“I realized this might be my opportunity to actually find an all-encompassing way to be part of something that gives back to the [UA],” Badenhuizen said.
Brooke Lenhart, a philosophy, politics, economics and law and geography double major was involved in both honoraries and student government. She attended many schools throughout her life and wanted to choose a university that would provide her with a strong sense of community.
“I want something to be my alma mater,” Lenhart said. “I want something to tie me back to this campus for years and years to come.”
In Bobcats, she’s been able to achieve just that. Beyond serving as a leader, Lenhart has enjoyed the smaller moments, like getting to know her fellow Bobcats on a trip to California.
“All of these people really are life-long connections,” Lenhart said.
Business economics and management information systems double major Rohan Bakshi was very involved in the Eller College of Management and Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity. He was glad, however, to be able to interact with students of all majors in the Bobcats.
“I think all of us did a great job at bringing our communities together,” Bakshi said.
Another thing all Bobcats share is a strong camaraderie. They spend a lot of time with one another throughout the year, attending events in Tucson and beyond to represent the university and build connections.
“I was introduced to some of my best friends, it’s just a group of people that I am so blessed to have met,” Bakshi said.
As a business student, Badenhuizen was also very active in Eller and wants to remain a part of that community.
“I know I’m excited to get to the next stage of my life, but I am not willing to neglect that connection that I have with the university as a whole and in particular with my college,” Badenhuizen said.
The Bobcats are clearly unified in their mission, each demonstrating clear passion for their organization and the school.
In the vein of being a “unifying light”, the Bobcats sought to foster connections on campus all year. One project, led by Lenhart and Weinstein, was the transformation of the All-Honorary Council into the All-Leadership Council, which brings together leaders from all organizations across the school to allow students to discuss important topics and learn from one another.
“It’s been awesome combining that into one group and connecting all these leaders,” Weinstein said.
Through their hard work, each member displays a tangible pride in the UA community, and they hope to share it with their fellow students as leaders.
“It’s really just a great opportunity to communicate to everyone that it is a cool and honorable thing to have pride in your university,” Bakshi said.
As Lenhart pointed out, you’re only an active Bobcat for one school year, but that legacy lasts for a lifetime. As these students move on, they will carry their Wildcat pride with them and remain closely connected with the network of mentors that Bobcats provides.
After graduation, Lenhart is going to work with Teach for America in Chicago. Long-term, she is considering several career options but is passionate about working with youth and helping others.
Bakshi and Badenhuizen both have jobs lined up in management consulting and will use their Bobcat leadership skills to help them. Bakshi praised the collaborative environment on campus and will continue to forge connections with UA alumni and students, even as he moves to New York City after graduating.
Weinstein has wanted to be a doctor since he was a kid, motivated by a genuine passion for service. Through the W.A. Franke Honors College, Weinstein was able to earn early acceptance into the UA College of Medicine.
“I’ll be staying in Tucson four more years and I could not be more excited,” Weinstein said.
With their future already concrete, these Bobcats are spending their last few weeks at the UA focused on one thing: the people around them.
“The thing that I’m most proud of is definitely the relationships that I’ve cultivated over the years,” Lenhart said.
She and the other Bobcats are trying to maximize their time left, reaching out to all the people they’ve connected with in their four years of school.
“I wanna make sure that these bonds were not just for a period of my college experience, but I make sure they are for life,” Badenhuizen said.
Though it will be bittersweet, the Bobcats are excited to graduate and take what they’ve learned out into the world.
“Graduating from the University of Arizona is going to be a huge, monumental step for me,” Lenhart said.
Before then, they will inaugurate the new class of 13 Bobcats, who will continue this legacy.
“Passing on the torch to them is really exciting,” Badenhuizen said.
For anyone wondering how these students accomplish so much, they had their own advice to share. Lenhart believes especially in getting involved and building relationships.
“Say yes to anything that interests you,” Lenhart said. “Buy in early. Be obsessed with the people that you surround yourself with. Be obsessed with the activities that you’re doing.”
Badenhuizen echoed this sentiment.
“I wouldn’t have had the experience at the university had I not thrown myself into everything, said yes to everything,” Badenhuizen said. “You get what you give… I’ve gotten so much from this school because I’ve given myself to the school.”
Overall, members of the Bobcats exhibit immense gratitude to the university and take their commitment seriously.
“Giving back just has always been what fulfills me,” Weinstein said. “Bobcats has allowed me to continue to give back and hopefully pay it forward to students who one day will continue to build up this university.”
As they transition from students to alumni, their bond with the UA will stay strong and remain for years to come.
“I am so grateful for this school,” Badenhuizen said. “I want to make sure that I give back at least a fraction of everything this school gave to me.”
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