Engineering student Nick Monteleone will put on his graduation cap this spring over hair that’s a little shorter than normal.
It’s still regrowing from St. Baldrick’s Day, an event where participants shave their heads to raise awareness and funding for childhood cancer research.
Chopping off his hair was just one visible sign of Monteleone’s deep personal conviction to serve others, particularly in ways that improve their health.
In fact, his service, professionalism and academic efforts throughout college earned him the Colorado Engineering Council’s Silver Medal, one of the most prestigious awards offered to CU Engineering graduates.
“I’m more proud of the experiences that I have had outside of the classroom, serving the community and being a leader,” Monteleone said. “It’s an incredible honor to be recognized for being a well-rounded student.”
A graduate of Discovery Canyon High School in Colorado Springs, Monteleone said he decided on CU Boulder for one simple reason: “It was the best scholarship money. And it turned out to be a great decision.”
As a sophomore in Chemical & Biological Engineering, Monteleone joined the lab of Professor Stephanie Bryant in March 2016, where he studied tissue engineering and worked to grow bone grafts from stem cells. He worked on designing a new class of fibrous hydrogels that might one day be used to treat patients who have experienced large bone fractures that don’t heal on their own.
He wrote a senior honors thesis based on his research and helped prepare two manuscripts being submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
“While he certainly experienced the frustration that goes hand-in-hand with research, he never gave up,” Bryant said. “He was determined to identify the problem and find a solution.”
During summer 2017 he interned with BioMarin Pharmaceutical in San Francisco, where he helped develop a new monitoring interface for a manufacturing facility where drugs are made to treat rare genetic diseases.
Back on campus, he served on the Health Board leadership team with Wardenburg Health Services, helping notify students of the center’s services and allocating funds to those who needed help paying for health care. He also volunteered with the Colfax Community Network in Aurora, teaching health education and gardening classes for disadvantaged kids.
Interested in developing his leadership skills, Monteleone also participated in the Leadership RAP, or residential academic program, where he took classes focused on social justice and multicultural leadership. He also joined and served as vice regent for Theta Tau, the professional co-ed engineering fraternity, and organized professional development opportunities and social activities for students.
Faculty members say his work in the classroom was exceptional – earning him a 3.92 GPA and excellent grades in even the toughest courses. But his selection for the Silver Medal considered all his attributes.
Monteleone “exemplifies the finest ideals of the practicing engineer,” said Jim Look of the Colorado Engineering Council. “He demonstrated maturity and leadership and a depth of service to the community exemplified by numerous volunteer positions in local medical facilities.”
Monteleone is now interviewing for jobs and hopes to spend a few years in the pharmaceutical or biomedical engineering field before applying to graduate school.