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WVU geology, physics alumna named Outstanding Young American

The United States' division of  Junior Chamber International has named West Virginia University alumna Caitlin Ahrens one of its 2018 Ten Outstanding Young Americans. Ahrens will be honored at the organization's 80th annual black-tie awards ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 29 in Denver.

Caitlin Ahrens
Caitlin Ahrens

Each year, JCI USA recognizes the accomplishments of 10 individuals who are outstanding in the areas of business or entrepreneurial accomplishment, political achievement, humanitarian and voluntary leadership and more. Through an intense judging process, the 10 individuals were selected from a field of nearly 50 nominations.

"The 2018 Ten Outstanding Young Americans are truly accomplished individuals in their fields, as well as in creating positive change within their communities," said Noelle Nachreiner, 2018 national president for JCI USA. "These 10 individuals represent the best and the brightest of young people in America and we should strive to emulate them in our everyday actions. Each honoree has shown a commitment to that hope, reminding all Americans that no problem is too difficult when handled with grace, ingenuity, courage and determination."

Ahrens, a 2015 geology and physics alumna and current space and planetary sciences doctoral student at the University of Arkansas, was named a 2018 Outstanding West Virginian by the West Virginia Junior Chamber earlier this year. She was selected for the award due to her promotion of science and advocacy for women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Ten Outstanding Young Americans program is one of the oldest and most prestigious recognition programs in the U.S. Annually since 1938, JCI USA has sought out young men and women (under the age of 40) who best exemplify the finest attributes of America's youthful achievers.

Previous honorees include Dick Cheney (1976), Bill Clinton (1979), John F. Kennedy (1946), Elvis Presley (1970), Gale Sayers (1969), Michele Tafoya (2001) and Kurt Warner (2010).

About JCI USA: JCI USA was founded in 1920 as the original member of the Junior Chamber Movement. The organization's mission is to develop opportunities that empower young people to create positive change. Since the organization's founding, millions of men and women have joined JCI USA's ranks and have gone on to become successful in business, community and many other walks of life. JCI USA currently operates in close to 500 communities with more than 12,000 members. JCI USA is part of JCI which is comprised of close to 200,000 members in nearly 120 countries across the globe. To learn more about the Junior Chamber movement, visit