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Graduates with Honors

Photo by Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications
Photo by Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

Vice Chancellor recognizes six difference-makers

Six graduating students received special recognition as the Vice Chancellor’s Honor Recipients for Mid-Year Commencement 2015.

The Vice Chancellor’s Honor Recipients are nominated by faculty or staff during their senior year. They are honored at a pre-graduation breakfast hosted by Mel Tyler, vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management, and attended by family, friends, faculty and top university officials.

The Vice Chancellor’s Honor Recipients for December 2015 are:

  • Daniel Blaz, Nursing Practice, nominated by Dr. Susan Kimble
  • Rebeca Higueros, Health Sciences, nominated by Dr. Jamie Hunt
  • Jamandeep Kaur, Chemistry, nominated by Dr. Kathleen Kilway
  • Christopher Kim, Chemistry, nominated by Dr. Kathleen Kilway
  • Benjamin Lotito, Accounting, nominated by Prof. Michael Wizniak
  • Matthew McLaughlin, bioinformatics, nominated by Dr. Timothy Hickman

Blaz was one of 121 Doctor of Nursing Practice students nationwide chosen as a Jonas Veteran Healthcare Scholar. His DNP Scholarly Project focused on educating veterans and active duty service members on healthy lifestyles. He earned his degree while working full time as a Family Nurse Practitioner in the U.S. Army.

Higueros is the founder of the UMKC Colony of Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority, the first historically Latina sorority with multicultural membership at UMKC; she served as president from 2012 to 2014. She also served as vice president of philanthropy for the Bachelor of Health Sciences Society, and was an active volunteer for the Multicultural Student Affairs Office and the Avanzando program.

A Chemistry major preparing for Dental school, Kaur participated in an array of volunteer opportunities at UMKC and in the community while earning Dean’s List honors. She has helped build houses for Habitat for Humanity, assisted families at Ronald McDonald House, sorted donations at Harvesters, served as a UMKC student recruiter, assisted with dental patients at the Kansas City Care Clinic and served as a summer camp counselor at the Midwest Sikh Association church.

Kim, a Dean’s List student and Chancellor’s Scholarship recipient, served as vice president of the College of Arts and Sciences Student Council and served as a Student Government Association Senator. He is a member of the Pre-Dental Society, and held multiple leadership positions in the Alpha Phi Omega community service fraternity and the Beta Theta Pi social fraternity. He traveled to Joplin, Mo., after the devastating 2011 tornado and stayed several days volunteering with the American Red Cross. He also volunteered with several dental care outreach programs, including Team Smile and Smile Academy.

Captain of the UMKC Cheerleading Squad, Lotito participated in the City of Kansas City’s Community Engagement University and the Missouri Association of Student Councils’ Summer Leadership Workshop. He has provided volunteer service to Harvesters, Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. He is a student affiliate of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and a member of the UMKC Chapter of the Beta Alpha Psi financial professionals’ organization.

A physician and president of the UMKC School of Medicine class of 2009, McLaughlin returned to his Alma Mater to pursue a master’s degree in Bioinformatics while continuing full-time as a fellow at Children’s Mercy. After completing requirements for an independent study course in data retrieval, he continued to mine the data on his own time to prepare analyses for a community health assessment for Jackson County, and delivered a summary of his findings at the First Annual Midwest Bioinformatics Conference at UMKC. He has provided volunteer physical medicine and rehabilitation care in Ecuador through Project Perfect World, and also provides volunteer service as a ski instructor for children and adults with disabilities through Midwest Adaptive Sports.


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