Graduation Honors: An Exceptional Group

Photos by Brandon Parigo, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

Graduating students across campus honored at awards ceremonies

The University of Missouri-Kansas City recognized 19 graduating students at the spring 2018 Vice Chancellor’s Honors Breakfast for maintaining high academic achievements while demonstrating a commitment to community service and leadership.

The students were nominated for the award by faculty or staff from across campus. The breakfast was the culmination of a series of special recognition events conducted across campus to celebrate the achievements of members of the Class of 2018.

At the breakfast, the university also honored retiring Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Mel Tyler with the creation of the Melvin C. Tyler Scholarship Program.

“You’re an exceptional group of people,” said Interim Chancellor and Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer. “You are humanitarians, leaders and philanthropists, and you should be rightfully proud of yourselves. When you see needs on campus or out in the community, you work diligently to respond. Despite the demands of family, work and studies, you made time to give back to the community. The gift of selflessness is a big part of living a fulfilling life, and I believe you have that gift.

“For our graduates, this is a time to celebrate all of your hard work and dedication. Many of you began as freshmen, on fire and ready to learn. You are all finishing that way. Your growth these last few years, the things you have learned, and the experiences you have gained will take you further than you can ever imagine.”

“When I came to UMKC, for the first time in my life I felt like I fit in for being different,” said Daniel Parnell, School of Nursing & Health Studies. “I found the potential in myself. I feel like I’ve been equipped to go on from UMKC and be a leader.”

“UMKC helped me understand I can sustain myself,” said Samantha Bradfield, College of Arts & Sciences. “This university has helped me find myself.”

Bichelmeyer acknowledged the major role families and friends had in the success of the students, because the Honors Breakfast was also a celebration of family, friends and all who supported the students throughout their endeavors.

“Not too long ago, these young people came to UMKC full of curiosity,” Bichelmeyer said. “They had a sense of purpose and a commitment to hard work. You encouraged them to keep pressing forward toward their academic and career goals. You have been an outlet in times of stress, a cheerleader in times of perseverance, and a backbone when the going got tough. This accomplishment is just as much yours as it is your scholar’s.”

“Being here has allowed me to step outside my comfort zone,” said Laneshia Neely, School of Education. “No matter where I go in this world, UMKC will always be my home.”

Bichelmeyer also acknowledged the faculty and staff who provided daily academic support and mentorship to prepare the students for graduation, and post-graduation career opportunities.

“One of the great advantages of having a low student-faculty ratio is the mentoring relationship our students are able to build with staff and faculty members,” Bichelmeyer said. “In many cases, those relationships will continue on long after our students graduate.”

“I will move forward with honor and pride because I earned my degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City,” said Jamie Powell, College of Arts & Sciences.

“Who doesn’t want to go to the place for people going places?” said Drew Cox, School of Biological Sciences and Honors College. “UMKC has prepared me well. I’ll always be proud to be a Roo.”

Vice Chancellor’s Honor Recipients for May 2018 are:

  • Juliana Ayala, College of Arts & Sciences, nominated by Marji Datwyler and Anthony Maly
  • Kelsey Beasley, School of Biological Sciences, nominated by Tammy Welchert
  • Samantha Bradfield, College of Arts & Sciences, nominated by Katherine Garey
  • Kristine Conrow, School of Pharmacy, nominated by Katherine Garey
  • Drew Cox, School of Biological Sciences and Honors College, nominated by Katherine Garey and Breana Boger
  • Deena Essa, College of Arts & Sciences and Honors College, nominated by Hallie Spencer and Gayle Levy
  • Ravali Gummi, School of Medicine, nominated by Peter Koulen
  • Billie Hufford, College of Arts & Sciences, nominated by Stephanie Frank
  • Jaanvi Lachhwani, Bloch School of Management, nominated by Katherine Garey
  • Sara Massey, School of Pharmacy, nominated by Cameron Lindsey
  • Laneshia Neely, School of Education, nominated by Katherine Garey
  • Daniel Parnell, School of Nursing & Health Studies, nominated by Jonathan Pryor
  • Chelsea Pfaffly, School of Computing & Engineering, nominated by Megan Hart
  • Jamie Powell, College of Arts & Sciences, nominated by Keichanda Dees-Burnett and Todd Wells
  • Namana Rao, College of Arts & Sciences and Honors College, nominated by Andrea Drew Gounev, Kathleen Kilway and Breana Boger
  • David Sanborn, School of Medicine, nominated by Fariha Shafi
  • Jessica Sliger, School of Dentistry, nominated by Richard Bigham
  • Alison Stephens, School of Law, nominated by Molly Wilensky
  • Jennifer Tufts, College of Arts & Sciences, nominated by Sandra Enriquez

Additional campus awards

Multicultural Student Affairs

The Multicultural Student Affairs graduate reception on May 3 honored graduates served by the Multicultural Student Affairs Office, including Avanzando scholars.

Graduating seniors who held leadership positions in multicultural student organizations were honored:

  • Allen Williams – The African American Student Union (TAASU) and Student Government Association (SGA)
  • Rakeem Golden – Multicultural Student Organization Council (MSOC)
  • Juliana Ayala – Association of Latin American Students (ALAS)
  • Luis Reyes – ALAS and Men of Color
  • Janelle Johnson – TAASU and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
  • Demond Miles – NAACP
  • Jamie Powell – Outgoing President, MSOC
  • Briana Dorsey – TAASU and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
  • Gabrielle Hull – Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority

Also presented at the MSA graduate reception were students who have conducted and presented research during the academic year. The research scholars, faculty sponsors and project titles include:

  • Dara Alvarado – Avanzando Research Scholar sponsored by Lyndsey Arbuthnot-Clancey and Lori Sexton, History and Analysis of Hate and Bias Crimes within the Latinx Community and the Criminal Justice System’s Efforts to Uphold their Laws and Policies.
  • Jorgue Samuel Martinez – ADVANCER Scholar sponsored by Leonard Dobens and Zachary Fischer, The Subcellar Trafficking of Tribbles is Regulated by TSC1/2.
  • Jorgue Samuel Martinez – SEARCH Scholar sponsored by Xianping Li, Segmentation of Magnetic Resonance Images using Partial Differential Equations.
  • Andy Leon – EUReka Scholar sponsored by Saul Honigberg, The Overproduction of Melanin Using a Laccase and Citric Acid Supplement.
  • Alejandro Garay – Huaman – LLAS Research Scholar sponsored by Clara Irazabal-Zurita, Latinxs in the Heartland: The Political Economy of Placemaking.
  • Ignacio Ramirez Cisneros  – LLAS Research Scholar sponsored by Clara Irazabal-Zurita & Dr. Theresa Torres, New Latinxs in Kansas City, Kan.: The Building, Sustaining, and Loss of Community Assets. A special thanks was given to Belinda Martinez.
  • Ximena Pecina and Catalina Melgoza – LLAS Research Scholar sponsored by Theresa Torres Knowing One’s Heritage: An Oral History of Our Grandparents.

Lavender Graduation

Each spring, UMKC LGBTQIA Programs and Services sponsors Lavender Graduation, a celebration of the achievements of UMKC’s LGBTQIA graduates and honoring the contributions of UMKC students, faculty and staff. This year’s awards were presented at a reception on May 9. Those who received awards include:

  • Calan Giron, LGBTQ Student of the Year
  • Candace Schlein and Katherine Garey, Outstanding Faculty and Staff
  • UMKC Interfraternity Council, Collaborative Excellence
  • B. Brooks, Outstanding Alumni
  • Katherine Dumbell, Jim Wanser Award

College of Arts and Sciences Graduation with Distinction Luncheon

The UMKC College of Arts and Sciences honored students in the College who are graduating with Latin Honors at the annual Graduation with Distinction Luncheon on May 10 in what may be the largest group of CAS Latin Honors recipients for a number of years. College of Arts and Sciences Dean Wayne Vaught presented Summa Cum Laude and Magna Cum Laude graduates with medals to wear during commencement.

2018 UMKC College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Achievement Honoree Christopher Harris was the keynote speaker for the luncheon. In Harris’s message to the students, he talked about how dealing with the stress of finals has helped him stay calm in his professional career and with everything happening with his park/golf course.

CAS students expected to receive Latin Honors include:

  • Rebecca Adams, English, BA
  • Alec Adkins, Philosophy, BA
  • Juliana Ayala, Psychology, BA
  • Faisal Ballam, Chemistry, BA
  • Jacob Berger, Political Science, BA
  • Shelby Bell, Mathematics & Statistics, BS
  • Ali Bo-Abbas, Chemistry, BA
  • Samantha Bradfield, Psychology, BA
  • Cynthia Brizendine, Psychology, BA
  • Peyton Bowe, Chemistry, BA
  • Amanda Calvert, English, BA
  • Ashleigh Carr, Sociology, BA
  • Willow Carr, Psychology, BA
  • Sarah Critchfield, Psychology, BA
  • Nihit Desai, Criminal Justice & Criminology, BA
  • Hannah Doggett, Psychology, BA
  • Drew Dye, Chemistry, BA
  • Ashley Estes, English, BA
  • Hunter Faris, Chemistry, BA
  • Andrew Gerstner, Economics, BA
  • Alyx Gilman, Liberal Arts, BLA
  • Ella Glaser, Liberal Arts, BLA
  • Melissa Grace, English, BA
  • Audrey Grant, Studio Art, BA
  • Jonah Graves, Liberal Arts, BLA
  • Amber Grove, Dual Major: Psychology and Sociology, BA
  • Jacob Gurera, Dual Major: Psychology and Sociology, BA
  • Mattison Hayes, Communication Studies, BA
  • Luke He, Liberal Arts, BLA
  • Dao Ho, Chemistry, BA
  • Safia Ibrahim, Psychology, BA
  • Cindy Jiang, Liberal Arts, BLA
  • Andrea Johnson, English, BA
  • Erin Kelly, Political Science, BA
  • Melody Kimbrough, Chemistry, BA
  • Thomas Kimmel, Urban Planning & Design, BA
  • Thomas King, English, BA
  • William Kuhlke, Studio Art, BA
  • Callie Lane, Mathematics and Statistics, BS
  • Chelsea Leaver, Theatre, BA
  • Kara Lewis, Dual Major: English & Languages and Literatures, BA
  • Emmanuelle Maack, Dual Major: Art History and Communication Studies, BA
  • Raksha Madhavan, Liberal Arts, BLA
  • Lyndsey Martin, Political Science, BA
  • Jennie Masuch, Liberal Arts, BLA
  • Bridget McSorley, Languages & Literatures, BA
  • Ryan Miller, Psychology, BA
  • Catherine Mungai, Theatre, BA
  • Imran Nizamuddin, Liberal Arts, BLA
  • Sydney Nyquist, Communication Studies, BA
  • Thomas Osborn, Liberal Arts, BLA
  • Antonio Panetta, Criminal Justice & Criminology, BA
  • Ajay Patel, Liberal Arts, BLA
  • Tanner Prendergast, Chemistry, BS
  • Rebecca Rickard, Psychology, BA
  • Zana Robinson, Psychology, BA
  • Caroline Ross, Dual Major: Criminal Justice & Criminology and Political Science, BA
  • Jenny Tran, Psychology, BA
  • Erica Scassellati, English, BA
  • Julian Schempf, Communication Studies, BA
  • Iris Siadatifard, Political Science, BA
  • Sham Singh, Liberal Arts, BLA
  • Dalton Slanaker, Dual Major: Chemistry & Mathematics and Statistics, BS
  • Russell Smedley, Chemistry, BS
  • Vidhan Srivastava, Liberal Arts, BLA
  • Victoria Tolo, Psychology, BA Jenny Tran, Psychology, BA
  • Heather Umbach, Liberal Arts, BLA
  • Vivek Vallurupalli, Liberal Arts, BLA
  • Rebecca Yang, Chemistry, BA
  • Rebekah Youmans, Dual Major: Communication Studies and English, BA

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