Northwestern Outstanding Seniors, Other Awards Announced
June 2, 2020
Twelve Northwestern Oklahoma State University graduates have been selected as the 2020 Outstanding Seniors.
This year’s Outstanding Seniors include Megan Brown, Julia Buckingham, Colton Budy, Aleysa Franz, Alondra Galindo, Chanel Martin, Aaron Pierce, Katelyn Pierce, Jacqueline Ruhl, Alysson Stewart, Joni Welch and Tiffany Willson.
The seniors are traditionally recognized at the annual Spring Alumni Reunion, but the April event was canceled due to the ongoing public health crisis. The honorees will be invited to Spring Alumni Reunion 2021 where they will be recognized.
This award is sponsored by the Northwestern Foundation & Alumni Association and the Student Government Association to honor outstanding graduating seniors. Recipients must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5, have completed at least 60 credit hours at Northwestern, never been subject to academic or disciplinary action, be involved in campus and/or community activities and show promise of future achievement.
Megan Brown, a native of Alva, graduated magna cum laude in May with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication. She contributed to the Northwestern News and NWTV as floor director, and created a strategic communication plan for the recruitment office. While a student at Northwestern, Brown was the communication intern at the Alva Chamber of Commerce and 4 Tier Marketing. She also served as a Chamber of Commerce representative for Northwest Oklahoma Young Professionals and the Woods County Coalition.
Julia Buckingham, a native of Alva, graduated cum laude in May with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. While at Northwestern, Buckingham was involved in the Student Nurses Association as treasurer; President’s Leadership Class; Oklahoma Nursing Student Association as a delegate; National Society of Collegiate Scholars; and Red and Black Scroll Honor Society. Buckingham is certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Basic Life Support and as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). She worked as a phlebotomist and CNA at Share Medical Center.
Colton Budy, a native of Waynoka, graduated cum laude in December 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. Budy was involved in Northwestern Scholar Ambassadors, Leadership Northwestern 2019, President’s Leadership Class and President’s Leadership Class as a mentor. He was on the President’s and Vice President’s Honor Rolls. Budy played intramural basketball, football and dodgeball. Budy worked as a recruiter at Northwestern and currently works as a farm and ranch manager.
Aleysa Franz, a native of Alva, graduated summa cum laude in May with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Franz was involved in Red and Black Scroll Honor Society, Northwestern Scholar Ambassadors, President’s Leadership Class and President’s Leadership Class as a mentor. She was a resident assistant and on the President’s and Vice President’s Honor Rolls. While a student at Northwestern, she worked in the registrar's office and at Studio Pro Dance & Fitness as a teacher.
Alondra Galindo, a native of Freedom, graduated summa cum laude in May with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Galindo plans to attend the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy. She was involved in the President’s Leadership Class and Leadership Northwestern 2019. Galindo was also on the President’s Honor Roll. Galindo worked as a lab assistant and science student worker at Northwestern. She also worked at Share Convalescent Home as a Certified Nursing Assistant and completed an undergraduate research program at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Chanel Martin, a native of Farwell, Texas, graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in social work. Her memberships included the Woodward Leadership Advisory Board; Single Parents’ Group, Woodward Campus; the National Association of Social Workers; and Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society. While a student at Northwestern, she was a volunteer coach, a receptionist, a legal research assistant and a practicum student at Western Plains Youth and Family Services.
Aaron Pierce, a native of Alva, graduated summa cum laude in December 2019 with his bachelor’s degree in music education – vocal. Pierce is certified in vocal/general music for K-12 grades. He was involved in numerous bands and choirs at Northwestern, President’s Leadership Class, Red and Black Scroll Honor Society, and Phi Delta Music Society as vice president. Pierce was a resident assistant and on the President’s Honor Roll. While a student at Northwestern, he served as a band assistant at Alva Public Schools, a student assistant at the J.R. Holder Wellness Center and a student teacher intern of vocal music. Pierce is married to fellow Outstanding Senior, Katelyn Pierce.
Katelyn Pierce, a native of Vici, graduated summa cum laude in December 2019 with her bachelor’s degree in music education – vocal. She is certified in vocal/general music for K-12 grades. Pierce was involved in President’s Leadership Class and President’s Leadership Class as a mentor; Phi Delta Music Society as president; a member and section leader of many bands and choirs; and Red and Black Scroll Honor Society. She was a resident assistant and on the President’s Honor Roll. Pierce served as a choral substitute and assistant at Alva High School, a student assistant for the Northwestern choral department and a student intern of music.
Jacqueline Ruhl, a native of Alva, graduated summa cum laude in December 2019 with her bachelor’s degree in political science. Ruhl plans to pursue law school. She was in the Red and Black Scroll Honor Society; Student Government Association as a senator; Sigma Tau Delta; Pi Gamma Mu; Pi Sigma Alpha; Phi Alpha Theta; Sigma Alpha Pi; and the Leviathan Society. She is an alumna of the National Education for Women’s Leadership. Ruhl was recognized on the President’s and Vice President’s Honor Rolls and as a Newman Civic Fellow in 2019. Ruhl received her associate degree in cosmetology and worked as a delivery driver before attending Northwestern. She interned at a local law office during her time at Northwestern.
Alysson Stewart, a native of Burlington, graduated magna cum laude in December 2019 with her bachelor’s degree in biology. Stewart plans to pursue a physical therapy doctorate. Her involvement on campus included President’s Leadership Class and President’s Leadership Class as a mentor; Medical Sciences Club; Student Government Association; intramural basketball; and Northwestern Scholar Ambassadors. She was on the President’s and Vice President’s Honor Rolls and served as Miss Northwestern 2019. Stewart has worked as a microbiology lab assistant, gymnastics assistant teacher and physical therapy technician. She also served on a medical mission to Haiti.
Joni Welch, a native of Stigler, graduated in May with her bachelor’s degree in nursing. Welch has been a Licensed Practical Nurse for 16 years. She plans to obtain her nursing practice doctorate and become a nurse educator. She was involved in the Student Nurses Association as a representative and vice president; Oklahoma Nursing Student Association as legislative director; Leadership Northwestern 2020; AHEC Scholars Program; and Red and Black Scroll Honor Society. She was on the President’s and Vice President’s Honor Rolls and was chosen for the Doris Wagner Outstanding Senior and the Nursing Spirit Award. Welch worked as a staff nurse at Share Medical Center while pursuing her degree.
Tiffany Willson, a native of Conway Springs, Kansas, graduated summa cum laude with honors in May. Her bachelor’s degree is in early childhood education. Willson was involved in the Red and Black Scroll Honor Society; Castle Players Theatre Troupe; Art Society as secretary and treasurer; Gay-Straight Alliance as co-founder and vice president; and SOEA/OAEA as co-president. She received the Deserving Ranger Award in 2019. She was on the President’s and Vice President’s Honor Rolls. She worked as a cashier/stocker, administrative assistant in the Fine Arts Department and as an English tutor while attending Northwestern.
Other Award Recipients
T.C. Carter Award – Alondra Galindo, Morgan Morris, Katelyn Pierce and Isabella Reyes
This award is presented to graduating seniors with the highest grade point average.
DeSERVING Ranger Award – Ethan Sacket of Aline
The recipient demonstrates a dedication to service and a sense of responsibility to the Northwestern Student Learning and Civic Engagement vision, serves as a community service model for other students, possesses exceptional leadership and organizational skills; and exhibits a consistent work ethic and availability.
John F. Kennedy Award – Tiffany Willson
The recipient serves the university, community and the country; displays school spirit; promotes the university; possesses leadership; participates in organizations; and strives for academic betterment and achievement.
Joe Dollins Merit Award – Riley Wakefield
The award is given to a student who has completed the student teaching professional semester. Selections are made on cumulative grade point average and promise of future academic achievement in the field of education.
John Ted Meier Student Teaching Award – Trenton Harmon
This award is presented to a student who completed the requirements for a teaching certificate. Criteria for selection include fairness, empathy for all students, a sense of humor and academic achievement.
Newman Civic Fellows Award – Landry Gaddy
Students are nominated by their college or university president as inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country.
Sabin and Pearl Percefull Scholarship Award – Mary Catherine Berntsen and Caitlyn Marie Shortnacy
This scholarship award is open to all Northwestern students with a major or minor in the social sciences. It is based upon grade point average, character and needs of the student.
John Sheffield Teacher of the Year Award – Mistie Kline, Lecturer of Psychology, Psychology Department
The recipient shows a genuine enthusiasm for people, courage to give of self to others and faith to trust in their honored profession.
Psychology Student of the Year Award – to be announced at a later date
Northwestern Foundation & Alumni Association Release