Rising Star Award

This award recognizes three College of Education and Human Development students (one each at the doctoral or specialist, master’s and undergraduate levels) who have demonstrated outstanding potential in scholarship, teaching, and/or professional leadership within Western Michigan University. The recipients shall have demonstrated a quality of performance that indicates that they will continue to develop into distinguished members of their profession.

Required materials:
One completed nomination form and one support form are required. Additional support forms are optional and will be accepted if submitted. If nomination and support forms are not fully complete, submissions will not be reviewed by Awards and Recognition Committee.


Full-time or part-time students who have been accepted into the degree program and who are enrolled in a College of Education and Human Development degree program for the current academic year. Students must be in good academic standing at the time of nomination.

Selection criteria

  1. Demonstrates exemplary academic abilities.
  2. Produces high-quality professional materials (written assignments, course projects, dissemination of information, etc.).
  3. Assumes an active collegial role in course-related activities or professional associations at the local and/or national level.
  4. Each nomination and supporting letter must be at least 350 words, with a maximum of 500.

View the selection rubric.

Selection process

Three awards will be given annually, one to a doctoral or specialist level student; one to a masters level student; and one to an undergraduate level student.

Nominations are reviewed and selected by the College of Education and Human Development Awards and Recognition Committee. Award recipients will be notified by early April. Awards will be presented at the College of Education and Human Development Awards and Recognition Celebration.

Nomination process

Nominations may originate from the dean or other college administrators, department chairs, program directors, department committees, individual faculty, staff or students. Self-nominations will not be accepted. Nominations and letters of support should clearly identify and document how the nominee meets each of the criteria listed above. A minimum of one supporting letter must come from a faculty member.

Questions may be directed to Amy Burns.


  • Doctoral: Dale Brown
  • Masters: Logan Bockheim
  • Undergraduate: Whitney Lewis

2022 award recipients

  • Doctoral: Yunzheng Zheng
  • Masters: Zane Kathryne Schwaiger
  • Undergraduate: Hailey Timmerman


  • Doctoral: Rena VanDerwall
  • Masters: Pam Sward
  • Undergraduate: Clare Bunton


  • Doctoral: Alycia Sterenberg
  • Masters: Amira Eldemerdash
  • Undergraduate: William Wright


  • Doctoral: Lisa Garcia
  • Masters: Deniz Toker
  • Undergraduate: Alex Bohr

2018 Award Recipients

  • Doctoral: Dustin Anderson
  • Masters: Ayumi Shinoa
  • Undergraduate: Samantha Howard

2017 Award Recipients

  • Doctoral: Xingyuan Gao
  • Masters: Gercia Lee
  • Undergraduate: Katherine Williamson


  • Doctoral: Kourtney Bakalyar
  • Masters: Fareed Shalhout


  • Doctoral: Ms. Baochun Zhou
  • Masters: Ms. Jennifer Armstrong