Top seniors to be honored as 2018 Presidential Scholars

Contact: Jeanne Baron

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Fifty students will be recognized as Western Michigan University's top seniors for 2018 during the 38th annual Presidential Scholars Convocation starting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, on campus in the Bernhard Center.

Each year, faculty members from across the University select the most outstanding senior in their various academic schools, departments and programs to represent their units as a WMU Presidential Scholar. This year, 50 scholars were chosen from a senior class of 5,437 students.

The Presidential Scholar designation is the highest academic honor that WMU can bestow on its undergraduates. Selection is based on the students' general academic excellence, academic and artistic excellence relative to their majors, and intellectual and artistic promise.

The 2018 Presidential Scholars Convocation, which is by invitation only, will include a program featuring a keynote address by Dr. Edward Montgomery, president of WMU. Also making remarks will be Dr. Suzan F. Ayers, president of the WMU Faculty Senate, and Chianté Lymon, president of the Western Student Association. After each of this year's scholars is recognized and awarded certificates, a dessert reception will be held while the scholars have their pictures taken with Montgomery and Ayers.

Long list of talented students

Most of this year's Presidential Scholars have conducted research or engaged in artistic projects, usually working closely with WMU faculty members. Several scholars have been in the military or aspire to jobs that will assist military veterans, and at least two are the first in their families to earn a college degree.

In addition, one student was named the Presidential Scholar in electrical and computer engineering as well as in world languages and literatures, also is an applied mathematics major, and is in an accelerated program through which he will earn a master's degree in computer engineering in 2019.

The long list of talented scholars also includes a woman majoring in aviation flight science as well as aviation maintenance technology who is interning at the San Francisco International Airport, a civil engineering alumnus who graduated in December and has an infrastructure project design and management job with a Lansing firm, a double major in choral music education and comparative religion who is an active leader of music and worship on campus and serves as choir director for a local church, and a biology major who has been conducting avian-related research in two campus labs and will present her findings at the April 2018 Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference.

Presidential Scholars for 2018

Accountancy—Brian J. Holland of West Bloomfield

Anthropology—Gary L. Thompson of Three Rivers

Art—Clara L. Peeters of Kalamazoo

Aviation Sciences—Lauren A. Quandt of Grosse Ile

Biological Sciences—Kelsey C. Cushway of Big Rapids

Business Information Systems—Rachel N. Larson of Macomb

Chemical and Paper Engineering—Andrew D. Kathan of Carmel, Indiana

Chemistry—Paige N. Poindexter of East Jordan

Civil and Construction Engineering—Anthony G. Conigliaro of Sterling Heights

Communication—Greyson R. Steele of Plainwell

Comparative Religion—Daniel L. Tucker of Stow, Ohio

Computer Science—James J. Ward of Buchanan

Dance—Kendall B. Owens of Plymouth

Economics—Keith W. Boeker of Edwardsburg

Electrical and Computer Engineering—Joshua J. White of Paw Paw (double scholar)

Engineering Design, Manufacturing and Management Systems—Cameron S. Tschupp of Galien

English—Courtney J. Dreyer of Grandville

Environmental and Sustainability Studies—Annie E. Lilac of Schoolcraft

Family and Consumer Sciences—Megan E. Schaefer of Grand Rapids

Finance and Commercial Law—Travis J. Smith of Lawton

Gender and Women's Studies—Triston L. Cornemann of Plano, Texas

Geography—Rory N. Ellwood of Eastpointe

Geological and Environmental Sciences—Katharine G. Rose of Leland

Global and International Studies—Morgan B. McCullough of Lambertville

History—Jacob A. Stephan of Kalamazoo

Human Performance and Health Education—Elisabeth A. Ohrnberger of Troy

Industrial and Entrepreneurial Engineering and Engineering Management—Lukas P. Swoboda of Kalamazoo

Integrated Supply Management—Edward A. Mulford of Midland

Interdisciplinary Health Programs—Deidre R. Shepherd of Detroit

Management—MacKenzie R. King of Vicksburg

Marketing—Mason R. Nelle of Ann Arbor

Mathematics—Taylor R. McNeil of Portage

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering—Conner P. Knepley of Stockbridge

Music—Hannah E. Truckenbrod of Aurora, Illinois

Music Theatre Performance—Kaitlyn M. Weickel of Highland

Nursing—Jaime L. Ward of Grand Rapids

Philosophy—Ian A. Everitt of South Haven

Physics—Katelyn K. Waters of Mattawan

Political Science—Amanda E. Sidwell of Kalamazoo

Psychology—Lauren M. Eagle of Taylor

Social Work—Daisy Ruis Ortiz of Decatur

Sociology—Tyler J. Willison of Battle Creek

Spanish—Irene M. Kivinen of Wyoming

Special Education and Literacy Studies—Meghan R. Wisner of New Buffalo

Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences—Madeline V. Smith of Troy

Statistics—Jason T. Hernacki of Fenton

Teaching, Learning and Educational Studies—Lauralee Perrine of Kalamazoo

Theatre—Sebastiana M. Gullo of Bloomfield Hills

University Studies—Christena R. deJong of Battle Creek

World Languages and Literatures—Joshua J. White of Paw Paw (double scholar)

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit