Outstanding seniors to be honored as 2022 Presidential Scholars

Contact: Deanne Puca

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Fifty students will be recognized as Western Michigan University's top seniors for 2022 during the annual Presidential Scholars Convocation from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, April 8, in the Bernhard Center Ballroom.

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 5,082 students.

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

The 2022 Presidential Scholars Convocation, which is by invitation only, will include a program featuring a keynote address by WMU Board of Trustees Vice Chair Shelly Edgerton, who is legal compliance and government affairs counsel for LivWell Enlightened Health Michigan.

Dr. Edward Montgomery, president of WMU, and Marilyn Kritzman, president of the WMU Faculty Senate, also will be making comments.

“We’re proud to recognize the Presidential Scholars for the commitment and demonstrated excellence that they have carried throughout their undergraduate careers," Montgomery says. "The faculty members who nominated these students did so based on their academic success, but also because of their character, resolve and talent.”

The Faculty Senate is proud to represent the faculty, and partner with the President's office, to honor many of Western Michigan University's most academically successful students," adds Kritzman. "The Presidential Scholars are the gold standard for academic achievement and serve as role models for up-and-coming students. We celebrate with them on this most recent achievement and extend to them the very best in future professional and personal endeavors."

Long list of talented students

Most of this year's scholars have conducted research or engaged in artistic projects, usually working closely with Western faculty members. One student worked on a project designing the temporary falsework for the construction of a bridge in Detroit that is the first of its kind in the state of Michigan. Another completed research that served as a physicochemical analysis of water sources on Western's campus. As president of the Bronco Robotics club, another scholar worked with the team to compete in the national collegiate competition, and it repeatedly qualified for the World Championship.

In addition, several scholars have volunteered to work with young people and other Western students in their field of interest. They joined organizations that serve a wide array of notable causes, including at Lending Hands providing home medical equipment for free to the community, at Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health advising on the allocation of Medicaid funds for substance abuse recovery, at Gibbs House promoting environmentally sustainable living, at Outfront Kalamazoo advocating for issues regarding gender identity and sexual orientation, and at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Grand Rapids caring for a wide array of Michigan wildlife.

Many scholars are pursuing internships in their field and plan to continue their higher education careers after they graduate from Western.

Presidential Scholars for 2022

Accountancy—Ira Smyrnova of Kalamazoo

Art—Jacob Converse of Vicksburg

Aviation—Yewon Lee of South Korea

Biological Sciences—Shaneka Johnson of Kalamazoo

Business Information Systems—Zachary Van Kampen of Homer Glen, Illinois

Chemical and Paper Engineering—Lauren Cuddeback of Kalamazoo

Chemistry—Elizabeth Mumby of Kalamazoo

Civil and Construction Engineering—Samantha Heatherly of Downers Grove, Illinois

Communication—Kathryn Clark of Kalamazoo

Comparative Religion—Allison King of Kalamazoo

Computer Science—Dakota Shapiro of Kalamazoo

Dance—Sara Kausch of Kalamazoo

Economics—Mahesa Saravanan of Kalamazoo

Electrical and Computer Engineering—Bharat Goel of Portage

Engineering Design, Manufacturing and Management Systems—Julianna Buck of Wyoming

English—Daniel Bollweg of Muskegon

Environment and Sustainability Studies—Jesse Pline of Lyons

Family and Consumer Sciences—Anna Hull of Kalamazoo

Finance and Commercial Law—Allison Anker of Lake Orion

Gender and Women's Studies—Oliver Breese of Kalamazoo

Geography, Environment and Tourism—Marybeth Melcher of Kalamazoo

Geological and Environmental Sciences—Mary Griffith of Kalamazoo

Global and International Studies—Rakia Hassan of Kalamazoo

History—Hannah Garrod of Paw Paw

Human Performance and Health Education—Taylor Gaines of Detroit

Industrial and Entrepreneurial Engineering and Engineering Management—Benjamin Buell of Vicksburg

Integrated Supply Management—Miranda McNiven of Wyandotte

Intercultural and Anthropological Studies—Jillian Glasser of Lake Zurich, Illinois

Interdisciplinary Health Programs—Mackenzie Ashburn of Berkley

Management—Devon Kelly of Kalamazoo

Marketing—Madeline Paciorek of Grand Rapids

Mathematics—Daria Soboleva of Kalamazoo

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering—Austin Owen of Marne

Music—Lauren Elliott of Byron Center

Music Theater—Allison Taylor of Traverse City

Nursing—Caitlin Pung of Portage

Philosophy—Richard Norman of Mattawan

Physics—Alec Tilton of Kalamazoo

Political Science—Emma Baratta of Kalamazoo

Psychology—Kaitlyn Steck of Wyoming

Social Work—Melissa Fett of Kalamazoo

Sociology—Elizbia Xaxni-Capula of Eau Claire

Spanish—Carmen Vinkemulder of Grand Rapids

Special Education and Literacy Studies—Terra Shockley of Portage

Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences—Kristy Sundberg of Kalamazoo

Statistics—Garret Buchheit of Kalamazoo

Teaching, Learning and Educational Studies—Hailey Timmerman of Kalamazoo

Theatre—Danielle Brewbaker of Saint Johns

University Studies—Debra Vandeveer of Kalamazoo

World Languages and Literatures—Sarah Aartila of Kalamazoo

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.