KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Forty-eight students will be recognized as Western Michigan University's top seniors for 2023 during the annual Presidential Scholars Convocation from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, March 17, in Rooms 208 and 210 of the Bernhard Center.
Each year, faculty members from across the University select the most outstanding senior in their nearly 50 academic schools, departments and programs to represent their unit as a WMU Presidential Scholar. This year, scholars were chosen from a senior class of 4,748 students.
The Presidential Scholar designation is the highest academic honor that Western 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 2023 Presidential Scholars Convocation, which is by invitation only, will include a program featuring a keynote address by Emma Baratta, a graduate assistant for the Office of Government Relations and a 2022 Presidential Scholar in political science.
Dr. Edward Montgomery, president of WMU, and Dr. Sarah Summy, president of the Faculty Senate, also will be making comments.
“Congratulations to the 2023 Presidential Scholars. These exceptional students are recognized by their academic department for their stellar records, tenacity and overall promise of success,” Montgomery says. “I am proud of their intellectual and artistic accomplishments so far, and I know they will continue to amaze and inspire us in the future.”
"The Presidential Scholar Convocation is an event that the Faculty Senate is proud to collaborate with the Office of the President in honoring this year's top students," adds Summy. "Each Presidential Scholar represents the best from their individual schools, departments and programs as evidenced by their demonstrated academic achievement and strong dispositions."
Student scholar success
Most of this year's scholars have conducted research or engaged in projects, usually working closely with Western faculty members. One student participated in a behavioral neuroscience study where they learned about the brain, its structures and functions, and different fields of behavioral neuroscience, among other things. Another worked with a faculty member to learn about the structure of proteins and other large molecules and how changes in the structures may be able to treat diseases. As a research assistant for the Michigan Geological Survey, another student helped verify Michigan water well data and created hydrologic maps to better understand the spread of contaminants.
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 tutoring K-2 students in literacy for the Boys and Girls Club Pathways Tutoring Program, helping repaint a school and teaching students in East Africa during a monthlong volunteer expedition and serving as an outpatient dietetic clinical observer for the Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Many scholars are pursuing internships in their field and plan to continue their higher education careers after they graduate from Western.
2023 Presidential Scholars
Accountancy—Josephine Thomas of Adamstown, Maryland
Art—Adilene Nieves Rios of Sturgis, Michigan
Aviation—Morgan Boyd of Kalamazoo
Biological sciences—Jake Fanizza of Gurnee, Illinois
Business information systems—Cameron Johnson of Quincy, Michigan
Chemical and paper engineering—Zahira Sanchez of the Dominican Republic
Chemistry—Rajendra Panth of Nepal
Civil and construction engineering—Samuel Hall of Richland, Michigan
Communication—Raymond Falkiewicz of Canton, Michigan
Comparative religion—Tephani DeYoung of Kalamazoo
Computer science—Sebastian Smiley of Canada
Dance—Libby McKenzie of Kalamazoo
Economics—Cecelia Chapleau of Portage, Michigan
Electrical and computer engineering—Tawfiq Abuaita of Palestine
Engineering design, manufacturing and management systems—John Goheen of Sandusky, Michigan
English—Kostandi Stephenson of Midland, Michigan
Environment and sustainability—Phoebe Liccardo of Evanston, Illinois
Family and consumer sciences—Derek Fischer of Fremont, Indiana
Finance and commercial law—Ashley Hare of Otsego, Michigan
Geography, environment and tourism—Quinn Heiser of Ypsilanti, Michigan
Geological and environmental sciences—Donovan Vitale of Monroe, Michigan
Global and international studies—Emily Kostbade of Ada, Michigan
History—Nathan Halder of Battle Creek, Michigan
Human performance and health education—Hannah Finkler of Muskegon, Michigan
Industrial and entrepreneurial engineering and engineering management—Matthew Baker of Williamston, Michigan
Integrated supply management—Lidya Kartika of Indonesia
Intercultural and anthropological studies—Payton Gagliardi of Lake Zurich, Illinois
Interdisciplinary health programs—Logan West of Mattawan, Michigan
Management—Jacob Myers of Monroe, Michigan
Marketing—Taylor Davis of Commerce Township, Michigan
Mathematics—Juliana Fried of Ann Arbor, Michigan
Mechanical and aerospace engineering—Tyler Johnson of St. Charles, Illinois
Music—Caleb Piersma of Otsego, Michigan
Nursing—Chase Rosengarten of Novi, Michigan
Philosophy—Dayna Mulder of Wyoming, Michigan
Physics—Imogen Courtney of England
Political science—Dayna Mulder of Wyoming, Michigan
Psychology—Haila Jiddou of Marysville, Michigan
Public affairs and administration—Robert Carico of Jackson, Michigan
Social work—Eva Fotieo of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Sociology—Lindsay Kovach of Elgin, Illinois
Spanish—Marysol Millar of Kalamazoo
Special education and literacy studies—Sara Gerber of Battle Creek, Michigan
Speech pathology and audiology—Rebecca Adams of Battle Creek, Michigan
Statistics—Timothy Gunawan of Indonesia
Teaching, learning and educational studies—Sam Arnold of Farmington Hills, Michigan
Theatre—Grace Niec of Fenton, Michigan
University studies—Erskine Payton of Paw Paw, Michigan
World languages and literatures—Noah Braasch of Portage, Michigan
For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.