Seniors honored for academic excellence as 2023 Presidential Scholars

Contact: Deanne Puca

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.