2021-22 Departmental Awards

Acknowledging excellence in a specific field of study, these Kent State Stark students are honored by faculty members within the discipline.





Jessica has a strong academic record and an ‘exceptional’ undergraduate studio portfolio.  She experiments with a range of medias and pushes traditional artistic mediums.  Her work frequently incorporates other disciplines, like biology, anatomy and mathematics, while other pieces use traditional sculpture materials to build form on a canvas. We believe she’s an excellent nominee for the award.

-- Jeff Leadbetter

No Photo AvailableBETHANY HAYNES
Biological Sciences

The Department of Biological Sciences is happy to present Bethany Haynes with the Department Award. She has exceeded in her studies, performing exceptionally well in all of her biology courses. She is very personable and has been a pleasure to have in our classes. Bethany also has established herself as a superb researcher, doing research with Dr. Robert Hamilton and Dr. Matthew Lehnert, and is currently writing a chapter with Dr. Lehnert about the cuticle composition (inorganic elements) of different cicada species. Bethany is a remarkable and productive student, all while raising three children and working while attending school; the biology faculty have a tremendous amount of respect for her. Bethany intends to go to graduate school and pursue studies of insect-plant relationships, and we have no doubt that she will continue to do great things.

-- Dr. Matthew S. Lehnert

No Photo AvailableSPENCER DAILEY

Spencer Dailey is a freshman Chemistry major who has excelled in classes at both the Stark and Tuscarawas campuses. He plans to pursue the biochemistry concentration in the major. His performance in General Chemistry lecture and lab classes during this year has been exemplary. I have recommended him as tutor for future Gen Chem students. For Spencer, it’s not just about the grade but also about dedication to learning. Absolutely top-notch with a strong scientific mind, he is one of the best students I have ever had.

-- Dr. Urmila Pal Chaudhuri

Communication Studies

From her first semester as a high-performing student in Professor Waite’s Intro to Communication course to excelling in the internship she is completing as her capstone experience, Mary Hammel has made a lasting impression on the Communication Studies program and the wider Kent State Stark community. Mary is an exemplary student; she is dedicated to her coursework, demonstrates a unique ability to understand advanced disciplinary concepts and is one of the strongest writers we have in our program. She is also a leader in the classroom –– frequently helping others understand course content and encouraging them to consider multiple viewpoints regarding important topics. This ability to connect with others and guide them out of their comfort zone stems from Mary’s own willingness to do the same; Mary is confident in who she is, yet always eager to engage with new perspectives. Beyond the classroom, Mary has served as vice president of the Communication Club in addition several other roles across campus; even during the most challenging months of the pandemic she used these opportunities to connect with students who were new to our campus and major. We are proud of Mary’s accomplishments in our program and are excited that she has decided to continue her education by pursuing a master’s degree at Franciscan University of Steubenville. We are proud to recognize Mary as our 2021-22 Departmental Award winner and cannot wait to see all that she will achieve in the future!

-- Dr. Patrick Dillon

Criminology & Justice Studies

Roy Patton is an Integrative Studies major who is minoring in Sociology and Pre-Law. He has successfully completed several Criminology and Justice Studies courses, and faculty speak very highly of him. For example, Dr. Haas pointed out that he has excellent written communication skills and is a leader in discussion groups. Additionally, Dr. Chopko noted that he stood out among other outstanding students, particularly during regular virtual meetings after class. When Roy is not in class, he is working overnight shifts at a jail and spending time with his young children. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career as an attorney. 

-- Dr. Mary Gallagher


It is our pleasure to recognize Max Gangl. In his coursework in Principles of Microeconomics and Principles of Macroeconomics, Max has shown himself to be a dedicated, diligent student whose work applies course concepts to the real world with relevant insights and attention to detail. Max is clearly worthy of recognition for his outstanding work in Economics. 

 -- Dr. Lucas Engelhardt and Dr. Deepraj Mukherjee


The Department of English is pleased to present our Academic Achievement Award to Jeremiah Harbour. A senior English major pursuing a minor in Creative Writing, Jeremiah has an Associate Degree in English from Stark State College. At Kent State University at Stark, he has been on the Dean’s list for three straight semesters, works as a tutor in the Writing Center, and is a member of the English Club and Sigma Tau Delta International English Honors Society. As a founding member of Stark’s Creative Writing Club, he led the club’s “Sonnet Night,” teaching participants about Petrarchan and Shakespearean sonnets, and participated in a day of Joy Harjo events at the Kent Campus. He is a powerful writer with a clear voice who does not shy away from complicated texts and instead pushes himself until he finds the answer, and he is a dedicated student known for his enthusiasm and eagerness to help others. As Professor Jessica Jones stated in her nomination, “perhaps most importantly, Jeremiah exhibits kindness, honesty, and a welcoming sense of community in all of his interactions, both within and without the classroom.” After graduation this spring, he plans to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, to continue to “use poetry to expand on how we view the world around us” and to “pursue a lifelong career in writing and research.” Congratulations, Jeremiah, this award is well-earned! The faculty of the English Department are proud of you and excited to follow your future successes!

-- Dr. Mary Rooks

Geography & Environmental Studies

The Geography and Environmental Studies program honor Max Miller with our Department Award this year. Max majors in Environmental Studies with a GPA of 3.907. He has taken courses such as Physical Geography, Geographic Information Sciences, Nature and Society and more within our program over this academic year. According to Dr. Chris Post, “Max possesses an innate ability to think critically and write effectively. He also asks inquisitive questions and provides excellent feedback to discussion prompts.” Dr. Melissa Phillips adds, “Max was always engaged in the online classroom.  His contributions to course discussions illustrated substantial effort which furthered academic enrichment and increased the sense of community in the classroom.” Dr. Taylor agrees, saying, “He has shown that he is able to sustain self-driven projects and learning because he cares about doing things completely and well. For example, in the GIS course, students need to work solo for most of the course. Max has done well with navigating the complex software and technology. His love for the environment and his desire to prepare himself for future career work has caught our attention.”  

-- Dr. Chris Post


April has been an outstanding student and departmental citizen. Her grades are excellent. She has served this past year as the president of GEODES. She has managed to hold several meetings, even though students are scattered due to COVID and other issues. She led the development of two videos, made by GEODES, that were presented to third graders at the Judith Resnick School in Akron. One video was on rock types, and one was on matter and conservation. The videos were presented to the students, and then GEODES, led by April, did a live Q & A with the students. The students and teachers loved this and the teachers would like to make it a yearly event. She also worked in the Mudroom, collecting baseline water quality data for the Stark Campus in our new educational water well field. She and the other participating students presented a poster on their work at the AURCO conference recently and were awarded runner-up for students. April has thus excelled while at Stark and is very deserving of this award.

-- Dr. Carrie Schweitzer and Dr. Eric Taylor


Tanner is hardworking and loves history. His passion for the subject comes through in every class and assignment as well as in his work outside of class. Tanner is a Civil War reenactor which allows him to extend his learning beyond the classroom. Tanner has worked for the past year as an intern at the MAPS museum working on researching the Korean War and helping to create new exhibits. He also has served as an undergraduate research assistant, developing his research skills as well as his writing. Faculty in the history department describe him as "witty", "self-deprecatory", "thoughtful" and "non-doctrinaire". Tanner always wants to improve and is open to all suggestions as he strives to become the best historian he can be. We are excited to see where his love of history takes him as he graduates this spring and begins the next steps in his journey.

-- Dr. Leslie Heaphy

Honors Program

Kellie Kordinak is a junior honors student, majoring in translation and history. From the day Kellie started her college career she has been involved in the Honors Program. She serves on the Honors Program Student Council, attends events regularly and has shown great leadership. Kellie has a passion for helping and this year she took the lead on the Anti-Human Trafficking programming hosted by Honors. Kellie showed initiative, creativity, leadership and organization in planning these events. Kellie exemplifies all the qualities we look for in an Honors Student and we are proud to name her as this year's award winner. 

-- Dr. Leslie Heaphy

Human Development & Family Studies

The Human Development and Family Studies department at Kent State Stark recognizes Kaitlyn Wallace as the 2021-22 department award winner. She was selected for her academic accomplishments, hard work and engagement in the field. Kaitlyn is always prepared for class, willing to help her peers and lead by example. She represents the values, dedication and altruistic spirit that HDFS is based upon. The Human Development and Family Studies department faculty are proud of your academic achievements and know this is the beginning of a successful personal and professional journey. 

-- Prof. Lisa Hallaman and the Kent State Stark HDFS Department

Long Term Care Administration

Autumn has shown exceptional abilities in her coursework as evidenced by her achieving a GPA over 3.5. Her performance in the classroom placed her at the top of her class. Her passion for serving older adults is second to none. She began her two-semester 1,000-hour internship fall 2021 and has excelled during her hands-on experience, learning all aspects of Long Term Care Administration. It's been a pleasure working with her in the classroom and during her internship. We are certain that she will continue to excel in her career. 

-- Prof. Donna Alexander

Management & Information Systems

Anthony, a non-traditional student, exemplifies all the hallmarks that instructors desire in a student we get the honor to instruct here at the Stark Campus of Kent State University. He is diligent, cooperative and supportive of his peers, always thinks deeply about the issues or topics being discussed in class and proffered as graded assignments, he offers different perspectives, and readily challenges the points of view of not only his peers, but also the instructor. His eagerness to learn and apply what he is learning in how he approaches class discussions, assignments and projects is constantly evident. He is both curious and serious about the return on his investment in higher education and his subsequent accumulation of knowledge, as he is perpetually engaged. All who have had the honor to instruct him thoroughly appreciate his presence both in and beyond class because he always always offers a different point of view and never shies away from asking the difficult questions. We admire his determination, consistency, and commitment to his current education and learning, and harbor no doubt we will be honored in his continuing journey through academia in the future. Anthony is focused on truly learning and is not just here to get a degree.

-- Dr. Greg Blundell, Dr. Claudia Gomez, Dr. Victor Berardi and Dr. Vaneet Kaur

Marketing & Entrepreneurship

I had Olivia in many of my marketing classes. Olivia is a brilliant student. She showed an exceptional ability to creatively perform her assignments and marketing projects. Olivia is a very hard-working student. The quality of her work is outstanding. Olivia is meticulous and has constantly demonstrated her fervent interest in marketing. Her academic performance in the marketing program was noteworthy, she can certainly go too far. Bravo, Olivia!

-- Dr. Haithem Zourrig

I have had the fortunate opportunity to instruct Olivia in several marketing courses.  The courses that I have taught pushed Olivia into different areas, sometimes uncomfortable. She never faltered but rather responded extremely well in learning new concepts and furthering her marketing knowledge to take into her marketing career.

-- Prof. Don Thacker

Mathematical Sciences

Cameron Gmitra is a student at Kent State University at Stark, and a Choose Ohio First (COF) scholar in the STEMM program. She is a Mathematics major with an Actuarial concentration. She has done exceptionally well in all mathematics courses. Currently, she is taking mathematics courses in the Kent Campus and the Stark Campus. As a member of Cohort 4 of the COF STEMM grant, she is expected to complete undergraduate research with a faculty member. She has already done so. In spring 2021, she completed a research project while being funded as an Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA). The project was entitled “Geometrical Portraits of Infinite Series.” The results of this project have been presented at the Symposium on Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Endeavors at Kent State University. In addition, the research was submitted to the College Mathematics Journal (CMJ) as a “proof without words” article (under review). In Summer 2022, she was selected as a Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE) scholar with full funding to work on an undergraduate research project with Dr. Bathi Kasturiarachi. Her goal is to become an actuary. She will sit for her actuarial exams in the next year and hopes to complete two of them before her graduation in Spring 2023, with high excellence. 

-- Dr. Bathi Kasturiarachi

Middle Childhood Education

The Middle Childhood Department award recipient is given to an individual who is an exceptional student and also exemplifies qualities of a great teacher. Madison Swartzentruber is a creative, persistent and thoughtful student who completes assignments with her future students in mind. Her communication and compassion make her an excellent leader and collaborator. Madison has proven she is a flexible learner and teacher, she is always ready to learn something new, and her compassion inspires those around her. Madison is one of the first to volunteer, the first to submit an assignment, and the first to dress like a Disney Princess. I have no doubt she will be a first-rate teacher, too!

-- Dr. Shelly Heron

No Photo AvailableMARIA STEVE
Modern & Classical Languages / French

Among my excellent students in Intermediate French this year, each with their strengths, Maria Steve stands out as exceptional in all facets of French with her accuracy in grammar and pronunciation, ease of speaking, comprehension of spoken French, and her ability to analyze French literature. However, she really caught my attention in Intermediate French II, for which she wrote the best short story I have read from a student since I began teaching French in 1988. Not only does she fully master French's two main past tenses and use them without error in the appropriate contexts, but she also creates an other-worldly atmosphere in her story that fully engrosses the reader. It is with great pleasure that I have chosen Maria to receive the MCLS French award for academic year 2021-2022.          

-- Dr. Paula Sato


I have had the pleasure of working with Nikki Cvammen as her private voice teacher during her time on campus. Nikki is the rare student that reminds you why you love teaching, and she always goes above and beyond what is asked of her. Nikki stepped into the choreographer role in Chorale, took the stage in the musical “Once,” and has been involved in numerous student ensembles on campus. In addition to being involved in several projects at Kent Stark, she has composed and released her own music. Her diverse skills as a vocalist, composer, choreographer, and producer will serve her well as she leaves our campus and begins her career in the industry.

-- Dr. Sebastian Birch


Shelbee is a dedicated student, role model, and leader that consistently goes above and beyond. She is personable, respectful, compassionate, kind and continuously strives for excellence in the nursing care she provides. She will be an absolutely amazing registered nurse!

-- Dr. Chrissy Kauth

No Photo AvailableNICOLE DEIBEL
Psychological Sciences

The Psychology faculty are pleased to present this year's Departmental Award to Nicole Deibel. Nicole shows a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and passion for the field of psychology - and rises to the top of each class. It has been my honor and pleasure to have Nicole in multiple classes. Regardless of the topic, I could always count on Nicole to be engaged and enthusiastic, asking great questions, and demonstrating a clear desire to learn more.  Her written work consistently showed her ability to digest and summarize primary sources (I’m specifically thinking about some really tough articles in Biopsychology). Even when COVID forced many courses to go remote, Nicole continued to persist in her enthusiasm for and dedication to her studies. I could always count on Nicole to be a bright light during those tough circumstances. I and the other members of the Psychology faculty wish her continued success in the future.  

-- Dr. Julie K. Cremeans-Smith


Andreas Hilterbrand is a Sociology major. He excels in his Sociology courses while working 30 hours per week at multiple jobs, and faculty are impressed with his classroom performance and developing research skills. For example, Dr. Shura noticed his high-quality work in her Sociological Theories course. Additionally, Dr. Haas pointed out that he is currently researching barriers to college completion among African American, male students. After graduation, Andreas will begin a graduate program in Higher Education Administration at The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss).

-- Dr. Mary Gallagher


Hailey was in my Art of Theatre class and approached me early this semester to inquire about how she might take part in our winter production of 'The Fish Must Die'. That evening she found herself sitting as the show’s Stage Manager, until two weeks later when she stepped into the show to cover for an actor who needed to leave due to health reasons. Hailey had ten days to create and learn her part and did so with great proficiency. While performing in 'The Fish Must Die', Hailey enrolled in our Theatre Movement Class, this semester, where she has continued to grow as a performer and collaborator. Hailey’s served as Assistant Stage Manager for our spring production of 'Once: the Musical'. Hailey’s work on 'Once' was indispensable to our show’s success. Her hard work, commitment and passion set the perfect tone backstage and at rehearsals. Her reliability put everyone at ease and gave our show a strong footing toward accomplishing the many set changes, instrument tunings and traffic patterns going on backstage. We are quite grateful to have her on board and on our team.

-- Prof. TC Mavis Jennings