Departmental Awards

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





I have known Corban as a student in two of my classes: Macroeconomics and Business Analytics II. Corban is a bright and enthusiastic student. He participates regularly and effectively in class discussions, and his comments are always focused and well-reasoned. Corban addresses the pertinent material with great skill and insight. In classroom discussions, Corban can be relied on to not only break silences when they arise but to provide insights that move the conversation forward. I am pleased to have the opportunity to recommend Corban as an outstanding student in economics and wish him all the best in all his future endeavors.

-- Dr. Deepraj Mukherjee

In my Business Analytics class, Corban stood out as a student who was willing to participate - taking risks in offering answers to tricky questions - and to put forth an effort to understand the material and help his classmates do the same. These traits make Corban a real asset in the classroom.

-- Dr. Lucas Engelhardt


The Middle Childhood Education program came quickly to a decision about our choice for our department’s academic award - Julianne Agnonne has been a standout in our program from the moment she walked in the door. You will notice three things about Julianne: Julianne is one of the most positive people you will ever meet. She is always ready with a smile and encouraging word for her fellow classmates. Julianne embodies the middle childhood teacher spirit. She is funny, inquisitive, and deeply reflective.
Julianne is READY to lead her own classroom. She is charismatic in front of students and engages them in content in creative ways.

We are so proud that Julianne has been a part of our program!

-- Dr. Lori Wilfong


Leah Andoloro leads a life of the mind that is in balance. To start with the obvious: she double majors in history and in math – a combination thought by most undergraduates to be impossible and one, ever since the ancient Greeks, seldom observed in real life. Just as she can get these two disciplines -- each of which operates by a rather different mindset -- to bear on one another, in her approach to history she brings elements to bear on one another that, on the surface, seemingly appear as opposites, but in reality are integral parts of the whole:

  • she is open-minded yet skeptical;
  • she is insistent but comes across as gentle;
  • she is committed to testing her hypotheses;
  • and she is firmly convinced that every argument must be vetted by corrective questions.

These qualities are the very essence of a balanced approach and they have made her a formidable historian! They are also defining features of the kind of colleague everyone will want to have.

-- Dr. Ralph Menning

Mathematical Sciences

Mathematics is a humbling subject at every level, but particularly for undergraduates, who are faced with a paradigm shift somewhere between college-level calculus and the “real world”. More advanced mathematics classes require students to contend with unfamiliar ideas at a higher level of abstraction and a correspondingly higher level of mathematical rigor. This is a challenge that confronts everyone who has ever studied the subject, and it is always a pleasure to see a student rise to it.

Leah has produced superior work this year, in classes including the Modern Algebra sequence, Theory of Numbers, Ordinary Differential Equations, and Theory of Matrices. Across disparate fields, she has consistently handled new concepts and techniques with dexterity. Her work has shown not only a deep understanding of the material but also the ability to express it in clear mathematical language. She is a deserving recipient of our department’s award for 2020.

-- Dr. Oliver Ruff


Leslie Bast is an important contributor to our young environmental studies program. She has been a discussion leader in several courses, always willing to be the first to present or to lead class activities. She actively communicates with faculty and seeks out additional educational opportunities, including an internship with YMCA Camp Tippecanoe this summer. Leslie is professional in her class demeanor and proactive in all class endeavors, showing a strong commitment to her own success as well as the success of her peers. Leslie also exemplifies the wider mission across all campuses forming the Kent State University family—and she has taken classes at both Kent and Stark. Her insight into class discussion is transformative through relating content in an academic setting to the everyday lived experience of our students and communities. She is creative in her ability to connect advanced topics to local contexts and is inclusive in her interaction with other students. Congratulations to Leslie Bast on an award well earned.

-- Dr. Chris Post


Steve Beck has quietly but surely revealed himself to be one of the best students in our program over his four years here. A multi-instrumentalist whose talents include everything from the Trumpet to the Sitar, Steve has also applied his natural curiosity to his creative efforts as well. He has excelled in our Music Composition courses, writing pieces that would earn him praise in many a larger program. As a music production student he has created a variety of works ranging from rock to classical-styled film scores. One of his projects - a redo of the soundtrack for a Pixar short - was so effective that it not only outdid the original professional composer's efforts by far, but was so emotionally effective and sad that we were asked to stop showing it to potential visiting student as a "highlight project" because of how many people it made cry. Steve has done his work well, and we hope that he translates these efforts as a soon-to-be graduate into a great career that we can all be proud.

-- Dr. Mark Nowakowski

It has been a real pleasure to work with Steve in my composition classes. He has written a series of excellent works. Special mention goes to his string quartet and woodwind quintet. His work, Bloom, was selected by CUSP for a performance by the new music ensemble Alia Musica PIttsburgh at the Bop Stop October 27, 2019. 

-- Dr. Sebastian Birch

I have had the pleasure of working with Steve as his private guitar instructor during his time on our campus. Steve is an eager learner who works diligently regardless of the style or the challenge that he is presented with. In addition to being involved in several working projects outside of school, he has been part of some of our campus's finest ensembles. Steve's diverse skill set as a guitarist, composer, and producer will serve him well as he leaves our campus and begins his career in the industry.

-- Erin Vaughn

Music Technology

Jake is a quiet, thoughtful, and reflective young man. I have had the tremendous pleasure of working with him in a variety of settings--supervising him as a student worker, coaching him in several ensembles, as a private student on mandolin, and in a variety of classes. His work is always of the highest quality. I was particularly knocked out by his writing in rock history. He is responsible, reliable, and I do not think that I have ever heard him complain about anything. It has been a joy watching Jake grow and develop as a musician, producer, and as a person in his time with us.

-- Erin Vaughn

Jake is quiet and steady, dependable, and always bringing his best effort and attitude. In short, he has always been a student in Music Production who has raised the level of those around him by both his winning demeanor and the regular quality of his work. He is a standout in an already very strong senior class, and has done everything to develop the professional and personal skills to be a standout in his industry as well. We wish him all the best!

-- Dr. Mark Nowakowski

Criminology and Justice Studies

Jamie Campbell is being honored with the Criminology and Justice Studies award because of her hard work throughout her four years at Kent State University at Stark. She has been able to maintain a 4.0 GPA while working and going to school for a career in law. Jamie has been accepted at the University of Akron School of Law and will begin classes toward her law degree in the fall. Jamie is also a member of the National Honors Society, Alpha Phi Sigma, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, President’s List and Dean’s List. In addition, Jamie has maintained an extremely high standard of work product and will settle for nothing less than superior quality in all that she does. I am constantly amazed at the effort she puts into everything she has achieved. I know Jamie will be a credit to Kent State University at Stark and a brilliant attorney one day very soon. I am proud to offer my congratulations for all that she has accomplished!

-- Dr. Beth A. Campbell

Communication Studies

The Communication Studies faculty congratulate Marcia Casey on earning the 2019-2020 Communication Studies Departmental Award! Marcia is an organizational communication major and will graduate in the spring of 2020 with an interpersonal communication minor. Marcia is a dedicated student with superb work ethic, a kind and engaging spirit, and is an advocate for the department and her peers. Marcia is described as being joyful, willing to go the extra mile, and a leader inside the classroom and out. Marcia contributes significantly to classes as she brings a wealth of experience and wisdom to discussions, projects, and presentations. What’s more, she has earned a 4.0 GPA overall. The faculty are incredibly proud of you, Marcia, and thank you for being a valued member of our community! We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

-- Dr. Erin E. Hollenbaugh & Dr. Paul Sommer

Management and Information Studies

It is a pleasure to introduce you to Ms. Kylee Cheatwood, the 2019-2020 Kent State University Stark Campus business management award recipient. While choosing a single student for such an award is never an easy task, the management faculty unanimously agree that Kylee is wholly deserving of such recognition.

Ms. Cheatwood exemplifies what it means to be #KentStateStrong, whether it is in her academic studies, her professional pursuits, or her personal and family commitment. She has earned the respect of faculty, students, and colleagues alike. As a student, Kylee has achieved an excellent major GPA and is a positive force in the classroom. Whether it is asking insightful questions or being a positive, conscientious team member on group projects, she exemplifies leadership. Kylee has an internship at the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHoF), where several Stark Campus business alumni work, and to a person, they speak and think highly of Ms. Cheatwood, enough so, that Kylee was invited to become a member of one of the NIHoF’s standing committees even though she is not a full-time employee…yet?

As a first-generation college student, Ms. Cheatwood is a beacon of strength and optimism to her family and friends alike and a true role model to her young daughter. Kylee had even figured out a way to do a study away program in Florence, Italy, over spring break where it took a pandemic to stop her. When discussing it with her after she learned of the cancellation, Kylee was, of course, disappointed but stoically carried on, choosing to focus on the true blessings she has been bestowed and not bemoaning her loss. Our conversation literally brought tears to my eyes and made me realize, I should aspire to be more like her: optimistic, gritty, and determined. True respect.

With the highest regards, and on the behalf of all the business management faculty, I present to you Ms. Kylee Cheatwood, the 2019-2020 Kent State University Stark Campus business management student of the year.

-- Dr. Victor Berardi

Honors Program

I am pleased to present this year’s Honors Department Award to Zac Cino. Zac embodies everything we as teachers all look for in the exemplary student. He works hard and has stellar grades, never missing assignments and always prepared for class. What has really impressed me about Zac is his willingness and interest in being challenged, of stepping out of his comfort zone. The whole idea of honors is to challenge students and Zac has met that challenge head on, starting with his first trip abroad to China. Zac has stepped up every time he has been asked, whether it was to help with the Chinese students or the conversation partner program, Zac has been a leader. Zac has developed in to a real leader and I am so excited to see where life takes him next. I am so excited to be able to present him with this year’s Honors Program Award. Thank you Zac for meeting every challenge with a smile and a desire to do more.

-- Dr. Leslie Heaphy

Global Education Studies

Isabelle (Bell) travelled outside of the country for the first time in March 2019 on a study abroad trip to Kigali, Rwanda. She was highly engaged upon her return and developed civic engagement projects for her community.

Bell described her trip as “transformative” as it shifted her career trajectory and sparked an interest in international humanitarian medical work. Bell had plans to travel to Vietnam and Nepal in 2020, but both trips were unfortunately cancelled due to health concerns. Bell’s global perspective and international travel will inevitably impact her work as a nurse. I have no doubt she will create positive change for her patients and community. Her positive demeanor and ability to adapt in uncertain situations creates an encouraging and constructive environment for her peers. In Rwanda, she consistently stayed upbeat and optimistic, even amid long days and heavy content.

These characteristics make her a natural leader and she will be an asset to any future team, whether it is another study abroad trip exploring the issues facing the world, a medical brigade alleviating acute physical needs, or among her peers and community.

-- Sarah Schmidt

Biological Sciences

The Department of Biological Sciences is happy to give Rena Fonseca the Academic Achievement Award. Without any doubt, Rena is the heart of the undergraduate student body, not only in biology, but also of the entire Stark Campus. Rena’s lists of accomplishments are long. As a researcher, Rena has given oral presentations at two national conferences and she is currently a coauthor on two manuscripts soon to be submitted to peer-reviewed scientific journals. As a student, Rena excels in her studies, always making her academic successes a priority. It is because of her role as President of Bio Club for the past two years, and her indefatigable nature, that the student organization has been so incredibly successful. But where Rena truly shines is her personality and nonchalant attitude towards life. Rena is driven, efficient, confident, responsible, and dependable. Not only is she determined to succeed, but she refuses to accept any less of others, and is constantly looking out for other students, taking time out of her busy day to make sure others are taken care of. Importantly, Rena does all of this while home schooling her two amazing children. I know Rena will go on to do great things in life and she will be missed when she graduates. I feel that many years from now when I look back on my career as a professor and think about the students that truly enriched my experience, Rena will be the first student to come to mind.

-- Dr. Matthew Lehnert


Hanna Jones deserves this recognition for her exemplary work throughout the course on world religions in general, but specifically for her noteworthy research paper entitled “Buddha from another Motherland: On the Cohabitation of Buddhism and Shinto in Japan.” This paper showcased her impressive research abilities and pleasing writing style, and, even more significantly, demonstrated a keen understanding of the ways different religions can develop together, simultaneously upholding their differences and adopting elements from each other in a complicated and fascinating dance through time. In the case of Buddhism and Shintoism, Hanna demonstrated, the relationship between the two religions, while punctuated with periodic violence, possessed certain characteristics which encouraged the melding of various components of the two religions. In particular, Hanna identifies “the established practices of pre-Buddhism Shinto” and its “unique viewpoint of the divine” which “allowed a syncretism between the two religions.” Hanna’s astute observations about the nature of various world religions and the interactions between them were especially manifest in this paper but were not limited to it. Throughout the semester, she showed both an aptitude for critical thought and a respect for the subject matter at hand; a necessary combination for the successful study of religion.

-- Ezra Blaustein


Having come to Kent State University in Spring 2017 from a different university, Joe set out to make an impression. Over the last three years, he has taken on multiple challenges and risen to the occasion. A marketing major at the core, Joe added a complementary advertising concentration from Journalism and Mass Communication. In addition, he obtained the Professional Sales Certificate from Kent State University. During his time at Kent, he has been able to achieve a 3.98 overall GPA.

Joe has been able to demonstrate his Marketing prowess in so many ways. He along with other students have represented Kent State University as a competitor to the International Collegiate Sales Competition at two different events, the Sales Management Case Competition and the Sales Management Simulation Competition, contributing to a ranking of the top twenty universities at the competition. Currently, he is working along with other students on a strategic marketing campaign for SARTA, the local transit authority.

He has always made the most of his opportunities. This past summer, Joe was an intern at Gartner Incorporated, a prominent global research and consulting firm. It is because of his extensive resume; Joe will be beginning as a Retail Development Specialist with the Goodyear Tire Company after graduation.

Overall, he has been a on-going student of Marketing strategy, a contributor, and a team leader among his peers. I am very proud of Joe and have been happy to have led him through his current academic and professional journey.

-- Donald Thacker


Mr. Ryan Lucas, what can I say in this all too brief statement to describe what it has been like to get to know him? I have come to know a person who is strong, resilient and focused; possessing the inner strength and fortitude to rise-up no matter what life throws at him. I could not think of anyone more deserving of recognition for all he brings to the table. Having proven himself to be an invaluable asset to our theatre department he deserves this moment in the sun. One of many I’m sure. He is a talented, resourceful, creative and collaborative worker. He brings with him a generous spirit and ideas to spare. How fortunate we have been to have him around during this particular period in our story. Though he excels creatively, Mr. Lucas has achieved an academic standing to match. I know his future is bright and any team lucky enough to have him will be the better for it. Congratulations Mr. Lucas. Well done! This was a clear and unanimous choice by all in the department. Thank you from all of us!

-- Jim Weaver

Psychological Sciences

Eric Martinez is this year’s recipient of the Psychology Department Award. Psychology faculty agree that Eric consistently displays excellence inside and outside of the classroom.

Dr. Fox describes Eric as “a model for what student engagement with the college experience should be. He is always thinking about course material, and that manifests itself in thoughtful comments that can be counted on to begin class discussions. He can also be counted on for insightful written work which demonstrates a deep understanding and a unique perspective.”

Dr. Betz states that “he really loves research and has a talent for scientific writing. This semester Eric is working as a tutor for both Research Methods and Intensive Writing. I hear excellent reports back from students! …my students’ writing has dramatically improved as a result of his assistance.”

Eric worked with Dr. Cremeans-Smith on an independent research project. She comments that “Eric is dedicated to student success – as demonstrated by his commitment to our tutoring center and offering supplemental instruction for General Psychology classes. Eric’s research on parenting styles and college students’ mindsets and academic outcomes further demonstrates this dedication. He constantly strives to better himself and those around him.”

Congratulations, Eric!

-- Dr. Julie Cremeans-Smith


I’ve had the pleasure of having Robert in class for two semesters now. His passion and pursuit of Spanish is what I hope for from all my students. He would be worthy of this award for his work in the classroom alone. However, he takes his learning beyond the classroom by seeking out real life application of what is covered in class, and brings back to us new twists on concepts we’re working on based on what he discovers in the “real world.” This quality of his makes me a better teacher. Robert has a way of connecting dots to ask questions I haven’t thought of. It keeps me on my toes and forces me to find ways of explaining concepts that most students overlook.

Beyond his personal goals of learning Spanish, Robert is a great citizen of the classroom. He works well with his peers to develop a more refined application of the language in creative ways. I believe Robert exemplifies the high caliber of students we have here at Kent State University.

-- Mason Shuman


It’s our honor to announce Sierra McElwain as the recipient of the Nursing Department Award. From the first day of meeting Sierra in the Sophomore Nursing Orientation, with that big, beautiful smile, and sparkle in her eyes, we knew that Sierra was passionate about nursing from day one of nursing school. What we didn’t know at the time, was that Sierra was not only passionate about nursing, but truly dedicated to the profession. Throughout the nursing program, Sierra has demonstrated optimal levels of personal and professional achievements. She is highly self-motivated and eager to learn. Sierra has utilized evidence-based research and holistic nursing care to guide her interactions with her clients. She actively shares her knowledge with her peers during clinical post-conferences and classroom presentations. Sierra serves as an active member of the student nursing organization- S.C.R.U.B.S., and as a student representative at our monthly faculty staff meetings. A few characteristics that define Sierra are: creative, organized, a strong team player and patient advocate, empathetic, calm, effective communicator, trustworthy, and reliable. While observing Sierra in the Intensive Care Unit during her practicum, she radiated with a positive attitude, compassion, kindness, and confidence that was immeasurable.

-- Cherie Mountain and the Kent State Stark Nursing Department

Computer Science

Alex Sweeney is being recognized with the Computer Science award because of his commitment and wonderful contributions to learning within his field. He started at Kent State Stark as a CCP student and became a full-time student in Fall 2018, making the Dean’s list in each semester since that time. His passion for the subject has been demonstrated in many ways, not least his leadership of the Computer Club of which he became President. Alex is a smart and hard-working student. He has great leadership capabilities and he has organized multiple events in the Computer Club this year. I would like to mention the 3D-printer workshop and “lab tag” contest that has brought together and inspired multiple students from different disciplines. Precise, motivated, a self-learner and confident strong young intellectual man, he devotes himself to work at his best and to be at the top of his discipline. In class, he shares innovative ideas, helps other students in difficulty, and isn’t afraid to ask great questions. He exemplifies the type of student we have here at Kent State University at Stark. We wish him all the best. Congratulations!!!

-- Dr. Angela Guercio


Josh has been a wonderful student among our small rank of geology majors here at Kent State Stark. We have enjoyed having him be a part of our student body in and out of the classroom. He always brought good insights to the classroom discussion as well as a good laugh to our conversations in the field. He got along well with others and made great connections between his studies and real-life circumstances. His own personal experience prepared him to be a great student academically. From what I know about his life outside of college, he strives to be well-balanced and puts forth effort and time to obtain his personal and academic goals. Josh worked closely with Drs. Schweitzer and Taylor as a student research assistant. In this side-by-side mentored work-study, Josh proved himself very reliable and often went beyond the tasks given him. Josh participated in our local GEODES geology club. This highlights his desire to provide service to the community and to seek ways to broaden his experience in geology and academics. We are pleased to offer the departmental award to Josh.

-- Dr. Eric Taylor


Emily has won the English department award because of her outstanding academic achievements and her involvement with the campus, especially with activities related to the English department.

I have only had the pleasure of having Emily in one class, Editing and Publishing I, but she excelled on every assignment and was extremely helpful to classmates. She is super organized and detailed oriented and has highly developed editorial skills. We did some type of group or pair work almost every class period, and our final project was collaborative. Her leadership skills came through in this final assignment; student reflections identified her as by far the most valuable team member. Emily is held in high esteem by both her professors and her classmates.

In addition to her high academic achievements, Emily has been a valuable member of the editorial staff for both of our student publications, Canto and The Writing Center Review. For a number of years, Emily has been a respected Writing Center tutor, who won the Tutor of the Year award last year. Emily was inducted into the English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta and has served as an officer of the English Club and an intern for our department Outreach Committee. By doing so much so well, Emily exemplifies the very best of Kent State University at Stark.

-- Dr. Mary Rooks


Laura Wadsworth is the unanimous choice for, and winner of, the 2019-2020 Sociology Department Award. Her stellar classroom performance and top grades across the required and elective courses fulfill our evaluative criteria for the award. Laura is distinguished by her consistency in demonstrating writing, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Yet Laura’s undoubtedly high intelligence is not the only factor that explains her academic success. She executes a set of highly observable work habits that make her stand out as the ideal student. Daily, Laura reads textbooks and articles, organizes her materials, arrives to class early, submits assignments ahead of due dates, revises work at every opportunity, and assists classmates. Laura’s top place as a student is even more impressive considering her other roles and obligations. Laura typically works at least 30 hours per week and serves a military commitment to the U.S. Army for one weekend per month. Because both her job and military roles require a high level of physical fitness, Laura must also find time for heavy exercise. All these experiences have shaped Laura into a strong, respectful, diligent, and amazing student, leader, and person. We could not be prouder to select Laura Wadsworth as this year’s winner!

-- Dr. Anne Haas