Sage Project Class of 2023

2023 Honorees


Mike Derifield

Mika Derifield
Major: Nursing
Class standing: Junior

Nominated by: Mahli Xuan Mechenbier

Mika returned to college at the age of 26. While in her first year of Nursing classes at KSU Regional Academic Center in Twinsburg, Mika's sister passed away, and Mika stepped up for her sister’s infants and teenage daughter. Balancing school, caring for family, a job, and student debt will always require creative solutions.  Mika has been able to plan, stick to a schedule, sacrifice her own self-care, and balance responsibilities while being resolute and focused in the classroom.  However, Mika still took the time to assist a journalism professor in pre-organizing an event for new students at Twinsburg Academic Center. Sometimes "risk" is accepting the daily challenges which life has thrown at you as a student.  How Mika has faced personal obstacles and has succeeded is a reflection of the impact she will undoubtedly make after she graduates.”

Sara Evelyne

Sara Evelyne
Major: Sociology
Standing: Senior

Nominated by Dr. Jessica Leveto

Sara is an exceptional individual who has consistently demonstrated creativity, leadership, risk-taking, and innovation in her personal and academic life. Her resilience and determination to overcome adversity have resulted in her becoming a role model for others, while her passion for serving others reflects her strong leadership qualities. As a single mother, Sara has shown remarkable leadership skills by managing her life as a full-time student and employee while supporting her neurodiverse children. Her decision to return to school, after a decade while she was still recovering from an Acquired Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) showcases her courage and willingness to take risks to pursue a better life for herself and her children. Sara is incredibly tenacious, having faced numerous hardships in her life and her innovative spirit is evident in her passion for writing. Her experiences have not only shaped her time at Kent State, but they have also made her a source of inspiration for her peers and the community.  By sharing her experiences and insights, she has become an advocate for equity and inclusion, inspiring positive change in the lives of those who face similar challenges. Her creativity lies in her ability to connect with others through her writing, breaking barriers, and fostering understanding and empathy. In addition, Sara seeks opportunities to serve others through internships and research. Her resilience, dedication to service, and pursuit of higher education make her an outstanding individual who will continue to inspire and lead others.”

Shane Reese

Shane Reese
Major: Finance
Class Standing: Sophomore

Nominated by: Penelope Cervantes

Shane experienced a significant personal loss in his second semester of college. He utilized campus resources to cope with his trauma and grief and has grown into a strong student leader who is making an impact across campus. Shane is a student leader in Kupita/Transiciones and the Male Empowerment Network (MEN) and is running for a USG position. Despite the adversity of losing his mother, he still kept a good head on his shoulders and looked forward to each day. He helped himself first and now he can help others as a student leader. He constantly inspires others and fills the room with positive affirmations and great energy. Shane is such a pleasure to be around and deserving of this recognition!”

Milam Shah

Milam Shah
Major: Visual Communication Design
Class Standing: Graduate Student

Nominated by: Ash Mierau

Milam came to Kent State as an international student by herself. She went outside her comfort zone and sought out community in as many ways as possible while she was at Kent State. During her time here, she has faced personal medical issues, the loss of her family pet, and the inability to see her family for over a year all while still showing up every day in all spaces of her life at Kent with dedication to her work and studies and care for everyone around her. Through her own desire to make community for herself and a passion to help other international students find community and not feel alone, she has sought out and led initiatives both within and outside of Kent State. She serves as the Graduate Assistant for International Student Affairs, she helps lead an off-campus space for international students called INCK Fine Art Studio (a place for Internationals, the Navigators, and Collegiate at Kent), and she is an active member in both the International Student Council and the Kent Indian Association at Kent State. She goes above and beyond in her roles to reach out to new students, actively engage students already involved, and create new ideas to better suit the needs of international students.”