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Students Recognized with Graduate Dean's Citation Awards

May 05, 2020

Students Recognized with Graduate Dean's Citation Awards

*Photo courtesy of Bird + Bird Photography. This image is from the Fall 2019 awards ceremony.

The Graduate School has the great pleasure to honor individuals who have distinguished themselves in graduate education at Grand Valley State University. The Dean’s Citation Awards for Academic Excellence are given to recognize the accomplishments of our students and faculty.

The Dean’s Citation Awards recognize excellence in academic performance in several categories. Graduate students are nominated for these awards by staff or faculty members, advisors, graduate program directors, and departmental chairs or school directors. The Dean of the Graduate School reviews the nominees and approves the final selection.

Grand Valley State University is extremely proud of the accomplishments of these graduate students and graduate faculty members. Congratulations to all!


Seidman College of Business

Sho A. Suzuki, Master of Business Administration
Sho is the top academic performer for his graduating class. He is currently employed at Mary Free Bed using his Finance degree to help sustain and grow that organization.  

College of Community & Public Service

Kayla M. Bates, Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Kayla is a hardworking, disciplined, and focused student who values academic success.  Kayla will be attending Northeastern University in the fall to obtain her Ph.D.

Nicolette G. Keller, Master of Health Administration
Throughout her graduate career, Nicolette has been an exemplary student, being revered as a student you “want to have on your team.” The excellence of her work is apparent in her flawless execution of every class discussion, written assignment, and verbal presentation.

Jordan J. Crandell, Master of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership
Jordan has proven herself not only to be an excellent student but also someone who is dedicated to the nonprofit sector. Jordan has also worked as an Americorps VISTA at the Michigan College Access Network. 

Olivia Rau, Master of Public Administration 
Olivia has demonstrated a high level of academic achievement throughout her studies. She is an active participant in her courses, is always prepared and engaged. She is an outstanding writer and researcher, and very dedicated to her coursework. 

College of Education

Katelynn L. James, Master of Education in School Counseling
Katelynn is keenly aware of marginalized students and is working to create systemic change in equity of opportunities for students, particularly in the area of career development and post-secondary readiness. Her contributions to the field will make a lasting positive impression.

Padnos College of Engineering & Computing

Jeffrey P. Wagner, Master of Science in Computer Information Systems
Jeff has shown to be a model student since the beginning of his program, excelling in every course, despite not having a background in a computing discipline.  Faculty in noted that Jeff was “one of the best” students in the program.

Paige M. Melick, Master of Science in Data Science and Analytics
In addition to her studies, Paige also works full time at Herman Miller. She represents what we all think of as a model student: smart, hardworking, calm, friendly, and energetic.

Samuel C. Kujawski, Master of Science in Health Informatics and Bioinformatics
Sam has excelled academically and been recognized further for his persistence and quality of work. Sam completed an internship Spectrum Health and during this time received a full-time job offer at Epic with their applications analyst team.  

College of Health Professions

Hannah E. Sommers, Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Hannah is a leader in her cohort, displaying a deep understanding of foundational concepts and applied practices in physical therapy. She initiates and engages in rich discussion in the classroom; and constantly considers and plied evidence in clinical practice.  

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Jasmine L. Mancuso, Master of Science in Biology
Jasmine is carrying out her thesis work with the Annis Water Resources Institute in an area intersecting land-use, pollution, water quality and society. She is also an effective writer and teacher with the capacity to inspire future generations.  

Hanna P. Groeber, Master of Health Science
Hanna has shown her talent as a leader, scholar, and researcher. She is interested in anti-tumor immune responses. She will be first author on a manuscript based on her thesis work.

Katelyn J. Ware, Master of Science in Biostatistics 
Katelyn’s academic work shows an attention to detail that is superlative in all respects, and especially in her written submissions and verbal presentations. In addition to her course work and graduate assistantship positions, she also secured an internship at Spectrum Health Office of Research.

Stefanos D. Apostle, Master of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology
While upholding an impressive academic record, Stefanos has maintained a busy research schedule. He completed internships at Empirical Biosciences and the Van Andel Institute.

Elizabeth M. Kheder, Master of Science in Communications
Elizabeth exhibits a level of mastery of subject matter that is rare among graduate students nationally. Elizabeth’s pursuit of graduate education speaks to the heart of her character; deeply passionate about education and committed to learning.

Kirkhof College of Nursing

Amy M. Manderscheid, Doctor of Nursing Practice
Amy has excelled in the classroom, clinical sites, and community organizations while demonstrating the joy of learning as part of a community of scholars. She is a natural leader and has been a mentor to fellow students.

Lesli E. Teed, Master of Science in Nursing 
Lesli is a hardworking, energetic, and dedicated student who has grown professionally during the program. Her evidence-based project that is taking place at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s exemplifies her drive to succeed.  


College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Paige M. Kleindl, Master of Science in Biology
Thesis Title: Impacts of Shoreline Restoration and Source of Nutrient Enrichment on Macrophytes and Epiphytic Algal Communities
Thesis Committee: Dr. Alan Steinman (Chair) –Annis Water Resources Institute, Dr. Mark Luttenton – Department of Biology, Dr. Erica Young – Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Paige’s thesis research, conducted at the Annis Water Resources Institute, centered on evaluating the effectiveness of shoreline restoration in Muskegon Lake, with a special focus on macrophytes and epiphytic algae that attach to the macrophytes. Paige successfully defended her thesis this past October and has recently been accepted to the Ph.D. program at Florida International University.


College of Education

Erin R. Kuhn, Master of Education in Instruction and Curriculum
Project Title: Second Language Acquisition Instructional Methods in the World Language Classroom
Project Advisor: Dr. Nagnon Diarrassouba – College of Education

Erin created a well-written, research-based project that provides world language teachers with strategies to be effective and to end the isolation of practitioners in rural areas. Her project will help alleviate the professional isolation of teaching in rural, northern Michigan school districts.

Kyra Short, Master of Education in School Counseling 
Project Title: Trauma-Informed Practices: A School Counselor Facilitated Professional Development
Project Advisor: Dr. Shawn Bultsma – College of Education

Kyra’s project focused on the challenges that students impacted by trauma face as they struggle in school. Her focus on advocacy and recommending systems support serve as a model for professionals and could inform a position statement for the school counseling profession.

Padnos College of Engineering & Computing

Michael J. Wynne, Master of Science in Engineering
Project Title: Tesla M3 Line 2 Production Work Balance
Project Advisor: Dr. Charles Standridge – School of Engineering

Michael’s project deals with the design of a new production line at Yanfeng Automotive in Holland, Michigan. Furthermore, a journal article based on this work is planned for submission to the International Journal of Industrial Engineering Computation.

Wanda G. Sankey, Master of Science in Health Informatics and Bioinformatics 
Project Title: VCF Stats Search
Project Advisor: Dr. Guenter Tusch – School of Computing and Information Systems

Working with scientists at Van Andel Institute, as a part of her capstone project, Wanda developed a single application to easily create statistical outputs for VCF (variant call format) files, saving researchers time and computing expenses. She by far exceeded the expectations for a capstone project.  

College of Health Professions

The Department of Physical Therapy has selected a group for this semester’s Outstanding Final Project Award.

Olivia C. Bruck, Haley M. Ewald, and Courtney N. Pepper, Physical Therapy
Project Title: The Effects of Various Canes on Degree of postural Sway During a Simulated Forward Fall
Project Advisor: Dr. Meri Goehring – Department of Physical Therapy

This project demonstrates excellence in conception, merit, significance, and presentation. The students diligently and thoroughly performed their literature search, refined their research question, submitted their final approved manuscript and successfully defended their research project.

Eva L. Kool, Master of Public Health 
Project Title: Association between prescription opioid distribution and overdose deaths in Michigan, 2014-2018
Project Advisor: Dr.Kathryn Barnhart – Department of Public Health  

Eva’s final project reflects professionalism and her commitment to producing ethical and important scholarly work. The project addressed a critical public health issue: the current opioid epidemic, which has led to overdose becoming the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

College of Liberal & Arts and Sciences

Kathleen G. Tejeda, Master of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology
Project Title: Active Molecular Identification (AMI) Tags: Improving Sample Traceability at NxGen MDx
Project Advisor:  Kyle Ingersoll – NxGen MDx

Kathleen’s project was conducted using PCR optimization techniques to design a new generation of AMI tags that contained improved primer sequences.  During her internship at Nxgen MDx, Kathleen was promoted to a molecular technologist and shortly afterward began testing for coronavirus to diagnose COVID-19 cases in Michigan.

Kirkhof College of Nursing

Briauna J. Taylor, Doctor of Nursing Practice 
Project Title: Incentivizing Healthy Food Choices among Uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetic Patients to Improve Food Insecurity, Depressive Symptoms, and Glycemic Control
Project Advisor: Dr. Karen Burritt – Kirkhof College of Nursing

Briauna is an interdisciplinary entrepreneur as she is the co-founder of a medical device company that is currently seeking FDA approval of a sit to stand device that was developed by members of nursing, physical therapy, and engineering at GVSU.


College of Health Professions   

Jerika Schmitt, Doctor of Physical Therapy
Publication Title:
Providing paediatric power wheelchairs in the USA then and now: a survey of providers
Co-Authors: Dr. Lisa Kenyon – Department of Physical Therapy, Dr. Sango Otieno – Department of Statistics, and Laura Cohen – Rehabilitation & Technology Consultants, Arlington VA   

Jerika took lead roles in the analysis, interpretation, and presentation of the findings of this 2018 survey.  She also developed all of the tables and figures for the manuscript and wrote the initial draft of parts of both the results and discussion sections.  Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology:


College of Community & Public Service

Kelli J. DeLong, Master of Health Administration
Kelli has secured several state and federal grants to secure funding to address the health needs of low-income populations. She currently is employed by the YMCA, addressing the chronic and social determinants of health needs of low-income Muskegon residents.

Katherine F. Potter, Master of Public Administration
Katherine’s work for the State of Michigan has her at the front lines of serving those most affected by the economic losses stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.  Her dedication and expertise are essential to the public interest and a prosperous and healthy future. 

College of Health Professions

Courtney A. Tuinier, Doctor of Physical Therapy
Courtney has served faithfully and exceptionally in her role as the APTA National Student Assembly Core Ambassador to Michigan.  In this role, she has served as a conduit of critical information from our national association, organized student events, and helped in the formation of the MPTA Student Special Interest Group.

Diana N. Rutaremara, Master of Public Health 
Diana has shown passion and commitment to making sure people in our community know their HIV status by volunteering at the Grand Rapids Red Project. Diana’s commitment to improving the health of the community goes above and beyond the general requirements for graduate school and her service has the potential to impact multiple communities.

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Mark J. Cunningham, Master of Cell and Molecular Biology
Mark helped developing members of the profession by assisting with laboratory techniques and providing writing feedback for students. Within the community, Mark led a “Fall in Love with STEM” event at GVSU where he led groups making models of DNA with food.  

Kirkhof College of Nursing

Laura N. Love, Doctor of Nursing Practice
Laura worked exceptionally hard to establish herself in a local low-income senior housing community in order to complete her research project “Self-Monitoring of Blood Pressure in Community Dwelling Seniors.” She truly cares about the people of this community and has used her evidence-based research to help a vulnerable population attain better health.


College of Community & Public Service

Brent S. Reed, Master of Health Administration
Brent has demonstrated leadership in the classroom through excellence in written assignments, oral presentations, and effective team leadership. He has served as President of the Healthcare Graduate Professional Student Association who led several MHA students to the 2019 annual ACHE Congress. 

College of Health Professions

Justyna M. Marasco, Doctor of Physical Therapy
Justyna is an energetic and enthusiastic young woman who puts 110% of her energy into everything that she undertakes. As President of the Class of 2020, she has been integral pulling together students to serve in the International Physical Therapy Day of Service.

Dami Olufosoye, Master of Public Health
Dami has volunteered her time with the Cook Leadership Academy to connect with mentors and community members, served as a member for both the Vice Provost Student Advisory Board, and was one of multiple students who presented at the Teach-in last fall, volunteering her time to raise awareness about issues relating to social justice.

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Ikenna P. Njoku, Master of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology
Through his role as Financial Office with PAGS, Ikenna played an important role in generating student interest, and procuring funds for a unique workshop offered to the PSM students at GVSU. Ikenna has shown a willingness to serve the graduate student population and make a difference in the graduate student community.


College of Health Professions

Samantha J. Taylor, Doctor of Physical Therapy
Sam is a student coordinator for the GVSU physical therapy pro bono clinic.  Throughout her role, she has demonstrated a strong commitment to our very diverse patient population, including making sure all patients have interpreters when needed to improve our patient care.


Kirkhof College of Nursing

Emily L. Kraus Doctor of Nursing Practice
Emily’s final project identified a need for improving the use of do not resuscitate (DNR) orders on patients who wished to not have CPR at the end of life in a local health system. Her work is particularly important during the global pandemic, which contributes to her global citizenship.

3-MINUTE THESIS COMPETITION: 2020 First Place Winner

The Graduate School hosted GVSU’s fifth annual 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition on February 12, 2020.  Students presented their independent research in exactly three minutes with the aid of one static PowerPoint slide.  A panel of faculty judges from a variety of disciplines at GVSU determined the winner.

Kirkhof College of Nursing

Afokoghene H. Odhu, Doctor of Nursing Practice
Title: Improving Annual Dilated Retinal Screening in Type 2 Diabetic Patients
Advisor: Dr. Karen Roberts Burritt

As Afo developed his DNP project work, he identified that the organization had identified a need to improve retinal screening in persons with type 2 diabetes.  Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness and vision loss among persons with type 2 diabetes.  By improving annual screening rates, Afo’s project has the potential to help prevent vision loss in vulnerable populations.


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Page last modified May 5, 2020