A-Z Index

News Release

April 7, 2022

Northwest recognizes outstanding organizations, leaders, student employees with annual awards

Northwest Missouri State University honored outstanding organizations, students, faculty and staff April 4 during its 12th annual Northwest Awards and Recognition.

For the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted campus activities in the spring of 2020, the campus community filled the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom for the event. The recognition took place virtually during the last two years.

“What a great day to recognize so many students, staff and faculty who have made such a difference in our University,” Northwest Provost Dr. Jamie Hooyman said as she provided the ceremony’s closing remarks. “Imagine all the impact all these nominees have in totality. We want to sincerely thank you for all that you do every day to make our university great and continue to shine the light on working hard and making significant contributions.”

During a brief keynote address to open the ceremony, Associate Professor of Recreation Dr. Tyler Tapps pondered the abilities of superheroes and emphasized the need for leaders to demonstrate humility and availability. Being available, Tapps said, carries more value than being desired.

“I have learned the most valuable prerequisite that there is in higher education,” Tapps said. “The prerequisite for our children becoming proactive and responsible citizens is the availability of enough role models inside and outside of the classroom.”

The Northwest Awards and Recognition is a collaborative celebration to recognize excellence exhibited by students, faculty and staff. The event celebrates awards presented by Student Senate, the Office of Student Involvement, the International Involvement Center, Academic Success and Retention, Student Employment, the Office of Human Resources, the Graduate Office and the B.D. Owens Library.

A complete listing of outstanding nominees appears below. Award recipients are marked with an asterisk and pictured with Hooyman and their nominators’ comments.

Graduate Office

Talitha Santana-Beaz

Talitha Santana-Beaz

Graduate Assistant of the Year

  • Gabbi Day
  • Michael Hummer
  • Varshith Reddy Bairy
  • Talitha Santana-Beaz*
  • Faith Thompson

“Talitha Santana-Baez exemplifies the ideal graduate assistant in her tireless work ethic, impeccable integrity, and generous heart to mentoring her peers and students. Talitha is a calm, realistic problem solver who collaboratively operates in a team structure to support the best outcomes for her peers and her students. She often does so at the cost of her personal time and convenience and performs every duty with meticulous attention to detail. She is thoughtful and proactive in her planning and unfailingly professional in her actions and communications. It has been a pleasure to advise and work with her during her undergraduate and graduate career at Northwest.”

Office of Student Involvement

Council for Exceptional Children

Council for Exceptional Children

Student and Student Organization Awards

Community Leadership
  • Council for Exceptional Children*

“Council for Exceptional Children advocates for appropriate governmental policies, sets professional standards, provides professional development, and helps professionals obtain conditions and resources necessary for effective professional practice. CEC is known as THE source for information, resources and professional development for special educators. Student CEC is open to all majors, and the purpose of this organization is to promote the welfare and education of exceptional children and youth. The activities the members planned and have been contributing to the community through school classrooms is promoting education for students with disabilities in our community.”

Women in Science Society

Women in Science Society

Outstanding New Organization
  • Northwest Student Veteran’s Association
  • Women in Science Society*

“Women in Science Society’s purpose is to bring resources and uplift women in STEM majors/minors. Women in Science Society has contributed to the community by doing community service, uplifting the women in their organization and empowering them to do great things in a male-dominated field.”

Outstanding Program of the Year
  • SAC: Advantage Fireworks
  • SAC: Glow Roller Rink
  • SAC Speaks Lecture Series: Beverly Gooden*

“Beverly Gooden is a speaker that discussed her personal domestic violence story and challenges the question ‘Why did he/she stay?’ in her presentation while inviting the audience to look beyond the surface and into the complexities of domestic violence. With the use of her personal story and powerful emotions throughout the presentation, Gooden was able to capture the attention of the audience in a way that ignited a mindset that focused not on the traditional idea of ‘domestic violence,’ but instead to acknowledge and understand the complexities it. SAC purposely planned the program to be during the National Domestic Violence Awareness month in October. SAC also worked closely with both UPD officers and the North Star advocacy center in Maryville to highlight the resources the Northwest campus and city of Maryville have for victims of domestic violence.”

Dr. Keely Cline and Dr. Brad Gamblin

Dr. Keely Cline and Dr. Brad Gamblin

Outstanding Organizational Advisor
  • Dr. Bayo Joachim for African Student Organization
  • Dr. Shantel Farnan, Dr. Sara Taylor and Tamara Lynn for Council for Exceptional Children
  • CJ Holthaus for the Northwest Horseman’s Association
  • Dr. Keely Cline and Dr. Brad Gamblin for Psi Chi*
  • Dana Mallett for SISTAH
  • Dr. Kori Hoffmann for Student Senate

“Dr. Cline has guided and supported Psi Chi since its inception in 2016, and Dr. Gamblin joined the effort shortly after coming to Northwest in 2017. This partnership in mentoring the honor society is an exceptional example of how faculty can support and empower students to accomplish great things. As a result of their leadership, the honor society has been designated as a Model Chapter in 2017, 2019 and 2020. Through their work with Psi Chi, Dr. Cline and Dr. Gamblin have been able to deepen their connections to students by mentorship, working with students on research projects, some of which have resulted in regional conference presentations, and scholarships to support their efforts. The work of Psi Chi has been truly impressive and would not be possible without the mentorship provided by Dr. Cline and Dr. Gamblin.”

Black Student Union

Black Student Union

Outstanding Organization of the Year
  • Black Student Union*
  • Council for Exceptional Children
  • Delta Sigma Phi – Epsilon Lambda
  • Indian Student Association
  • Sigma Tau Gamma – Theta Chapter
  • Student Activities Council

“BSU strives to embrace Blackness in all its forms by creating an intellectual, cultural and social environment for Northwest through awareness, education and action. BSU has committed themselves to ensure that their members represent the Black experience at Northwest in the most honest and real way, while checking in with the experiences they face on this campus. BSU validates its members and engages in difficult conversations to hold each other accountable. Just this past year, they have held over 15 events and have worked with Sigmas, SISTAH, Men’s Minority Organization, Career Closet, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and NPHC chapters.”

Brady Netzel

Brady Netzel

Student Organization President of the Year
  • Alana Doll, Alpha Sigma Alpha – Phi Phi Chapter
  • Sherry Harper, Black Student Union
  • Nathi Abhilash, Indian Student Association
  • Gustavo Matiello Peixoto, International Student Organization
  • Brady Netzel, Student Activities Council*
  • Macie Spotanski, Women in Science Society

“Brady is deserving of this award because of his dedication, passion and leadership of Student Activities Council for the last three years of his college career. He has shown considerable dedication and responsibility for the organization. He always does what he says he’s going to do and helps to hold every one on the team accountable. He is passionate about bringing fun, educational and exciting opportunities to campus. His leadership has continued to evolve and grow over the last six months I have been advising him. He continually is growing and has begun the process of transitioning out of the role to best prepare for the changes.”

Human Resources

Student Impact Awards

  • Dr. Karen Britt, assistant professor, Department of Fine and Performing Arts
  • Dr. Travis Dimmitt, assistant professor, School of Education
  • Dr. Shantel Farnan, associate professor, School of Education
  • Dr. Alice Foose, associate professor, School of Health Science and Wellness
  • Jacquie Lamer, senior instructor, School of Communication and Mass Media*
  • Dr. Damon Leiss, assistant professor, School of Health Science and Wellness
  • Dr. Terry Long, professor, School of Health Science and Wellness
  • Armin Muhsam, professor, Department of Fine and Performing Arts
  • Dr. Adrienne Reynolds, assistant professor, Booth School of Business

“Jacquie does what she can to properly mentor her students for the real world, instead of just giving course content that doesn’t directly impact the students. Jacquie also provides her own resources and experiences as a guide for students to take advantage of, especially if the student is wanting to succeed and get a career in the mass media industry. Any job within mass media can be hard to get into, but Jacquie is intuitive and perceptive enough to know the strengths of a student and willingly assists that student by mentoring them in a direction that will ultimately lead to their success.”

  • Brandy Brady, assistant library director for information services
  • Brooke Byland, coordinator of facilities and operations for campus recreation
  • Alejandro Castaneda, resident director
  • International Processing Team
  • Judy Frueh, assistant director of wellness services and clinic services
  • Kim Hullinger, education compliance specialist
  • Kristin Little, campus visit coordinator
  • Dr. Justin Mallett, assistant vice president of diversity and inclusion
  • Will Murphy, TV/video engineer*
  • Teri Tobin, textbook manager
  • Wellness Services staff

“For 15 years, I’ve been amazed at Will's capacity to energetically be on call to help students. As he puts it, ‘If it plugs in, blinks, flashes, or catches on fire, I’ll help you get it figured out.’ And he does, every day, every evening, every weekend. He’s a fixture in Wells Hall that students know they can trust and rely on. He’s outfitted the learning environment with high-end equipment for pennies on the dollar. He’s been instrumental in launching thousands of Bearcat broadcasting careers.”

International Involvement Center

Chinmeri Nwuba

Chinmeri Nwuba

Outstanding International Student of the Year
  • Chinmeri Nwuba*
  • Popoola Oluwadamilola

“Chinmeri was nominated by her peers multiple times. She is involved on campus through serving as the vice president of the African Student Organization and as a fundraiser for the Pre-Health Club. She is an active member of the International Student Organization, and she assists international students through her job as an Office Assistant at the International Involvement Center.”

Student Senate Tower Service Awards

Dr. Theo Ross

Dr. Theo Ross

  • Elizabeth Dimmitt, senior instructor, School of Health Science and Wellness
  • Fred Lamer, assistant professor, School of Communication and Mass Media
  • Jacquie Lamer, senior instructor, School of Communication and Mass Media
  • Tamara Lynn, instructor, School of Education
  • Dr. William Richardson, professor, Department of Fine and Performing Arts
  • Dr. Theo Ross, professor, Department of Fine and Performing Arts*
  • Veronica Watkins, assistant professor, Department of Fine and Performing Arts

“Dr. Theo Ross’s priority for 44 years as a professor at Northwest has been student success. His commitment to the University and its students has gone above and beyond every year. His professionalism is remarkable, as are his personal skills such as kindness, concern for the welfare of others, emphasis on the success of others, collaboration, creativity and patience. His work with extra-curricular activities has given hundreds of students opportunities that they could not have received elsewhere. The respect he holds from his students and former students is immeasurable.”

Gina Smith

Gina Smith

  • Jack Bilbo, theatre technical director and facility manager
  • Alejandro Castaneda, resident director
  • Amanda Cullin, lieutenant for administration, University Police Department
  • Laura King, director of Horace Mann and the Leet Center
  • Evan Rand, assistant director of wellness services
  • Wes Rockwood, web designer, University Marketing and Communication
  • Gina Smith, office manager, School of Health Science and Wellness*
  • Jeremy Waldeier, director of admissions-recruitment
  • Yu (Gary) Zhao, computer software and program specialist, Learning and Teaching Center

“Mrs. Smith has demonstrated the highest level of service to the University and its students. Her motivation for everything she does is driven by a desire to contribute to and enhance Northwest. Her contributions go well beyond the job description, focusing on ways she can enhance the lives and experiences of both students and colleagues.”

  • Mariah Cain
  • Keatley Cotter
  • Christian Dixon
  • Bailey Hendrickson
  • Amaya Hernandez
  • Amirsha Kabulov*
  • Emma Sabio
  • Michael Sears
  • Taylor Murnahan and Kaylee Snowardt

“If I could describe the nominee in three words, it would be an attentive listener, supporter and leader. After the first visit to one of the weekly gatherings Amirsha puts on, I was surprised by the hospitality and that a group of strangers could be so responsive to each other’s feelings and needs. During the weekly dinners, I noticed that a lot of students come up to Amirsha with different questions or a need for advice. Amirsha listens to everyone’s issues patiently and seems to always have wise advice for any situation. Those who know him, jokingly call Amirsha a ‘yes’ guy, since he is always available for help. Starting from rides to airports, rides from home to classes in cold weather, to help with fitness or academics.”

Student organization
  • Student Activities Council*

“SAC is the kind of organization that gives students the option to invest as much or as little as they want into the organization without any repercussions. This kind of organization system produces several different ways for its members to develop their skills and knowledge depending how much they want to put in. It is through the members' service and time dedicated to SAC that is used for each event that assists in the student engagement found at every experience SAC gives to its students.”

Mail/Copy Center team

Mail/Copy Center team

  • Admissions-recruitment
  • Mail/Copy Center*
  • Residential director team
  • Special Education/School of Education team
  • Wellness Services

“I utilize the Mail/Copy Center for copying of exams, printing of student posters and most of my academic printing needs. April and her staff are always efficient and always manage to fill smaller orders even when they are for the same day (such as exams). They provide, without question, a fundamental but under-appreciated service to Northwest.”

Student Success Center

Commitment to Student Success Awards

  • Dr. Yi-Hwa Wu, professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Dr. Debbie Brown, assistant professor, Department of Fine and Performing Arts
  • Dr. Tina Ellsworth, assistant professor School of Education
  • Dr. Joni Adkins, associate professor and director, School of Computer Science and Information Systems
  • Dr. Deb Toomey, associate professor, Booth School of Business*
  • Dr. Eric Mosier, assistant professor, School of Health Science and Wellness
  • Dr. Sara Taylor, assistant professor, School of Education
  • Miranda Myles Jackson, assistant professor, Department of Fine and Performing Arts

“Deb is extremely committed to students’ success. She is a wonderful teacher who will work hard to get to know you and help you understand her coursework. She goes out of her way to make class fun for everyone and challenging at the same time.”

  • Julie Johnson, lead advisor and coach, Academic Success and Retention*
  • Laura King, director, Horace Mann and the Leet Center
  • Nick Kirse, assistant director of academic support, Academic Success and Retention
  • Kristin Little, campus visit coordinator, Admissions-Recruitment
  • Sierra Rains, advisor and coach, Academic Success and Retention
  • Brittany Roberts, diversity and inclusion coordinator
  • Jessica Vest, archivist

“(Julie Johnson) contributions to student success are hard to summarize, but here are three examples: 1) She always puts the comfort/needs of her students first. Students that work with Julie are always comfortable to visit with her for any reason, both professional and personal. We all recognize that student success is holistic, and Julie truly embraces this. 2) She prioritizes the needs of the staff she manages so that we are all ready and excited to work with our students! She makes sure that we have the guidance and support needed to be successful advisors, as well as managing her own assigned advisees. 3) She focuses on bringing a positive, humorous, and knowledgeable presence to all student events. Some examples of this would be advisement nights, orientation events, and SOAR.”

Lillian Gaddy

Lillian Gaddy

  • Lillian Gaddy*
  • Bailey Hopkins
  • Kathleen King

“Lillian is in her third year as a TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) participant and third semester of being a Peer Mentor for TRIO. Lilli makes a great peer mentor as she is able to relate to students as she has a similar background and has experienced some of the struggles they are going through. Lilli also has planned and executed cultural and educational workshops and activities, such as campus scavenger hunts, graduate school informational workshops, and ice breakers for our summer bridge participants. Lilli is not just a successful TRIO participant and peer mentor, but also a successful college student. She has worked hard in her courses to maintain a high GPA and started a campus organization, Students for Choice, which spotlights her making sure student voices are heard across campus.”

Payton Schomburg

Payton Schomburg

First Generation Student Achievement Award

  • Faith Earley
  • Thomas Goldizen
  • Bailey Hendrickson
  • Addison Long
  • Hannah Nielson
  • Payton Schomburg*
  • TeVaughn Shaw

“(Payton Schomburg) has progressed into an exemplary first-generation college student by utilizing all of the resources that were available to her to be successful at Northwest and caring and connecting with others to help them along the way with her. She not only utilizes resources available to help direct her way through college, but she also has become a great mentor and advocate for others. She shares information, leads by example, and is great at guiding others through college. She not only does this through her Peer Mentor with TRIO SSS but also in her student employment position with the Student Account Services.”

Student Employment

Martina Pascuzzo

Martina Pascuzzo

Student Employee of the Year

Student Employee of the Year: Martina Pascuzzo, Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness

“Martina’s contributions to the department team as well as her contribution to the University, the Nodaway County Health Department, the community of Maryville and the county has been unprecedented in my career at Northwest. During the fall semester, Martina asked if she could learn more about one of our analytical tools. She indicated this project would help her professional career and increase her chances of finding a meaningful job after graduation. The project involved completely rebuilding the dashboards that display COVID-19 data for Nodaway County and Northwest. This mammoth task had prior been a challenge to the full-time staff, but Martina was determined to make the project a success. The dashboards were launched a month ahead of schedule. Martina was a true team member and has been one of the very best student employees we have ever had the  pleasure to work with.”

Kaylin Byland

Kaylin Byland

Northwest Award of Excellence for Reliability: Kaylin Byland, KXCV-KRNW

“We count on Kaylin a lot. She trains new staff members and once training is complete, they are well-prepared to work unassisted. She often works during times when professional staff do not and is able to make adjustments in case of severe weather, breaking news or other things that may happen to suddenly change our programming. There have been times when a second student fails to show, and Kaylin is able to take on their responsibilities, while also taking care for her own. She knows the duties of all the shifts and jumps in to help when needed. She has been our rock and we have counted on her tremendously.”

Annaliese Punt

Annaliese Punt

Northwest Award of Excellence for Quality of Work: Annaliese Punt, Office of Student Involvement

“Annie stands out as a leader. Many times, she acts before I have even thought of asking her to do the specific task. Her ability to take initiative and see what needs to be completed, before I ask (or have even thought of) is a great asset to our office. She is always available to assist student organizations, provide the student perspective to staff members, and run the office social media accounts. She is a wonderful teammate, student, leader and employee.”

Christian Dixon

Christian Dixon

Northwest Award of Excellence for Uniqueness of Contribution: Christian Dixon, Office of University Marketing and Communication

“Christian has been my student employee since his freshmen year and has continuously been the heart, soul, and leader of my Special Events Team since. The strides he made personally and professionally since taking on the role have been astronomical. Whether it is nitty-gritty jobs of putting on a mascot costume in over 90-degree heat, setting up for a huge event, or being the lead person ensuring everyone has a job to do and training them to do it, he goes forth in a positive mindset that uplifts the atmosphere. He has been such a valuable asset to me and our entire department.”

Joseph Gruber

Joseph Gruber

Northwest Award of Excellence for Initiative: Joseph Gruber, School of Computer Science and Information Systems

“When serving as an in-class Teaching Assistant, Joseph willingly moves around the classroom of 30-70 students and addresses technology situations students encounter. It is truly problem-solving “on the fly.” When asked to “dig into” situations that arise among classes he has or is assisting with, Joseph assists faculty willingly. His ability to gather information and share his findings with faculty have helped resolve “sticky” situations. His contributions to the students and faculty, as well as Northwest, have been significant.”

Haley Endsley

Haley Endsley

Northwest Award of Excellence for Professionalism: Haley Endsley, Office of Human Resources

“Haley is very well-spoken on the phone, in person, or through email. She makes sure to provide appropriate information to people as they reach out for help, and is always very friendly. She has attended several meetings with a variety of people while planning employee recognition events and always displays professionalism by the way she speaks and offers her input. She is always a team player and ready to take on any task. Haley has truly become an essential part of our team and we are grateful for her.”

Other nominees
  • Ryan Haughey, Horace Mann/Leet Center
  • Ashley Ball, Department of Fine and Performing Arts
  • Breann Crawford, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Nathan Jermain, Office of Finance and Administration
Student Success Center leadership staff

Student Success Center leadership staff

Student Employment Team of the Year

  • Student Success Center leadership staff*
  • International Involvement Center
  • Campus Recreation

“This team, consisting of Supplemental Instructor Mentors and Tutor Specialist, have played an essential role in developing the Student Success Center and its services to be more accessible, equitable, and inclusive for the students. I consistently refer to them for input on decisions that impact the center. They speak from their experience as leaders, as students, as tutors and SIs and give me a multitude of perspectives to consider. Without them, the Student Success Center would not be as successful as it is today.”

Student Employee Supervisor of the Year

  • Tucker Peve, director of athletic equipment operations
  • Julie Johnson, lead advisor and coach, Office of Academic Success and Retention*
  • Cindy Tu, associate professor of computer science and information systems

“Julie is understanding, always encouraging and willing to help at any task. She is an amazing listener, a great communicator and provides great resources for academic and social advances. She builds a positive work environment and makes the Student Success Center feel like a family rather than just a workplace. She is a natural-born leader and is often willing to change to promote student success.”

Library Research Awards

Elizabeth Mendick

Elizabeth Mendick

Third place

Elizabeth Mendick for “Sit Fido!...Or Else,” written for Stephanie Jorandby’s Theatre Appreciation course. Mendick’s paper was a product of extensive research about using live animals in the performing arts. It discussed the effect the lifestyle has on animals and described the unethical ways in which they are commonly treated.

Second place

Brianna Kurtenbach for “The Holocaust and Nazi Euthanasia,” written for Dr. Devlin Scofield’s Research Seminar: History of the Holocaust. The paper covered the beginning, duration and ending of the euthanasia program in Nazi Germany. It provided insight into the Nazi’s euthanasia program and how ordinary people can become murderers. The paper aimed to uncover the truth behind the Nazi’s euthanasia program.

First place

Brianne McDermott for “Second Class Citizens and the ‘Incurables’: Shared Ideologies and Practices of the United States and Nazi Germany,” written for Dr. Devlin Scofield’s Research Seminar: History of the Holocaust. The paper discussed the United States’ and Germany’s experience with large interest surrounding eugenics in the early 20th century and how its practices could be used to promote the advancement of their state. Eugenics policies and practices in the United States influenced the Nazi administration when they created medically oppressive sterilization laws and policies.


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215