Outstanding Student Awards 2015-2016

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Tyler Heneghan  – Anthropology

Tyler Heneghan will be graduating magna cum laude as a University Honors Scholar with a B.A. in Anthropology and a B.S. in Biological Sciences. During his time at Wright State, he has focused on prehistoric archaeology and has volunteered with the Dayton Society of Natural History at SunWatch Indian Village and at the Boonshoft Museum. He has been the teaching assistant for Drs. Amy Hubbard and Cathy Cooke.

After excavating at Fort Ancient through Wright State’s field school, Tyler was accepted as a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Fellow for the summer of 2015. During that two month period he excavated in Illinois and later designed a research project involving projectile point diversity that was presented at the Midwest Archaeological Conference in Milwaukee. That research led to his honors thesis.  This summer, Tyler will be a supervisor for Wright State’s field school, before continuing his education at Illinois State University. Tyler hopes to obtain his PhD in Anthropology and pursue a career in academia or contract archaeology.  Congratulations, Tyler.

Sarah Bostic Kelley – Sociology

Sarah Kelley is a Sociology major and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies minor. She became interested in Sociology after realizing that the field focused on several political issues that she is especially passionate about, including income inequality, gender and sexuality based oppression, and racial inequality.  She is very politically involved, participating in local social activist efforts for women's rights, LGBTQA+ rights, and racial justice. 

Sarah is happily married with five cats. In her free time, she enjoys writing and performing music. She sings and plays guitar and ukulele. She is currently teaching herself music production and drums.  Sarah hopes to earn her master’s degree and eventually a PhD in Sociology. She is in the process of applying to graduate school, and she plans to attend after graduating in the fall.  She aspires to a career in academia and hopes to be a professor of Sociology.  Congratulations, Sarah.

Aileen Cave – Art and Art History

Aileen Cave is graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Art in painting.  While at Wright State, she has twice received the ArtsGala scholarship, and has had one of her paintings selected as the signature work for the 2015 ArtsGala.  She was nominated to participate in the Dayton Visual Arts Center’s Cline Show, their annual art and design student invitational.  Additional highlights of Aileen’s career have been to receive an Ohio State Senate Commendation for remarkable attainment for her painting Dancers, which was awarded a first place at the Fairborn Art Association Members’ Show, and receiving a first place for her painting A Good Man: The Artist’s Father at the Springfield Museum of Art’s Members’ Show.

Aileen and her husband Dave have five adult children, three sons-in-law and three grandchildren, and enjoy camping and traveling.  After graduation, Aileen plans to spend a year painting and creating a body of work and hopes to go on to graduate school in pursuit of a lifetime of informed painting. Congratulations, Aileen.

Jason Tarka – Classical Humanities

Jason Tarka graduated in December with a degree in Classical Humanities. He has proven his excellence in both Greek and Latin languages, thereby exceeding the demands of a Classics major. His mastery of historical research and composition is clearly displayed in his senior capstone project, which examines cultural aspects of farming in the Roman republic. In recognition of these accomplishments he also received the Classics department’s award for outstanding accomplishment in Classical Studies.

Jason is the top tutor for Latin and Greek. He has served as president of the Classics Club and Eta Sigma Phi, a national honor fraternity, helped with Latin Day, and worked as a scale-up teaching assistant to Lecturer Aaron Wolpert. Having studied abroad in both Italy and Japan, he hopes to teach English in Japan next year.  Congratulations, Jason.

Samantha Jablinski – Communication

Samantha Jablinski was raised in Centerville, Ohio, and graduated from Centerville High School. She is a Communication Studies major and Marketing minor.  Samantha chose this particular major/minor combination because she is fascinated with the field of communication and its relevance to every industry in life, and she embraces the abundant possibilities that are compatible with this area of study. Samantha chose to combine her Communication major with a business minor in Marketing because she felt that their integration allowed her to build a strong portfolio of personal and professional skills. Her experience here has given her the preparation, confidence, and pride to move on to the next phase of her professional journey.

Upon graduation, Samantha plans to pursue employment opportunities in digital marketing and company branding.  She would love to obtain a master’s degree in new media communication strategy and eventually achieve a PhD. She’s excited to see where her future leads. Congratulations, Samantha.

Moses Chung – Crime and Justice Studies

Moses Chung successfully completed his B.A. in Crime and Justice Studies in December.  His internship in the fall semester was with the Fairborn Police Department.  He spent time learning the records and investigative processes and dispatch procedures, and assisted one of the detectives in investigating a serial burglar.  While attending Wright State, Moses volunteered at the Veteran and Military Center.  He also fulfilled his requirements as a Hospitalman 3rd Class Petty Officer, Assistant Leading Petty Officer in the Navy Reserve.  His military role speaks volumes to his core leadership values.  During the past five years, he participated in two different multinational joint training missions in third world countries, assisting with humanitarian aid. 

On a personal note, Moses grew up in Ontario, Ohio and spent his leisure time playing Xbox video games.  His future plans are to become an aviator and a warrant officer in the Army.  His advice to current students, “"Always have big dreams for the future and never give up on yourself, even when it feels as if the world already has." Wise words. Congratulations, Moses.

Emily Bingham – English

Emily Bingham is completing dual majors in English Literature and Marketing, with a minor in Spanish. She is an honors student who has remained continuously on the Dean’s list since she began at Wright State. She has done so while being employed as an undergraduate research assistant, completing a marketing internship with the Alumni Association, and serving as Director of Campus Culture for Student Government. Emily helped found Wright State’s competitive Quizbowl team, which she also captains, and served on the CoLA Dean’s Student Advisory Board and the Honors Director’s Student Advisory Board. In 2014 she represented Wright State at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.  She has been recognized for her leadership by the Office of Student Activities and by the African-American Residential Caucus. Most recently, Emily was selected through a highly competitive process to be a contestant in the 2016 Jeopardy! College Championship, in which she advanced to the semi-finals.

Emily is the best possible representative of her major: bright, engaged, involved in the world, dedicated to service and using her gifts and the skills she has learned. Congratulations, Emily.

Branden Drake – Geography

Branden Drake is a Geography major who transferred from Clark State in 2014.  He is also a geospatial intelligence analyst for the Air National Guard, and father to a five-year old son.  Despite his full-time job and family responsibilities, Branden excels in his academic work and impresses his instructors with great enthusiasm for the field of geography. At this time he is particularly interested in the geography of crime. For his applied research project this Spring, the culminating experience in the Geography degree program, Branden investigated the relationship between neighborhood landscapes and crime in Springfield, OH. Despite being called away for four weeks during the semester for a military exercise abroad, Branden successfully completed his project through fieldwork and data analysis.

Branden consistently demonstrates professional maturity beyond his years and appreciates every opportunity for learning. Congratulations, Branden.

Alex Dugas – History

For Alex Dugas excellence is routine: the repetitive number of As on his transcript testify to that. He will graduate with a BA in History and a minor in Political Science. He has impressed faculty members with his maturity, preparation, collegiality and intellectual perception. As one history faculty member put it, "Alex is a thoughtful, well-spoken, considerate individual whose work reflects his careful attention to detail and abiding interest in the past." Another writes that "Alex has a keen perception of the essential questions historians ask, and a strong ability to correlate ideas and events in class discussion and essays."

After graduation, Alex will enroll in Mt. St. Mary Seminary, to prepare for the priesthood. Congratulations, Alex.

Samantha Hall – International Studies

Samantha Hall is graduating with an outstanding resume. Besides her near perfect GPA with many challenging classes, Samantha has a wide range of other accomplishments. She has had three years of experience as an outstanding member of Wright State’s award winning Model United Nations team. As a team member, Samantha represented the positions of various members of the UN including Canada, New Zealand, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. She also had a front row seat, closely observing the United States dealings with the UN when she served as a press intern to the United States Mission to the UN. In 2014, Samantha went on a 14-day study abroad program to various countries in Western Europe to learn about human rights conditions on that continent. 

Samantha’s academic achievements and her engaging personality point to a very bright and fulfilling future in any endeavor she decides to pursue.  Congratulations, Samantha.

Daniel Moody – Modern Languages

Daniel Moody is a German major at Wright State. He’s had a passion for languages for as long as he can remember. When he was a small child, his grandmother and German-speaking grandfather came to live with his family. From this, the seeds for a lifelong love of languages were sewn. In high school, Daniel took four years of Latin and fell completely in love with grammar. He finally took his first German classes (German I and II simultaneously) during his senior year of high school and decided that his future had to involve studying the language. Thus, he began his academic career at Sinclair Community College, studying German, before transferring to Wright State in 2014 to continue with German and to finish his BA. His study of German paid off during a summer ambassador program to Germany in summer 2015, and we trust there will be more trips in his future.  He will begin in the Master of Humanities program in the fall.

For Daniel, Wright State was the right choice.  Congratulations, Daniel.

Liz Procopio – Music

Liz Procopio is a Bachelor’s of Music student with a concentration in percussion.  She transferred to Wright State from Rhode Island, and performs with the Richmond Symphony, Lebanon Symphony, Warwick Rhode Island Symphony, and the Fall River Rhode Island Symphony. Last summer she served as the Brevard Percussion teaching assistant and has performed with Itzak Perlman, Keith Lockhart, JoAnn Falletta, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Miguel Harth-Bedoya. She has performed in master classes for Frederic Macarez of the Orchestre de Paris, Tom Freer of the Cleveland Orchestra, and Dave Fishlock of the Cincinnati Symphony. She is the winner of the Wright State Concerto Night award, and the Wright State Young Artist award, and has over 100 performances for Wright State Presidential and Foundation events.

Liz also teaches at the Spring Valley Academy, the Springfield Youth Symphony, and McCutcheon Music. Congratulations, Liz.

Christopher Jones – Political Science

When Christopher Jones graduated from high school he had no idea where he wanted to go to college or even if he would go to college at all. He decided to pursue law and government at Wright State. Once he arrived, he found that studying Political Science was the natural fit for him. It was tough, and he came close to dropping out a couple of times, but his supportive professors encouraged him. Not only did Christopher graduate with Latin honors, he was named to the Dean’s List and as a senior was selected for a competitive scholarship to intern in the state legislature in Columbus, where he reported directly to House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn. He was one of a select group of students who joined a congressional delegation on a civil rights pilgrimage to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to commemorate Bloody Sunday. He hopes to take another civil rights pilgrimage soon. In the meantime, Christopher is making the most of his opportunities as a young executive at Wright-Patt Credit Union.  Congratulations, Christopher.

Stephanie Tomlin – Social Science Education

Stephanie Tomlin is not merely an excellent academic; she encapsulates all that we treasure about Wright State Liberal Arts students. She is fearless about putting herself in situations where she is the outsider, for she understands this helps her empathize with others, especially the children she will teach.  Stephanie has been a giver, from collecting crayons for Dayton schools to working with 4 Paws around campus, volunteering at Metroparks, at her church, and at the Science Olympiad.  She has a Spanish minor, and has worked at El Puente Tutoring Center in Dayton, helping second-language kids in the after school program.

Stephanie, in her own words, doesn’t like taking no for an answer. When she discovered none of the study abroad offerings pertained to her major, she created her own international opportunity by volunteering in a Costa Rican program to help children of addicted parents. After spending four months with these children, she says she speaks Spanish like a ten year old kid.

We feel confident that Stephanie will go on to serve Ohio’s children in the finest ways.  Congratulations, Stephanie.

Melanie West – Social Work

Melanie West started her college education as an engineering student at Sinclair, but soon discovered that her interests were human, not mechanical.  She will earn her Bachelor’s in Social Work as well as a certificate in Gerontology and a minor in Spanish, with multiple service learning courses as part of the mix.  She completed her practicum at Hospice of the Miami Valley and in addition, spent this past summer in Washington, DC engaged in advocacy work related to immigration.  During this time, she visited the Mexican border and met with migrant families.  Most recently, she began volunteering as a classroom aid for a local English as a second language class. Following graduation, Melanie will continue work on her Masters of Social Work in the joint Wright State/Miami program, and pursue advocacy for immigration reform. Congratulations, Melanie.

Rachel Lann – Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures

Rachel Lann is a graduating senior receiving a BFA degree in Theatre Design and Technology with an emphasis in Technical Direction. Her most recent achievements have been serving as Technical Director for Chicago and Assistant Technical Director for The Music Man. She has worked on over 16 Festival Theatre productions and 8 Herbst Theatre productions, amassing an impressive portfolio.

Rachel grew up in Shalersville, Ohio where she discovered her passion for theater at a very young age. In high school she was introduced to the technical world and was led to the strong program at Wright State. She would like to thank her parents for their continuous support and all of her professors and colleagues who have helped her grow as a theater professional these past four years. Congratulations, Rachel.

Khadija Kirksey – Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Khadija Kirksey is an unapologetic Black-Queer-Woman-Poet-Scholar-Activist. She has a passion for effecting lasting change through scholarship, organizing, and advocacy. As a Women’s Studies and International Studies dual major with a French minor, Khadija’s work focuses on the intersections of race, gender and sexuality within the African Diaspora and the politics of blackness in Francophone countries. Her personal mission is to ensure the racial uplift of the Black community, and to eradicate the disparities between minoritized groups and their access to civil rights, fair employment, quality education and healthcare.   

Khadija has held many leadership roles on campus, including President of the Epsilon Chi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, President of the Rainbow Alliance; Secretary of the CoLA Dean’s Student Advisory Board, and contributing member of the Gender-Based Violence Task Force. She is also a member of the Wright State Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa,Pi Delta Phi, the National French Honor Society, and the Golden Key International Honor Society. In fall 2016, she will begin her graduate work in International Studies.  Congratulations, Khadija.

Graduate Students

Alan Knowles – English

Alan Knowles finds new approaches in his scholarship and his teaching to the challenges faced by beginning college writers, often from working class and non-mainstream backgrounds. His scholarly work argues for making student’s community discourses a legitimate area of study in the first year writing classroom. As a result of his research he has designed an innovative audio project for first year students that allow them to draw upon their community literacies. His quantitative research for the English department and for Institutional Research examines the causes for pass/fail rates for minority students in writing classes and promotes needed changes in the writing program. Finally, Alan distinguished himself as the chosen teacher for Wright State’s Summerbridge writing program for under-prepared students.  Congratulations, Alan.

Shelby Dixon – History

Shelby Dixon is a graduating Public History student with a focus on archives. She received her undergraduate degree in Social Science Education from Wright State in 2014, and now works as a graduate assistant for the department of History. Shelby completed her internship at the Warren County Records Center and Archives and was the project researcher for the sesquicentennial timeline display at the Victoria Theatre as a part of her capstone project.   For that project she researched important performers who had graced the Victoria stage, putting together information from a number of different sources and then helping to winnow down the new information into a cogent display.  Shelby says she enjoys tracking down primary sources and working to interpret them, which is good: the job of an archivist involves a lot of detective work!

After graduation, she hopes to find a job that combines aspects of archival technology and education.  Congratulations, Shelby.

Arch Grieve – International and Comparative Politics

Arch Grieve is already making a significant mark on secondary education throughout the region. He completed a B.A. in Social Science Education from Wright State --- he was the 2009 outstanding senior from the program, graduating magna cum laude. In the M.A. program in International and Comparative Politics, he conducted in depth time series analysis on non-violent resistance campaigns.

An avid community leader, Arch has worked with the Dayton Junior Council on World Affairs, the Big Brother/Big Sisters program, X-Out Hunger, the Dayton Sister City Committee, and the Xenia School Board, where he served as Vice President.  He currently works as the Community Outreach Director of the Dayton Regional STEM School in Kettering, also teaching world history and economics.  He was honored as the “Emerging Educator” by the Ohio Council for Social Studies in 2013 for these and other efforts.

Arch is an outstanding local educator whose passion and craft have already gained him accolades across the state and beyond.  We look forward to watching his future successes in the field. Congratulations, Arch.

Abigail Sorensen – Master of Humanities

Abigail Sorensen was admitted to the Master of Humanities program with a full tuition scholarship on the basis of her superlative undergraduate record in Motion Pictures theory at Wright State. For the academic year 2015-16, she served as a graduate teaching assistant in Philosophy and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies courses, and received outstanding reviews from her professors and students. Her own research focuses on the sublime feminine in surrealist 21st-century films. She has presented her work at the Popular Culture Association’s annual meetings in both 2015 and 2016; her trips were funded by CoLA travel grants.

Abbie has been admitted to the PhD program in Communication at Florida State University. We are certain that, whatever path she follows in life, she will be a shining success and bring credit to the program and Wright State. Congratulations, Abbie.

Thomas Thompson – Master of Public Administration

Thomas Thompson is Captain and Assistant Chief of the Miamisburg Police Department. He came to our Master of Public Administration or MPA program in 2014 as a seasoned public safety professional who was seeking to broaden his horizons. In his coursework Tom has learned not only about government operations, but also about the nonprofit sector. As a result, Tom and his wife have begun to consider starting a nonprofit organization to provide assistance to people living in poverty. 

During the two years that Tom has been in the MPA program, he has served as a role model for his fellow students as he has consistently demonstrated a highly developed sense of ethics, professionalism, compassion, emotional intelligence, and a passion for learning. Tom adds immensely to class discussions, writes with a hopeful perspective for the future, and has proven to be an excellent team player.

We are certain that we will be hearing wonderful things about Tom applying the knowledge gained in the MPA program to give back to the community in his future endeavors. Congratulations, Tom.

Rebecca Fensler – Master of Social Work

Rebecca Fensler is a Masters of Social Work student with a concentration in service to older adults.  She is completing her field practicum at the Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley Chapter.  She has co-authored two scholarly publications: an article for the Journal of Poverty coming out in spring 2016 related to her work as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer and the establishment of the WSU food pantry, and a book chapter related to at-risk youth and school interventions coming out soon.  

Rebecca also works as program director for an outreach program serving low-income seniors in East Dayton. But her interests and expertise extend beyond our borders: she participated in a comparative social welfare class in Zurich, Switzerland.  Following graduation, Rebecca plans to continue working with seniors in the Miami Valley area.  Congratulations, Rebecca.

Chris Braun – Music

Chris Braun is a second year graduate student with a major in trumpet performance.  While at Wright State, he has been a member of the Wind Symphony, Community Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Jazz Band, Graduate Brass Quintet, and Chamber Orchestra.   In 2015 he traveled to Thessaloniki, Greece, as part of the Exploring Brass in Greece Symposium and participated in both jazz and classical master classes.  

This past year, Chris has been a graduate teaching assistant and done a wonderful job.  As a GTA, he has pioneered two new roles.  First, he served as the second trumpet in the Faculty Brass Quintet.  He has performed in school concerts, as well as at Commencement.  He has also been the GTA in charge of the Jazz Band and taught two semesters of a jazz improvisation class.  

In addition to his role as a grad student, Chris has held down a full-time job as a Music worship leader with his congregation, and been an outstanding father to his two small children. He is a leader within the trumpet studio, and will be greatly missed. Congratulations, Chris.