Outstanding Student Awards 2017–2018

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Undergraduate Students

Kelly Bledsoe — Art and Art History

Kelly Bledsoe has always loved making art, but his career interest turned to music as a junior high student when his school offered band but not art classes. He subsequently earned Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of Tennessee. He served as an Air Force musician for more than 25 years, first as a French hornist and bagpiper and then as the commander and conductor of four Air Force bands. He finished his Air Force career as an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies at Miami University in Oxford.

After his retirement, Kelly began to study art at Sinclair and then transferred to Wright State, working toward a BFA. His concentration is painting because he enjoys the tactile sensation and immediacy of working directly on a surface to produce a work of art.

Kelly has been a member of the Huber Heights Board of Education since 2010, including terms as President, in addition to other church and community service involvement. He and his wife Kathleen have four adult children, including a Wright State graduate, and eight grandchildren. Kelly believes he has advanced greatly as an artist through study at Wright State and wants to encourage others to pursue learning and to develop their talents, regardless of their age. Congratulations, Kelly.


Headshot - Joshua ChenaultJoshua Chenault — Communication

Joshua Chenault is a graduating Mass Communication major. He chose to enter the Mass Com degree program because working in the media industry has always been his main goal. His love for the news and media has scored him internships at iHeartMedia, 91.3 WYSO, and SiriusXM radio in Washington, D.C. He was given the on-air nickname of “The Honorable Joshua Chenault” by SiriusXM talk radio legend, Joe Madison. Joshua has had the opportunity to interview TV and music stars such as ABC’s black-ish actor, Marcus Scribner. After graduating from Wright State, Joshua hopes to land a job in the field of radio, editorial or social media. Congratulations to the Honorable Joshua Chenault.


Headshot - Hanna FortneyHanna Fortney — Crime & Justice Studies

As a senior getting ready to graduate from Wright State, Hanna Fortney wants to give thanks to her alma mater and the Criminal Justice program.  She has been provided many opportunities throughout her four years at Wright State, from receiving an internship to experiencing a rich learning environment.  She feels Wright State not only exposed her to bright and supportive professors and classmates, but also afforded her the opportunity to expand her horizons and achieve her goals. With her bachelor’s degree almost behind her, she plans to use her well-rounded education to help her begin a small business.  She will also be continuing her education at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law. Congratulations, Hanna.


Rachel Canter — English

If there's anything you want to know about F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel The Great Gatsby just ask Rachel Canter, who has made it the centerpiece of her honors project. Rachel is one of the department’s strongest English majors of the past decade. She reads voraciously, her grasp of difficult theoretical concepts is quick and intuitive, and her writing is nearly flawless. She has been an active member of the Wright State community, serving as both a tutor in the Writing Center and an energetic member of Alpha Upsilon Tau, the department's chapter of the International English Honor Society.  Rachel will begin her master's degree in English Literature at Wright State next fall. Congratulations, Rachel.


Headshot - Samantha WoodSamantha Wood — History

Samantha Wood is a rare student who exemplifies the model of effective service learning. Not only is she an outspoken and hard-working student in the classroom, she also improves the lives of her fellow students with her work on campus. Her list of jobs is impressive: Resident Assistant; student mentor for the Center for International Education; former President of the National Society of Leadership and Success; and former Treasurer for the Association of Native American Students. She has also practiced her history skill set in the public sector, working as an intern for the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center. Samantha will be graduating with Honors in History. She is completing a senior thesis entitled “Women Religious and their Relationship to Church Patriarchy in the Middle Ages.” Congratulations, Samantha.


Headshot - Constantine ToliasConstantine Nicholas Tolias — International Studies

In September 2014, Constantine Tolias graduated from United States Army Basic Training in Fort Benning, Georgia as an infantryman in the Ohio Army National Guard. During the summer of 2017 he had the privilege of working as a cadet intern at the Policy and Plans Division of US European Command Headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, making his international studies major a natural choice. US Army Cadet Command selected Constantine to graduate and commission as a Distinguished Military Graduate, or DMG. The distinction of DMG is only bestowed upon the top 20% of US Army Cadets nationwide. After graduation, Constantine will commission as a Second Lieutenant in the active component of the US Army in the Field Artillery branch. Congratulations, Constantine, and thank you for your service.


Headshot - Michaela KaiserMichaela Kaiser – Liberal Studies

Michaela Kaiser came to Wright State as a transfer student with many different interests. Through the vehicle of her liberal studies major, she was abIe to focus on several of them, including French language and studio art, with broad study in literature and the humanities as well. While here, she worked as a tutor and as a librarian at a local library. However, if you were to ask what her major accomplishment during her time Wright State would be, she would say two things; how she grew and continues to grow as a person, and the work she was able to do with other students in her community. Whether in art, French, math, or philosophy, she found that she was able to make a positive impact on those around her not only through what she said in papers or presented in class, but how she acted and related to those around her. After graduating from Wright State, she plans to continue her studies at Kent State University to work towards a master's degree in Library Science and Technology. Congratulations, Michaela.


Headshot - Francisco Marques-VueltaFrancisco Marques-Vuelta — Modern Languages

Francisco Marques-Vuelta obtained a degree in private investigation from the University of Barcelona and developed a career as a private detective in his native Spain. Upon moving to the United States, he enrolled in Wright State’s Spanish program and quickly earned a reputation for his stellar academics and for his many thoughtful contributions to the Spanish program and the department.  For example, he generously shared his knowledge of technology by teaching a workshop on Prezi to other students.  An accomplished guitar player, he has shared his musical talents and a collection of indigenous Hispanic instruments. He served as a volunteer photographer for Modern Languages events and presented at Spanish immersion days for several years.  As President of the Spanish Club, Francisco contributed dozens of Spanish movies, a popcorn machine, and authentic Spanish artifacts. His contributions have earned him a place on the Dean’s List, and honorary memberships in the Spanish National Honor Society Sigma Delta Pi, the Golden Key National Society of Leadership, and Phi Kappa Phi.

Francisco possesses a sharp and witty pen and has published numerous opinion pieces and columns in local and regional Spanish newspapers. He loves to travel all over the States to learn about other “foreign” (to him) cultures. Up to now, he has visited 17 states in the mainland U.S. Congratulations, Francisco.


Headshot - Vicky TongVicki Tong-School of Music

Vicky Hei Man Tong is a senior, majoring in Piano Performance and studying under Dr. Jackson Leung. At Wright State, she serves as pianist for the Symphonic Band and has represented Wright State in numerous recitals within Ohio and in Asia. In the past four years, Vicky participated in many competitions and won numerous prizes, including 1st place in the WSU Concerto Aria Night Competition, and 2nd place at the 8th Annual New Albany Symphony Concerto Competition, where she competed against students from six universities and conservatories. In 2017, she won 1st prize in the Young Artist Solo division of the OMTA Graves State Piano competition. She has also won prizes at the Three Arts Scholarship in Cincinnati and was the recipient for the OFMC Agnes Flower Scholarship. In the summer of 2016, Vicky attended the International Keyboard Institute & Festival in New York City. Congratulations, Vicky.


Headshot - Stephanie Patino-GarfiasStephanie Patino-Garfias — Political Science

From an early age, this year’s outstanding Political Science graduate, Stephanie Patino-Garfias, knew what she wanted to do with her life: to bridge cultural gaps and improve the lives of others. As the daughter of immigrants from Mexico and a first generation college student with a dual major in Political Science and International Studies, Stephanie not only has a near-perfect GPA, she has worked tirelessly as a champion for immigration rights. She has translated voter guides into Spanish, and hosted immigration forums at high schools and colleges. She has worked as a legal assistant for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, where she assisted in providing legal help to victims of labor trafficking. As a Propel Ohio student leader, her focus was childhood poverty. In Morocco and India, where she studied abroad, she assisted Syrian refugees and raised funds to support women living with HIV.
Stephanie has been recognized for her exceptional initiative on behalf of others: she is the first Wright State student to win the prestigious Newman Civic Fellowship, a national award. She will be moving to Washington, D.C. to enroll in the International Affairs Program at George Mason University, a program designed to produce Foreign Service officers. Congratulations, Stephanie.


Headshot - Anna HelmigAnna Helmig — Religion, Philosophy and Classics

Anna M. Helmig has distinguished herself as an exemplary student during her undergraduate studies, both inside and outside the classroom. She chose an ambitious course of study by double majoring in Religion and History. Faculty in both departments enjoyed working with her because she is an intelligent and nuanced thinker, and an articulate speaker who freely shares insightful views on a wide range of issues. Anna’s written work is a pleasure to read. She writes extremely well, and her analyses of different subjects are thoughtful, creative, and persuasive.

Outside the classroom, Anna has assumed various leadership roles. She served as the president of the History Club, and has played a key role in efforts to establish a Religion Club, while also serving as the club’s first vice-president. She participated in the college’s internship program, completing a summer internship at the Greene County Archives in Xenia. After graduating, Anna will pursue graduate studies in Wright State’s Public History Program, and we look forward to seeing her future career unfold. Congratulations, Anna.


Headshot - Megan BarrettMegan Barrett — Social Science Education

Megan Barrett was born and raised in Dayton and graduated from Chaminade Julienne High School in 2014. In high school she was a member of the National Honor Society and took multiple AP classes, most of which were in History or Government. She is an Honors student working on her honors scholars project and has received a competitive honors scholarship and a university achievement scholarship.

Megan had the pleasure of studying abroad in the Summer of 2017 in Munich, Germany. Her end goal is to be an awesome high school history teacher 9 months out of the year and in the summer focus her full attention on a dog daycare/kennel. Her hope is to eventually foster animals to prevent them from entering overcrowded shelters. As for being a history teacher, she wants to make sure her students have the support they need in a time of their lives when they are growing as a person but also rather vulnerable. Congratulations, Megan.


Headshot - Maggie BeckMaggie Beck — Social Work

Maggie Beck is eager to graduate this year with a dual B.A. in Social Work and Urban Affairs. In her time in the Social Work program at Wright State, she has been granted the opportunity to explore her passion for public policy through leadership positions in both the Social Work Club and Phi Alpha Honor Society, through a department trip to Arizona to learn about immigration policy, and through her social work courses. As a transfer student, Maggie feared she would not find her “home” at Wright State, but was proven wrong as soon as she began her courses here. The College of Liberal Arts and the Social Work department have provided support for Maggie’s education and offered experiences she may not have gained at another university, allowing her to make life-long connections with classmates and faculty. After finishing her undergraduate degree, Maggie plans to go on to graduate school and earn her Masters in Social Work and Masters in Public Administration with hopes of working in policy reform at the federal level. Congratulations, Maggie.


Headshot - Alyssa StarkAlyssa Stark — Sociology and Anthropology

Alyssa Stark will be graduating magna cum laude with a B.A. in Anthropology. During her time at Wright State, she has focused on archaeology and museum studies. She has completed the Field School in Archaeology, volunteered with the Dayton Society of Natural History at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, and has interned with the Cincinnati Museum Center as an archaeology lab assistant.

Alyssa has worked at Wright State’s Special Collections and Archives for nearly two years. In the archives she has learned about research and archival methods. She plans to continue following her interests in archaeology and will excavate with Wright State again this summer. She has been accepted into Wright State’s History graduate program with a concentration in Public History and hopes to follow a career in archives or museums. Congratulations, Alyssa.


Headshot - Brittany WilliamsBrittany Williams — Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures

Brittany T. Williams is a 22 year old senior Theater Studies major with a minor in African and African-American studies. She is Georgia native who moved from the metro Atlanta area to Dayton, in pursuit of expanding her artistry as an actress, writer, and director. She co-founded and co-coordinated an annual theatre studies showcase as well as co-directed and co-starred in The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe. Her acting credits include parts in: When The Rain Stops Falling, The Great Gatsby, and A Streetcar Named Desire, as well as numerous roles in student films. She has been heavily involved in student organizations such as the Diversity and Inclusion committee of Student Government, and the Student Affairs Student Advisory Board. She has served as the Director of Educational Affairs for the Black Student Union, a peer mentor for first year seminar courses, and a summer orientation mentor. Currently, she is the Vice President of the Black Student Union. Her career aspiration is to be a well-rounded artist and activist. After completing her B.A., she plans on moving back to Georgia to pursue her Master's in Film, Video, and Digital Imaging at Georgia State. Congratulations, Brittany.


Headshot - Jordan KingsleyJordan Kingsley — Urban Affairs

Jordan Kingsley has been recognized by the faculty for her dynamism and professionalism, her respect for others, and her openness. With a near-perfect GPA, she has made the most of every opportunity, and her work ethic and commitment to public service have been evident both in and outside of the classroom. Perhaps most notably, Jordan was appointed by Governor John Kasich as a student trustee on the Wright State Board of Trustees, which distinguishes her as one of the most influential student leaders on campus.

Jordan was also active in student government. As the Speaker of the House, she developed a freshman internship program.  As the Director of Diversity and Inclusion, she advocated for all under-represented and minority students at Wright State. Her commitment to public service is also evident through her contributions to our local community. Jordan has served as a mentor to high school and middle school students, and completed two internships as part of her Urban Affairs curriculum (one with St. Vincent De Paul Haven House and one with the City of Dayton). She so impressed her supervisors that she turned her internship into a career: she was hired by the Dayton City Manager to serve as a liaison between the City Manager’s Office and the City Commission. Congratulations, Jordan!


Janice Sikon — Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

Janice Sikon is completing a B.A. in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as well as a B.S. in Chemistry. She has been in the Honors Program since freshman year and is the first student to complete the departmental honors project in Women and Gender Studies. Additionally, she was a peer educator for the Intro to Sexual Health and Diversity class. She chose her major because it allowed her to work across several disciplines she was interested in, including history, sociology, and media, all while learning how to academically incorporate a feminist perspective. It also allowed her explore several of her research interests, which include intimate partner violence, sexual health and education, and pop culture analysis. The program helped her improve as an activist, which she incorporated into her three years as president of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance on campus. Outside of academics, she has been active in campus housing, spending two years on Community Council. She has also held several leadership positions in the Golden Key International Honor Society. Congratulations, Janice.


Graduate Students

Aerial Nies — Applied Behavioral Science

Aerial Nies was born and raised in Dayton. She completed her Bachelor's in the Crime & Justice Studies Program at Wright State and returned to excel as a student in the ABS program. Her cumulating research project is entitled: “Re-entry Programs: Formal and Informal Education and Job Obtainment” and has far-reaching applied implications pertaining to the criminal justice system and ex-offender re-entry policies. This qualitative study utilized interviews to examine how re-entry programs effect an ex-offender’s beliefs in their ability to obtain, and maintain, employment. It includes participants who have been incarcerated previously and successfully completed the requirements for their re-entry program and graduated from the program. Aerial currently works at the Community Correction Center in Lebanon, Ohio as an operational supervisor a facility with an emphasis on felony level drug treatment. Congratulations, Aerial.


Headshot - Dan SchackDan Schack — English

Dan Schack is graduating with a Master of Arts in English Literature and a certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. After considering several fully-funded offers to pursue a Ph.D., Dan selected the Print and Material Culture track of the University of Delaware’s Literature Ph.D. Program, where he will be a teaching assistant and will pursue his interests in contemporary American literature, sound, popular culture, visual culture, and gender and sexuality. As an MA student, Dan was President of the English Graduate Student Organization and a teaching assistant. Also while a student, Dan served as battery coordinator of Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps and artistic director of George Mason University’s Indoor Drumline and ConneXus Percussion. His culminating project paper “Nostalgia and the Politics of the Archive in the Post-Apocalypse” passed with distinction. Dan was selected for this award because of his outstanding academic performance, work ethic, passion for the field, and collegiality. Congratulations, Dan.


Headshot - Jennifer EnglandJennifer England — History

Jennifer England graduated from Wright State with a B.A. in French and a minor in German in 2011. She began volunteering and working on projects for the Florida Park Service and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West, Florida. She is the third generation of her family to study Fort Zachary Taylor, the American Civil War fortification at the heart of the park. That work and study led her back to her alma mater to enroll in the Public History program with a co-concentration in War and Society and Public History. She is the Vice President of Public History Professionals. Congratulations, Jennifer.


Katherine Peden — Master of Humanities

Katherine Margaret Peden was born and raised in Huber Heights, and graduated from Wayne High School, after which she attended Sinclair, completing prerequisites that would enable her to enroll at Wright State. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in History and Classics. As an undergraduate, Katie participated actively in her department’s Classics Club and, as a testament to her academic success in both of her majors, she was inducted into the Wright State chapter of the Eta Sigma Phi honor society. Seeking a career that would combine her interests in classics, history, and museum studies, Katie decided to pursue graduate work in the inter-disciplinary Master of Humanities Program. She graduated with both an M.Hum. degree and a certificate in Public History.

One of Katie’s most significant accomplishments was receiving a highly competitive summer internship at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia. This past fall, Katie also worked both at The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and the Clark County Historical Society, sharing her training in public history and enthusiasm for museum studies with Dayton-area residents. She is hoping to acquire a full-time position at the Penn Museum and, if that doesn’t pan out, she’d like to move to Europe and work in a museum there. Congratulations, Katie.


Headshot - Kathryn ChaneyKathryn Chaney — International & Comparative Politics

Kathryn “Katie” Chaney is a graduate of both Wright State (International Studies) and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. Her M.A. thesis is titled “Work and Women’s Empowerment: An Examination of South Asia.” It was an innovative comparative study of what contributes to women’s economic empowerment in India and Bangladesh.

As a graduate student, Katie participated as a delegate on Wright State’s Model United Nations team, serving on the Commission on the Status of Women.  She was a research assistant at the Defense Institute of Security Cooperation Studies at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, helping to provide training to military and civilian personnel working with our security partners throughout Europe.  Katie has also volunteered with the El Puente Tutoring Center in Dayton, using her Spanish language skills to assist local students. She recently began a new position at Wright-Patt, serving as a Logistics Management Specialist. For her dedication to excellence, focus on exploring the many factors that impact women’s empowerment in the developing world, and her service to our personnel serving this country at home and abroad, we are happy to honor her with this award. Congratulations, Katie.


Headshot - Elizabeth ProcopioElizabeth Procopio — Music

Elizabeth Procopio is majoring in percussion performance and is a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the School of Music. She directs the WSU Pep Band, instructs the percussion methods course, and serves as the Principal Percussionist of the WSU Wind Symphony and WSU Chamber Orchestra. She recently won the Principal Percussion Chair of the Mansfield Symphony. She frequently performs with the Richmond Symphony, Lansing Symphony, and Columbus (IN) Philharmonic. She also has an active private teaching studio. Liz has studied with faculty/performers from the Cleveland Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Eastman, Michigan State, and Boston Conservatory. While a student at Wright State, Liz has performed as soloist for Concerto Night, won the Young Artist Competition, and has been featured with the WSU Percussion Ensemble. She has performed with Itzhak Perlman, Keith Lockhart, JoAnn Faletta, Ken Lam, Matthias Bamert, and Mary Chapin Carpenter; an impressive list. Congratulations, Liz.


Headshot - Devonn WoodDevonn Wood — Public Administration

Devonn Wood received her Bachelors degree in Organizational Leadership from Wright State in 2015, graduating Cum Laude, and entered the Master of Public Administration Program (MPA) in Fall 2016. Her return to school was driven by her deep personal interest in serving others and the desire to know more about local government. She was recently inducted into the Pi Alpha Alpha honor society in recognition of her academic achievements and she is deeply respected by the program faculty and her peers. Devonn attributes her success in the MPA program to the shared learning that occurs in the classroom and to the strong relationships established with other members of her MPA cohort.

Devonn has achieved success in the MPA program while balancing her professional and family responsibilities. She and her husband of 29 years have two active boys, ages 6 and 13. As a family they enjoy international travel (having traveled to 27 countries to date) and spending time outdoors. Congratulations, Devonn.


Headshot - Patrice WashingtonPatrice Washington — Masters of Social Work

Patrice Washington is a retired respiratory care practitioner, a practicing licensed social worker, and graduate Master of Social Work student who works with people to support and empower them. She believes that social workers have the power to honor the everyday citizen, by showing respect and common courtesy that is due to every person regardless of station in life, color, creed, or origin.  She worked at Montgomery County Children’s Services and supported foster youth on a trip to Washington D.C., where they spoke with legislators concerning foster youth’s early emancipation from foster care leading to homelessness. The conversations were instrumental in the passage of House Bill 50, the Ohio Fostering Connections Act. The bill extends foster youth support to age 21. Patrice volunteers her crafting skills to raise funds for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Awareness walk every year. She is also a mother to any Wright State/Miami student that needs mothering. Patrice holds a B.A. in Social Work from Wright State. She will be graduating with her Master's in Social Work from the Wright State/Miami University program in a few days. Congratulations, Patrice.