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Cheney, WA 99004
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2017-2018 Dean's Excellence Award Winners

Celebrating excellence in student contributions and achievements and faculty inspiration and student mentorship, the Dean's Excellence Award is presented to the outstanding graduating senior in a college department and their faculty sponsor/mentor. These are the nominations, written by a faculty member, for the Dean's Student Excellence Award recipients for 2017-18:

Art: Student Olivia Evans with Faculty Mentor Associate Professor Jenny Hyde

Olivia Evans has demonstrated both leadership and distinguished excellence during her time as an art student at EWU.  She has not only achieved a BFA in Studio art but also continued her studies this year and obtained a minor in Film. She is one of the hardest working people you will ever meet. Instead of looking for the easy way to get things done, she somehow picks the hardest way to get something done. For instance, she made a stop motion animation with a series of dry point etchings. Two labor-intensive techniques combined into one project. It is impressive to think about how much Olivia has learned and achieved - she first came into the classroom with little experience in front of a computer, and now has been the Digital Art Lab assistant for the past year.  Her art showcases talent in areas of drawing, printmaking, photography, animation, video and film. Her art has been featured in Saturate, an important citywide art event organized by Spokane Arts. She was the recipient of the Philip Grub scholarship in 2016. Aside from her progress as an artist, she has been the catalyst for organizing student exhibitions and taking part in art events in the community. This year she independently organized an art bazaar for EWU art students in the art building. Her effort to seek and organize opportunities and elevate the work of her peers is commendable. She will be a valuable asset to any creative community she chooses to be a part of. 

Education: Student Sunshine Hunt with Faculty Mentor Assistant Professor Allison Wilson

It is with my wholehearted support that I nominate Sunshine Hunt for the Dean's Student Excellence Award. As her advisor, and professor for seven of her major courses, I have witnessed firsthand the exceptional contributions she has made as an early childhood education student. She is approachable and possesses a remarkable ability to communicate with her peers and members of her teaching team. I had the opportunity to supervise Sunshine during an intensive summer capstone course in which she collaborated with a small group of peers to implement a project-based study on the topic of water with a class of preschoolers. The project and overall experience was so successful that it was showcased in a presentation at Washington's 2017 Starting Strong Preschool-Third Grade Institute. Sunshine was instrumental in the success and implementation of the project, clearly taking on a leadership role. She is enthusiastic, ambitious, intelligent, passionate, strong, and reflective, all traits of an exceptional educator. Throughout her time at EWU she has consistently exceeded my expectations and I feel truly fortunate to know her. She has been an absolute stand out student, and I am confident these traits will translate to her work with young children, their families, and the future professionals she will work with.  

Education: Student Taylor McDevitt with Faculty Mentor Assistant Professor Allison Wilson

Sometimes, students make excellent first impressions and then continue to impress more and more. Taylor McDevitt is like this. Because Taylor is an Early Childhood major, several of us only had the privilege of working with her in one class. Yet, that was all it took for us to know that we needed to nominate her for the Dean's Student Excellence Award.  From the first time you meet Taylor, you will know that she is personable and sincere, caring and strong. What a great set of characteristics for a teacher as nervous little ones enter her classroom for the first time. What perfect attributes to ease the hearts and minds of the mothers of those little ones. Then, as you get to know Taylor, you will find that she lives up to these great characteristics and more: 
1.      She learns quickly and deeply

2.      She exceeds the expectations

3.      She synthesizes and applies content effectively

4.      She consistently demonstrates a high level of professionalism

5.      She cares for others and reaches out to help where she can

Taylor, we are both sad and excited to see you go. Sad because many of us only got one class with you; excited because you are going to be an amazing teacher. The children you work with will be blessed! We are very proud to have been part of your journey.  

English: Student Katelyn Domitrovich with Faculty Mentor  Professor Jonathan Johnson

Katelyn Domitrovich is among the most skilled formalist undergraduate poets I have taught in my nineteen years at EWU.  Her particular strength and originality is in working with very small, elegant forms, primarily of Japanese and Chinese origin, in new, innovative ways.  She has created a mythology and characters in these poems of very few, perfectly-chosen words, which is an accomplishment and grace one would generally expect only from far more experience poets.  I look forward to seeing her work in publication in years to come.

English: Student Aubrey Hamilton with Faculty Mentor Assistant Professor Sean Agriss

Aubrey Hamilton is an exceptional student in our secondary English education program. Aubrey exhibits an admirable work ethic, showing her commitment to both academic career and to the teaching profession. As a respected leader among her peers and in serving EWU and her community as daily practice, Aubrey possesses qualities that instructors hope to see in all of our students and teacher candidates. In classes, Aubrey navigates difficult and dense readings with insight and grace, assisting her colleagues in making sense of the material. While at EWU, she has cultivated time for a variety of leadership roles: working with the Asia University America Program students at EWU for multiple quarters, working in the English Language Learner program at Ferris High School, spending time at Tekoa High/Junior High observing and working with the students, and participating in the National Society of Leadership and Success. In addition to her academic and service leadership at EWU, Aubrey has taught piano since enrolling at EWU at the age of 16. Aubrey's leadership and service to EWU and to her community is varied and impressive. To find these sorts of leadership skills and commitment to service, at this early career stage, is uncommon and very welcome.

Modern Languages & Literatures: Student Annsley Buller with Faculty Mentor Assistant Professor Miguel Novella

Annsley Buller, a major in Spanish secondary and a minor in Mathematics mid-level education, dedicated her time at Eastern Washington University to expanding her knowledge of the Spanish language and culture while at the same time impacting our university community and the Spokane / Cheney region through service. Ms. Buller was a thorough student who demonstrated a notable sense of dedication and intellectual curiosity. Her commitment to teaching is exemplified when she was chosen and hired as a Spanish and Mathematics tutor through the PLUS Program at EWU. These are just some examples of how Ms. Buller has taken advantage of the available opportunities at EWU to those exceptional undergraduate students capable of taking on such responsibilities. In addition to her excellent academic achievements, Annsley Buller has volunteered at the Union Gospel Mission and tutored from elementary school to college students through the Spokane and Cheney school districts. Ms. Buller has also closely work with Rogers High School, where she has helped with the school musical. The result has been the success of the student in her classes, and the success of others with whom she has worked. 

Modern Languages & Literatures: Student Rachel Musser with Faculty Mentor Associate Professor Gina Petrie

Rachel Musser is a brave and unwavering scholar who will be a great teacher of English learners in her career. Across her time in the English as a second language courses, she did not find theory daunting; rather, she relished complicated linguistics and literacy concepts and used them to build new ideas, make connections, and solve problems. She is not intimidated by leadership either; on her own, she prepared and presented at a teaching conference as well as presented with a group at our own campus Research symposium. Taking what she has learned and putting it into practice seems to come naturally to her; she is already using what she knows to think through assisting the English learners in her classroom as she substitute teaches. Rachel relishes opportunities to learn, which is a great gift for her future students who are learning English, because she is going to instill a love of learning, self-confidence, and desire to explore in them as well, which is a great gift to us all.

Music: Student Brenden Bachaud with Faculty Mentor Julia Salerno

Brenden Bachaud is graduating Eastern Washington University as the Music Department recipient of the Dean's Student Excellence Award. He is receiving a degree in Violin Performance from the studio of Dr. Julia Salerno. Brenden grew up in Richland, WA and graduated from Richland High School. He began his college studies at Columbia Basin Community College and came to EWU for his junior and senior years. During that time, Brenden became a strong advocate for new music and was very involved performing with student composers. He also worked closely with Dr. Jonathan Middleton to write a piece entitled Chloroplast, developed from the DNA of Maple Trees. This work for two violins was selected for performance and presentation by Brenden and fellow violinist Grace Fishel at the prestigious National Council of Undergraduate Research in Memphis during the spring of 2017.  Brenden is a passionate educator and also performs with many regional symphonies. Brenden plans to pursue graduate studies at the University of Memphis with degrees in Violin Performance and String Pedagogy.

Physical Education, Health & Recreation: Student Emily Dunston with Faculty Mentor Assistant Professor Katie Taylor

Emily has been an exceptional student with a true passion for the field of Exercise Science embodying the mission of EWU by striving for excellence in learning and transferring her passion to leadership both inside and outside of the classroom. Emily has excelled in her academic pursuits with many accolades such as an exemplary GPA, winning the regional ACSM knowledge bowl and placing 5th in the nation at the annual ACSM competition. Emily has led by example inside the classroom as a phenomenal role model and a teaching assistant for upper-division classes. Outside of the classroom, Emily has been President of the Exercise Science Club for two consecutive terms and has successfully led the club to four conferences, increased club visibility within the Cheney and Spokane communities at events such as Parasport Spokane and Bloomsday, and helped raise funds to support the club's endeavors. Emily has also been at the forefront of the club's research endeavors, leading three projects and presenting this work at the EWU Symposium and other professional conferences. Most recently, Emily won the 'Undergraduate Thematic Research Presentation' at ACSM, truly highlighting her potential as an exciting and promising, young scholar in Exercise Science. 

Physical Education, Health & Recreation: Student Naomi Eastland with Faculty Mentor Associate Professor Garth Babcock

Naomi Eastland is a first generation college student who excelled in her education academically and clinically. She came from a home with little support or emphasis on education. She states that her academic drive and desire came from her high school teachers. Her determination and work ethic in college has afforded her a cumulative GPA of 3.75, being named to the Dean's list every quarter, and graduating "Magna Cum Laude." More impressively, her efforts have led to acceptance into Graduate School (2018-2020) including a Graduate Assistantship, at Northern Arizona University. Naomi has further given back to athletes, friends and peers sharing her enthusiasm for learning as an advocate for our program at EWU, guiding tours with potential students, assisting with Major's Spotlight Night and serving as an Athletic Training Club Officer. She has mentored several junior students in course work, professional skills and study habits. She has presented two case reports on injury management and will orally present research at the EWU Student Symposium this year. She and two of her peers won the Region Student Quiz Bowl and will represent EWU at the National Bowl in June.  Outside of academics she has volunteered with the USA National Judo Championship and helped with several EWU Athletic Camps. She has participated in the National Society of Collegiate Honors, received the Leadership 1000, the Washington State Opportunity and the College Bound Scholarships multiple years.

Theatre & Film: Student Austin Hobbs with Faculty Mentor Assistant Professor Elisha Miranda 

Austin Hobbs has been a visionary screenwriter, a dedicated scholar and a contributor to the Department of Theatre and Film program during his tenure at EWU.  Austin has achieved a 3.98 cumulative GPA and a 3.94 GPA in the film major which is exceptional for a graduating senior in the Theatre and Film Program.  I encountered Austin during the spring of 2017, during his junior year in Film 312 our narrative short production class.   Austin was always the one knocking at my door answering questions with a drive for excellence and a spirit of communication among his peers. During the Fall of 2017, when he registered for my FILM 417 course- the first of three courses in our screenwriting capstone sequence.  Always seated front row and center, he came prepared to engage in discussions about the elements of good screenwriting, what makes an effective feature film story and how stories can impact the human condition.  Austin has also illustrated technical excellence along with a drive and enthusiasm for the art and the craft of filmmaking, from screenwriting through post-production. He is an exemplary student in attendance, meeting deadlines and participating in class discussion. But of most importance he has demonstrated resourcefulness in writing not only his own screenplays, but in supporting the projects of his classmates whether through serving as writer on their productions or a producer. In screenwriting class, he is willing to be a supportive voice of constructive criticism when it serves to assist in challenging his classmates to create stronger work- this takes a deeper level of thinking, professional mastery and commitment to craft. Austin is not the type of student that thinks only about himself, but he represents what any socially minded professional should encompass: an excellence of craft coupled with a team spirit.  This is further illustrated in screenwriting this year, not only did he complete his own feature he was there front and center ready to provide feedback and assist his classmates in achieving their creative vision. The quality of work produced by Mr. Hobbs makes him an outstanding filmmaker and scholar among his peers. Austin shows no signs of complacency and continues to seek challenges and hurdles to overcome on each new project.  

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