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Honors Alumni Archive

Honors Program

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Be inspired by your predecessors.

Take a look at past Honors Program alumni. Discover where they came from and how they got to where they wanted to be. You’ll also learn how they spent their time in the honors program and what they hope to achieve after.

We hope these stories will inspire you and show you that you have what it takes to complete the Honors Program.

Class of 2020–21

Brian Blackwell graduated in Fall 2020 with degrees in Accounting and Political Science. At school, he was a member of the Model United Nations team, the PFW Judicial Court, and the Chapman Scholars Program, and the Honors Program. After graduation, Brian planned to start working as an auditor for the public accounting firm Dauby, O’Connor, and Zaleski in Carmel, Indiana. Brian does not want to stay in accounting forever, and he will use his time as an auditor to develop an idea for the future. Brian’s interests include Greek, home improvement projects, and motorsports.

Trang Dao majored in Accounting and Information Technology at Purdue University Fort Wayne. She joined the Student Government’s Senate for two years, acted as Vice President for Economics Club Sophomore year, participated in Model UN for three years, of which Trang was the President in 2019. She was with the Deans of Students Office for three years. She was also been an active member of Accounting Society since Freshman year and continued her term as the President for her senior year. Trang interned for Medpro Group as a Stakeholder Experience intern, where she helped them launch a new Medpro website, Habitat for Humanity as a non-paid Accounting intern, F&G Annuities and Life in Iowa as an Internal Audit intern for the summer, and now Tax and Audit intern at Hamil, Lehman, and England CPA firm. She also had several chances to give back to the community. For four years at PFW, she volunteered at all of the Big Event at the end of Spring semester. Trang also went to Student Leadership camps as a Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior, in which one year she volunteered to be the Student Leader. Trang has helped Red Cross’s VITA program as a tax-preparer for two years, volunteered at Parkview’s Out-patience Pharmacy during the summer, set up, performed, and cleaned up at Global Student Celebrations every year.

Jadon Evans graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in secondary education, a Bachelor’s degree in biology, an Associate’s degree in chemical methods, a biology research certificate, and minors in mathematics, psychology, and communication studies. Jadon served as president of Campus Ministry and president of Love Your Melon Campus Crew, where he coordinated outreach events to serve the physical and spiritual needs of the campus and community. Throughout his time at Purdue University Fort Wayne, Jadon pursued research endeavors in both biology and education. These endeavors included a biology undergraduate capstone project exploring the effects of the cyanobacterial indole-alkaloid scytonemin on melanoma growth and his Chapman Scholars capstone project that sought to develop reading programming for a non-profit youth services organization in Fort Wayne. Jadon graduated in May of 2021, and his future goals center around applying his passion for helping students learn and grow by entering the workforce as a teacher in the Fort Wayne area.

Rachel Gawsyszawski graduated with a Bachelor's degree in biology with a minor in psychology and an Associate’s degree in chemical methods. She was the Vice President of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society. Due to existing food insecurities exacerbated by the pandemic, Rachel helped organize volunteer opportunities at the Community Harvest Food Bank through TriBeta. She also assisted in coordinating a tutoring program for TriBeta members, in addition to tutoring Purdue Fort Wayne students in the subjects of biology and chemistry through the University’s Tutoring Center. In her time at Purdue Fort Wayne, Rachel completed an internship at Metro Hospital in Cleveland and a shadowing opportunity in general surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. Rachel’s interest in chronic disease and surgical practice leads her to pursue a medical degree.

Joshua Gilhespy was born in England in 1992. When he was four years old, he and his mother moved to the small town of Chico, Texas, and away from the rest of any support system that he had. For most of his childhood he lived as the odd one out, and gained no meaningful support system while he grew up. He graduated with a GPA of 3.2, and left Chico as soon as he could. Lost for many years, it took the help of new friends who encouraged him to find out what he wanted to do with his life. It was at that time he decided he wished to become a doctor, to help ease the suffering of the world. With proper support, Joshua flourished. Using the meagre resources he had, he attended Ivy Tech Community College, became part of the local Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, graduated with an Associates in Liberal Arts with a 3.8 GPA, then attended Purdue Fort Wayne. With growing confidence, he took multiple Honors courses per semester as he pursued his Bachelor's in biology. Set to graduate in Spring 2021, Josh continude on his academic journey with PFW’s Graduate Program. His ultimate academic aspirations are set on an MD/PhD program with an emphasis on genetics, with a dream of becoming a researcher whose entire goal in life is to pursue solutions to many medical problems the world faces. He wishes to find cures, not treatments, and has made it his mission in life to do as much good for the world as he can. It is this mindset that pushes him to desire to see an end to the spread of COVID-19.

Caleb Hain graduated with a Political Science major and Criminal Justice minor at Purdue University Fort Wayne in May 2021. Apart from his major and minor, Caleb is interested in Religious Studies and Latin. Taking classes in Psychology, Political Science, and Religious Studies inspired him to write his Honors Project, which focused on the psychology of voting. During college, Caleb spent excess time working at a local deli. Caleb has researched a variety of topics including Medicaid’s effect on trans-related healthcare, campaign strategy, why the US fails to ratify many human rights treaties, and how religious identity affects trading relationships between countries. At the time of graduation, Caleb was planning on attending law school. Caleb was also the recipient of the Ulmschneider Prize in Political Science, the PFW Excellence Scholarship, the Senator Thomas J. Wyss Endowed Scholarship, and the 21st Century Scholarship.

Minh Le graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in biology (ecology and evolution concentration), an associate’s degree in chemistry, a research certificate in biology, and a minor in geology. He was born in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam, and his passion for the biological sciences have prompted him to study abroad in the United States. Mentored by Dr. Mark Jordan, Minh researched the Ambystoma salamander since his sophomore year. His research provided him with valuable laboratory experience and a deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural world. Additionally, he served as a Teaching Assistant for the entomology course and guided students to build research-grade insect collections. This last accomplishment was made possible by the Teaching Assistantship scholarship in the Honors Program. After graduation, Minh intended to pursue a PhD in entomology with the hope of one day becoming a research scientist in the field of entomology, evolutionary biology, and developmental biology.

Jaime Ryan majored in Communication Sciences and Disorders, minoring in Linguistics and Psychology, and receiving a certificate of Gerontology. She presented a research poster at The 2021 Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders. After graduation, Jaime was planning on attending Purdue University Fort Wayne to receive her Master's in Speech-Language Pathology.

Allison Whitcraft graduated Bishop Dwenger High School in 2017 with a 3.7 GPA and Academic Honors, as well as Dual credit. At Purdue Fort Wayne, she majored in Psychology and minored in Creative Writing. Allison was the Vice President of the mental health advocacy club Active Minds in 2018, and she worked as a research assistant from 2018-2019. She was a teaching assistant for a 2019 Introductory Psychology course and a 2021 Psychology of Women course. Additionally, Allison was given an opportunity in 2017-2018 to be an assistant to a local forensic psychologist. Her research in 2021 was featured in the 2021 Midwestern Psychological Association Conference. Allison was also named a member of the PFW Top 50 class of 2021. Allison plans to attend graduate school, obtain a doctorate in clinical psychology, and eventually become a license therapist, in hopes of sharing her passion for psychology and mental health advocacy with the community and helping others to heal.

Born in Goshen, Indiana, Katherine Gaff earned a BFA in sculpture at Purdue University Fort Wayne. After a summer internship at Anderson Ranch in Colorado, she has returned to her ceramic sculptures with more vigor than ever. At the time of graduation, Katherine intended to continue her education into a Master’s program, with the goal of becoming a university professor. While working through college, she obtained several larger scholarships. A departmental scholarship, earned through a portfolio of her work is granted each year. She has also obtained scholarships through the Honors department, as well as from the Dean of the Art and Design Department. The main scholarship was a Teachers Assistantship for the Ceramics Instructor, assisting in an introductory ceramics course. Each of these scholarships added up to an educational experience that allowed her to spend the majority of her hours in the studio making work, as well as gaining the skills needed to become a professor and interact well within the professional realm. Katherine is interested in the human condition. Her work finds expression through the use of elegant curving lines that wrap around her work and exemplify the external beauty. It is only upon further inspection that the inner degradation of the soul makes an appearance through the external mask of beauty. This work has been shown locally and regionally in galleries such as the Garret Museum of Art, the First Presbyterian Gallery, and the Patton-Malott Gallery in Snowmass Village, Colorado, during her summer internship. Holding the presidential position in the Purdue Fort Wayne Ceramics club, as well as working as the Work-Study for the Ceramics Professor for 2 years, has given Katherine an overarching experience that allows her to navigate the world of a professional in the ceramics realm; writing grants, organizing events, and delegating tasks amongst her peers.

Class of 2019–20

Emily Anderson graduated from Owasso High School in Owasso, Oklahoma in 2017 with a 3.9 GPA and a year of college finished. After only three years, she graduated in May of 2020 from Purdue Fort Wayne with a major in Human Services with concentrations in Women at Risk and Diversity. She minored in Psychology, Sociology, and Women and Gender Studies and earned a certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies. Emily was a member of the Women’s Studies honor society Triota, the Human Services honor society Tau Upsilon Alpha, and the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society. From 2018-2019, she served a term on the Campus Appeals Board at Purdue Fort Wayne. Emily’s role as the President of Purdue Fort Wayne’s Human Services Organization gave her the opportunity to pioneer the first Alumni Event where local professionals who have graduated from Purdue Fort Wayne’s Human Services program spoke on a panel to current students regarding finding jobs, avoiding burnout, and other relevant topics. Along with the Alumni Event, Emily has helped facilitate many volunteer opportunities and donation drives for the organization. Her involvement at school and in the community led Emily to be named among Purdue Fort Wayne’s Top 50 both for 2019 and 2020. She was also awarded a 2019 Tapestry Scholarship and was the national 2019 National Organization for Human Services’ Harold McPheeters scholarship recipient. Emily’s passion for helping others has recently led her, along with her partner, to apply to serve in the Peace Corps. They were recently invited to serve in Eswatini, Africa and will be leaving in September of 2020 to serve for 27 consecutive months after getting married in June. Emily credits her drive to help others to both her experiences in Guatemala on service trips as well as her heavy involvement in Girl Scouts. “Do a good turn daily” and “make the world a better place” are only two of the important ideas she has learned from Girl Scouts. She is a Gold Award recipient, has been a Girl Scout for over 15 years, and is now a lifetime GSUSA member.

Teagan Bowie graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. At the time of graduation, she was planning to combine the two in graduate school by analyzing public health and how policy can improve it. She was also planning on starting as a home health nurse in the community to identify health needs and assist patients’ transition from hospital to home. For the last two years before graduating, she participated in the Area Health Education Center Fellowship, an interprofessional health project emphasizing public health and collaboration in the health fields. Teagan also has an interest in international studies, shown by her semester studying Arabic and Political Science in the United Arab Emirates at the American University of Sharjah and in a summer cultural exchange with the Bahrom International Program in Seoul. Using her experience abroad as inspiration, she focused on Middle Eastern politics for her senior seminar and following Honors Showcase project.

Brittney Bressler graduated with a theatre major at Purdue Fort Wayne, with an emphasis in acting and a minor in English. During her time at Purdue Fort Wayne, she performed in ten theatre department productions, including “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Frankenstein: An Act of Creation,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Antigone,” and “Once Upon a Mattress.” This season, she played Flora in “Flora, the Red Menace” and Marty in “Grease.” She was actively involved in other theatre department activities, including serving as secretary for the Student Theatre Organization during the 2018-2019 academic year. At the time of graduation, she was a writing consultant at Purdue Fort Wayne’s Writing Center in Helmke Library. While pursuing her degree, devised theatre became one of Brittney’s passions. In the summer of 2018, she trained with Dell’Arte International in California as part of their Summer Intensive, and in the summer of 2019, she trained as an apprentice with Off-Broadway company One Year Lease in Papingo, Greece. These workshops combined with her work in performance classes have motivated her to explore devised theatre further for her honors project and share this avenue of theatre-creation in hopes to inspire a new way of thinking about theatre. While may not have had concrete plans for the future at graduation, she was planning to pursue a graduate degree in a theatre-related field in the near future.

Srikiran Dasari graduated with highest distinction with a bachelor’s degree in biology (concentration in microbiology and immunology), a biology research certificate, an associate’s degree in chemical methods, and a minor in mathematics. Srikiran was involved in the Pre-Med and Chemistry Clubs, embedded tutoring in the Math and Science Resource Area, the Chapman Scholars Program, volunteer tutoring for graduate-level biochemistry, and volunteer judging for the Northrop HS Speech Team. Throughout his undergraduate career, Srikiran was involved in a variety of research endeavors, including biochemistry research on red kidney bean protease inhibitors, the Student Education and Research Fellowship Program through Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM), and his Chapman Senior Capstone Project on assessing stress across campus and evaluating student opinions on a prospective stress management program. An interest in learning biotechnology research techniques through the study of a clinically relevant metabolic disease and a desire to contribute to the scientific community’s understanding of how we can treat this disease are what inspired Srikiran to pursue this Honors Project. Srikiran will be graduated in spring 2020 with plans to matriculated to the IUSM Fort Wayne campus the following fall.

Alliza-Moira was a Proud Mastodon since she began her Purdue Fort Wayne career in the fall semester of 2016. She was a transfer student from the Philippines with the concentration of Tourism Management and decided to continue her studies in the Hospitality and Tourism Management field. She became part of the Honors Program from 2017 and was listed as part of the Semester Honors in the College of Professional Studies from 2018 to 2020. She also had the opportunity to pursue and present her poster of the same research project at the 23rd Annual Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium. During her sophomore year at Purdue Fort Wayne, she was chosen to be one of the two representatives of Purdue Fort Wayne’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the Young Hoteliers Summit that was held in Lausanne, Switzerland and became part of the Hotel Schools of Distinction Student Board Conference that was held in Berlin, Germany in 2018. Alliza has participated in different volunteer opportunities through the BIG Event and Purdue Fort Wayne’s Hospitality Management Association. She was involved in different organizations on campus such as the AmbassaDons, Student Government Association and Deans Diplomats. She also proudly worked in the Undergraduate Admissions office as a Students Admissions Representative. As a Proud Mastodon, she got chosen to be the Top Don 2020 last Homecoming Week in February of this year. At the time of graduation, her goal was to work as a Cabin Crew in one of the major airlines in the country and work her way up while travelling all over the world. With all the experiences and opportunities that she had during her time at Purdue Fort Wayne, she knows that all the knowledge and connections that she had will help her in her future career after graduating in May 2020.

Jinshi “Gigi” Goshorn graduated May 2020 with a finance and marketing degree, a minor in music, and a certificate in bank management. She was very active on campus over the years, participating in the Student Government Association, the Finance Society, and Delta Sigma Pi to name a few. At the time of graduation, Gigi was hoping to stay and work in Fort Wayne. While growing up, she was always been encouraged to follow her passions, which is how she came up with her senior project. She wanted to help empower other Purdue Fort Wayne students by helping lessen the financial barrier students may face when applying for jobs.

Eryk Johnson graduated with a Psychology major and Spanish minor at Purdue Fort Wayne. Before transferring to Purdue Fort Wayne. he attended IUSB where he was the Vice President of the Psychology Club. Once he transferred to Purdue Fort Wayne. Eryk became a research assistant for three semesters in the Psychology Department. During his senior year, he was involved in the Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology where he served as the Vice President of the Purdue Fort Wayne chapter. At the time of graduation, Eryk was working part time as a Mental Health Technician at a psychiatric inpatient hospital in Auburn, was completing an internship with the Bowen Center in Fort Wayne, and was also completing an internship in suicide prevention with Project Compass on campus this semester. During graduation, he was deciding which graduate school program he will apply to in the fall of 2020.

Cassidy Merkle graduated with an Anthropology major and Art and Design minor at Purdue Fort Wayne. Throughout her college career, she was involved in the campus community. Cassidy was involved in TRIO on campus and actively participated in their events. She was also a peer mentor for the TRIO program. She helped new students become familiar and comfortable with the campus through this position. Cassidy was a part of other organizations and activities on campus, such as the Ambassadons and the Big Event. She also found ways to be an active member of her community through volunteer work with the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo and the Community Harvest Food Bank. Cassidy worked part-time for a local bakery, Zinnia’s Bakehouse, which is also very active in the community. It was these experiences with the college and Fort Wayne Community and work at Zinnia’s that helped inspire the idea for her honors project. It allowed her to pursue interests in art, through the expression of a painted mural, and anthropology by conducting interviews and research on the subject. At the time of graduation, Cassidy was excited for what will come after graduation.

Elliot Nesler was a mathematics major. He has competed in several mathematics competitions, including the Putnam Exam in 2017, 2018, and 2019, and the ICMC in 2018 and 2019 as part of a Purdue Fort Wayne team. His academic interests range over a variety of subjects, from mathematics to contemporary Irish literature, and he has completed research exploring topics such as the Irish identity dilemma as explored in the language issue and network-automata modeling for plague spread. At the time of his graduation, Elliot was planning to continue in the graduate school pursuing a Master of Science in mathematics at Purdue Fort Wayne.

Austin Northcutt was a communication sciences and disorders major at Purdue Fort Wayne. He was involved with ASL Pah! and Speech and Hearing club at Purdue Fort Wayne. A desire to help people and be challenged to critically think every day led to his love for the field of speech-language pathology. An interest in pediatric speech-language pathology inspired him to pursue this honors project. He graduated in May 2020, planning to go on to earn his Master’s in speech-language pathology from Kent State University in Kent, OH.

Merab Omoregie was a communication major at Purdue Fort Wayne, with a concentration in journalism and a film studies minor. Born in Nigeria, she moved from her home country in pursuit of better education. She found a home at Purdue Fort Wayne and four years contributed positively to her newfound home and community. She was involved in the Black Student Union, Student Activities Board and previously held positions as vice president and public relations officer of the National Society of Leadership and Success. At the time of her graduation, Merab was working as a communications strategist, doing research on social media and generating new ideas for effective communication in the workplace. Her dreams and aspirations include becoming an investigative journalist and working with women in her country to help contribute to a society where women of color are appreciated and given equal rights. Graduating in May 2020, Merab was very excited to begin a new journey in Austin, Texas.

Madison Phillips was a senior Business Management and Marketing major at Purdue Fort Wayne. She was involved in the TRIO program, TRIO club, and Phi Eta Sigma. She had a lot of opportunities during her three years at Purdue Fort Wayne. The most enjoyable were going to Washington D.C., going to the statehouse, donating Easter baskets to SCAN and sewing dresses for African girls. She completed a bachelor’s degree in three years instead of four at the end of spring 2020. During graduation, she planned to work in her hometown of Huntington, Indiana as an Administrative or Executive Assistant. Through her classes and other experiences at Purdue Fort Wayne, she also became interested in becoming a paralegal. She has taken two different law classes with Professor Kauffman and has enjoyed learning about different cases from around the world. During the ethics portions of each class, they touched more and more on Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. She was so interested and intrigued that she decided to cover it for her honors showcase. In her class in spring 2020, there was a critical thinking assignment that she used as a base for her project.

Sylvia Rust was a senior majoring in Political Science, Women’s Studies, and Communication, concentrating in Rhetoric and Public Advocacy, graduating in May 2020. She also pursued Certificates in International Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, and Civic Education and Public Advocacy. During the Spring of 2019, Sylvia was given her Honors Pin from the Purdue Fort Wayne Honors program, was inducted into the Women’s Studies Honor Society, Iota Iota Iota, and was awarded as one of Purdue Fort Wayne’s Top 50 students. Sylvia has interned locally for the Evan Bayh for Congress campaign in 2016. During the summer of 2019, she interned for the substance abuse coordinator at Amani Family Services. Hoping to pursue a career in academia, Sylvia also interned as a Teaching Assistant during the fall of 2020 semester with Communication Department Chair, Dr. Michelle Kelsey, and at the time of graduation Sylvia was interning for the Allen County Democrats’ Chairwoman, Misti Meehan. Sylvia works and is a mother of a two-month old named Hazel, as well as being a full-time student.

Viviane Toniarimanana was a senior Finance major at Purdue Fort Wayne from Madagascar. She has a robust financial analysis skill and experience in real estate and title insurance. At the time of graduation, she was currently working as an Account Payable and a Final Policy Coordinator Intern. She was an active member of the Alpha Omega Campus Ministry and the African Student Organization. She likes getting involved in her community and was volunteering at the Purdue University Fort Wayne Food Pantry. She is passionate and curious to learn how the future of money will be and that inspires her to focus her honors research project about cryptocurrency. Viviane graduated in spring 2020, planning to start her career in investment banking before pursuing graduate school.

Class of 2018–19

Mariana Ayala Gutierrez graduated with a biology major at Purdue Fort Wayne, with a concentration in microbiology and immunology. She was the president of Global Health Initiative and was involved with the club since her freshman year. As part of her involvement and commitment to the University, she was a Big Event leader for three consecutive years. During her sophomore year, she welcomed the new incoming students as an orientation leader. Mariana was an active member of multiple clubs here at Purdue Fort Wayne, such as Honor Dons, Hispanos Unidos, Biology club, Pre-Med club, and also Beta Beta Beta Biology Honors Society. Outside of the University, she was also involved within the Fort Wayne community by volunteering at the Matthew 25 clinic as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking patients. With the help and mentorship of Dr. Blumenthal, Mariana was given the opportunity to immerse herself in the field of biological research beginning in her freshman year. Mariana’s professional passion to become a physician started when she was young. She took note of the multiple health disparities that the Peruvian population encounters every day. This also sparked a desire to volunteer in Peru at a free clinic during the summers when she visits home. Mariana graduated in Spring 2019, and as part of her future plans applied to medical schools.

Jenna Boese graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She also pursued a minor in Psychology and a certificate in Gerontology. She was President of the Purdue Fort Wayne ASL Pah! Club and Sign Choir and was an active member of the Purdue Fort Wayne Speech and Hearing Club. Jenna became interested in the field of speech-language pathology while helping her high school theatre director with his speech therapy exercises after he had a stroke. Seeing his improvement provided a sense of accomplishment unlike any other Jenna had previously experienced, and so she decided to pursue a career as a speech-language pathologist. While completing her core coursework at Purdue Fort Wayne, particularly in Gerontology, she became interested in researching dementia for her senior honors thesis. Individuals with dementia disorders make up the fastest-growing, largest, and most under-served population with whom speech-language pathologists work. At the time of graduation, Jenna planned on continuing her education in the fall by attending graduate school to obtain a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology.

Valeria Castro Salazar graduated with a B.S. in biology with a concentration in microbiology and immunology and a minor in psychology. She was an active member of the campus community, as she served as president of the Honors Student Organization for three consecutive years and was also a member of Global Health Initiative, the Pre-med Club, and Beta Beta Beta Biology Honors Society. She was heavily involved in the Honors Program and was a dedicated student worker since her freshman year. As an AmbassaDon during her sophomore and junior years, she promoted University excellence within the community through leadership and outreach. She also proudly served as a member of The Pantry’s Food and Fundraising Committee since fall of 2017. Notably, Valeria served as the sole student representative on the Chancellor Search Committee during the summer of 2017. She also furthered her academic experiences by conducting research with a fellow student under the supervision of Dr. Nachappa. She had the opportunity to present this research at the Indiana Academy of Science on March 24th, 2018. Valeria also likes to devote her time to causes outside of the University. She was a long time Lutheran Hospital volunteer and has previously volunteered for Heartland Hospice. During graduation, Valeria was planning to continue her professional pursuits by applying to medical schools.

Riley Erck graduated with a biology major at Purdue Fort Wayne, pursuing dental school. She actively participated on campus by being involved in many clubs and organizations. Riley served as the President of campus’s Dental Club for the last two years, served two years as an AmbassaDON, was the secretary of TRIO Club, and the Vice President of TRIO Club the year before. On top of being a full-time student, Riley maintained multiple jobs. She worked on campus for her last three years as a science tutor, two years as a peer mentor to first generation college students, and as a sterilization tech and hygiene assistant at a local dental office. After finishing classes in May 2019, she planned on furthering her education to become a dentist and was eagerly waiting to hear back from schools.

Mackenzie Fry graduated with a degree in communication sciences and disorders major at Purdue Fort Wayne. She was involved in the Speech and Hearing and ASL Pah! clubs on campus. She also was involved with the START program at Indian Village Elementary School and the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) camp on campus in fall 2018. She was an orientation leader and welcomed students to campus during the summer of 2018. Mackenzie’s desire and passion to be a speech-language pathologist came from her own experience working with a speech-language pathologist as a child and as an adult after a car accident. The various clinical practicums offered through the communication sciences and disorders department inspired her to create and develop her honors research project directly tied to current clinical practices. During graduation, Mackenzie was planning on pursuing graduate school in speech-language pathology.

Lindsey Greene graduated from Purdue Fort Wayne, majoring in Anthropology, English, Spanish, and Women’s Studies. She was passionate about exploring the questions: What was the human experience? How can we share our experiences with others? and How can we understand and respect the experiences of others? While at Purdue Fort Wayne, Lindsey was actively involved with the Honors Program as well as with the Women’s Studies Program’s Gender and Justice Institute (GJI). From her GJI platform, Lindsey and another student were developing a talk about personal pronouns to present to area high schoolers. Lindsey received the College of Arts and Science’s Ethics in Linguistics Award for her work on English pronouns and the Women’s Studies Outstanding Research Essay Prize for her work on childism, the prejudice against the young and inexperienced. At the time of graduation, Lindsey was planning on starting a Master of Arts in English at Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Kaelyn Hatcher was a senior majoring in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Purdue University Fort Wayne. She was involved in the national honors society; Kappa Delta Pi, the Rho Chapter, here on campus. Kaelyn was also involved in various research projects in the College of Professional Studies in the Education Department focusing on Child Development, Science Education, and projects for Autism. She spent much of her time around children and often finds herself teaching new research ideas of her own. Kaelyn was a part of the 20th Annual Student Research and Creative Endeavors Symposium where she used her teaching practices to inform pre-service and in-service teachers the importance of Individualized Education in the school systems. Her passion to be a teacher came from her own thirst to learn and research the world around her. At the time of graduation, Kaelyn was finishing her student teaching and classes and planning on starting her graduate studies journey while navigating teaching in her very own classroom in the Fall of 2019.

Kara Keller was a senior majoring in communication sciences and disorders (CSD) at Purdue Fort Wayne. When a student, she was involved in the CSD Department’s Speech and Hearing Club, as well as its communication disorders clinic. In the fall of 2018, Kara served as a camp counselor at Purdue Fort Wayne’s Augmentative and Alternative Communication Poss-Abilities Theatre Camp, where she helped facilitate the on-stage performance of 11 children and adults with complex communication needs. After spending several hours shadowing a speech-language pathologist in the school setting, Kara was drawn to learning more about how to improve the communication of children receiving speech and language services. It was her desire to learn how to implement best practices when treating children with communication disorders that prompted her to pursue this honors research project. At the time of her graduation, Kara was planning on attending graduate school to obtain a master’s degree in speech-language pathology.

Izak Lewandowski graduated with an English major with a concentration in writing and a minor in Medieval Studies at Purdue University Fort Wayne. He’s had poems and works of short fiction published both in “Confluence,” the university literary magazine, and outside of the scope of the university, both as a result of the opportunities granted by his experiences with the Purdue Fort Wayne English Department. As a student, he frequented the once-per-semester student readings held on campus as both a listener and a reader, as well all of the events with the writers from the Visiting Writers showcase as he could. He was also been an active participant in the Japanese program on campus, continuing through his study of the language to the fullest extent that the program allowed. His commitment to English and the English Department comes from a lifelong fascination with language, poems, and stories, and he intends to continue to pursue that passion and fascination to the fullest extent he can.

Phillip Litchfield grew up in Avilla, Indiana. He graduated from Bishop Dwenger High School in 2013 where he served as Class President, Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, and Captain of the Rugby Football club. Directly after graduation he entered a Roman Catholic seminary located in Cheshire, Connecticut. There he spent a year living a monastic life of reflection, study, and brotherhood. Returning to Northeast Indiana in fall of 2014, after discerning out of seminary, he enrolled at IPFW seeking an undergraduate in Accounting with a minor in Political Science. During his time at IPFW he served as President of Mastodon Catholic, team leader for The Big Event, and a member of the Model United Nations team. In addition to his academic work, he developed himself professionally, working in the accounting department of a local commercial real estate firm SVN | Parke Group. His collegiate experience was enhanced by trips to Poland and South Korea. His preferred areas of study are Public Policy, International Development, and Business Analytics. During his graduation, he was planning on sitting for the CPA exams and continuing employment with SVN | Parke Group. In the future, he hopes to work for a small CPA firm in a big city and volunteer in the reserve armed services. He would like to one day work for the Governmental Accountability Office or an international NGO. He would like to thank all his professors for all their support and work to help him to reach this point.

Sophia Malmquist received a bachelor's degree in Women's Studies and a certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies. She was the President of Iota Iota Iota - a chapter of the National Women's Studies Honors Society at Purdue Fort Wayne. She was a fierce feminist, advocate for peace, and vegan. Post-graduation she planned on continuing to work and live in the Fort Wayne community.

Karen Negedu was a senior nursing student from Abuja, Nigeria. She was involved in the African Students Association as the president and a member of other groups on campus. She became a member of the Sigma Theta Tau. The best part of her working was spent as a Student Representative for the admissions office and a tutor for Anatomy and Physiology. At the time of graduation, Karen was working in a coronary intensive unit at Lutheran Hospital and was enjoying learning from the healthcare team on her floor. She was also involved on her church’s children’s ministry and the Christian group on campus (chi Alpha). Karen’s call to be a healthcare professional came from her experience with her parents who are also healthcare professionals. She explains that she always had opportunities to shadow her parents and other team members in the hospital. Due to this experience, Karen wants to keep learning and working to improve access to healthcare. In her own little way, she wants to educate and inform people of healthier behaviors.

Sydney Osentoski was an undergraduate Honors student attending Purdue University Fort Wayne. She majored in Communication Sciences and Disorders, minored in Linguistics, and received a certificate of Gerontology. She was involved in the ASL - PAH! Club, Sign Choir, and the Speech and Hearing Club. Sydney signed at Deaf Santa as part of Sign Choir in 2016 and 2018. She also volunteered for Sensitive Santa. She presented a research poster at the 2018 Indiana Speech-Language-Hearing Association convention and at the 2019 Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association convention. Growing up, Sydney’s sister and cousin both attended speech therapy. This was where her interest was speech language pathology first blossomed and led her to pursue this career path. After graduation, Sydney was planning on continuing her education in graduate school to eventually receive her master’s degree.

Awa Samba was an international student from Senegal, a country on Africa’s west coast with a wealthy French colonial legacy and many beautiful natural attractions. She speaks French, English and Wolof, a tribal language from Senegal. She graduated with a major in pre-med biology with a minor in psychology. She was involved in many departments here at Purdue Fort Wayne, including the tutoring center, where she primarily tutor chemistry, math, statistics, and calculus I. She also worked at the language lab and the writing center where she tutors French and helps students with their French writing as well. She was also involved in different clubs on campus such as the pre-med and the African student associations club, where she served as secretary. People have for a long time during her school years wondered why Biology? Why medicine? Why med school? And Awa’s answer has always been the following: she grew up and lived in countries where people die for the mildest diseases ever like malaria or the Ebola outbreak. Poverty was one reason for all of this, but the lack of having qualified enough people for the job was the number one issue. She wants to be able to change that, make her country better, enhance the quality of life, so that they stop dying from minor infections and diseases. She had the chance to do some volunteering work here at Purdue Fort Wayne with the Big Event, the rescue mission, Fort Wayne’ zoo, Parkview and Lutheran hospital. At the time of graduation, she was working in a rehabilitation center and helping people was a beautiful part of her journey. Being an Honors student, a student research and a lab assistant, she realized how much more there was to accomplish. For this reason, as she goes on with her studies and learns about different cultures and beliefs, she was grateful for all the opportunities and looks forward to what the future has to offer but most importantly what she will be offering to it.

Amara Scheitlin graduated with a double major in History and Political Science, as well as an International Studies Certificate and Peace and Conflict Studies Certificate. Amara was involved on campus in numerous ways: She worked as a student mentor for the Department of History for two years, served as the treasurer for Fort Wayne College Democrats, and had the pleasure of working for the Mike Down’s Center for Indiana Politics on community outreach projects involving democracy. Amara started at Purdue Fort Wayne in the fall of 2016 as a History major because she was inspired by her high school history teacher to further explore the subject. Since then, her interest in history has only grown, largely in part because of the supportive and influential faculty members she encountered in her time here. In the summer of 2018, Amara’s interest in international relations flourished when she had the opportunity to intern at the United Nations Population Fund. At the time of graduation, Amara was looking to continue her studies in the future, grateful for all the kindness and guidance provided by her professors at Purdue Fort Wayne.

Corrie Taylor was a senior theatre major at Purdue Fort Wayne, with an emphasis on acting. Corrie chose to pursue theatre in college after enjoying the outlet of theatre in high school. Majoring in theatre has helped shape her into a better actress and a critically thinking theatre artist who was eager to explore new works, reimagine classical pieces, and test the boundaries of what theatre can be. Through the National Student Exchange, Corrie was able to spend a semester away from Purdue Fort Wayne. She studied at North Carolina Central University where she had the opportunity to work on an original piece of theatre titled Speak My Soul. She returned in the fall of 2018. She was also the student representative for the theatre department. She appeared in Purdue Fort Wayne’s production of Frankenstein: An Act of Creation, in Pride and Prejudice as Jane Bennett, and as titular role in Antigone for a newly adapted version of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy. Expressing great interest Greek tragedy and in her role, she assumed the production as her honors project. At the time of her graduation, Corrie was looking forward to pursuing an acting career in both theatre and film in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

Fyodor S. Wheeler was a senior history major with minors in English, medieval studies, and religious studies. At the time of graduation, he was writing his senior thesis on Lollardy. He worked as a tutor for history and writing and at graduation was assistant to the book review editor of academic journal “Terrae Incognitae.” He presented papers on the history of broadcasting, the Cult of Reason in the French Revolution, and the writings of Procopius at the Undergraduate History Conference, as well as the Student Research Symposium on Balinese religion. His main academic interests are Middle English literature, medieval manuscripts, and the life and work of Charles, Duke of Orleans, and his passion was making information and sources accessible to all. After finishing school this was planning on completing the translation of Harley MS 682 and continuing to graduate school to earn a Master’s in history and a Master of Library Science.

Class of 2017–18

Kate Bendele was a returning adult student who was completing Bachelor’s Degree. She was an education major with a concentration on English language arts. Kate had multiple works published in Confluence, a student-run literary and arts magazine. As an education major, she was dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge as a means of fostering engaged, fully developed minds. During a dual listed ENG/WOST course, Kate became interested in health education and the way in which such education influences students’ future health, well-being, and opportunities; this interest became the impetus for this Honors Project.

Bre Anne Briskey graduated with majors in history and psychology major. She was a Chapman Scholar. Bre Anne was a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha, Phi Kappa Phi, Psi Chi, the National Society of Leadership and Success, and served as the president of Phi Eta Sigma. She received a Top 50 Award in 2017 and 2018. Bre Anne presented at the 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 Student Research Symposiums along with presenting at the eighth, ninth, and 10th Undergraduate History Conferences. She was a student mentor for the Department of History and worked with the Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. At the time of graduation, Bre Anne was planning on attending graduate school to study history.

Rachel Caruso was a senior English literature major with double minors in professional writing and linguistics. She spent her undergraduate career delving into many different areas of English because of her passion for the subject. She spent several years working for the Writing Center before procuring a job at Northrop High School. At Northrop, Rachel was working mainly with Level One ESL students, who are mostly Hispanic students just beginning to learn English. Working with high school students sparked a love of teaching in Rachel, and she decided to go to graduate school to get a master’s degree in English with a teaching specialization. At the time of graduation, Rachel was hoping to teach high school English and then eventually move to a curriculum position. Rachel’s passion for reading and literature—particularly young adult literature—is something she hopes to pass on to high school students.

Helena Carvalho Schmidt was a senior majoring in English, political science, and communication, with a certificate in international studies. As an international student from Brazil, Helena integrated herself into the community by being involved in many areas on campus. She was a writing consultant at the Writing Center and the leadership intern for the Office of Student Life and Leadership, where she helped structure the new leadership program and the support structure for the Disney College Program applicants. She served as the vice president of the Model United Nations student organization (in which she was the permanent representative for an American Model UN conference in Chicago), Lambda Pi Eta (national communication honors society) and the International Student Organization, while being involved in other groups like Pi Sigma Alpha (political science honors society) and the Dean’s Diplomats. She was a Top 50 student in 2017 and received the Georgiana Kryzminski Scholarship for excellence in English (academic writing), as well as an award for Excellence in International Studies. Helena tries to maintain an international perspective; she practices and expands that perspective with coursework in international studies, involvement with the local international community, and her study abroad in Belgium in the summer of 2017. At the time of her graduation, she was planning to pursue a career path with international impact in human rights and socioeconomic development (wherever that may be), involving a master’s program in international relations, serving in international/intergovernmental institutions, and—possibly—a Ph.D. Eventually she aims to return to Brazil and become a catalyst for change in order to perpetuate social development in her region.

Cody Davison was a senior chemistry premedicine major. His favorite chemistry course was physical chemistry, since it’s where physics meets chemistry to explain how many real-world processes happen down to the molecular level. He researched inorganic and organic chemistry with both Professor Donald E. Linn Jr. and Professor Steven Stevenson. His exploration of complex molecules with Professor Stevenson led to his Honors Project. His passion to help people drove him to volunteer at a hospital for three years and pursue medical school. Upon graduation, he was planning to take a year off before entering Indiana University’s School of Medicine to become a surgeon.

Adrita Iman was a senior biology major with dual concentrations in genetics, cellular and molecular biology, and microbiology and immunology. Adrita was a Chancellor’s Distinguished Scholar and began doing research at Professor George Mourad’s genetics and molecular biology lab in fall 2016. She was a member of the AmbassaDons; the International Student Organization; the interdisciplinary honors society, Phi Kappa Phi; and the biology honors society, Beta Beta Beta. She received the research assistantship scholarship from the Honors Program in spring 2017, was the recipient of the Emil R. Seidel Scholarship Award from the biology department for conducting research contributing to the advancement of agriculture, and was named the university’s Outstanding Senior in Biology. She was a student worker for IT Services and the Honors Program. Adrita graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology, an associate degree in chemical methods, and a Biology Research Certificate. She decided to continue her academic journey as a Ph.D. student at Indiana University in Bloomington under the Genetics, Cell, and Developmental Biology Program starting in the fall of 2018.

Shannon LaClair Rahn was a senior psychology major with a special interest in education and prevention of nonsuicidal self-injury, as well as suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Shannon was a student board member for Active Minds, a student group geared to suicide education and prevention. Previously she served as a COMPASS suicide-prevention intern, as well as a work-study student in the psychology department. While working in the medical department of a large hospital in Illinois, Shannon worked with underprivileged patients who needed assistance with their medical bills. Through her work at that hospital, she witnessed firsthand the lack of access many uninsured or underinsured patients had to quality mental healthcare. This knowledge, combined with her ongoing interest in psychology, inspired Shannon to return to college and complete her undergraduate degree. During graduation, Shannon was planning to obtain a graduate degree in mental health counseling.

Moriah Landon was a senior music therapy major at IPFW, with voice as her primary instrument. She was involved in the Symphonic Band and Choral Union ensembles on campus, and previously was in the University Singers where she had the honor be in a solo quartet for Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Moriah was an active member of both the IPFW Music Therapy Club as well as the Greater Fort Wayne Campus Ministry. She was also a leading member and substitute conductor of the Mastodon Pep Band where she was also a frequent National Anthem soloist as well as a senior employee for the Williams Theater Scene Shop on campus. Moriah’s call to be a music therapist came from her experiences of growing up with and helping to take care of her cousin who has Down syndrome. It was his struggle to communicate paired with Moriah’s experience with her first client in practicum sessions, a young girl with Down syndrome, that inspired her to pursue this honors research project. Moriah was planning on going on to an internship with Opportunities for Positive Growth in Lafayette, Indiana.

Rachel Roberts was a senior business major with concentrations in marketing and management. She participated in externships with Career Services and Student Life and Leadership. She was a member of Intervarsity and Honor Dons. She enjoyed being involved in International Table, where she engaged in discussion with international students to learn about different cultures and enjoy a variety of cuisines from other cultures. She also had the privilege of being a peer mentor for different international students for four semesters. The fall semester of her sophomore year she had the honor of studying at the University of Northern Iowa through the National Student Exchange. During her junior year she traveled to Morocco with her international business class. In Morocco they were able to conduct focus groups at AUI University with DeBrand Fine Chocolates and Hoosier Hill Farm. During the summer of 2017 she gained valuable experience being an intern group leader at General Motors. She has gained unique marketing experience at Fort Wayne Newspapers working in the advertising and customer service departments. She enjoyed being a part of the Fourth Annual Communication Showcase and the 21st Annual Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium. At the time of her graduation, Rachel was working on her Black Belt Lean Six Sigma Certificates and her Endorsed Certificate. Rachel enjoys helping people through customer service and was interested in ways to improve the customer’s experience. This inspired her to do her honors research on brand loyalty with mobile applications.

Fiona Sackett graduated with a history major, minoring in theatre. As part of her Honors’ program, she acted as the dramaturg for Frankenstein: An Act of Creation. In addition to that, she was involved with the theatre department as a carpenter for the past three-and-a-half years and acted as the prop master for the production of Stupid F*@%ing Bird. Fiona has also presented at the History Symposium and Indiana University Women’s and Gender Studies Conference in 2016 and 2017. At the time of graduation, Fiona was planning to go to graduate school in order to become a professional dramaturg.

Tianna Schuerman was a senior communication sciences and disorders major with a minor in linguistics and a gerontology certificate. She was the president of the Speech and Hearing Club and an active member of the ASL Pah! Club and sign choir. She received the Top 50 Award for the second time and received third place at the 2018 Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium. She spent the last two summers volunteering her time at Turnstone Center for Children and Adults with Disabilities Summer Speech Camp and actively volunteers in the community. During the fall 2017 semester, Tianna volunteered for the AAC Poss-Abilities Theatre Camp, which ignited her interest in augmentative/alternative communication. This ultimately led her interest in this honors research project. During graduation, Tianna was hoping to attend graduate school for speech-language pathology.

Meg Steigerwald is a senior communication sciences and disorders major minoring in psychology. She is an active member and officer of the Speech and Hearing Club and member of the ASL Pah! Club. Meg spent six months in South Africa prior to beginning her undergraduate studies, a time that heavily influenced her decision to pursue speech-language pathology. Upon returning home, her volunteer experiences with the deaf community at Turnstone and alongside her other peers solidified her decision. Completing this honors research project was both a challenge and an opportunity for Meg. She hopes to learn more about child language while simultaneously preparing for potential research opportunities in graduate school. Meg will be pursuing a master’s degree at Indiana University in Bloomington this fall to become a speech-language pathologist.

Class of 2016–17

Matthew Danielson graduated with degrees in political science and English (concentration in writing). His senior project in political science explored the diversity of Indiana’s political culture, and his senior English project, which was also his senior Honors Project, used literary theory to examine the cultural context of the Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes cartoons of 1952. Matthew was a recipient of the Withers Scholarship, presented at the IPFW History Undergraduate Conference, and was the winner of the 2017 Outstanding English Major Award and the Sylvia E. Bowman Award for literature studies. Matthew serves as the current president of the campus Lutheran student group, interns for the College of Arts and Sciences Media and Communications, works in the Math Testing Center for CASA, was a registered Suzuki violin teacher, and was in the process of finalizing which graduate school to attend.

Heather Dewey graduated this semester with a major in history, minors in Spanish and creative writing, and an International Studies Certificate. After working for a year, she was intending to apply to graduate programs for world history and to become a historian who studies historiography and public perceptions of history based on the standard narrative presented in media such as textbooks and popular culture. Although Heather wasn’t involved in clubs, she was a lead consultant with the Writing Center, did editing and grant writing for the computer science department, and worked for Enterprise & Society. She coauthored an article with Richard Weiner, professor and chair, Department of History, which was under review at the time of her graduation, about human rights in Frank Tannenbaum’s books on Mexico and the public’s reactions to him. Heather was a teaching assistant for Holocaust and Modern Genocides and won three awards: an IPFW Exemplar Award, Outstanding Senior in the History Department, and Outstanding Researcher in the History Department. In her spare time, she and her sister (an illustrator) are working on a novel that they plan to self-publish.

Cody Fuelling graduated with majors in history and political science, an Honors Certificate, and an International Studies Certificate. He was a research assistant for two professors in the Department of History and was working as a teaching assistant in the Department of Political Science. He presented at the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Annual Undergraduate History Conferences and was working as an assistant book-review editor for Enterprise & Society. He received three scholarships from the Honors Program, was a student representative on the College of Arts and Sciences Student Affairs Committee, and was on the team representing Purdue Fort Wayne at the second-largest American Model United Nations conference in the United States. At the time of his graduation, Cody was going on to intern at the United Nations Population Fund before starting his Fulbright research grant to Luxembourg.

Andrew Hakes majored in history with two minors, one in political science and the other in psychology. He was also working to obtain the International Studies Certificate and Honors Medal. Andrew’s area of interest in history is revolution, particularly during the Cold War, and he studied abroad in Argentina. After graduating, Andrew was planning to take a few years off to better decide what he would like to do with his life, but he does want to travel and increase his language skills.

Ariana Jehl will be graduating with her B.S. in elementary education. During her time at IPFW, she was been involved in Students for Life, Love Your Melon, the National Society of Leadership and Success, Spanish Club, and the Honors Program. She enjoys being involved in her community by volunteering, instructing dance classes, coaching high school cheerleading, and leading a middle school youth group. Her passions include drinking coffee, meeting new people, helping others, and traveling. During graduation, Ariana was looking forward to teaching English in Ecuador for a few months and was excited to see where life takes her!

Zachary Jones was a biology premed major. Zachary noticed Professor Mark Jordan’s interest in salamanders during his freshman year and decided to jump on the boat with him, traveling to many wetlands over the years to collect both adult and larval salamanders. Zachary has participated in the Biology, Chemistry, and Pre-Med Clubs, serving as both the vice president and secretary of the latter. During graduation, he was planning to work in a medical lab until he decides to pursue a career as a medical doctor.

Dayvid Myers began attending IPFW as a dual-credit student in the spring of 2013. He was awarded the Chancellor’s Distinguished Scholarship based on his SAT scores. He enrolled as a full-time student in the Information Technology program in the fall of 2013. He later added minors in both computer science and organizational leadership. He joined the Honors Program in fall 2014. He earned the majority of his honors credits in H-Option computer science courses. His largest H-Option project was for his second semester Java course. For this course, he designed and programmed a Battleship game with a graphical interface and an AI opponent. By his last semester, Dayvid had earned a 4.0 GPA in five out of his planned eight semesters for a cumulative GPA of 3.92. He was employed as a tutor at the College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science’s Student Success Center before he left to begin a software developer internship at General Dynamics Mission Systems. Over the years, Dayvid was privileged to learn from many incredible instructors in the fields of information technology, computer science, and organizational leadership.

Aaron Thieme graduated in May with a B.A. in philosophy and a minor in professional and applied ethics, a B.A. in women’s studies, and a B.S. and Undergraduate Research Certificate in mathematics. Over his last few semesters, he was working at the Computer Science Department’s Analogical Constructivism and Reasoning Lab. He attended the 2014 Summer School in Logic and Formal Epistemology at Carnegie Mellon University, the 2015 Summer Seminar in Philosophy at University of Colorado Boulder (where he began work on his Honors Project), and the 2016 Summer School in Logic and Computation at the University of Göttingen. Aaron won the Indiana Philosophical Association’s Undergraduate Essay Prize in 2014, 2015, and 2016, and has presented his work several times at professional conferences.

Kakathi Tummala was born and raised in India. She completed high school in India and took the necessary exams to go to medical college there. Although she was all set to go to medical school, Kakathi didn’t feel ready and wasn’t sure if she wanted to become a doctor. During a vacation to America after 12th grade, she decided that she wanted to study here. Her parents did not like the idea. In fact, nobody did. For them, she was not only doubting a good career choice but also wanting to study in a different country that was 8,792 miles away from home. To Kakathi, America presented the opportunity to explore different career paths that were not easy to do back home. After almost four years of exploring, she was going to apply to medical school this summer. Many people told her that she wasted four years just to go back to the career choice that she had in front of herself in the first place. But to Kakathi there was a difference. Now she was choosing this career with all her heart and not because someone asked her to. From her experience, she has learned that it’s OK to be unsure sometimes, and it’s OK to wait and figure out what you want. You don’t have to do what everybody wants you to do (unless that’s what you want too).

Class of 2015–16

Justin Anderson is originally from Kokomo, Indiana. He moved to Fort Wayne to work at General Motors after high school. After working at GM for some time and working with several engineers, Justin decided he wanted to pursue further education in the engineering field. Throughout the first two years of college, Justin worked part-time as a TIG welder while loading up on classes. The summer before his senior year, Justin accepted an internship at Tuthill Corporation, where he focused on manufacturing engineering. Justin was recently offered a full-time position as a manufacturing engineer at Tuthill and started May 2016. Justin played baseball and basketball in high school and is still a huge sports fan. In his free time, Justin likes to work on his dad’s 1971 GTO and spend time with his girlfriend.

Sarah was an honors student who graduated with majors in both French and English, with a concentration in literature. She was president of the IPFW French Club for two years. While at IPFW, Sarah was recognized for her work in French, English, and Arabic, and she was the recipient of the Excellence in Foreign Language Award (Arabic and French), Excellence in Service of a Foreign Language Award (French), the Outstanding Senior Award, and the Beverly Hume Memorial Award. She also won third place in the Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium for her poster titled “The Algerian Revolution: Zhor Zerari’s Prison Poetry in Translation.” At the time of graduation, Sarah was planning to enroll in graduate school to pursue a career in translation, but was looking forward to first spending the next academic year living in France, having accepted an assistant teaching position with the Académie de Nancy-Metz.

Matthew Furge was a Chancellor’s Distinguished Scholar and had the opportunity to pursue three majors during his tenure at IPFW, graduating with degrees in business finance, economics, and interpersonal and organizational communication. The combination of these degrees was chosen in an effort to combine two key aspects of his life: conducting research and interacting with others. As a student on campus, he had the opportunity to pursue individual research topics that led to service learning and personal research projects. Matthew had the opportunity to present his findings in significant ways, including presenting his service learning findings to the Erin’s House organization in Fort Wayne. Matthew also had the chance to witness academics present research findings at a professional economics conference in Chicago, where he was able to present his initial honors research findings. While studying at IPFW, he had the opportunity to combine the theoretical foundations behind concepts with real-world applications. He had the opportunity to travel to Korea to learn about the differing economy and culture of a foreign country in an effort to further solidify the basic principles gathered in the classroom. At the time of graduation, Matthew was hoping to pursue an M.S. in either finance or economics in the near future.

Sean Godfroy was a senior in the Honors Program pursing an English major and a history minor at IPFW. He was a dean’s list student for the entirety of his enrollment at IPFW and received the Sylvia E. Bowman Award for 2013–14. Sean was pursuing a degree in English to further his goal of becoming a published author, seeing it as a valuable way to hone his skills. Through a combination of peer-reviewed papers at school and small online side projects, he spent the several years trying to refine his work in preparation for a large-scale project. At the time of graduation, he was hoping to publish a story that can walk proudly alongside the many books that inspired him in both quality and success. Sean worked in the College of Arts and Sciences publications office as an intern and in the Writing Center as a desk worker and consultant. He held the position of senior content editor at the IPFW Communicator during the 2013–14 school year.

Sara Jackson is a proud daughter of Fort Wayne, who happens to be a geographical mutt after growing up in Florida, followed by many moves hither and yon. She completed a B.A. in English with a concentration in writing and a B.A. in French, after a semester abroad in Aix-en-Provence. Her research interests as an undergraduate student took her to 10 conferences and led to two publications. In addition to being a Withers Scholar, Sara was a member of the national honor society Phi Kappa Phi and received scholarships from the university, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Honors Program, several academic departments, and multiple outside organizations. She also completed the certificate requirements for the Honors Program at IPFW, an A.A. in history, a Certificate in International Studies, a summer intensive in human-rights law in Strasbourg, France, and a minor in medieval studies. While at IPFW, Sara served in student government, the Writing Center, Model UN, Anthropology Club, French Club, the University Democrats, and the English honor society Sigma Tau Delta. At the time of graduation, she was looking forward to working as a teaching assistant for one year in France and later serving in the Peace Corps, while also pursuing an M.P.A. with a focus on international development.

Amanda Leaders was a senior double-majoring in business management and marketing. During her time at IPFW, Amanda was actively involved in many campus groups and activities such as Delta Sigma Pi, Beta Gamma Sigma, the BIG Event, and a leadership retreat. In the fall of 2014, Amanda was picked to be one of 12 business students from the top 100 to be named a Bill Lawson Scholar, and she was invited to an exclusive business class: D490 Special Studies in International Business. This particular semester, the class partnered with Fort Wayne Metals. During this class, Amanda traveled abroad to Ireland to study international business and visited many companies, including a Fort Wayne Metals plant in Castlebar, Ireland. Amanda will be graduated with a Bachelor of Science in business in May 2016.

Luisa Pires Luciano was a political science major who was accepted to Georgetown University and American University in Washington, DC for graduate programs in conflict resolution next semester. She received the Blauvelt Award for service in the political science department and was selected to represent the class of 2016 at commencement. Luisa was a member of the Model UN team for three years and president for two, during which she led the group to the American Model United Nations Conference in Chicago, one of the largest in the country. Two years prior, she was selected as one of the students to attend the Bahrom International Program in South Korea, where she studied Korean culture and history. Luisa also went to Germany to participate in the Europe and Middle East in Transition program, which prepared her for her Honors Project with classes on conflict management. For this, Luisa received three scholarships: from the Honors Program, the IPFW Office of International Education, and the Office of Sponsored Programs.

Grayson Ostermeyer was a biology major with a minor in psychology. As an IPFW student for almost five years, he genuinely attests to the excellent programs and opportunities that our university offers to students to reach their scholastic potential. Discovering the Honors Program allowed Grayson to take advantage of the H-Options to fulfill special projects, among them a research paper addressing the impacts of pharmaceutical patents on access to medicines in India, a review paper he composed describing common anesthetics and analgesics used in the United States, and interdepartmental research describing colony formation on spiral-shaped mollusk shells. His role as the LEAD peer health educator also provided Grayson with exciting learning and outreach experiences, such as a discussion of student suicide on WQSW-LP 100.5 FM, hosting fashion shows and cooking series, lecturing hundreds of middle-school students about alcohol abuse, addressing the Homestead High School seniors about mental health and the college transition, and being invited to speak at several live webinars. Grayson was awarded the 2015 Youth Advocate and Partner by the Allen County Drug and Alcohol Consortium for his active involvement in substance abuse educational initiatives at Purdue Fort Wayne. For three years, he was involved in Professor Ahmed Mustafa’s students’ master’s thesis projects.

Grayson was awarded a summer research grant through the Office of Sponsored Programs to study sea cucumber stress physiology and sea cucumber tissues and elderberry extract, which constitutes his Honors Project work. After graduation, Grayson began work toward his master’s thesis at Washington State University to characterize aspects of phloem transport in plants and will be supported through a teaching assistantship at the Franceschi Microscopy and Imaging Center by assisting students and faculty with various types of electron microscopes. Grayson was a recipient of the Dr. Beaumont S. Cornell Scholarship as well as a travel grant by the Office of Sponsored Programs to attend Aquaculture 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Crysta Terry majored in psychology with a minor in biology. During college, she was an officer for the Honors Student Organization and was an officer for the psychology honor society, Psi Chi. Crysta was a Chancellor’s Scholar and was awarded the Honors Research Assistantship Scholarship for her work with Professor Ryan Yoder on spatial learning as well as the Honors teaching assistantship for PSY 329 Psychobiology. She was a research assistant in Professor Yoder and Professor Carol Lawton’s labs for the past two academic years. Crysta presented research for Professor Yoder and Professor Lawton’s lab at IPFW, Chicago, and New York and will be presenting for Professor Lawton and Professor Yoder again next month at MPA in Chicago. Her research team was awarded second place at the undergraduate level at IPFW’s Research Symposium for their research with Professor Lawton on “Video Game Experience and Perception of Self-Motion.” She currently was working as a mental-health assistant in the ER at Parkview Randallia. At the time of graduation, Crysta was applying for a behavioral neuroscience doctoral program.

Kira Witte began her IPFW career in the fall 2011 semester. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Scholarship based on her high school GPA and test scores, which constituted half of her tuition for her time at IPFW. Starting out as an elementary education major, she then added both the Early Childhood Dual License and the Special Education Mild Intervention Dual License. She also enrolled in the Honors Program and began networking with other honors students on campus. During her time at IPFW, Kira maintained a very high GPA, earning a place on the dean’s list and semester honors list every semester. She earned a 4.0 in five of eight full-time semesters, for a cumulative GPA of 3.94 at the end of the spring 2015 term. In the spring semester of 2015, when the education department reopened the IPFW chapter, Rho Kappa, of Kappa Delta Pi, an international honors society in education, Kira took on the position of secretary and aided her colleagues in recruitment, planning, and execution of initiation and meetings. During student teaching, Kira was awarded a stipend from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education of almost $5,000 for entering the high-needs field of special education. She graduated at the end of the fall 2015 term. During the past summers when she was not in class, Kira spent her time working at Camp Red Cedar, a camp with programming for kids and adults with mild to severe special needs, as well as camp programming for kids without special needs. Starting out in the summer of 2013, Kira worked as a camp counselor for two summers and was then promoted to Activity Coordinator for the 2015 camp season. In the past four years, she was challenged by her professors and peers, has had the opportunity to network with others in her chosen career, and has made good friends that she remains in contact with. When reflecting on her time at IPFW, Kira will never forget her experiences.

Students sitting on a bench


Let your voice be heard.

We are always looking to improve, and we value the opinions, thoughts, and ideas of our alumni. If you graduated with an honors certificate and honors medal from Purdue Fort Wayne, please fill out this five-minute alumni survey. Doing so will help us as we move forward.