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Kansas Wesleyan University

Kansas Wesleyan University honored multiple seniors with end-of-year awards at the conclusion of the 2019-20 school year. The school also announced that Dr. Meredith Drees, chair of the religion and philosophy department, was the recipient of KWU’s top faculty honor, the Exemplary Teacher Award, for the year. 

Student award winners included Cassity Morlan (Kechi, Kan.), who was recognized with two awards by the Communication Studies Department. Morlan was a key figure in the KWU yearbook that earned a trio of awards at the state level. She also spent time in other realms of student media, including hosting a podcast, and had her senior capstone recognized as the outstanding student paper by the Southern States Communication Conference. Morlan was also a multi-year member of the KWU debate and forensics team that competed throughout the central U.S.

Izaiah Grogan (Concordia, Kan.) was the recipient of the Campbell/Hurd Emergency Management Award. The honor is named for former KWU student Rex Campbell, who helped save the life of classmate Aaron Hurd during Hurd’s 2016 in-class cardiac arrest. Grogan was honored for his multiple leadership roles in the Cadet Corps, the group of top Emergency Management and Criminal Justice students. Those roles included teaching the course, “Stop the Bleed”, a nationally recognized trauma management program. 

John Olivier (Castle Rock, Colo.), a member of the KWU baseball program, was honored as a graduate of the Arete honors program. Olivier, who has been accepted into Wichita State’s physical therapy program, also was named the top student in the Sport and Exercise Science Department. 

Hailey Vandevanter (Corona, Calif.), who has served as a resident assistant, a member of DECA and a former player on the women’s soccer team, was tabbed the Outstanding Business Management Student, while Natalie Soukup was named the winner of the Donald Olson Sociology Award. Soukup (Ellsworth, Kan.) was honored for her research on the issue of sexual assault reporting on college campuses. 

The Teacher of Promise Award, which was started by the Kansas Department of Education, went to Hilda Pena (elementary) and Morgan Parker (secondary). Pena (Oxnard, Calif.) did her clinical practice at Cottonwood Elementary, while Parker (Salina, Kan.), a longtime standout in the KWU Music Department, worked at Sunset Elementary as part of her degree requirements. Parker also earned the Music Department’s yearly award, now named for the first KWU music graduate and entitled the Dora B. Newbanks Award for Distinction in Music. 

Other award recipients included Isabel Hinkeldey (Charlotte, N.C.), who was tabbed the George Taylor Criminal Justice Award winner, and Kylie Ross (Sterling, Colo.), who received awards from both the marketing program (Outstanding Marketing Student) and the communications department (co-Communications Student of the Year). 

Phillip Hauser (Salina, Kan.) was named the university’s Outstanding History Graduate, Patrick Mercer (Denton, Texas) was the Outstanding Accounting Graduate and a handful of students completed their undergraduate education as Alpha Chi honor society graduates. Those included Hinkeldey, Parker, Morlan, Olivier, Vandevanter, Pedro Beltran (Salina, Kan.), Kylee Cheatum (Brewster, Kan.), Holly Holt (Shawnee Mission, Kan.), Evin Miller (Superior, Neb.), Mallory Lantz, Michelle Rodriguez (Moorpark, Calif.), Michelle Sugimura (Mississauga, Ontario) and Troy Watson (Coffeyville, Kan.).