Eighteen senior students who exemplify high academic and leadership qualities and a deep commitment to serving others will be recognized at the May 17 Commencement ceremonies as recipients of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence.
The criteria for this award include academic performance, University-related service and community involvement.
The 2014 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence recipients are:
Taylor Anthonsen graduates with a major in communication. Driven to succeed, she was a member and leader in several communication-focused initiatives; Anthonsen helped found the University’s Communication Club and the annual Communication Speech Competition and was the chairperson of the University Speaker Series, where she managed a committee of 19 while aiding in marketing efforts. Among Anthonsen’s proudest accomplishments was her work to bring anti-bullying motivational speaker Ronnie Bachman to campus. Additionally, Anthonsen served as an active Preview Day Guide and Odyssey Leader for the Admissions Office, participated in a European Odyssey study abroad experience and worked for both Titan TV and the Advance-Titan newspaper.
Tania Boyden graduates with a major in theatre. Using her design talent to construct costumes, Boyden has been a student assistant in the costume shop since 2011. She served as the vice president and concessions chair for the Theatre Arts Board. In addition to her work at the theatre, Boyden is actively involved in Alpha Xi Delta; she was inducted into Gamma Sigma Alpha, the National Academic Greek Honors Society and received an excellence award from the National Society of Leadership and Success. Within the greater community, she volunteers with the Christine Ann Center, at the Building For Kids Museum and gives of her time to Walk Now for Autism Speaks.
Jonathan Delray graduates with majors in music education and vocal performance. Recognized as a trusted leader by his peers, Delray served as the president of the Chamber Choir for four years, a piano tutor and as a community adviser for the Department of Residence Life. He also served as an assistant conductor for the University Choir, as the founder, conductor and music director for the Oshkosh Correctional Facility’s Second Chance Choir and as the president of Students for Music. Delray’s musicianship is extraordinary; he played many lead roles in opera theatre and earned three of the music department’s top scholarships in performance, music education and service.
Ryan Hackbarth graduates with a major in international studies. Always up for a challenge, Hackbarth was involved with the UW Oshkosh Model United Nations team, his team earning the Outstanding Delegation Award. Hackbarth was also very active in student government; he served as Student Allocations Chair, in which he managed more than 130 budgets just less than $1 million, and as the Oshkosh Student Association president. Hackbarth is an established Army ROTC Cadet with many leadership responsibilities, including that as recently commissioned Transportation Second Cadet.
Samuel Hebel graduates with a major in geography. During his time on campus, Hebel was deeply dedicated to the Department of Residence Life through his role as community adviser; he served also has the primary adviser to United Students in Residence Halls and as National Residence Hall Honorary Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator. Additionally, Hebel was a student office assistant in the Office of Equity and Affirmative Action, a tutor for the Center for Academic Resources, a peer consultant for the Writing Center and a teaching assistant for the Science Outreach Center, showing his dedication to academics and helping others. A study abroad experience took Hebel to Costa Rica to volunteer while leading alternative spring break trips took him to Tennessee and Alabama.
Eric Jenks graduates with a major in human services leadership. Jenks was involved with the Department of Residence Life through a role as a community adviser and as the Alcohol and Other Drugs Representative for the United Students in Residence Halls. He served also as the public relations representative for the Human Services Leadership Organization and on the Social Justice Steering Committee. Passionate about inclusivity, Jenks was an intern for the LGBTQ Resource Center. Jenks volunteers at the Day by Day Warming Shelter, with Cerebral Palsy of Mideast Wisconsin and as a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee; he has also participated in Hands on Oshkosh during each of his years at UW Oshkosh and has participated in an alternative spring break trip to Louisiana to assist at a Habitat for Humanity build site.
Derek Johnsrud graduates with a major in elementary and special education. On campus, Johnsrud held several leadership roles, including as president of Taylor, Webster and Donner Halls, as treasurer of Athletes in Action and as a member of the Optimist Club. Additionally, Johnsrud served as the 2013-14 Homecoming King. Beyond his dedication as a child-centered teacher in training, Johnsrud also gave of his time as a volunteer to Father Carr’s shelter, the Christine Ann Center, the annual Hands on Oshkosh volunteering initiative and to the students at Read Elementary School. Johnsrud also served as a campus tour guide and in a role with Beyond Boundaries of Autism, where he provided in-home therapy to children with autism.
Kyla Karcz graduates with a major in political science. For as long as Karcz can remember, she’s loved politics; in 2012, she participated as an organizing fellow for the Obama For America Presidential Campaign. With aspirations of becoming a lawyer, she interned with the Winnebago County Legal Assistance Clinic, served as the vice president for the Pre Law Society and as secretary for the Political Science Student Association. She also worked in the Writing Center helping entry-level political science students. During her time at UW Oshkosh, she participated in two different study abroad offerings, one in the United Kingdom and one to Germany and France.
Melanie Lepkowski graduates with a major in nursing. Within the College of Nursing, Lepkowski has demonstrated great leadership and academic excellence; she served as class representative, Health and Wellness Chair and Nutrition Chair for the Oshkosh Student Nurses’ Association. She was also a Supplemental Instruction and a Peer Educator Review Session leader and tutor through the Center for Academic Resources helping hundreds of students achieve success in chemistry across campus. During her time on campus, Lepkowski also participated in a nursing clinical in India. Within the community, Lepkowski volunteered for multiple Child Development Days within Oshkosh and Ripon.
Martin Meder graduates with a major in economics. While on campus, Meder was the president of the Economics Student Association and an economics tutor for the Department of Economics. Interested in research, Meder first served as a research assistant in the College of Business and then was the recipient of a student-faculty research grant, which allowed him to examine the economic impact of zebra mussel infestations in the state; he presented his research at the National Council for Undergraduate Research, at Celebration of Scholarship, the Midwest Economics Association’s regional conference and at Posters in the Rotunda. Having overcome personal adversity himself, Meder spent time helping young people at the Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley through a role as technology education coordinator.
Katherine Neumann graduates with a major in journalism. Neumann is described as “unstoppable.” She was deeply involved with programs, initiatives and volunteer efforts during her time on campus. She volunteered her time as the secretary of the student-run English Club, worked in the Writing Center as a peer mentor, was a tutor for the Center for Academic Resources and held roles as both the managing and opinion editor for the Advance-Titan newspaper. Neumann was also involved with the Disney College Program and as an intern for Special Olympics Wisconsin-Fox Valley. Neumann was the recipient of several scholarships during her time at UW Oshkosh.
Mckenzie Retzlaff graduates with a major in education. Retzlaff is recognized as a member by two honors societies on campus: National Honor Society of Leadership and Success and Golden Key International; Golden Key International took her through the ranks of public relations officer, secretary and vice president and on a mission trip to Costa Rica. She was also involved with the Student Wisconsin Education Association and the Student Council for Exceptional Children. Within the greater community, Retzlaff has given of her time to the Oshkosh Area United Way, the Oshkosh Area Food Pantry, Special Olympics and Wisconsin Thaw Speech and Debate.
Stephanie Rodriguez graduates with a major in human services. Rodriguez aims to make every day count; on campus, she was very involved and active with many student groups. She served as the vice president of membership development for the Panhellenic Association, a board member for Rainbow Alliance for HOPE, as a peer mentor, as a member of Gamma Phi Beta and as homecoming royalty director. She also worked as in intern in the LGBTQ Resource Center and Intercollegiate Athletics. For her involvement and leadership, Rodriguez was recognized with many awards and honors. She was selected as one of 15 students nationwide to serve on the Campus Pride advisory board and received the 2014 Campus Pride Voice Award and Action Fraternity and Sorority Award.
Calvin Stauber graduates with majors in economics and marketing. In Stauber’s time at UW Oshkosh, he stepped up to take many leadership positions; he also serves as a role model for his peers due to his continuous commitment to learning and personal growth. He served as the president of Reeve Union Board, on the Student Allocations Committee, as an Odyssey Leader and was selected as Homecoming King in 2012. Stauber served his community through the annual Hands on Oshkosh initiative, offering his time to the Oshkosh Community Gardens, Oshkosh Community YMCA camp, at the Christine Ann Center and reThink.
David Sebstead graduates with majors in political science and history. Sebstead is a first-generation college student with sharp analytical skills and a drive for success. During his time on campus, Sebstead was recognized as a member of the award-winning Model United Nations team, his team earning the Outstanding Delegation Award. As an active campus leader who hopes to pursue international law, he has given of his time to many campus and community organizations and activities, including the Oshkosh Student Association, the Political Science Student Association, the Winnebago County Free Legal Clinic, student Legal Services and through political campaign involvement.
Marissa Theys graduates with a major in political science. It was the Political Science Student Association that pushed Theys out of her comfort zone and inspired her to be a student-leader. Additionally, Theys was involved with the UW Oshkosh College Democrats, the Pre-Law Society and as a writing assistant for Project Success. In honing her political science skills, Theys was accepted into the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program, where she participated in undergraduate research; she’s also participated as a research assistant on campus. Within the community, Theys is a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Community Dragonboat Festival.
Kailee Wahler graduates with majors in human resources management and economics. Wahler was a College of Business Ambassador, a member of the Economic Student Association and involved with Beta Gamma Sigma, an elite international business honor society. Described as a go-getter, Wahler worked as a health and welfare benefits intern at Bemis Company while maintaining a high level of academic success. Community service activities are important to Wahler’s professional development; she has given her time to the Salvation Army, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and as an international student volunteer teaching English in Ecuador.
Matthew Wolfert graduates with majors in early childhood and elementary education. He was involved with the campus community through his responsibilities as a community adviser; he also served as president and program/event coordinator for Rainbow Alliance for HOPE, which stands for Helping Others Perceive Equality. As a student-leader at the University, Wolfert encouraged others to raise money and supplies for the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh, Fox Valley Children’s Hospital, the Christine Ann Center, Oshkosh Area Food Pantry and has participated in volunteer efforts through Hands on Oshkosh. Additionally, Wolfert served as a volunteer and research assistant on an alternative spring break trip to Honduras. Wolfert won the Community Adviser of the Year Award and the South Gruenhagen Community Adviser Programmer of the Year Award in 2013.