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Meet the 2020-2021 Outstanding Student Award Winners!


MSU Denver is lucky to have remarkably talented students who leave their mark on our community and inspire us with their academic prowess, generous spirits and determination to have a positive impact on those around them. The recipients of our 2020-2021 Outstanding Student Awards and our Spring 2021 President’s and Provost’s Awards exemplify what it means to be a Roadrunner and to embrace the CADRE values in all aspects of life. The MSU Denver community is proud to have shared in the educational journeys of these amazing students and we can’t wait to see what they do next! Please read on to learn more about our award winners.

Nayeli Cisneros, Spring 2021 President’s Award*

Derek Brekken, Spring 2021 Provost’s Award*

              *Interviews with both Nayeli and Derek will soon be featured on the Commencement website (link to come). Also, Nayeli and Derek will be speakers during the virtual Commencement event on May 14th, 2021!

Braedan Weart, 2020-2021 Outstanding Service – Student Affairs Award

Braedan K. Weart is the graduating Student Body President for the class of 2021. Between his undergraduate thesis research, on United States' interstate strategic competition in Africa, and supporting his mom, brother, and sister, Mr. Weart still found the time to advocate for students and remove systematic barriers. Mr. Weart interoperates success as ephemeral, meaning that success is nice and fulfilling but there will always be other things to work on. Mr. Weart is only an example of the many MSU Denver Roadrunners that take life at full-throttle and set their goals high and far.

Helena Steenberg, 2020-2021 Outstanding Student in the College of Business

Helena is a 21-year-old Danish student-athlete majoring in marketing. It has always been her dream to become a college tennis player, and she is very grateful for all the experiences and opportunities she has had in the past three years at MSU Denver. After graduation, Helena plans to go back to Denmark and take a master's degree in international marketing and strategic management at Copenhagen Business School. Even though she will be moving back home, Helena will forever be a Roadrunner at heart!

Zahava Heydel, 2020-2021 Outstanding Student in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Zahava Heydel is incredibly excited to be graduating from the Metropolitan State University of Denver with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychological sciences, a concentration in clinical and counseling psychology, and a minor in biology. During her time at MSU Denver she has enjoyed working as a research assistant for Dr. Michael Rhoads. In this position, she assists with projects examining the effectiveness of yoga informed therapy as an intervention for people who have experienced trauma, an escape room experiment, and a study about tone frequency’s effect on mindfulness and mood. She has also worked on a project with Dr. Aaron Richmond examining students’ judgments of professors based on their syllabus and gender. Over the past year, she has been a research assistant intern at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Department of Psychiatry Colorado Center for Women’s Behavioral Health and Wellness. Here she assists Dr. Phoutdavone Phimphasone-Brady with studying the implementation and effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat eating disorders for patients with type 2 diabetes in primary care and a pilot study exploring diagnostic issues and mental health in people with polycystic ovarian syndrome. She had also led an independent research study under the guidance of her faculty mentor, Dr. Randyl Smith, determining if there are differing or predicting personality traits of jazz and classical musicians. Additionally, Zahava is the president of the Clinical and Counseling Club and helped organize the 2020 Insight: An Odyssey of the Mind Conference, which won the Education Event of the Year Award. She was the assistant program coordinator for the Psyched to Work! Job Shadow program which helps to facilitate student job shadowing experiences. Last year, she received the Department of Psychological Sciences Junior Scholar and Researcher Awards. Zahava is so grateful for the fantastic opportunities, faculty, and peers she is surrounded by at MSU Denver. She is so proud to be a Roadrunner!

Benjamin Garrett, 2020-2021 Outstanding Student in the College of Health and Applied Sciences

Benjamin Garrett is a graduate with a BS in Civil Engineering Technology (Structures Concentration). During his time as a Roadrunner, he was president of the AISC MSU Denver Student Club, as well as the leader of MSU Denver’s Steel Bridge Club. He gained valuable experience representing MSU Denver participating in the Colorado Science and Engineering Policy Fellowship at the Colorado State Capital. Ben enjoyed helping his peers serving as a Supplemental Instructor by supporting two engineering classes. After graduation, Ben is working as a specialty structural engineer at a firm in Denver, as well as pursuing his master’s degree in structural engineering. Outside of school Ben is an avid runner, movie goer and dog lover.

Ebbie Pell, 2020-2021 Outstanding Student in the School of Education

Ebbie Pell was born in Moorhead, Minnesota but grew up locally in Lakewood, Colorado and attended Jeffco Public Schools from kindergarten to twelfth grade. After graduating high school, she attended Minnesota State University Moorhead for her first two years of undergrad before transferring to MSU Denver to be closer to family. She is a first-generation student graduating summa cum laude with a major in Elementary Education, double concentrations in Applied Developmental Psychology and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education, and a K-12 CLD Endorsement. Ebbie is a member of Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society and describes herself as a proud roadrunner. Her favorite things include reading, hunting, fishing, eating good food and going on adventures. She is a member of a huge family (just her mom’s side is 60+ people) and credits much of her success and accomplishment to her loving, supportive parents and grandparents who have listened to every paper she has ever written and had her back no matter what.

In kindergarten, Ebbie was asked to help a classmate with Down Syndrome, whom is now her friend of 16 years, get acclimated to the classroom routines. She decided then that she wanted to be a person who helped people learn and there is no better way, in her opinion, to do that than to be a teacher. She has been in a classroom every year since eighth grade and knows in her heart that teaching is her life’s calling. In 2020, Ebbie became a published writer, publishing two articles on education in an online magazine. She is a dedicated student and teacher that just wants to make her own little piece of the world a better place. Ebbie believes in the power of a good education, and more importantly, the influence of a caring teacher. She is excited to call MSU Denver her alma mater and cannot wait to see what life has in store for her.

Congratulations to our winners!  


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