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College of Professional Studies honors 31 outstanding students

The College of Professional Studies handed out its Outstanding Student Awards last week. Congratulations to these fantastic students, organized by department.

College of Professional Studies Outstanding Student

Chanel Ward, Individualized Degree Program - Multicultural Journalism

After concentrating in journalism as a major, Ward discovered a lack of inclusion of races, genders and sexualities and how that lack of representation in mainstream media leads to stereotypes portrayed as facts with respect to those groups. Ward interned with the Colorado Latino Leadership Advocacy Research Organization, worked at two jobs on campus, served as president of the Metro Scholars Club and as a peer mentor with the Scholar Success Program at MSU Denver, and is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.



Department of Aviation

Simeon Anderson, Aviation and Aerospace Management

Anderson chose Aviation & Aerospace Management when he realized after one semester as a professional pilot major that he could take classes and build flight hours at the same time. He’s currently applying for multiple military pilot openings, as well as Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol aeronautical division positions.

Andre Rizo, Aviation and Aerospace Science – Professional Flight Officer

In 10 months, Rizo went from not knowing how to start an aircraft to teaching others how to operate the aircraft. Andre looks forward to using his degree to continue following in his father’s footsteps as a United Airlines Captain and alumnus of the MSU Denver Aviation and Aerospace Science Department. This summer he has been granted the privilege of serving as Denver International Airport’s United Airlines Flight Operations Intern, one of 12 United intern positions available nationwide.

Francisco Hansen, Aviation and Aerospace Technology – Astrodynamics and Aerospace Operations

Through the Astrodynamics and Aerospace Operations program, Hansen landed an internship with MSU Denver partner York Aerospace. He now works for York full time as a mission systems analyst where he assists in software development and solves technical problems pertaining to different subsystems of York’s business.




Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology

Jair Guerra, Criminal Justice and Criminology

Guerra is a combat military veteran who has engaged with the criminal justice discipline with fervor. He currently volunteers for Aurora Youth Options, a mentoring program for kids. Upon graduation, Guerra plans to join a police department in Denver or Aurora and pursue graduate school or law school.

Department of Engineering and Engineering Technology

Raejanna Church, Civil Engineering

Church is a motivated, organized student and an excellent role model on how to manage school-work-life balance. She was also nominated for the Colorado Engineering Council (CEC) outstanding Student Award in Spring 2018.

Blake Appenfelder, Electrical Engineering Technology

While working with Lockheed Martin, Appenfelder was able to gain valuable hands-on experience using knowledge he received while taking classes. For his senior project, he is working with a team of students developing new labs to be used in one of the junior level classes. His ability to get things done while exceeding expectations has resulted in a full-time job offer with Lockheed Martin upon his May graduation.

Michaela Beadles, Mechanical Engineering Technology

Beadles’ senior project team was the sole team to present at the Invocation Showcase in fall 2017 and facilitated a special presentation at Craig Hospital; the team also attended the NCUR Conference to present its project on a new way to use 3-D printing to create a new way to cast broken bones. The team has been awarded a grant by the University to purchase a 3D scanner and software, and Beadles plans to continue working on the project after graduation and bring it to further fruition.



Department of Health Professions

Alexandra Scrable, Integrative Health Care

Scrable is a teacher’s assistant in clinical pathophysiology and working on a service-learning project in her Lifestyle Medicine class to create online resources for new fathers, applying the knowledge she gained from taking the men's health classes. She interned the past two semesters at Renew Health and Wellness with Dr. Jessica Fish, who has offered her a full time job after graduation.

Dara Gaffney, Health Care Management

After serving in the U.S. Air Force as an air traffic controller and a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response volunteer victim advocate, earning “Senior Airman Below the Zone,” Gaffney decided to follow a direct path to help people: a degree in health care management. She’s pursuing a master’s of health administration at MSU Denver and working as a medical staff coordinator for Parker Adventist Hospital. 

Hayley Bevan, Recreation Management

Bevan always had a strong interest in working with individuals with disabilities, inspired by growing up with a cousin diagnosed with Autism. She found her calling after studying education and finding an adapted physical education class. She enrolled in the therapeutic recreation concentration at MSU Denver, where she also works for the alumni office and often serves as Rowdy, the MSU Denver mascot. Bevan completed an internship at the King Adult Day Enrichment Program and was subsequently hired in a full time position.

Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Events

Marciano Olivo, Brewery Operations

Olivo has spoken to state legislators in promotion of the Beer Industry Program and has been featured in MSU Denver’s student newspaper and University marketing materials. He is the treasurer and a very active member of the Student Beer Industry Club and was selected to receive state funds to attend an educational beer conference and festival last January to promote further educational opportunities.

Cynthia Davis, Event Management

As a single mother of four children, Davis’ desire to return to college to pursue her degree and serve as a role model for her kids is most admirable. She has been volunteering with the Meeting Industry Council in 2017, attending the Professional Convention Management Association annual conference in 2017 and again in 2018. Davis is also always the first to volunteer her time and talent to the Events and Meeting Management Department.

Claire Benedict, Hotel Management

Benedict consistently goes above and beyond volunteering for and speaking about the Hotel program at special events and writing about her experience in the program with the aim of helping the program recruit students. Claire is inquisitive and has a thirst for learning everything she can about the hotel industry.

Jacob Rissmon, Restaurant Management

Rissmon’s current outstanding GPA comes while raising a family and finishing his degree in Restaurant Management in spring 2018. After graduation, he hopes to open a farm-to-table restaurant at his family's farm and lamb ranch in Minnesota using knowledge gained from his Farm-to-Table Sustainability class to ensure his restaurant is sustainable, biodegradable and environmentally friendly.

Heather Burnham, Travel and Tourism Management

As president of the Travel and Volunteerism Club, Burnham taken the club to new and unexpected heights, working hard to make sure club activities match the title of the club. After studying abroad in Denmark, she became inspired by the Viking culture and how the Vikings have influenced current cultures all over the world, conducting valuable research for the National Museum of Denmark.

Department of Human Performance and Sport

Kelsey Krisch, Athletic Training

Although Krisch had already completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology while competing as a Division I athlete, she discovered a passion for health care and enrolled at MSU Denver to study athletic training. At MSU Denver, she served as the president of the Student Athletic Trainers’ Association, where she doubled the association’s fundraising efforts, which help support students attending athletic training conferences and educational workshops. Krisch was offered a job by her fall 2017 clinical site, passed her Board of Certification exam early in February and is ready to join the ranks of her soon-to-be colleagues as a Certified Athletic Trainer.

Michael Ploudre, Exercise Science

Ploudre served as a combat medic in the 101st Airborne Division of the Army from 2003-13, during which time he deployed once to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. After retiring from the Army he earned an associate’s degree with a focus in biology in 2016 before pursuing exercise science at MSU Denver, where he has worked for two years in the Military and Veteran Student Services Office helping other veterans. He served as the vice president of the MSU Denver Veterans Club, one of the chapter coordinators for Team River Runner Denver, and a volunteer for the National Sports Center for the Disabled. Ploudre is excelling in his internship at St. Anthony’s Hospital in cardiac rehabilitation and has plans to begin working in cardiac rehabilitation immediately after graduation and is preparing to take the American College of Sports Medicine Certified Exercise Physiologist Exam. 

Department of Human Services and Counseling

Sydney Holder, Human Services and Counseling

Holder is a professional in both community corrections and substance abuse treatment as well as an artist with the goal of creating and spreading positivity through art. She has taken what she has learned from past experience with addiction and turned it into a passion for helping others to gain self-confidence and creativity in their own lives.

Kai Halsey-Mendez, Fire and Emergency Response Administration

Halsey-Mendez worked as an EMT for AMR Boulder while serving as a volunteer firefighter for the Hygiene Fire Protection District and attending Front Range Community College. He enrolled in fire and emergency response administration at MSU Denver in fall 2016 and is on track to graduate in summer 2018. Halsey-Mendez is a cadet with the Denver Public Safety Cadet Program and hopes to become a firefighter with the Denver Fire Department after graduation.

Department of Industrial Design

Alex Wennerstrom, Industrial Design

Wennerstrom is active with the student chapter of the Industrial Design Society of America, was a key collaborator on an interdisciplinary German student exchange workshop, and designed a very well received exhibition of original peer work at a trade expo in Chicago. He is tirelessly motivated to do and be more to achieve successes as he indulges his thirst for learning. 

Department of Journalism and Technical Communications

Alix Holmes, Technical Communications

Holmes is a talented visual designer and has developed the technical skills required to be a successful media producer. She has a genuine desire to impact the future through communication technologies. She looks at large-scale problems through a creative lens and has a passion to impact the world.

Kaitlyn Gartling, Journalism

Gartlin is a concise and lively writer who has demonstrated outstanding dedication to her studies and extracurricular activities, including the PR Club and Met Media. She is thorough and detailed when checking facts and editing, and has excelled in grasping new concepts and applying them in the classroom and throughout her internship with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Department of Nursing

Deanna Wong, Accelerated Nursing

Wong discovered her passion for emergency nursing while attending UCLA for a psychology degree. She frequented local hospitals as a Child Life volunteer, and after graduating, she worked as a certified paramedic in an emergency medical and trauma technician role, when she realized her desire to serve those at their most critical moments, and found a path to nursing. Following her graduation in May from the Accelerated Nursing Program, Wong hopes to go back to California and serve the disparate populations that helped her realize her dreams as an Emergency Nurse.

Renee Jens, Registered Nurse to B.S. in Nursing

Jens works full-time as a registered nurse at Lutheran Medical Center and will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in May. As a student dedicated to life-long learning, Renee has been recognized repeatedly for her determination, work ethic, perseverance and compassionate care. She serves with the mind and heart of a nurse in all of her roles.

Reda Kulbyte, Traditional Nursing Option

During her time as a clinical nurse assistant with the float team at Denver Health Medical Center, Kulbyte realized the impact should could make in patients' lives. She enrolled in the Traditional Nursing at MSU Denver, has eagerly participated in community service, was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honors Society, and recently passed her State Board Certification.

Department of Nutrition

Christine Caruso, Nutrition

As president of the Auraria Campus Student Dietetic Association, Caruso wrote a grant proposal and secured more than $1,000 for a community service program. She also works with Walk2Connect, a Denver based co-op that encourages whole health by organizing daily walks in local communities throughout Denver. Caruso is a research assistant for the Healthy Eating project and developed recipes and assembled a cookbook for the Healthy Eating Challenge. 

Department of Social Work

Maria Coppersmith-Buschman, Social Work

As president of Phi Alpha, Coppersmith-Buschman helped develop a relationship with St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church and led a joint canned food and supply drive to benefit the homeless. Phi Alpha is also laying the groundwork for an academic mentoring program within the Social Work Department. Additionally, Coppersmith-Buschman volunteers with Guardianship Alliance of Colorado while completing an internship at HealthSET.



Fabio Fina, Master of Social Work

Fina gained experience through an internship with the Counseling Center and has been featured in MSU Denver’s Insider newsroom for his internship work with refugees and in the popular podcast “The Trauma Therapist Podcast” about his journey through trauma and into the Master of Social Work program. He has also worked with the Writing Center and the Access Center at MSU to create a simplified but detailed PDF document that supports students with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and Learning Disability.

Department of Sport Management

Alyssa Svalberg, Sport Management

Although only one internship is required of Sport Management majors, Svalberg thrived in three different internships at Forward Progress Athletic Consulting (FPAC), MSU Denver Athletics and the Gold Crown Foundation. She competed for four years on the MSU Denver women’s volleyball team and was elected team captain her senior year, leading the team to a 22-9 record and an NCAA Regional semi-final appearance. She has been named to the Athletic Director’s Honor roll six consecutive semesters and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Honor Roll for three years. 

One World One Water Center

Amanda Hillard, Water Studies

As an individualized degree program major focusing on “Sustainability in Integrated Life Systems,” Hillard selected the Water Studies Certificate to round out her academics and support her journey toward influencing change. After graduation, she plans to start an urban farm near Denver to grow and produce food and herbs and educate others on the pillars of sustainability through farming.