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Idaho State University 2012 Outstanding Student Award recipients announced

Posted April 12, 2012

Idaho State University and the ISU Alumni Association proudly announce the 2012 Outstanding Student Award recipients who will be honored at Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 5, in Holt Arena.           

The 13 Outstanding Student Awards are presented to recognize outstanding graduating seniors who have excelled in their programs, their extracurricular activities and have epitomized ISU's outstanding student body.  Students receiving these prestigious awards exhibit a readiness to graduate, high academic achievement, above-average dedication to academic and professional goals and involvement in professional societies. Work experience and community service are also considered.

The Outstanding Student Award recipients will be honored at a reception April 27 in the L.E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center.

Outstanding Student Award recipients for 2012 are:  Princess C. Young, Mountain Home, College of Business; Shalene M. Summers, Idaho Falls, College of Education; Kirstin J. Kooda, Idaho Falls, College of Pharmacy; Kelsey J. Petersen, Twin Falls, College of Arts and Letters, Fine Arts and Humanities; KC L. Harding, Boise, College of Arts and Letters, Social and Behavioral Sciences; Matthew D. Smitheram, Montpelier, College of Technology; Lacey Rahmig, Soda Springs and Shelley, Division of Health Services; Michael R. Shafer, Boise and Bakersfield, Calif., School of Nursing; Jariullah Safi, Punjab, Pakistan, College of Science and Engineering, Engineering; Jeremy A. Farrell, Salt Lake City, College of Science and Engineering, Natural and Physical Sciences; Misty M. Strain, Moscow, Graduate School, Master's Candidate; Kai-yi "Clark" Huang, Tainan City, Taiwan, Graduate School, Doctoral Candidate; and Chandrasekhar Potluri, Eluru, India, Graduate School, Doctoral Candidate.

Biographies of the 2012 Outstanding Award winners are:

Clark Huange• Graduate School, Doctoral Candidate, Kai-yi "Clark" Huang, Tainan City, Taiwan: Huang earned a 3.67 grade point average and will receive a Ph.D. in education in Instructional Technology Design. He attained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, and a master's degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and a Master of Education degree in technology at Salem International University, W.Va. At ISU he has enjoyed creating instructional materials for the several colleges and academic departments, the Oboler Library, the ISU Instructional Technology Resource Center and the Museum of Idaho in Idaho Falls.

He published a paper "The Use of Second Life to Teach Physical Security across Different Teaching Modes," which was presented at the 14th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction in Florida. He said his dissertation was born out of the desire to see mathematics students succeed, and it included the creation of an online mathematics-learning module for college-level mathematics students.

Huang said his favorite ISU professors were Jane Strickland, Dotty Sammons, Beverly Ray and David Squires. His was a member of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education, Chinese Student Association, International Student Association and Badminton Sports Club.

Chandrasekhar Potluri• Graduate School, Doctoral Candidate, Chandrasekhar Potluri, Eluru, India: 24-year-old Potluri will graduate this summer with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. He has a 3.84 grade point average. He has received both a graduate teaching assistantship and a graduate research assistantship. Potluri is a member of several organizations, including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the ISU branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He is also ranked second in chess at the state level. Currently he is working as lead doctoral research assistant in an ISU smart prosthetic hand project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Potluri earned his master's degree in measurement and control engineering from ISU and his bachelor's degree from Andhra University in India. In the past two years he has made "significant contributions" in several engineering fields. He currently has 25 publications and has been selected as a research associate at the University of Connecticut.

"I am blessed to have a great family to be with me in all situations," said Potluri of his parents and brother. Potluri's favorite thing about ISU is the friendly atmosphere between students and faculty. He was most influenced by professors Subbaram Naidu and Steve Chiu, both of whom he described as inspiring and supportive.

Misty Strain• Graduate School, Master's Candidate, Misty M. Strain, Moscow: Strain, 25, who has a 3.84 grade point average, will graduate with a Master of Science degree in Experimental Psychology this summer. Her honors at ISU include the 2011 Outstanding Experimental Graduate Student Award in the psychology department and National Institutes of Health and Sackler Institute travel awards to help pay for research presentations. She received an INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence) graduate research fellowship. Her extracurricular activities included being an officer in the St. John Catholic Student Center and a member of three professional society student groups.

Her favorite thing at ISU was "the awesome faculty…they have pushed me hard to think critically." Her most influential professor was Michele Brumley, who helped her discover her passion for research. Strain wrote and procured an undergraduate grant to examine the effects of tactile feedback during locomotor behavior and this study was recently published in Behavioral Brain Research. She completed an Idaho National Laboratory internship and spent a year in Sweden as an exchange student. After graduating from ISU, where she also earned her undergraduate degree, Strain will head to Texas A&M University this fall to pursue a Ph.D. in behavioral and cellular neuroscience.

Kelsey Peterson• College of Arts and Letters, Fine Arts and Humanities, Kelsey J. Petersen, Twin Falls: Petersen, 21, will graduate this May with her Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre arts. Petersen was treasurer of the ISU chapter of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology. She worked at the Heritage Theatre Festival in Charlottesville, Va., for two summers, first as an intern and later as an employee. Her scholarships include the Idaho Promise Scholarship and a freshman one-year scholarship. Petersen also made the dean’s list with her 3.8 grade point average. She worked on more than 15 Theatre/Dance ISU productions and was a crew member in the Theatre/Dance ISU scene shop since 2010.

Though she thanked all of her professors from the theatre and dance department for their influences, Petersen felt particular guidance from Chad Gross, Norm Schroder and Tara Young. These professors offered her encouragement and much of the hands-on experience that Petersen said was one of her favorite parts about ISU, in addition to bonding with others in her department.

"I have made many close friends throughout my time here, and am proud to call them my theatre family," she said.

KC Harding• College of Arts and Letters, Social and Behavioral Sciences, KC L. Harding, Boise: This spring Harding will graduate with her Bachelor of Arts degree in economics, with an emphasis in law and economics, and a minor in history. She plans to attend law school this fall.

She was awarded more than 10 scholarships, including the Bennion Honors scholarship and Debate Team scholarship. She was a member of the University Honors Program, Economics Club, College Democrats, debate team and Business Professionals of America (BPA). While at ISU, Harding made the dean’s list each semester, graduating with a 3.92 grade point average. She was also a BPA national finalist and 2008 Idaho Rotary Century Scholar.

Harding said her favorite things about ISU were the caring faculty and ease of involvement. Her most influential professors were Cindy Hill, whose honors economics course "inspired me to become an economics major," and Scott Benson, Economics Club advisor. During her time at ISU, Harding worked part-time and earned scholarships to finance her education, even earning the opportunity to study abroad at the University of Plymouth in England.

Harding's parents are Shawna and Tim Schaeffer, and she has one sister, Morgan Harding.

Princess YoungCollege of Business, Princess C. Young, Mountain Home: 22-year-old Young will graduate this spring with her honors bachelor's degree in business management, with a human resources emphasis, and with a music minor. She has earned more than 25 scholarships, including several military scholarships due to her family's involvement in the Air Force. As a baby, Young was adopted by her grandparents, Robert and Tanna Milburn. Robert served 23 years in the Air Force and Young's mother, Angela Young Roland, served 20 years. Her father, Curtis Thornton, resides in Arizona.

Young participated in numerous extracurricular activities, most notably working five years at ISU's student newspaper The Bengal, where she worked as editor-in-chief for the past two years. She was also an ISU Ambassador, vice president of the ISU Finance Association, member of the University Honors Program and member of ISU concert and women's choirs, among other things. Young also received the Idaho Governor's Brightest Star Award in 2011 for excellence in volunteerism. She spent the summer of 2011 in Dallas as an intern for Southwest Airlines. She was selected for this internship out of more than 250 applicants.

"[ISU] has numerous opportunities to get involved and achieve your goals," said Young of her favorite thing about the university. She cited Thomas Terry and Sue Schou as two professors who have had the most influence on her education.

Kirstin Kooda• College of Pharmacy, Kirstin J. Kooda, Idaho Falls: Kooda, 23, will earn her Doctorate of Pharmacy degree this spring. Her scholarships included the Neil Atlee Broyles, Bi-Mart, and Richard and Barbara Wells scholarships. She was co-chair and chair of ISU’s Pharmacy Fair for three years and was her pharmacy class vice president. She volunteered with Poison Prevention, Operation Diabetes and the Pocatello Free Health Clinic. Kooda was a member of the pharmacy leadership fraternity Phi Lambda Sigma, American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists and American Pharmacists Association.

Her parents are Margaret and Kevin Kooda and she is the only one out of four children who did not pursue a degree in engineering. She volunteered at the ISU Family Medicine HIV Clinic, which lead to her helping start a hepatitis C treatment clinic. She’ll spend the next two years doing residencies to become an infectious disease pharmacist.

Her favorite things about ISU were that "the opportunities at ISU are more extensive than I anticipated. I would have never believed I would get to work with HIV and hepatitis patients." Her most influential professor was David Hachey, the pharmacist in charge of the ISU HIV clinic, who "really jump-started my interest in the area of medicine," she said.

Shalene Summers• College of Education, Shalene M. Summers, Idaho Falls: Summers, 23, who earned a 3.6 grade point average, will be awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in education, with a major in secondary education in history and a minor in secondary education, social sciences. She will also graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.

Her scholarships include 13 awards ranging from Distinguished Teacher Scholarship to the ISU Leadership Scholarship. She was the Associated Students of Idaho State University (ASISU) chief of staff for two years, an ASISU College of Education Senator for one year and volunteered for various student organizations throughout her college career. Her honors and awards included Ambassador of the Year 2009-10 and Most Involved Award 2008-09.

Her most influential professors were Wendy Ruchti, who "through positive words and encouragement, showed me how to be and become an influential educator"; Deb Hedeen who "put students first and always had an open door and positive attitude"; and Stephanie Christelow, who "encouraged me to be a better student than I thought possible."  

Her parents are Jim and Sue Ann Summers of Idaho Falls. She is the fifth child in her family to graduate from ISU.

Jeremy Farrell• College of Science and Engineering, Natural and Physical Sciences, Jeremy A. Farrell, Salt Lake City, Utah: Twenty-three-year-old Farrell, who earned a 3.84 grade point average, will be awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in statistics. Farrell, who is married, and has two children, is now a software developer at Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Idaho and has been going to ISU part time this spring. He spent the last two years, until last fall, working in ISU chemistry Professor John Kalivas's Chemometric Research Center. For work he completed in that center, Farrell was one of 74 undergraduates nationwide to be selected to present a research poster at the prestigious national Council on Undergraduate Research Posters on the Hill event in Washington, D.C., in April.

"Working in a research lab enhanced my learning experience by teaching me independent research skills," Farrell said.           

He is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi National Honors Society and the Golden Key Honor Society, and was president of the ISU G2 Math/Computer Science Club for two years and a member for three.

His favorite thing about ISU was the quality of instructors, and he said Kalivas and mathematics assistant professor DeWayne Derryberry were his most influential professors.

Jariullah Safi• College of Science and Engineering, Engineering, Jariullah Safi, Rabwah, Pakistan: Safi, 23, barely missed a perfect grade point average, earning a 3.99 grade point average at ISU on his way to earning a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical and nuclear engineering. He started his education at ISU in 2007, three months after migrating to the United States.

"This meant I had to get used to a brand new culture and a foreign language quickly, which took some effort," Safi said. "Differences in social interaction were particularly difficult to get used to."

His extracurricular activities were many, including being a member and past president of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society, and a member of the Society of Physics Students Idaho State Chapter, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, American Nuclear Society, Pakistani Students Association and Muslim Students Association. He was on the College of Science and Engineering’s dean's list every semester since Fall 2007, was an ISU Undergraduate Research Council grant recipient for 2008-09 and was an ISU Reading Project Essay Contest winner for 2007. He was awarded a variety of scholarships while attending ISU.

Two of Safi's three brothers graduated from ISU and his father once taught in ISU's math department.

Matthew Smitheran• College of Technology, Matthew D. Smitheram, Montpelier: Smitheram achieved a 3.4 grade point average on his way to earning a Bachelor of Science degree in health science and an associate degree in physical therapy assisting this spring. The 27-year-old was awarded the Non-Traditional Occupation Student Scholarship. His extracurricular activities include being a senator for the College of Technology, running track and participating in the Triathlon Club.

His most influential teacher was Darin Jernigan, who "was always positive and constantly reminding his students of their potential to do great things," said Smitheram. "Jernigan also had a genuine concern for each student in their personal life outside of class as well." 

Smitheram said the most challenging aspect of his education was "getting into the Physical Therapy Assistant program. I did not get in the first time I applied."

His parents are Kevin and JoAnn Smitheram of Montpelier. He served a two-year mission for his church to New Zealand, 2004-06, after which he came to ISU.

Lacey Rahmig• Division of Health Sciences, Lacey Rahmig, Soda Springs and Shelley: Rahmig achieved a 3.8 grade point average on her way to earning a Bachelor of Science degree in dental hygiene this spring. The 21-year-old was awarded the Jesse Moore Gagon Scholarship, Idaho Dental Hygienist Association Award, AmeriCorps Scholarship and the Harold and Vanda Johnson Scholarship.  Her extracurricular activities include being the class treasurer of the Student American Dental Hygienists' Association.

Her most influential teachers were Jacqueline Freudenthal, who "truly cares about the students," and Michele Rahmig, who was "most helpful in the clinical aspect of dental hygiene.

Rahmig said the most challenging aspect of her ISU education was "learning to manage my time effectively" when she was commuting more than 100 miles a day to and from Shelley to ISU's Pocatello campus. She said it was also very exciting to treat patients in the ISU Dental Hygiene Clinic and see the results and how she helped her patients. Her favorite two things about ISU were friendly faculty and small classes.

Her parents are Tracy and Heather Ainscough of Soda Springs. Lacey and her husband Chris Rahmig, another ISU graduate, live in Shelley.

Michael Shafer• School of Nursing, Michael R. Shafer, Boise and Bakersfield, Calif.: A native of Bakersfield, 25-year-old Shafer boasted a 3.98 grade point average while earning his Bachelor of Science degree in nursing.

"ISU's professors are incredibly engaged in providing students with an outstanding education," Shafer said, listing Betzi Quiroz, Miki Goodwin, Vanessa Klaus and Paula Molina-Shaver as his most influential instructors

"My learning has been experiential with my professors helping us understand the patient's perspective and taking us out in the communities to serve others."

Michael was awarded six different scholarships will attending ISU and was vice president of the ISU-Meridian Student Nurses Association, a Boy Scouts of America Leader of 11-year-old Scouts and a Community Health Screening Volunteer. He was a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

Michael and his wife, Vanessa, have two children, 2-year-old Emma and Collin who was born this February.

"This final semester has been exciting with the arrival of our son," Michael said. "I tried to finish as much school work as possible before his due date, then he decided to come early – right in the middle of my busiest times."

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