EKU Honors First-Year Students

Published on May 05, 2022

Eastern Kentucky University’s Office of First-Year Courses & Learning Communities recognized students in its annual ceremony, held April 20. Students were recognized for excellence in the classroom, contributions to an inclusive campus environment and for leadership, according to Starr Wentzel, director of the office. 

“Students are nominated by instructors who teach first-year seminars,” Wentzel said. “Each winner tonight inspired their instructors, motivated their peers and displayed all the habits of highly successful students. They are destined for great things here at Eastern and beyond.”

Alpha Lambda Delta is the national honor society recognizing high academic achievers during their first year of college and presented four awards to members who excelled in the organization’s tenets of leadership, service and scholarship during the past academic year. 

“The purpose of the organization is to encourage superior academic performance, promote intelligent living and foster a high standard of learning,” said Dr. Travis Martin, administrator of the first-year courses at EKU and adviser to the ALD organization. “The organization prides itself on professionalism, what we call, ‘taking students from first year to career’ by providing signature programming such as the ALD Leads Leadership Certification Program and Career Conversations that feature highly successful ALD alums from all over the world.”

Rachael Vascassenno received a Leadership Award for her service as president of the group during the pandemic. “Despite everything, she grew into a remarkable leader, setting records for new leadership and hosting events for the campus community when it became harder than at any point in the chapter’s history,” Martin noted. 

Katie Young received a Leadership Award for her service in multiple leadership roles for the organization. “She helped the chapter revitalize itself, served in a number of leadership roles and showed steadfast commitment to her fellow students by launching initiatives in the areas of service and professionalization to help them persevere,” Martin said. 

Kaitlyn Anderson received a Service Award for serving as the “heart and soul of the chapter for some time.” 

Bradley Lackey received a Scholarship Award for his scholarly endeavors. “Tonight, he is being recognized for the research and hard work he put into the creation of a diversity training resource that will help chapters across the country better educate their members about how to be more inclusive and welcoming,” Martin said. 

Two students were recognized as Outstanding First-Year Leaders from the 2020-21 academic year:

  • Beighley Ayers, a forensic science senior from Wheeling, West Virginia

  • Madison Haley, an environmental health science major from Louisville 

Three students were recognized as Outstanding First-Year Leaders from the current academic year: Sarah Butler, Jenna Cecil and Liam Kaune.

Butler is a business administration major from Union, Ky. Butler’s nomination letter noted, “She was very engaged and hands-on with our students all semester. She added something of value to all of the assignments, whether that was contributing to meaningful discussion, sharing her perspective as an EKU student, or always making herself available to help with assignments.” 

Cecil is a psychology major from Lebanon, Ky. According to the nomination letter for Cecil: “She was a great asset to our class. She always engaged the class and provided them with ‘real college student’ advice. She stayed after every class period to suggest new ideas and solutions that would be beneficial to our class as a whole.” 

Kaune is a recreation and park administration major from Fort Knox, Ky. The nomination letter for Kaune read in part: “He was personable, kind, considerate and welcoming to all students. Liam displayed expertise and was helpful to all students.” 

Sixty students were recognized as Outstanding First-Year Students, students who persevered in their studies, improved classroom learning environments through active learning and improved the EKU campus community by supporting peers. These students were chosen from almost 2,000 first-year students enrolled at EKU and were all nominated by their first-year instructors. 

  • Joseph Aguiree

  • Amari Allen

  • Madison Baker

  • Kimberly Bargo 

  • Bridget Beagle

  • Ranee Birdwell 

  • Zayne Bolen

  • Andrew Caldwell

  • Seth Calloway 

  • Jai Caudill

  • David Chassé

  • Laura De Cotiis

  • Janey Cox

  • Kyhra Cress

  • Cameron Dewberry

  • Kendall Diop

  • Elizabeth Faulconer

  • Brandon Fletcher

  • Akeen Francillon

  • Ashley Friend

  • Jasmine Gaona

  • Tatiana Gargac

  • Micah Gray

  • Cameron Hamilton

  • Korian Hardin

  • Benjamin Hill

  • Rocky Hix

  • Emma Huntley

  • Alyssa Hysell

  • Ebambi Lukonga

  • Kirsten Mason

  • Trinity Maxwell

  • Alyssa McAfee

  • Breanna McCarthy

  • Lexie McClendon

  • Brooklyn McFarland

  • Isaac Milburn 

  • Lindsey Miller

  • Alexa Musolf

  • Sarah Mullins

  • Chia Hui “Joanna” Ouyang

  • Carter Pettey

  • William Pitcher

  • Tyana Porter

  • Alexander Pyzik

  • Benjamin Roberts

  • Dawson Sheble

  • Brianne Shipley 

  • Asani Somerville

  • Elijah St. John

  • Dennis Stooksberry

  • John Thornhill

  • Nikki Wacaser

  • Jillian Ward

  • Dani Watts

  • Madison Webster

  • Justin Wemette

  • Zachary Wentz

  • Abigail Wiedewitsch

  • Edward Wieland