Oklahoma Baptist University

Outstanding Students Recognized at 2011 Awards Convocation

OBU recognized its outstanding students during the Centennial Awards Convocation on Wednesday, May 4, in Raley Chapel, with seniors Rachel Griffith and Derek Royer receiving the highest awards given to students by OBU.

Griffith, a biology major from Parker, Colo., received the University’s highest award given to a female student, the Rosalee Mills Appleby Award. Griffith graduated May 13 with the scholastic designation cum laude. The award was presented by OBU President David Wesley Whitlock.

OBU senior Rachel Griffith (left) receives the university’s highest award given to a female student, the Rosalee Mills Appleby Award, presented by OBU President David Whitlock.

The Rosalee Mills Appleby Award is named for the donor, a member of the class of 1929 who served as a missionary, writer and teacher in Brazil for many years. The award was established in 1936 as OBU’s first award and has been given annually since that time. The selection is made by a committee named by the University president. It recognizes the woman of the graduating class who most nearly exemplifies the qualities which characterize the ideal OBU woman, including personal character, scholarship, leadership, concern for others and Christian commitment.

Royer, a biochemistry major from Bartlesville, Okla., was the first recipient of the University’s highest award given to a male student, the W.P. Blake Award. Royer graduated with the scholastic designation summa cum laude. The award was presented by Dr. Whitlock.

The W.P. Blake Award is named for the chairman of OBU’s first board of trustees. Blake was an Oklahoma Baptist pioneer from Okmulgee. The award was established in 2011 to recognize an outstanding man in the graduating class who embodies Blake’s written desire that OBU “perpetuate the heritage of Christian citizenship.” The selection is made by a committee named by the University president. It recognizes the man of the graduating class who most nearly exemplifies the qualities which characterize the ideal OBU man, including personal character, scholarship, leadership, concern for others and Christian commitment.

OBU senior Derek Royer (right) receives the university’s highest award given to a male student, the W.P. Blake Award, presented by OBU President David Whitlock.

Dr. Norris Russell, professor and chair of the Division of Kinesiology and Leisure Studies, and director of athletics, recognized the outstanding senior female and male athletes. The awards are given each year to student athletes who have had exceptional careers at OBU. Nicole Cummings, a senior finance major from Venus, Texas, was recognized as the outstanding female athlete for her role on the Lady Bison track team. Anthony Lopez, a senior from San Diego, Calif., was recognized as the outstanding male athlete for his role on the Bison baseball team.

The Presidential Scholar/Athlete Award is given each year to the senior male and female athletes with the highest cumulative grade point average. The 2011 recipients were Katie Halbesleben and Joshua J. Hamon. Halbesleben, a psychology/Spanish major from Wausau, Wash., was a member of the Lady Bison tennis team. Hamon, a chemistry major from Oskaloosa, Iowa, was a member of the Bison soccer team. Both graduated with the scholastic designation summa cum laude.

Dr. Pam Robinson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, recognized the outstanding seniors in arts and sciences studies. Anna Morgan, an English major from Eatonville, Wash., received the award in the Division of Language and Literature. She graduated with the designation summa cum laude with college honors. Halbesleben received the award in the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Kuan Cheong, a chemistry/physics major from Macau, China, received the award in the Division of Science and Mathematics. He graduated with the designation magna cum laude. Hannah Wood, a pre-allied health and rehabilitation services major from Allen, Texas, received the award in the Division of Kinesiology and Leisure Studies. She graduated with the designation summa cum laude. Kristin Hall, an elementary/early childhood education major from Noble, Okla., received the award in the Division of Teacher Education. She graduated with the designation magna cum laude.

Dr. David Houghton, dean of the Paul Dickinson School of Business, recognized Melody Wheeler as the Outstanding Senior in the School of Business. Wheeler, a marketing major from Oklahoma City, graduated with the scholastic designation summa cum laude.

Dr. Mark McClellan, dean of the School of Christian Service, recognized the outstanding seniors in Christian service studies. Veronica Pistone, a religion: biblical languages major from Blue Springs, Mo., received the Outstanding Senior in Religion Award, presented to the student who has demonstrated exceptional ability in the fields of theology, Christian history and biblical studies. Pistone graduated with the designation summa cum laude with college honors. Nicholas Johnson, an applied ministry: youth emphasis major from Lindsay, Okla., received the Outstanding Senior in Applied Ministry Award, given to the student who has demonstrated exceptional ability in the field of applied ministry. Amanda Abernathy, a philosophy/religion: Bible major from Oak Ridge, Tenn., received the Outstanding Senior in Philosophy Award, given to the student who has demonstrated exceptional ability in the field of philosophy. She graduated with the designation summa cum laude with college honors.

Dr. Paul Hammond, dean of the College of Fine Arts, recognized the outstanding seniors in fine arts. Tram Nguyen, an art major from Bentonville, Ark., received the art award. The honor recognizes a student who has exhibited not only a talent in art, but also an initiative in the development of that talent and has maintained a responsible awareness of his or her talent through overall good scholarship. Katherine Wortley, a theatre major from Fort Smith, Ark., received the communication arts award. The honor recognizes the most exemplary graduating senior majoring in communication studies, telecommunication or theatre arts. The student exhibits scholastic excellence, leadership, moral ideals, breadth of involvement and promise of success in the field of communications. Wortley graduated with the designation magna cum laude. Sara Elliott, a music education, instrumental K-12 major from Bartlesville, received the music award. The honor recognizes the student who has excelled as a performer, who has consistently exhibited the highest standards of scholarship and who best represents the ideals of the University.

Dr. Lana Bolhouse, dean of the School of Nursing, named Haley Rachal as the Outstanding Senior in the School of Nursing. Rachal, a nursing major from Shreveport, La., graduated with the designation magna cum laude. The award honors the student who demonstrates competence in the knowledge and skills required for beginning practice as a professional nurse. The student incorporates caring behaviors in interactions with clients and colleagues, affirms commitment to the ethical values of the Judeo-Christian beliefs, demonstrates a commitment to continuing personal and professional development grounded in liberal arts philosophy and assumes moral and legal responsibility for his or her own professional nursing practice.

Abernathy received the Gaskin Baptist History Award, given annually to encourage research in the history of Baptist life and thought. The award is made possible through a fund established by Dr. J.M. Gaskin, pastor, educator, historian and friend of the University. The winning research papers submitted for the award are included in the Baptist Historical Collection housed in the Mabee Learning Center.

Ryan Cox, a junior from Sand Springs, Okla., received the Evans T. Moseley Leadership Award. The award was established by the senior class of OBU in 1966 to honor the man who served as interim president of the University during that year. It is given to a rising senior who demonstrates the greatest leadership potential.

Abigail Basler, a junior from Lawton, Okla., received the John Wesley Raley Scholarship. The John Wesley Raley Scholar receives a scholarship from funds provided by the Fay Taylor Pierson Trust, part of which was designated to establish a memorial to Dr. John Wesley Raley, who served as University president from 1934 to 1961 and as University chancellor from 1961 to 1965. The Scholarship is awarded annually to a rising senior with a grade point average of at least 3.00 who plans to continue at OBU. Additional criteria which guide the selection committee’s nomination to the University president include leadership, moral courage, self-determination and communicative skills.

The assembly also recognized the Junior Class Marshals and Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. Junior Class Marshals are the top-ranking junior men and women, based on overall grade point average, who serve as marshals for the senior class graduation. They include: Emily Frances Buller from Ringwood, Okla.; Rachel Joy Byars, Beggs, Okla.; Kallie Michele Engle, Durant, Okla.; Gavin Thomas Hart, Oklahoma City; Lauren Ashley Loughridge, Oklahoma City; Kara LaNell Rhodes, Gainesville, Texas; Alyssa Lindsay Scattergood, Wittmann, Ariz.; Sarah Elizabeth Stephens, Tulsa, Okla; Tori Michelle Thomas, Owasso, Okla.; Amity Merit Walker, Shawnee; and Vivian Marie Welkener, Allen, Texas.

Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges is an annual honors program honoring the United States’ leading college students. The program recognizes academic excellence, outstanding accomplishments and contributions to community and school. Students honored include: Melissa Marie Argo, Gallup, N.M.; Amanda Abernathy, Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Stephanie Grace Baker, Salida, Colo.; Kathryn Hannah Louise Barrett, Neodesha, Kan.; Ann Marie Berry, Electric City, Wash.; Marine Michelle Burnham, Longmont, Colo.; Jenna Lee Butner, Wewoka, Okla.; Joshua Thomas Campbell, Arnold, Md.; Kuan U. Cheong, Macau, China; Dillon Clay Chilcoat, Oklahoma City; David Owen Comodeca, Overland Park, Kan.; Victor Hugo Bezerra de Oliveira Conceicao, Deer Park, Texas; Nicole Alyse Cummings, Venus, Texas; Caitlin Rebekah Dacus, Overland Park, Kan.; Tyler Andrew Denney, Jenks, Okla.; Brandon Kyle Dickinson, Enid, Okla.; Taylor Ryne Dickinson, Enid, Okla.; Sara K. Elliott, Bartlesville; Casey Joel Flynt, Turpin, Okla.; James Gilbert Gonzales Jr., Katy, Texas; Donald Bruce Greenawalt Jr., Shawnee, Okla.; Sarah Elaine Griffin, Bartlesville; Rachel Amalia Griffin, Parker, Colo.; Kristin Marie Hall, Noble; Joshua Jacob Wyatt Hamon, Oskaloosa, Iowa; Jonathan Christopher Hamrick, Cedar Crest, N.M.; Jacob Bryan Hibbard, Chickasha, Okla.; Koby Booth Hunter, Ardmore, Okla.; Connor Alan Inskeep, Ponca City, Okla.; Samantha Lea Kellogg, Shawnee; Kylie Ann King, Keller, Texas; Timothy John Kurtz, Heber Springs, Ark.; and Amanda Jane Layman, Florissant, Mo.

Who’s Who also included Taunia René Logan from Perryton, Texas; Jessica Denise Madison, Lawton, Okla.; Anna Catherine Morgan, Eatonville, Wash.; Tram Tu Nguyen, Bentonville, Ark.; Kylie Renee Noble, Olathe, Kan.; Taylor Lynn Phillips, Mountain View, Okla.; Veronica Anne Pistone, Blue Springs, Mo.; Elizabeth Lynne Polston, Broken Arrow, Okla.; Haley Nicole Rachal, Shreveport, La.; Kaitlyn D’Lee Rothaus, Bethany, Okla.; Emily Adelle Rowland, Bartlett, Tenn.; Derek James Royer, Bartlesville; Tamara Ruth Scherich, Grapevine, Texas; Derek Martin Schuessler, Valley Center, Kan.; Sara Madeline Scott, Oklahoma City; Jamie Johnson Shepherd, Tucson, Ariz.; Bethany Rose Slagle, Boynton, Okla.; Meredith Ann Stroup, Sunnyvale, Texas; Jonathan Edward Studstill, Arlington, Texas; Courtney Beth Tice, Oologah, Okla.; Katherine Elise Unruh, McPherson, Kan.; Emily Gail Vanderburg, Paris, Texas; Meredith Leslie Vernon, Shawnee; Megan Christine Waggoner, Blanchard, Okla.; Jessica Robin Walker, Lewisville, Texas; Jennie Louise Warren, Shawnee; Melody Rose Wheeler, Oklahoma City; Sara Elizabeth Wilson, Bethany; Hannah Christine Wood, Allen, Texas; and Jennifer Lauren Wynn, Shawnee.

The graduates participated in Spring Commencement Friday, May 13, in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium. Students graduated with the scholastic predicate summa cum laude for maintaining at least a 3.95 grade point average. Students who maintained at least at 3.70 GPA were designated magna cum laude. Students who maintained at least a 3.40 GPA were designated cum laude.

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