Park University’s Howell Awards Recognize Leadership Achievements During 2023-24 Academic Year

April 11, 2024 — In celebration of the leadership achievements of Park University students, faculty and staff during the 2023-24 academic year, the Office of Student Life and the Park Student Government Association announced recipients of honors as part of the 29th annual Dr. Doris A. Howell Leadership Awards. The awards program, held on April 10, is named for Howell, a 1944 Park graduate who was an internationally renowned leader in pediatrics and hospice care before passing away in November 2018.

Awards presented and the recipients:
(Name, year in school, major, hometown [and high school attended, if known], for students; name, work title and city of residence for faculty/staff):

Dr. Doris Howell Leadership Awards: This award is given to students who distinguish themselves uniquely as leaders regardless of position or title. Recipients represent the spirit of a Park University by: pursuing integrity in every endeavor; inclusiveness as a global citizen; are responsible and respectful in word, work and conduct; are aware of the implications and rewards of their education; truthful in every action; and excellence in modeling the Park University lifestyle.
          •  Debora Bernardi, senior psychology major, Ponta Grossa, Brazil
          •  Iva Drobnjak, senior psychology major, Belgrade, Serbia
          •  Jade Galligo, senior business administration/marketing major, Grasse, France
          •  Zach Porter, senior management and marketing major, Lee’s Summit, Mo. (attended Summit Christian Academy)
          •  Patrick Robichaud, senior chemistry major, Kansas City, Mo. (attended Park Hill High School)
          •  Gabrielle de Oliveira Sandins, junior sport and exercise science major, Sao Paulo, Brazil
          •  Suzanne Schmidt, senior English major, Kansas City, Kan. (attended Sumner Academy of Arts and Science)
          •  Joazee Smith, junior middle school education/language arts major, Kearney, Mo. (attended Excelsior Springs [Mo.] High School)
          •  Patricia Carrio Ubeda, senior sport and exercise science major, Alicante, Spain
          •  Elijah Wilhelm, junior English major, Parkville, Mo. (attended Park Hill South High School, Riverside, Mo.)

Outstanding Class Member Awards: This award honors two students from the senior, junior and sophomore classes (based on credit hours completed) who best represent their class in service to, and participation in, Park University.
          •  Seniors
                 o  Isabella Clark, senior English and psychology major, Weston, Mo. (attended West Platte High School)
                 o  Neyamia Powell, senior interdisciplinary studies major, Kansas City, Mo. (attended Park Hill High School)
          •  Juniors
                 o  Ashlee Dureka, junior accounting major, Kansas City, Mo.
                 o  Rylee Reece, junior biology major, Lee’s Summit, Mo. (attended Blue Springs [Mo.] South High School)
          •  Sophomores
                 o  Lauren Buck, graphic design major, Kansas City, Kan. (attended Sumner Academy of Arts and Science)
                 o  Marissa Wortkoetter, sophomore biology major, St. Peters, Mo. (attended Francis Howell Central High School, St. Charles, Mo.)

Dusing-Proudfoot Award: This award is given to honor an outstanding contribution by a Park University faculty or staff member. It is named in honor of two former Park University professors, Albert Dusing and Merrill Proudfoot, who worked at Park for more than 20 years each and are respected for their academic and teaching betterment of students.
          •  Jack MacLennan, Ph.D., associate professor of political science, Kansas City, Mo.

Tipton Award: This award is given to honor an outstanding service contribution to Park University by a Park alumnus/alumna. It is named to honor Bill and Mary Lou Tipton, both 1928 Park graduates. Throughout their lives, the Tiptons served Park University through the Park University Alumni Association, Friends of the Park University Library and the Park University Board of Trustees.
          •  Elizabeth (Weese) Muncal, 2005 graduate, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Park Family Award: This award recognizes Park staff and/or faculty members who embody the University’s family-like culture in their interaction with students and fellow staff/faculty.
          •  Eugene Matthews, Ph.D., associate professor of criminal justice administration, Kansas City, Mo.

Toni Griggs Award: This award is given to honor students who have made an outstanding contribution to Park University through leadership, service or work performance. Griggs, a Park employee and an integral part of the University for three decades, was a friend to Park students, faculty and staff.
          •  Bilemanga (Sarah) Fataki, junior psychology major, Independence, Mo. (attended William Chrisman High School)

C.W. Bailey Award: This award is given in memory of C.W. Bailey, grandfather of John Shelton, a 1976 Park graduate, to students for the purpose of facilitating their education to the end that they may make a contribution to society in the tradition of Bailey. It is presented to one or two students who have distinguished themselves and exhibited the spirit of Park University.
          •  Austin Dubberley, freshman interior design major, Leavenworth, Kan. (attended Leavenworth High School)
          •  Zachary Knowles, freshman secondary education/social science major, Independence, Mo. (attended Blue Springs [Mo.] High School)

Park Servant Leader of the Year Award: Awarded to a student who exemplifies the characteristics of a strong servant leader and/or has a service-focused mindset, and has worked effectively with others in the University and/or surrounding community to be a positive change.
          •  Makayla Artis, senior political science/American politics major, Elkton, Ky. (attended Clarksville [Tenn.] Academy)

Faculty/Staff Newcomer of the Year Awards: Presented to faculty and staff in their first year of outstanding service to the University.
          •  Faculty: Miranda Ridder, Ph.D., assistant teaching professor of biology, Independence, Mo.
          •  Staff: Alyssa Acuna, associate director of student engagement and inclusion, Lenexa, Kan.

Student Employee / Graduate Assistant of the Year Awards: These awards go to an outstanding work-study student and graduate assistant student who are chosen on the basis of reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism and the uniqueness of contributions to the University.
          •  Student Employee: Grace Wahab, junior management major, Fort Leavenworth, Kan. (attended Leavenworth [Kan.] High School); works in the Park Global Warrior Center
          •  Graduate Assistant: Ali Haider Sian, graduate student pursuing Master of Science degree in information systems and business analytics, Doha, Qatar; works in the Office of Residence Life

Student Organization Adviser of the Year Award: This award recognizes the staff/faculty member who has provided outstanding efforts in guiding and advising student organizations.
          •  Stacey Kikendall, Ph.D., associate professor of English, Parkville, Mo.; adviser to Park University’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta (International English Honor Society)

Student Success and Impact Award: This award recognizes educators who have made an outstanding impact and profound difference on Park students.
          •  Melody Alexander, adjunct instructor of communication studies and adviser to The Stylus (Park University’s online student newspaper), Lawrence, Kan.

Park Student Government Association / Cindy Anderson Senator of the Year Award: This award recognizes the senator who made the greatest contribution to PSGA during the year. The award is named for Anderson, a Park freshman soccer player from Grimes, Iowa, who was killed in an accident (along with a teammate and head coach) heading to a NAIA playoff game in 2000.
          •  Isabella Brooks, sophomore biology major, Nevada, Mo. (attended Nevada High School)

Student Organization of the Year: Awarded to the student organization that imparts strong sense of purpose, understands its mission, and provides involvement and support opportunities.
          •  The Stylus, Park University’s online student newspaper

New Student Organization of the Year Award: This award is given to an outstanding student organization that was formed within the past academic year.
          •  Phi Epsilon Kappa, advances the interests of Park University’s sport and exercise science programs

Special Award – Honors in Student Advising: Presented in recognition of unwavering dedication and commitment to the student body; guiding and shaping the Park Student Government Association with passion and insight; and fostering a thriving environment where students are empowered to enact positive change and cultivate a true sense of community.
          •  Jayme Uden, Ed.D. chief human resources officer who served as associate vice president and dean of students, Olathe, Kan.



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Park University is a private, non-profit, institution of higher learning since 1875.