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Graduate Award Winners

All Graduates

Student Support Award

Derek M. Doty

Associate in Applied Science
in Administration/Management Studies

Darryl K. Doty of Toney, Alabama, completed his Associate in Applied Science in Administrative/ Management Studies degree in February 2011. Darryl nominated his eldest son Derek because he provided him with valuable support and played a significant role in assisting him while he pursued his degree at Excelsior College.

Darryl has a demanding work schedule at the Department of Defense, supporting the U.S. military in current war efforts. According to Darryl's assessment, "My only chance of getting my college degree was going to be online classes and with help from the whole family."

Derek is a college student at ITT Tech in Nashville, Tennessee. He aided Darryl in providing essential tutoring, making himself available whenever needed. They spent many late nights or early morning hours studying or working on homework. Derek was able to help Darryl in his algebra class by correlating various assignments and theories to Darryl's career in logistics. When Darryl was taking his English composition course, Derek provided hours of reviewing research papers to check Darryl's format and to critique content.

Derek didn't stop there. He was also instrumental in assisting his bother Dominique's pursuit of his high school diploma. Dominique is autistic, and with Derek's help, he graduated from high school five months earlier than expected.

Darryl and Derek's time spent together working on their common goal provided bonding experiences they will share for years to come. Says Darryl, "Derek is an inspiration to me and our family. Taking 25 years from start to finish to complete my diploma, I now know the thing missing from my educational goal was my son's help and motivation!"

The Charles W. Laffin Jr.
Memorial Award

Joseph T. Sevcik

Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering Technology

Joseph T. Sevcik of Newport News, Virginia, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering Technology from Excelsior College in February 2011 with a GPA of 4.0. A graduate of the esteemed Navy Nuclear Power School, Mr. Sevcik is also certified by the National Registry for Radiation Protection Technologists (NRRPT). He has been employed for 21 years by the Huntington Ingalls Industries (formerly Northrup Grumman) as a radiation safety manager. Sevcik believes the achievement of his Excelsior degree has motivated him to consider higher-level positions within the organization and says that now, more than ever, he is optimistic about his future with the company.

Important to this graduate was the fact that Excelsior's program allowed him to fulfill his educational goals while working full time without losing important time with his family. He completed more than half his degree through credit-bearing exams and distance courses. Sevcik says, "The challenges that had to be overcome to make this happen have brought career opportunities that would not have been possible otherwise."

Excelsior College® Examinations Award

John J. Armstrong

Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts

John J. Armstrong of Newark, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts degree with a combination of Excelsior College Examinations and courses, CLEP, and Dantes exams, as well as previously earned credit.

Currently a production manager for Fitch Construction in Rochester, New York, Armstrong is also a reserve First Class Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy Seabees. In his bachelor's degree quest, he earned credits at three different colleges in addition to military training before enrolling at Excelsior.

His battalion, NMCB21, was mobilized and sent to Afghanistan. Armstrong was a job supervisor on Mustang Ramp (Kandahar, Afghanistan), the largest single construction project undertaken to date by the Seabees in Afghanistan. He also served as the project manager on a major project at Forward Operating Base Lagman (Afghanistan).

He plans to enroll at State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry to pursue a master's degree in sustainable engineering.

LeRoy V. Good Memorial Award

Brian Keith Taylor

Associate in Science

Brian Keith Taylor of DeMotte, Indiana, completed his associate in science degree in June 2010. Employed as a direct sales representative, he intended to earn his degree earlier in life, but family responsibilities became his top priority, forcing him to he put his education aside. When his son decided to go to Indiana University, Mr. Taylor's own desire to finish his education became a top priority.

He was thrilled when he earned an A on his first Dantes Subject Standardized Test. He then started preparing for a variety of CLEP and Dantes exams. Depending on his workload in his sales career, he was able to complete two or three exams per month.

Taylor intends to continue his education. Currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts program, he's also planning to attend Grace Theological Seminary in Indiana to begin his quest for a Master of Arts in Ministry Studies. He then hopes to transfer that degree to Western Theological Seminary in Michigan toward the completion of a Master of Divinity degree.

The Robert E. Kinsinger Award

Jason R. Lowman

Bachelor of Science in 
Nuclear Engineering Technology

Jason R. Lowman of Charleston, South Carolina, completed his Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering Technology degree in May 2011. An electronics technician in the U.S. Navy, Mr. Lowman is on a personal mission to raise awareness for organizations that are helping to battle cancer.

Lowman and his family have been stationed in Charleston for six years. Having just picked up the sport of cycling, he participated in the Jerry Zucker Ride for Hope in 2008. "A short time before I joined the military, a very close family friend—my pastor—lost her life to brain cancer," he explains. "I knew then what I was being called to do."

The next year, Lowman was invited to join the Ride for Hope's board of directors. He vowed to do everything in his power to spread the message about the fight against cancer in the Charleston area. He organized a group of dedicated military members for focused outreach events such as mobile spinning for cancer awareness, fundraising at the Charleston and Mount Pleasant Farmers Markets, the Cancer Fighter '09 Spin Marathon at Select Fitness, and a special visit to the Hollings Cancer Center.

Lowman left the Navy and the Charleston area in June, but he did not abandon his cause. As a final tribute to the Charleston area, Lowman created 4000 Miles of Hope, a planned two-month cross-country solo bicycle trip, to spread his message

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School of Business and Technology

Jean Smith Award (Business)

Adrienne S. Mason

Bachelor of Science in Business

Adrienne S. Mason of Endwell, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business, graduating summa cum laude with a 3.95 GPA. As a participant in Excelsior’s partnership with Broome Community College (BCC), she was able to transfer her BCC associate degree credits toward the Excelsior College bachelor’s degree requirements. Ms. Mason faced the immense challenge of losing her hearing ability while trying to complete her degree. Fortunately, with the help of implants, she regained her hearing and was able to complete her degree while also working full time at Binghamton University.

Mason has been a human resource/payroll specialist at Binghamton for the past 11 years. Described by her supervisor as a proactive, creative, and highly motivated employee, her contributions and commitments have been recognized with promotions and greater responsibilities.

Another supervisor stated that Mason effectively changed the manner in which they conducted business by applying knowledge she obtained while earning her bachelor’s degree. He noted her initiatives resulted in her being the person within the department to whom people would turn for business solutions.

Mason is involved in many volunteer activities including Project P.A.W., and she is a member of the Cochlear Community. She inspires her colleagues to make healthy lifestyle choices by sharing her knowledge of fitness training and nutrition.

The Marvin Curling Memorial Award (Technology)

Robert L. Simmons

Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering Technology

Robert L. Simmons of Shakopee, Minnesota, earned a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering Technology degree in February 2011 with a 4.00 GPA. He earned his credits through a combination of Excelsior College courses, college transfer credit, military training schools, military ratings, and successful completion of proficiency examinations such as GRE, DANTES, and Excelsior College® Examinations. Mr. Simmons also earned a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts with a major in sociology at Excelsior in 2003.

His technical education and training in both electronics and nuclear power covers nearly 30 years and began with a two-year electronics course he completed in high school. Simmons is a Navy veteran who completed the prestigious Navy Nuclear Power School program and worked aboard a nuclear submarine as an Electrician’s Mate. Building upon his military training, Simmons joined the private sector workforce in 1994.

A highly motivated individual, Simmons worked simultaneously on his Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering Technology degree while earning a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from California National University for Advanced Studies, summa cum laude. Inducted into the Excelsior College Alpha Nu Sigma Honor Society, Simmons is also a member of the Electronics Technicians Association International (ETA-I), the American Nuclear Society, and the Industrial Advisory Board at the College of Science Engineering and Technology at the Minnesota State University campus in Mankato.

Simmons works for Cummins Power Generation in Minnesota as a service engineering manager. He is also an adjunct electronics telecommunications instructor at ITT Technical Institute.

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School of Liberal Arts

The Robert P. Mahoney Award

Rocio Villa

Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts

Rocio Villa, of Niskayuna, New York, earned her Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts degree and a Certificate in Homeland Security in May 2011. Originally from Colombia, Ms. Villa began her college education in Kiev, Ukraine. Political changes forced her to return to Colombia, where she hoped to continue her studies, but the economic and political situation there made her look elsewhere. Villa, her husband, and two young children were granted political asylum in the U.S. after many of her family members were assassinated and her father kidnapped in Colombia. She did not speak English but managed to teach herself some of the language, and then she took advanced courses. She worked for the New York State Crime Victims Board as a keyboard specialist, but in order to achieve a promotion, she needed to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Using her union benefits, she took Excelsior online courses along with classes at other local colleges to complete her bachelor’s degree.

Villa enjoys giving back and helping others. Involved in several community organizations, where there is need for professional minority advocates, Villa has also volunteered for the past thirteen years to help victims of domestic violence and other crimes. This includes finding placement in local shelters as well as assisting with translation, because she speaks both Spanish and Russian. She volunteers for the American Red Cross, is trained in shelter operations, psychological first aid, and client casework, and she is certified on the use of AED (automated external defibrilators). She is also a member of 100 Hispanic Women, a group that supports scholarships for minority women in the Capital Region. Currently a Crime Victims Specialist, Villa feels there is a lot more she can do for her community.

The Joshua L. Smith Award

Kerry Lehan

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Kerry Lehan of Orangeburg, New York, earned a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree while maintaining a grade point average of 4.0. Taking advantage of an Excelsior College partnership with the New York State United Teachers, Lehan was able to apply her previously earned credits from several other universities toward her degree requirements while continuing to work full time as a high school English teacher in New York City and as a full-time mom. She also has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Ramapo College.

Lehan has been teaching at Harry S Truman High School in the Bronx for ten years. In her first year there, she took on the challenges of teaching Advanced Placement English and was appointed advisor to Arista and the National Honor Society. Her dedication to her students does not stop at the end of the school day. Throughout her years at Truman, she has accepted many after-school positions involving tutoring and SAT preparation. Lehan also taught computer instruction three days a week at the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club.

Lehan is dedicated to the youth of her community. She has spent over ten years coaching youth soccer for Orangetown and spent two of those years as vice president of the town league, providing opportunities for more than 2,000 children to get involved in the sport. As a fledgling writer, Lehan has also completed a children's book and is currently working on a fantasy novel.

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School of Nursing

The Mildred L. Montag Memorial Award

Patricia Printz Smith

Master of Science in Nursing

Patricia Printz Smith of Casstown, Ohio, earned a Master of Science in Nursing degree in December 2010, graduating with a 3.89 GPA. Smith’s educational journey began 36 ago, when she completed her associate degree in nursing and became an RN. Throughout her nursing career, Smith has worked in many different positions including floor nurse, home care, management, and program development. This was all accomplished while raising her own three children, two of whom are disabled, and also caring for her parents and in-laws. Upon realizing she needed further education to advance her career, she earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2005 and then set her sights on a master’s.

Smith chose Excelsior College because she needed the flexibility to complete her degree while maintaining her busy schedule. “It took four years of sacrifice and hard work,” she says. “Excelsior’s program made my school work portable. I took my laptop and books with me everywhere: vacation, medical mission trips to Jamaica, family campouts. My family thought I would never be done, but I did it!”

Smith currently works in technical education and support for the electronic medical record system in a regional health care system. Last fall, she was promoted to application specialist for the specialized surgery component of the electronic medical record application. Says Smith, “Learning is the foundation of nursing. The more educated we are as individuals, the better nursing will become as a profession.”

The Ruth V. Matheney Memorial Award

Carissa R. Westring

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Carissa R. Westring, RN, of Sartell, Minnesota, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in April 2010, graduating magna cum laude with a 3.87 GPA. Ms. Westring had wanted to become a nurse, but life obstacles prevented her from beginning her studies. She was successful at her accounting position, “but there was something deeply lacking in the paltry satisfaction I [received] from the pile of papers I would push across my desk each day.” Influenced by her nurse midwife, Westring enrolled in an associate degree nursing program at a local community college. She loved the coursework, but her husband’s job required a move that made it difficult to continue commuting to class. A coworker suggested Excelsior College, which turned out to be an excellent fit for Westring—she swiftly moved through the program and graduated with an Associate in Science in Nursing degree in May 2003.

Westring worked in a busy emergency department for two years and, seeking to continue her education, enrolled in the Excelsior College Bachelor of Science degree program.

Believing she can give even more to her community, Westring has now been accepted into the Family Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Cincinnati. She offers, “Without the Excelsior’s faith in me as a student and [its] vision to provide an unconventional program for students like me, I do not know where I would be as a professional, much less as a person. What I have gained from my education and eventual career path has been profoundly life-changing.”

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The Arthur J. Gregg Award

James R. Shreve

Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts

Master Sergeant James R. Shreve of Afton, Wyoming, has served in the National Guard and Army Reserves for over 19 years as a wire systems installer, recruiter, first sergeant, and acting command sergeant major.

Completing the requirements for a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts degree in May 2011 with a 4.0 GPA, MSG Shreve earned 37 credit hours from Excelsior College since September 2010 while simultaneously attending the U.S. Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA) — the Army’s most elite and academically rigorous Senior Noncommissioned Officers course. He is currently looking into graduate schools in Laramie, Wyoming. Finishing his degree has been his lifelong goal, and he intends to return to his unit in Wyoming to demonstrate the importance of education to his soldiers.

During his tenure in the military, Shreve has received numerous awards and accolades including the Bronze Star Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, and three Army Commendation Medals. He also earned a Purple Heart during his deployment to Iraq when he was injured during an IED (improvised explosive device) attack. He is the first Wyoming National Guard soldier to attend USASMA as a resident student in more than 15 years. In addition to his professional achievements, Shreve has a history of volunteer service in his communities. Since August 2010, he has volunteered more than 500 hours to USASMA in El Paso, Texas. Shreve was recognized by the Ft. Bliss installation as Volunteer of the Quarter for 3rd quarter of FY11 and has been nominated for the
Ft. Bliss Volunteer of the Year Award.

The Catherine Craig-Erhardt Memorial Award

Adam J. Carlson

Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts

U.S. Marine Corps 1stSgt Adam J. Carlson of El Paso, Texas, earned an Associate in Applied Science in Administrative/Management Studies degree (3.83 GPA) in April 2011, a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts degree (3.70 GPA) in May 2011, and a Certificate in Homeland Security in June 2011.

1stSgt Carlson has exemplified his commitment to education through continuous military schooling throughout his more than 22 years in the Marine
Corps. When invited to attend the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA), he seized upon the opportunity. Through long classroom hours and time spent studying for DANTES and CLEP exams, Carlson was able to complete both the associate and bachelor’s degrees and the Certificate in Homeland Security in just eight months.

Carlson also has a long history as a volunteer. Most recently, he was a key member of the Global War on Terror Monument Committee. During his 10-month tenure at the USASMA, he volunteered continuously at the Ft. Bliss Thrift Shop, the VFW Post 812, The Lower Valley Housing Project, and he worked at events such as the El Paso Marathon and the Thanksgiving Meals Project.

Carlson has an exemplary USMC record and was selected to attend numerous military specialty schools. He has had several deployments including tours in Japan, Cuba, East Timor, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

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