Outstanding Senior finalists announced 

Finalists have been announced for the annual Outstanding Senior award, having been nominated by faculty, staff, and student organization presidents and then narrowed by a committee that considers academics, campus involvement, leadership, awards, community service, and volunteer work. 

The tradition dates back more than 60 years; the two winning students will be announced at the PSU Leadership Awards on April 14 and will be recognized with plaques installed in the Senior Walk in front of Russ Hall. 

“The involvement and the contributions that each of the nominees has made to the university community is amazing,” said Steve Erwin, vice president for Student Life. 

The finalists are: 

Tatum Ahring

Tatum Ahring, a Communication major from Kincaid, Kansas  

Tatum works as a Fellow for President Shipp, is Vice President of Lambda Pi Eta Nu, an Advancement Ambassador, and serves on the committee for Students for Violent Protection. She’s earned All A Scholastic Honors, scholarships, and has contributed a great deal of community service including participating in The Big Event, GorillaFest, Family Day, and Big Brothers-Big Sisters. She works in the Office of Career Development, at Brick + Mortar, and in the President’s Office. 

Rebecca Brown

Rebecca Brown, a Nursing major from Joplin, Missouri  

Rebecca has served in a number of leadership roles in Panhellenic; Alpha Sigma Alpha; the Autism Support Group; her nursing class; and in Student Government Association. She‘s been an Advancement Ambassador, and a general member of Kansas Association of Nursing Students, Be the Match, and Women in STEM. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor society, Order of Omega Greek honor society, National Society of Leadership and Success, and Phi Eta Sigma, and has received honors such as Homecoming Queen 2021 and Golden Gorilla. 

Taylor Brynds

Taylor Brynds, a Psychology & Management major from Cherokee, Kansas  

Taylor served as an officer and student leader of five campus organizations and is a founding member and officer of two student organizations: The Food Recovery Network and the Psychology and Counseling Society. Taylor also served as president of the Honors College Association, was a Top 12 Homecoming Royalty candidate, a Kelce Business Scholar, worked on-campus in the Psychology Department as an office assistant in the Center for Reading, and participated in community service efforts such as the Big Event, the Lord's Diner, and Fostering Connections. 

Cale Chapman

Cale Chapman, a Communication & Sustainability major from Mission, Kansas  

Cale has been a leader in numerous on-campus organizations including Gorilla Activities Board, Lambda Pi Eta Honors Society, Lambda Chi Alpha, and as a Gorilla Gateway PEERS Mentor and University Ambassador. He's been honored as a Golden Gorilla, 2022 Homecoming Royalty, 2021 Outstanding Fraternity Man of the Year, 2020 Fraternity Emerging Leader of the Year, and 2020 Aspiring Leader on Campus. He works on campus as a lab manager in the broadcast lab at Whitesitt Hall and is the weekend anchor and news producer at KOAM News. 

Audrey Hartwell

Audrey Hartwell, a Social Work & Modern Languages major from Overland Park, Kansas  

Audrey will be graduating with a degree in Social Work and a degree in Modern Languages with an emphasis in Spanish Language and Culture. She was a founder of the American Sign Language Club, is the secretary for the Lambda Sigma Honor Society, a Resident Assistant, and is a member of the Honors College. She has been active in the Wind Ensemble and Pitt State Theatre. In Fall 2022 she studied in Cusco, Peru, to complete her Spanish degree by immersing herself in the culture and taking classes taught in Spanish by Peruvian professors. She is completing her Social Work practicum at the Children's Advocacy Center. 

Marci Heatherly

Marci Heatherly, a secondary English Education major from Pittsburg

Marci has been an active member and leader in many organizations at Pitt State. She has studied abroad in Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and the Honors College, Advancement Ambassadors, English Club, Sigma Tau Delta, Lambda Sigma, Students for Violence Prevention, and was president of Gamma Alpha Lambda her junior year. She served as a Student Government Association representative, and earned numerous honors and scholarships including All A Scholastic Honors. Her community service ranged from volunteer work at Watered Gardens, Wesley House, and the Lord's Diner to organizing the SGA and GSA Community Trunk or Treat in 2021. She has been employed as a barista at Signet and Starbucks, as well as a student teacher. 

Aaron Higginbotham

Aaron Higginbotham, a Biology major from Pittsburg 

Aaron has led many community service projects through the Honors College Association, Natural Ties, and Lambda Sigma. He was awarded Biology Freshman of the Year and will be graduating with Level of Distinction from the Honors College Association, Departmental Honors from the Biology Department, and the anticipated recognition of Summa Cum Laude. Aaron worked alongside professors James McAfee and Virginia Rider as a lab assistant. He has attained the International Knowledge and Experience Certificate by being a Pitt Pal to a master's student from South Korea during his freshman year, taking Spanish courses which provided the opportunity to have conversation partners from Paraguay and Spain, and through his current study abroad experience in Salamanca, Spain. 

Ellen Lewis

Ellen Lewis, an Elementary Education K-6 from Overland Park, Kansas 

Ellen is a member of the Honors College. She won Alpha Sigma Alpha's Outstanding New Member award in 2020 and went on to earn the Alpha Sigma Alpha Junior with the Highest GPA award in 2021. She is a member of Phi Eta Sigma, Lambda Sigma, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Crimson Club, and the Council for Exceptional Children. In 2022, she was named a Golden Gorilla and made it to the Top 6 of Pittsburg State's Homecoming Court. As a student leader, she served as Ritual Chairman for Alpha Sigma Alpha in 2020 and earned her the Outstanding Officer Award in 2020. 

Bella LHeureux

Bella L’Heureux, a Biology major from Overland Park, Kansas 

Bella graduated in December 2022 in Biology with a Pre-Medical emphasis and a Public Health minor. Bella served in multiple leadership roles, including vice president of Student Government Association, founder and president of Women in STEM, vice president and secretary of Autism Support Group, vice president of Alpha Psi Omega, and secretary of Altruistic Alliance of University Women. She has been active in Pitt State Theatre, acting in Silent Skies and The Wolves. She served as a student representative through Advancement Ambassadors and Crimson Club, and served a medical mission abroad working as a Certified Nurse Aide in Uganda. 

Lauryn Macy

Lauryn Macy, a Nursing major from Diamond, Missouri 

Lauryn has served as a leader and active member in several student organizations, including president of Phi Eta Sigma, Lambda Sigma, National Society of Leadership and Success, vice president of Omicron Delta Kappa, Order of Omega, president of Sigma Sigma Sigma, president of Be the Match, part of University Ambassadors, Advancement Ambassadors, and more. She has dedicated service hours to the community through The Big Event and SEK Humane Society and was employed in the Student Legal Services as well as Student Success programs. 

Brooklyn Peterson

Brooklyn Peterson, a Communications major from Pittsburg

Brooklyn has been a part of numerous organizations including Alpha Sigma Alpha, the Panhellenic Council, a graphic designer for Gorilla Activities Board, a treasurer for Lambda Pi Eta Nu Eta, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Eta Sigma, the Student Government Association, and many more.  She has earned several scholarships and was runner-up for Homecoming Queen. She has served the community in the Back-to-School Drive for Olathe Public School Foundation, The Big Event, the Polar Plunge, and more. Brooklyn has worked for The Collegio, as lead graphic designer, webmaster, writer, and sales representative. 

Madison Reese

Madison Reese, a Biology major from Ozark, Missouri 

Madison has thrown javelin for the track and field team and is a member of Honors College. She's been active in numerous organizations including honor societies, the Pre-Med Club, Newman Club, and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She has been employed at the Student Rec Center and currently serves as a chemistry tutor. Madison also participates in undergraduate research on antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria in the household as part of the K-INBRE program and has done a variety of community service. Madison was a recipient of the Golden Gorilla Award in Spring 2022. 

Braden Shelton

Braden Shelton, a Biology & Chemistry major from Fort Scott, Kansas

Braden has been involved in numerous clubs and organizations including Honors College Association, Natural Ties, Omicron Delta Kappa, Pre-Med Club, Advancement Ambassadors, Phi Kappa Phi, and Phi Eta Sigma. He has held leadership positions such as Natural Ties President and Honors College Association Senior Class representative. Braden has been a part of various community service projects through his clubs and organizations and also outside of the university. He is on pace to graduate with a 4.0 GPA, level of distinction from the Honors College, and Academic Honors. He will attend the University of Kansas School of Medicine with plans to become a family practice physician. 

Jack Tenbrink

Jack Tenbrink, a Construction Management from Overland Park, Kansas  

Jack has been a leader in many student organizations, including serving on the Gorilla Activities Board, as an officer in the Associated General Contractors of Kansas Student Chapter and the Nation Hall Residence Hall Council, and in the Pitt State Knights of Columbus. He was chosen as a Golden Gorilla and in the Top 6 in Homecoming King candidates and earned All A Scholastic Honors. Jack helped with the Carver League Building renovation. He has accepted a job with McCownGordon Construction out of their Kansas City office as a field engineer. 

Paul Worsley

Paul Worsley, a Biology (Pre-Med) and History major from Pittsburg 

Paul has been active in Honors College as a Treasurer, Peer Mentor, and Events Team Leader. Paul is part of the Chemistry Club, Campus Christians, Care to Share, Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, Lambda Sigma Omega Honor Society, the Dean’s Academic Advisory Board, and the Presidential Fellows. He has received honors such as the Pitt State Organic Chemistry Award and Golden Gorilla Award and has been on the All A Scholastic Honors every semester. In 2022, he earned the K-INBRE Award of Excellence. Paul has had extensive volunteer work with the Blood Drive, Career Day, Natural Ties, his church’s youth group, and park clean-up.

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