Simpson University Honors Students During Virtual Awards Chapel

REDDING, Calif.—Simpson University honored students, faculty and staff for academic achievements and outstanding contributions to the community in an end-of-the-year awards chapel service.

With the campus closed due to the coronavirus shutdown, the Academic Office gathered videos from faculty and staff announcing the award winners and compiled them into an hourlong presentation that premiered on Facebook during chapel hour on April 29. Watchers offered congratulatory comments in “real time” to the honorees.

Screen Shot 2020-04-30 at 2.41.24 PMDr. Dale Simmons, provost, directed his opening remarks to students, referencing quotes from philosopher and essayist Henry David Thoreau and the movie, “Dead Poets Society.”

“Whether by vision or by virus, your life is going to go through a number of radical twists and turns, and therefore it behooves you to take this foundational educational experience very seriously,” he said. “I urge you to do this not just to enhance the quantity of your career options but also to enrich the quality of your life itself.”

He concluded: “Let us seize the day, or at least the next hour, to suck the marrow out of life by celebrating all of your wonderful achievements.”

During the ceremony, professors, staff and administrators presented the following awards to students:

Stanley Clark Research Awards: Colleen House, Best Graduate Paper and Best Graduate Poster; Haley Muri, Best Graduate Presentation; Connor Rowe, Best Undergraduate Paper; Baylee Wiechecki, Jessilyn Ellenson, Brooke Larson, and Alexis Thompson, Best Undergraduate Poster; Isabel Harris, Rebecca Carmona, Claire Cozby, Tayler Lennier, and Jonathan Liu, Best Undergraduate Presentation

Faculty Scholarship Award: Eva Palacios

Outstanding Music Student of the Year: Mackenzie Alldrin and Jordan Palmer

Outstanding Cross-Cultural Studies Major: Isabel Harris

Business Student of the Year: Jonathan Carter

Outstanding English Major: Jacelyn Wedman

Zondervan Biblical Languages Award: Shawna Lyter

Psychology Student of the Year: Patience Wallace

Communication Student of the Year: Jacelyn Wedman

Biology Student of the Year: Erika Thompson

Phi Alpha Theta Honors: Paul Bigelow, Josh Ladner, John Sturges, and Madison Whitmer

History & Political Science Department Outstanding Research Award: Mariah Moss

History & Political Science Department Outstanding Student Award: Paul Bigelow

Liberal Studies Outstanding Student Award: Sandy Lule

Liberal Studies Overcoming Challenges (Dolores Huerta) Courage Award: Bigane Perez

Nursing Honor Society inductees: Brooke Ele, Rebecca Cessna, Autumn McCuller, Abigail Melo, Annalise Buletti, Cierra Jewett, Anthony Garaventa, Jennifer Douglas, Chelsea Swetka, Amber Mulieri, Rachelle Edwards, Sarah Sullivan

Nursing Core Values Awards: Rizia Swedbergh and Abigail Melo (Community); Rebecca Cessna (Excellence); Samantha Plotkin (Accountability); Connie Hanson (Integrity); Anthony Garaventa (Service)

Red Hawk Awards: Marianne Soria (volleyball) and Collin Bovee (baseball)

Female and Male Athletes of the Year: Mia Olvera (softball) and Tom Higdon (swimming)

Student Life Award: Naomi Hollgarth

Rotary Honor to Youth Award: Isabel Harris

President’s Cup Award: Bryce Perez

The following faculty and staff were also recognized:

Professor of the Year: Dr. Tim Orr

Student Development Professional of the Year: Julie Engelsman

ASBSU Appreciation Award: Brooks Duggan

In addition, students graduating with honors and distinction in the traditional undergraduate and degree-completion programs were recognized.


Graduating with honor (cum laude) – cumulative GPA 3.5 – 3.9:
Meangeldil Azuma Malsol
Blanca Casamort Vila
Katelynn Deville
Halle Piper
Cierra Jewett
Daniel Oberg

Graduating with high honor (magna cum laude) – cumulative GPA 3.6 – 3.85: Charisma Anderson
Annalise Buletti
Benjamin Burkwhat
Franchesca Carrera
Rebecca Cessna
Jennifer Eblen
Brooke Ele
Autumn McCuller
Abigail Melo
Alexis Thompson
Patience Wallace
Maddison Whitmer
Baylee Wiechecki

Graduating with highest honor (summa cum laude) – cumulative GPA 3.85 – 4.00:
Mackenzie Alldrin
Paul Bigelow
Adam Dinius
Crista Gibeson
Nathan Granger
Katherine Hollingsworth
Brijesh Joshi
Jordan Palmer
Jonathan Liu
Silas LaGroue
Sandy Lule
Shawna Lyter
Nicole Masciola
Mariah Moss
Jake Riley
William Schumacher
John Sturges
Erika Thompson
Jacelyn Wedman


Graduating with Distinction – cumulative GPA of 3.8 and above
Marisa Andrews
Linda Clares
Stacy Demoss
Gina Heckinger
Barbara Niles
Ashley Peluso
Jenn Scala
Erika Twitchell

Graduating with Highest Honor – top 20% and members of the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honors Society:
Carrie Arthur
Sasha Greenberg
Alyssa Kersten
Jamie King
Jamie Kostrab
Kaitlyn Maddox
Zeva Knuckles
Johanna Nordlund-Snider
Heather Sheltman


Simpson University, a Christian university founded in 1921, moved to Redding 30 years ago and will celebrate its centennial in 2021. In addition to offering 25 majors in its traditional undergraduate program, the university has graduated more than 4,000 North State adults from its ASPIRE degree-completion program, and nearly 3,000 from its School of Education. It has a No. 7-ranked School of Nursing, a seminary, and master’s programs in counseling psychology and organizational leadership. Simpson University is listed in U.S. News and World Report’s Top 100 Regional Universities West and recognized nationally by Colleges of Distinction. The university is launching new programs in digital media, computer information systems, and engineering, and recently added athletics programs in track and field, swimming and diving, women’s wrestling, and men’s volleyball, as well as a bass fishing team. The university is also working to better serve transfer students from community colleges through its commitment to Associate Degree for Transfer agreements. Learn more about Simpson University at Follow university news at