Category Archives: Academics

Cynthia Yoder of Saint Paul named Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minnesota—A Saint Paul resident was selected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Cynthia Yoder, graduated summa cum laude with two bachelor’s degrees in biology and environmental science, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Science. She was one of 1,058 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Her initial goal at Metropolitan State was nothing more than to earn average grade marks, “C’s get degrees. I really just wanted to get my degree and find any job that would pay the bills, Yoder said. But after getting her start, she decided to strive more in academics.

“Once here, and after meeting teachers who became my mentors, I found that I wanted more than the bare minimum, my goal then became to do well, and push myself, and find a job that I would like to go to each day,” Yoder says.

Her most challenging experience as she worked towards her degree was to balance school, work, family, and friends. “My own spouse doesn’t get to see me as often as she’d like, but understands how much time and effort schooling takes. Her support has been what’s helped me to overcome every challenge I’ve faced,” she said.

Yoder is from Akron, Ohio, and graduated from Kenmore High School there in 2010. She lives in Saint Paul with her wife, Adrian, their two roommates, and their two cats, tarantula, and darkling beetle colony. She enjoys writing as a hobby and especially horror, fantasy and science fiction. She also likes to hunt, prepare, and collect fossils, mostly from the formations of Chadron and Hell Creek, from ranchland in South Dakota.

Yoder is currently tutors science for the Center of Academic Excellence at Metropolitan State. After graduating, she hopes to find similar jobs as a science tutor, work in a laboratory settings, or as a researcher, and is considering graduate school options. Her primary reasons for choosing Metropolitan are cost, location, and size. Yoder had previously attended a larger college as a PSEO student, but enrolled in Minneapolis Community and Technical College when she moved to Minnesota. She liked and wanted to stay with smaller classes that had more instructor interaction and a community-based learning environment.

Yoder praises Metropolitan State professors and in particular, Dr. Cynthia Harley, who she says was a great mentor who helped her toward graduating and helping decide her career path.

“The entire biology department is amazing, and without them I don’t think I’d have gotten this far, or done so well,” Yoder says.

Of her student, Dr. Harley, an assistant professor in the Department of Natural Sciences, says, “Cynthia represents the best of us. She stands out as a scholar in her classes and tutors others. While taking 18 credits this semester, including research in two labs and a graduate-level course, she still finds time for helping others. She has given so much to Metropolitan State and I view this award as a ‘thank you, for all of that.’”

Christopher Sugden selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minn.—A Saint Paul resident wasselected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Christopher Sugden
Christopher Sugden, College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Student Spring 2018

Christopher Sugden graduated with a bachelor’s degree and was chosen as an outstanding graduate student representing the university’s College of Liberal Arts in History. He was one of 1,058 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises on April 28, 2018 in at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

“I chose Metropolitan State because I needed a school that would allow me to get a degree while I worked full-time,” Sugden said. “My goal was to earn a bachelors degree; something that would allow me to leave the world of call center work and allow me to find a career that was fulfilling and stimulating.”

Sugden is employed at Great Lakes Higher Education, where he works with schools and borrowers. He volunteers for the Great Lakes Gives foundation and participates in the Great Lakes Pen Pal Program, in which he corresponds with a 4th grader at a low-income school. Sugden also serves as a Parent Advisory Board member at his daughter’s school.

After graduation, Sugden plans to begin graduate school at Hamline University to obtain a Minnesota teaching license for secondary social studies education, grades 5-12 and for his master of arts in teaching.

In a nomination, Sugden was praised for his presence and active participation in the classroom. “He is an enthusiastic and reliable student in classes and raises the level of class discussions, thus improving the learning experience for everyone in the room… Chris has the ability to think about and integrate knowledge from a multitude of sources and experiences.”

Jessica Stewart selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minnesota—An Andover resident has been selected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Jessica Stewart
Jessica Stewart, College of Nursing and Health Sciences Outstanding Student Spring 2018

Jessica Stewart graduates cum laude with a Doctorate of Nursing Practice-Family Nurse Practitioner and is chosen Outstanding Student representing the university’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences. She is one of 1,058 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises on April 28, 2018 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

At Metropolitan State University, Stewart was awarded the Minnesota Nurse Practitioners Annual Scholarship in 2017 for her capstone work and future plans for dissemination of her research. She was also awarded the Lukaszewski Family Professional Development fund from Metropolitan State in 2018 to again help further disseminate project findings on a larger scale. She is also one of three students who were selected by the dean to present her findings at the Midwest Nursing Research Society annual conference in Cleveland, Ohio earlier this month.

Stewart is a single mother of three daughters, the youngest of which she gave birth to in her second year of graduate school. In addition to being a full-time parent Stewart worked close to full-time as a nurse at Allina Health, even as she attended graduate school full-time.

“Everything I do is for those girls, and I work very hard every day trying to provide them with the best life possible,” Stewart said. “I make it a priority to be a part of every important event in my children’s life as best I can, even amongst the chaos. It has been the most rewarding and challenging experience to accomplish all that I have set forth and be so close to achieve a degree at the highest level of nursing.”

Stewart is also active in International Association of Forensic Nursing and Minnesota Chapter (IAFN), Midwest Nursing Research Society (MNRS), and Minnesota Nurse Practitioners (MNNP).

Stewart truly has a passion for nursing and caring for others in their most dire moments and has already built a reputation in her field. Her capstone project developed a protocol for Allina Health to use with domestic violence victims. She was asked to speak about this at the IAFN in Reno, Nevada. She plans to submit her work to the Journal of Emergency Nursing for publication.

“Jessica is one of the most motivated, driven, dedicated doctoral students I have had a privilege to be a faculty chair. She is a leader in her field of healthcare and doctoral education for nurse practitioners,” said the faculty member who nominated Stewart Dr. Kerry Johnson, professor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “She is an outstanding student in all of the areas of her life, work, studies, and family.”

Tess Spence-Sing selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minn.—A Minneapolis resident was selected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Tess Spence-Sing
Tess Spence-Sing, College of Community Studies and Public Affairs Outstanding Student Spring 2018

Tess Spence-Sing graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree psychology was chosen Outstanding Student representing the university’s College of Community Studies and Public Affairs. She was one of 1,058 students received bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 103rd commencement exercises on April 28, 2018, at the Minneapolis Convention Center .

“I chose Metropolitan State University because it was affordable and because it allowed me to easily transfer and continue my four-year psychology degree,” Spence-Sing said. “I wanted to complete my bachelor’s degree in psychology and start getting prepared for graduate school.”

Spence-Sing is recognized on the Dean’s List and has applied to the Psi Chi International Honor Society. She conducted and prepared research to present at the Midwestern Psychological Association ‘s annual conference this month in Chicago. She is now planning to pursue a master’s degree.

An accomplished world traveler, Spence-Sing and her husband, Szymon, have visited New Orleans, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Poland, Croatia, and Italy—all in the four years since moving to the United States.

Advisor Dr. Glen Spielman of the university Psychology Department commented that Spence-Sing’s work is “the level of work I’d expect from a graduate student with substantially more training and clinical experience than you’ve had at this point.”

Rodrigo J. Sanchez of Saint Paul selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minnesota—A Saint Paul resident was selected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Rodrigo J. Sanchez
Rodrigo J. Sanchez, School of Urban Education Outstanding Student Spring 2018

Rodrigo J. Sanchez, who graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree, was chosen as an Outstanding Student represented the university’s School of Urban Education. He was one of 1,058 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

From the outset at Metropolitan State, Sanchez wanted to become an educator. He feared not being able to fit in, not only as a student but as a schoolteacher and in the classroom. “I feared that I wasn’t built for this but I worked hard each and every day to become a better person, to become a better teacher. I also don’t take all the credit because my professors reassured me and supported me every single time, they always had something positive to say and helped me boost my confidence.”

“I heard great things from people and friends about the Urban Education program,” he says. “I had that goal set for a while but I knew Metropolitan State would help me achieve that goal.” He appreciated the real-world experiences his professors brought to courses, and practical exercises such as using classroom scenarios of real-world problems to teach preparation and lesson planning. Following graduation and as he pursues his teaching career, he plans to enroll in a master’s program at Metropolitan State.

Sanchez is a Special Education Paraprofessional and currently works at Academia Cesar Chavez charter school, where he also has coached both the boys and girls basketball teams. He is also active with his church, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Bruce Drewlow, a professor in the School of Urban Education, says, “Rodrigo Sanchez epitomizes what it means to be an urban educator. He is a strong advocate for the diverse students we find within our urban classrooms working on behalf of the under-served students. Rodrigo is able to see the assets that each student brings into our classrooms and builds upon those assets. Rodrigo wrote and illustrated a children’s book for his Language Arts methods course which clearly displayed his passion. There are not enough adjectives to describe this individual although ‘impressive’ encapsulates many of them. This is a well-deserved award.”

In her nomination of Sanchez, Dr. Yvonne RB-Banks, School of Urban Education, wrote, “What an outstanding gem—Mr. Sanchez is well prepared to bring leadership to his future classroom—as he has demonstrated the innate ability to be inclusive, as well as, the ability to use specific techniques in assessment to bring about the best learning outcomes for a diverse body of students— “impressive” is often the word I would give as feedback on his academic work. He is well deserving of this academic acknowledgement.”

Taskin Haque selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minn.—A Minneapolis resident has been selected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Taskin Haque
Taskin Haque, College of Management Outstanding Student Spring 2018

Taskin Haque, who previously earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Dhaka in her home country of Bangladesh and graduated with a Master of Management Information Systems, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the Metropolitan State University’s College of Management’s graduate program. She was one of 1,058 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises on April 28, 2018 in Saint Paul.

“As an international student, blending in with the new culture was my biggest fear. Also, being one of the youngest people with the least experience in the class was challenging for me at the beginning,” Haque said. “I would like to thank my professors, classmates and colleagues at the Center for Online Learning for always being there for me and always helping me at their best capacity. The culture of Metropolitan State taught me to embrace the new while keeping my own values.”

Haque began working as an associate technical support analyst for Medtronic in January 2018. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, who is a PhD student at University of Minnesota. She plans to pursue a PhD after working in her field for a few years.

At Metropolitan State, Haque was active in student life. She participated in a number of cultural groups and is a cultural program coordinator for University of Minnesota’s Bangladeshi Student Association. She performs as a singer and dancer in the association’s annual program.

Haque is also active off campus, and has volunteered for Friends for Non-Violent Worlds since Fall 2017. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the world and trying new recipes with her husband. She recently purchased her first pair of ice skates with plans to learn. Haque and her father also share a love for music and enjoy singing together. Her mother has always been her biggest fan and ready to support her to “win the world” at any time.

Haque set her eyes on outstanding student recognition and finishing her master’s degree with a 4.0 grade point average, both of which she has achieved. More than anything, she actively sought to learn as much as possible from her classes and explored different facets of information technology through her assistantship with the Center for Online Learning. She previously earned her undergraduate degree from one of the most prestigious business schools in Bangladesh.

“I clearly remember the day I first heard about this award from my pervious academic advisor, Dr. David Bouchard. It was my graduate school orientation day. Growing up as a girl in a underdeveloped country, appraisal and recognition have been always a big part in my life. It motivates me to set my goal and work above and beyond,” Haque said. “I set up my grad school goal that I want to one of the recipients and work towards that. I am extremely grateful to my honorable faculty members, advisors, my colleagues and supervisor at Center For Online learning for encouraging and supporting me all the time.

“Being nominated for outstanding student award and also winning gives me the motivation to work harder for my future endeavors. Also, it means a lot to me to make my parents proud by winning this award. The award given to me to live my dream and receiving the award in the presence of my parents is the dream I was living for.”

Raelene Caswell selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minn.—A Saint Paul resident has been selected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Raelene Caswell graduated summa cum laude with a master’s degree in advocacy and political leadership was chosen Outstanding Graduate Student representing the university’s College of Community Studies and Public Affairs. She was one of 1,058 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises on April 28, 2018, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

“I chose Metropolitan State so that I could be enroll in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership program,” Caswell said. “My goal was to learn about policy and advocacy work, and connect with amazing people that are active in their communities.”

At Metropolitan State, Caswell was active in student life. She was the president of Metropolitan State’s Advocacy and Political Leadership student organizations where she built a network of like-minded community-oriented scholars.

Caswell is also active in her community, playing with the Roseville Community Band and dance with Rince na Chroi. She’s also played with the Center for Irish Music.

Caswell holds a bachelor’s degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. She is a program manager at SafeJourney, a domestic violence program at North Memorial Health in Minneapolis.

“She has helped to revitalize APLS, bringing in new leadership and raising the prominence of the group in our program… She has always been an active volunteer helping out with human needs, said Caswell’s advisor, Adrienne Falcon, MAPL academic director.

Genevieve Calvillo of Prior Lake selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minnesota—A Prior Lake resident has been selected a spring semester Outstanding Graduate Student at Metropolitan State University.

Genevieve D. Calvillo
Genevieve Calvillo, College of Individualized Studies Outstanding Student 2018

Genevieve Calvillo graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree and was chosen Outstanding Graduate Student representing the university’s College of Individualized Studies. She was one of 1,058 students received bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

“I was drawn to Metropolitan State University after earning my associate’s degree at Normandale Community College because of the way the university supports adult learners, like me,” Calvillo says. “Also, Metropolitan State has a diverse population of students coming from many cultural backgrounds, which is very important to me. My goal was to explore various courses in order to discover my vocational path by coupling my personal interests with my potential career opportunities.”

Calvillo, a student in the College of Individualized Studies, was amazed by the program’s resource and opportunity for students to incorporate their experience, knowledge and skills with creative learning. In her experience, the required courses to develop her degree as well as reflect upon her academic career were thought provoking and meaningful.

“I am grateful for the manner in which my advisor and professors left no stone uncovered when it came to putting my degree together and in providing me ample opportunities to understand the process of creating and earning a degree tailored made to fit my needs,” Calvillo says. She appreciates how Metropolitan State validates and encourages its multicultural students by authentically supporting and creating awareness of cultural knowledge and traditions represented in its diverse student body.

Calvillo is active in community service, primarily in her tribal community of sovereign people and government. As a general council member, she works with elected tribal leaders to support the community well-being. Calvillo has worked numerous roles a volunteer for nearly 16 years, with her most recent service Saint Gertrude’s Health and Rehabilitation Center in Shakopee where she spent time with the elderly.

Calvillo is now considering graduate school, starting as early as this summer, so that she can serve others as an educated person and global citizen. “It is my belief that it is important to give back to society after

earning a degree,” she said. “I appreciate the time, attention, and care that my professors, and especially my advisor, Judith Minning, took to support me as I strove to reach my goals and dreams.”

In praise of Calvillo, Judith A. Minning, academic advisor for the College of Individualized Studies, says “Genevieve inspires. Her character, inquiring mind, devotion to her Dakota cultural roots and community, and passion for the well-being of others continue to have a transformative effect. Her vision is the beauty of hope for humanity and healing. Her graduate studies will be in counseling and integrative medicine. The very essence of her life has been dedicated to family, learning, and community development. I know she will continue to build circles of trust that create places of grace.”

Stacy Buschmann-Ford selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minnesota—A Farmington resident has been selected as a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Stacy Buschmann-Ford
Stacy Buschmann-Ford, College of Nursing and Health Sciences Outstanding Student Spring 2018

Stacy Buschmann-Ford, graduates summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science, is chosen Outstanding Student representing the university’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences. She is one of 1,058 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises on April 28, 2018 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

“It was such an honor,” Buschmann-Ford said. “I have been putting my heart and soul into my studies and am so happy to be graduating as an Outstanding Student and a four-year registered nurse.” She graduates from Metropolitan State with a 4.0 grade point average and on her on her first attempt passed the National Council Licensure Examination, the required exam to become a registered nurse.

Buschmann-Ford is a staff sergeant in the Minnesota National Guard with 21 years of service and an emergency medical technician. She and her husband, Mark, have three children together ages 11, 15, and 20 years old.

In the first semester upon her return to university, Buschmann-Ford’s daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor. “Her amazing strength and will to get it out and move on got me through four years of college. She is my strength and will and she was my inspiration and drive to get through college.” Her daughter is now studying to become an echo cardiography nurse after experiencing firsthand the difference medical professionals make.

At Metropolitan State, Buschmann-Ford was active in student life. She assisted Dr. Pat Schoon and Dakota County Public Health Services in gathering information about dentists in the Dakota County area that accept families on medical assistants and distributed resources to acquire dental services.

In her community, Buschmann-Ford volunteers with her family at Feed My Starving Children and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and donates money and gifts to families in need at Christmas.

Kossi Ayigah selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minnesota—A Brooklyn Park resident was selected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Kossi Ayigah
Kossi Ayigah, College of Management Outstanding Student Spring 2018

Kossi Ayigah, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, was chosen Outstanding Student representing the university’s College of Management. He was one of 1,058 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises on April 28, 2018 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. He has also been chosen to speak to the graduating class at commencement.

“I am overwhelmed to be selected as the commencement speaker and so is my family. It is a dream coming true for me,” says Ayigah of his selection. “I was diligently working toward my bachelor’s degree, thriving for excellence, giving the best of myself… I truly don’t have words to express how I feel.”

At Metropolitan State, Ayigah was active in student life and served as the student president for the College of Management. In his community, Ayigah is involved in his church’s activities, sharing his passion for gospel music and playing the bass guitar.

Ayigah is currently working as a staff auditor at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. After graduation, he intends to take the Certified Public Accounting exam through Becker CPA and pursue a master’s degree in business communication. His career aspiration is to become an auditor at International Monetary Funds or Federal Reserve. He also enjoys public speaking, particularly to present new research.

“Kossi not only eagerly seeks understanding of accounting matters but also, challenges himself to create new knowledge,” says nominator Linda McCann, professor of accounting in the College of Management. “He demonstrated this ability in audit class where he created a textbook worthy visual representation synthesizing concepts related to key internal control activities. It was a pleasure to have him as a student.”