Tag Archives: Outstanding Student

Robert Bresin, Fall 2017 College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Student

Robert Bresin
Robert Bresin

A Maplewood resident has been selected a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Robert Bresin, who graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science degree, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Liberal Arts. He was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

Almost four years ago, Bresin was working as a certified veterinary technician. He decided it was time for a change, and made a calculated move toward furthering his education.

“I love just having class one night a week, it really made working a lot easier,” Bresin said.

He decided he would attend Metropolitan State University, based on its flexible class schedules, which would allow him to continue working full-time. He pursued a bachelor’s degree in social sciences, two classes at a time and progressed toward his degree.

Now, four years later, Bresin looks back on his college experience. “For me, graduation means that I can finally change careers and try to find something where I can continue to learn while finding meaningful work in the community,” Bresin said. Heartened by his accomplishment, he notes, “my family expected me to have a bachelor’s degree ten years ago.”

With his degree in hand, Bresin looks to the future. “I’m going to look for a job in advocacy, social services or public policy.  I need a year or two off from school, but then I plan to pursue a master’s degree, likely for [Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership] MAPL or public policy.”

Bresin hopes to spend more time reading, playing tennis, and just being outside. He will continue work as a veterinary technician while he seeks a new position in his field of study.

Beldonna Chakoutahi, Fall 2017 College of Individualized Studies Outstanding Student

Beldonna Chakoutahi
Beldonna Chakoutahi

A Saint Louis Park resident has been selected as a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Beldonna Chakoutahi, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Individualized Studies. She was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

Chakoutahi and her wife, Shadi, live in Saint Louis Park with their four “fur babies,” a Boston terrier (Audrey), Italian greyhound (Enzo), short-hair kitty (Oscar), and long-hair kitty (Mona).

Regarding her future plans, Chakoutahi said, “I would love to get my master’s in Urban Education. Eventually I would like to teach or become a counselor in my old high school South High in Minneapolis.”

Chakoutahi completed her associate’s degree in Occupational Studies (Alcohol and Drug Counseling) with honor roll recognition from International Career Development Center in 2013 before joining Metropolitan State University. She is currently a driver for Lyft.

At Metropolitan State, Chakoutahi was a member of Lavender Bridge and vice president of Voices of Indian Council for Educational Success (VOICES).  She is an active member of the Minnesota chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Academic advisor and community faculty member, Stanley Hatcher, said, “When she [Chakoutahi] first came to Metropolitan State she was an undecided student. She started out taking Metro 101. And based her previous experience in the workforce and all the classes offered at Metro, I was able to convince her to take Individualized Studies. Her focus was in Addiction and Community Counseling. Watching her grow as a student, she has done a remarkable job academically and in the community helping people with addiction.”

Yingfah Thao, Fall 2017 College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Student

A first-generation Minneapolis resident has been selected as a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Yingfah Thao, who graduated with a Master of Science in Technical Communication, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Liberal Arts. She was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercise on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

About her accomplishment and the hard work it took to achieve it, Thao said, “My parents came to the United States as refugees of the Vietnam War in 1976. Like many Hmong families, they preached that ‘education and hard work’ was the only way out of poverty and that marriage and children can wait. As my parents have gotten older, a lot of my energy is dedicated towards managing their healthcare needs while finishing graduate school, working a full-time job and carving out my space in the world. I know I’m not alone. Many of my fellow graduate classmates are like me—balancing work, life and family expectations—and it’s emotionally stressful.”

Prior to joining Metropolitan State, Thao earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with a minor in Ethnic Studies from Mankato State University in 2005. Along with her master’s degree, Thao also earned a certification in User Experience Design from Metropolitan State University.

Thao, who has worked in non-profit organizations and higher education for the majority of her career, currently works as a communications and web manager. She said what she enjoys most about her work is helping create access and opportunity to higher education for everyone from the unique perspective of a user experience designer.

“A lot of people in the design community are working on something that benefits the world and I want to be a part of that in any way that I can,” she says.

She also enjoys exploring Minneapolis on her bike, participating in local community engagement events, and roller-skating.

Professor Tori Sadler from School of Communication, Writing and Arts said, “What impresses me most about Yingfah is that she is an active, not passive, learner. That is, she doesn’t just absorb new learning; she “pokes” at the information, asks lots of questions, and comes up with her own applications of the information. That to me is the hallmark of an excellent graduate student: she can take the new information and shape it into something meaningful for her, and then she shares it with others. Yingfah shares her learning with her colleagues at work and with professionals in her field as she improves processes, procedures, and usefulness of the communications she creates and disseminates.”

LaToya Burrell, Fall 2017 College of Management Outstanding Student

Latoya Burrell
Latoya Burrell

A Minneapolis resident has been selected as a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

LaToya Burrell, who graduated with a Master of Business Administration degree, was selected as an outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Management. She was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

Already an accomplished attorney and a teacher, Burrell wanted more and decided to further her education. “My program took me two years, I attended on a part-time basis, and I could continue to work full-time.”

Burrell appreciated “the diversity of the program, overall.” She enjoyed the opportunity to work with experienced and practicing law professionals, as well as students seeking their undergraduate degrees. “The diversity in nationalities and in people’s background made the experience that much more valuable for me.”

Practicing and teaching law, going to school, and maintaining a family can be a lot to juggle. “The idea of being able to balance time, and being able to give 100 percent to the program, yet not neglect my family or my career in the process.” Burrell says that earning her Master of Business Administration isn’t the end, but rather the start of something bigger.

For Burrell, it’s important that her young son sees his mother in her cap and gown, and walk across the stage on graduation day. “I want him to equate that toward graduation, and start to inspire him towards that.” Her husband, also an attorney, championed the decision to continue her education.

Burrell, armed with her master’s degree, looks forward to spending time with her family and her friends, while looking to the future.

Susan Vold, Fall 2017 College of Nursing and Health Sciences Outstanding Student

A Bloomington resident has been selected as a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Susan Vold, who graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Vold was also featured as the President’s Outstanding Student Speaker for the Fall 2017 commencement ceremony. She was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

Prior to joining Metropolitan State University, Vold earned an associate’s degree in nursing from Century College in 2007. She is currently working as a Movement Disorder Nurse Care Coordinator and Deep Brain Stimulation Program Manager at University of Minnesota’s Neurology Clinic.

Vold also specializes in Parkinson’s disease and is very active in Parkinson’s disease fundraising events. She has facilitated various Parkinson’s support groups.

Vold has received numerous performance awards: Medical Ethics Student of the Year, Biology Student of the Year, Nursing Student of the Year, and ‘Fire Starter’ award. She was the commencement speaker for the nursing class of 2007 at Century College. She was also selected as the first chairperson for the Ambulatory Nursing Council at University of Minnesota Physicians (UMP).

In addition to her continued work at UMP, Vold may pursue a certification in holistic energy modality.

Vold said, “My future plans include expanding my role at UMP, public speaking and teaching, learning more about leadership, becoming more involved in the Parkinson’s disease community and neuromodulation, getting back to oil painting, and learning how to tango, salsa, swing and ballroom dance!”

Dionne Trice, Fall 2017 College of Community Studies and Public Affairs Outstanding Student

Dionne Trice
Dionne Trice

A Minneapolis resident has been selected a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Dionne Trice, Minneapolis, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, was chosen Outstanding Student in the university’s College of Community Studies and Public Affairs. She was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

After decades of passionate service as a supervisor for the women’s support group at the Oasis of Love Center in North Minneapolis, Trice set her sights on furthering her education. “My theme was I was going to hit the ground running, and run straight through here,” she said.

Two and half years of school later, Trice reached the end of her bachelorette journey and found that she  learned a lot about herself during the experience. “I appreciated the ‘difficult’ professor. It challenged me to take in the information, and really think about what I was working towards.” Trice recalls her most difficult class, Research Methods, as the class that ultimately garnered her Outstanding Student honor.

A mother and grandmother, Trice returned to school in the wake of tragedy. Losing her eldest son was a major turning point. “Trying to re-ground yourself, and relate with the rest of the world again… It was reaffirming to see the other side of something I’ve been doing whole life, counseling other people, when it was time to seek it for ourselves.” It would inspire Trice to do more.

With her husband in the hospital, and her daughter and grandkids at her home, Trice needed a quiet space to think. She found school to be an escape. “I was trying to do homework at the hospital; I was trying to sleep at the hospital, then I’d go to work… Being able to be at school and studying was a relief.”

Trice now plans to get a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. A self-proclaimed “nerd,” Trice is an avid dancer and reader of Deadpool comics, with a collection of 1,200 or so comics. “People are going to think I just like the movie, but I’ve been a huge Deadpool fan for years,” Trice says. She can also be found playing the videogame, Assassin’s Creed, with her grandson.

Metropolitan State University, a member of Minnesota State, is the Twin Cities’ public, urban, comprehensive state university providing lifelong learning and competitive academic and professional degree programs at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels.

Daniel Silva, Fall 2017 College of Sciences Outstanding Student

Daniel Silva
Daniel Silva

A Saint Paul resident has been selected as a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Daniel Silva, who graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Sciences. He was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

Silva plans to continue developing his skills at his current job at prnLink, an insurance consulting company. In the near future, Silva also plans to pursue a master’s degree in Applied Statistics from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

While at Metropolitan State, Silva received a master tutor certification from CRLA (College Reading & Learning Association) and worked as a tutor at the Center for Academic Excellence.

Silva was active in student life. He was a member of Friends of Erdős (Mathematical Society of Minneapolis/Saint Paul).

For his outstanding work as a student at Metropolitan State, Silva received numerous scholarships: University Academic Achievement Scholarship, Metropolitan State University Student Scholarship, and Educational Empowerment Scholarship.  Silva’s academic honors include being on the Dean’s List.

Associate Professor Wei Wei in the Mathematics department said about Daniel, “He is the most hard-working student that I have ever seen in my nine years of teaching at different institutions. Daniel got a GPA of 3.89 with straight As in all of his statistics courses.

In an independent study that he did with one of the math faculty, he spent hundreds of hours researching the materials for a graduate-level topic. The end product was almost a 100-page manuscript. He presented this paper at the Friends of Erdos Mathematical Society of Minneapolis/St. Paul in 2017.”

The associate director at the Center of Academic Excellence, Christopher West, said, “Daniel is a true student and sponsor for STEM literacy at Metropolitan State University.”

Kunchok Sangpo, Fall 2017 College of Management Outstanding Student

Kunchok Sangpo
Kunchok Sangpo

A Golden Valley resident from Tibet has been selected as a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Kunchok Sangpo, who graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Management Accounting program. He was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

“In the journey of my life I have worked so hard to reach at the position where I am today. I have always kept my aspiration high and never backed out from learning more. Educating myself with new knowledge was my passion beside my hobbies of outdoors,” Sangpo says.

Sangpo is originally from Tibet. Before transferring to Metropolitan State, Sangpo graduated from Delhi University, in India, with a bachelor’s degree in commerce. He is the first member of his family to go to college. “I am very grateful to Metropolitan State University for accepting my application and transferring many credits from Delhi University,” he says.

Sangpo is also an active member of Regional Tibetan Youth Congress in Minnesota, serving as a board member and the general secretary. In Delhi, Sangpo was president of the Tibetan Student Council and volunteered as a coordinator for Students for Free Tibet.

Currently working as an accountant at Visual Impact LLC, Sangpo plans to complete the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification after graduation. “At this stage I think I have built a solid foundation of my profession with the help of school’s learning and organizations and workplace experiences. Since learning never ends, I am looking forward to earning the certified public accountant license. Preparing for CPA exams will be my first step after school.”

Lisa DeCory, Fall 2017 School of Urban Education Outstanding Student

Lisa DeCory
Lisa DeCory

A Saint Paul resident has been selected as a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Lisa DeCory, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the university’s School of Urban Education. She was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

DeCory is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. She grew up in the Twin Cities area and currently lives in Saint Paul’s East Side with her four adopted children.

“For the past 13 years I have worked with the homeless population in the Twin Cities. The majority of this work has been with youth. As I move forward with my professional goals, I hope to be in a classroom teaching and working with urban children. I would love to pursue a master’s degree in the future and continue my learning so that I can serve my community.”

DeCory is a group residential housing case manager at Higher Ground in Saint Paul, where she works with chronically homeless single adults to secure them housing within the complex, and provides intensive case management for the people moving into housing.

She is also a volunteer at the American Indian Magnet School and a member of the Parent Teacher Organization there.

DeCory was awarded the Minnesota Indian Post-Secondary Student of the Year in 2017.

Professor Bruce Drewlow from School of Urban Education said, “Lisa is also a single adoptive mom to four children. In the past, she has also fostered nine children. She is very involved in traditional ceremonies. Her home is a place open for others to come and pray. She has also organized drum and dance presentations for people outside the community as a way to educate people about her community. She has also put on a community clothing and item exchange where people bring their used items and exchange them with other families. Lisa has tutored for Indian Education and worked for years during the summer at an Indian Youth Enrichment Program. She has also worked for years doing Indian youth leadership camps out at Wilder Forest.

Lisa has also been homeless herself during part of the time she has been a student in the School of Urban Education. That did not slow her down. She continued on pace to graduate with a 3.47 GPA. She is indeed a role model for other students in our program, to her community but also to all of us who teach in the School of Urban Education.”

Nikitha Kommera, Fall 2017 College of Sciences Outstanding Student

Nikitha Kommera
Nikitha Kommera

A Saint Paul resident has been selected a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Nikitha Kommera, who graduated with a Master of Computer Science degree, was selected as an outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Sciences. She was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

After completing her undergrad from a top university in Telangana, India, Kommera decided she would pursue a master’s degree in information technology in the United States. Finding a potential National Science Foundation research opportunity in cybersecurity at Metropolitan State sealed the deal for her.

She transferred from the University of Michigan to Metropolitan State in spring 2016. She started as a graduate research assistant under Dr. Faisal Kaleem. She drew on technical skills that she had learned as far back as high school, and went to work.

“I was inspired by Dr. Faisal to pursue a career in the field of cybersecurity,” she said.

Her first months of research came with challenges. “I was neither aware of the cybersecurity nor the project. But it is because of Dr. Faisal’s trust in my capabilities he gave me a chance to get onboard.” Kommera pushed through the difficulties for two years, balancing school and research. She also worked full-time to guarantee her project deadlines were met.

Kommera is a first-generation college graduate in her family. “My parents are extremely happy and proud of my achievements. They always dreamt of making my dreams come true and wanted me to succeed the way I want to succeed in life. I’m happy I made them proud.” Her parents attended her graduation ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017.

With a recent move to Chicago, Kommera seeks opportunities to serve and protect the community from cybercrime. “I want to continue a lifelong journey towards making a significant contribution in the field of cybersecurity.” When she’s not busting cyber-criminals, Kommera can be found at the gym, spending time with her family, or relaxing with a book.