CSM Newsroom

CSM Professors Celebrate Exceptional Students at Academic Excellence Award Reception

May 9, 2024

Exceptional students from the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) gathered with their mentors, family and friends at the La Plata Campus May 8 to celebrate their outstanding academic achievements.

The students honored followed a wide range of paths to their CSM success – from a mother of five who squeezed her online classes in around her job in St. Mary’s County Public Schools; to an international student from Mexico City in the midst of a career change; to a dual enrolled high school student with a gift for creative writing and a dream of becoming a lawyer. All of the award winners shared the motivation to achieve academic excellence at the highest levels.

“I know the sacrifices that you have made to get to this point, and tonight we are here to tell you, your hard work paid off,” said CSM President Dr. Yolanda Wilson in her opening remarks. “I want you to enjoy every minute of this reception and to take great pride in the very personal path you took to get here. By earning an Academic Excellence recognition, you have not only represented yourself and your amazing talents, and gifts and hard, hard work; you have also represented your family or those in your support system who are at your tables with you. You now also represent CSM and we know you are going to continue to do great things.”

Interim Vice President for the Division of Learning Dr. Jacquelyn Madry-Taylor followed Wilson to offer her own words of wisdom for the students.

“Everyone who does this, does it through sacrifice,” she said. “We all celebrate you and take pride in your accomplishments. This is just the beginning for you, as CSM has prepared you to do even more. Know that the possibilities for you are endless and we expect great things from you.”

The keynote speaker for the event was Megan Roberts, the recipient of CSM's 2023 Adjunct Faculty Excellence Award.  

“I challenge you to continue striving for excellence, to never settle for mediocrity, and to always pursue your passions with unwavering determination,” she said. “Your potential is limitless, and the world eagerly awaits the contributions that you will make.”

Following Roberts’s remarks, Shaneeza Kazim was named as the 2024 recipient of the Faculty Excellence award by Faculty Excellence Committee Chair Dr. Melanie Osterhouse, earning a standing ovation from her fellow faculty members in attendance.

“The Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award ... is based on the significance and impact of the nominee’s classroom teaching, institutional responsibilities, curriculum development, professional development, and community commitment,” explained Osterhouse.

Kazim specializes in early childhood development and in her classroom, she is known for modeling inclusivity, sharing her passion for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) with students. Kazim is part of the college’s DEIB leadership team and has co-chaired and coordinated projects and committees that advance DEIB principles and help equip CSM students for success.

CSM Associate Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Dr. Stephen Johnson was the master of ceremonies for the divisional awards. Students were awarded by faculty members, who focused on the relationships the students had built in their time at CSM: their long discussions with professors, their ‘quiet leadership’ of their classmates, and their role as a ‘compass’ in the classroom that professors could look to in order to help guide their teaching. The faculty members expressed their excitement and ongoing support for the students as they continue along their paths.

A full list of students earning academic achievement awards is below.

School of Liberal Arts

Outstanding Achievement in History: Rylee E. Josephs   

Outstanding Achievement in Teacher Education: Abigail Gray

Outstanding Achievement Early Childhood Development: Allaina M. Myers  

Outstanding Achievement in the Social Sciences: Kira M. Van Vliet

Outstanding Art Student of the Year: Gabrielle A. Benton

Distinguished Honors in Music: Abigail T. McDanal

John Lamiman Award for Excellence in Academic Writing: Lily Bennear

Wayne Karlin Award for Excellence in Creative Writing: Emily R. Quade

Distinguished Honors in Communication: Dashawn N. Rustin and Anthea Phillips

Thomas V. Mike Miller Center for Leadership Award:

Chloe E. Caufield

Kaylee Cordova

Oumar Diallo

Jackie Hills

Kaylee M. Howe

Markala J. Pharr

Troy D. Rose

Dashawn N. Rustin


School of Professional and Technical Studies

George Flynn Memorial Accounting Award: Peter C. Steelman

Business Administration Academic Excellence Award: Madison B. McClure

Business Management Academic Excellence Award: Beverly A. Dahlstrom

Outstanding Information Services Technology Student: Robert J. Deckelmann

Outstanding Cloud & Information Technology Student: Josh Hedgeman, Jr.

Outstanding Computer Science Student: Marco Allan Decesaris

Outstanding Cybersecurity Student: Robert Lee Katzberg, III

Ed Shauf Award for Outstanding Criminal Justice Student: Megan E. Knott

Outstanding Mathematics Student: Thanya Gonzalez Vudo

Outstanding Mathematics Student: Donald L. Wengerd, III

Outstanding Progress in Mathematics: Michael D. Douglas

Outstanding Engineering Student: James O. Wilkinson


School of Science and Health

Academic Achievement in Nursing: Lora F. Ayikoe

Achievement in Nursing: Ashleigh F. Brown

Outstanding Physical Therapist Assistant Graduate: Kaitlin R. Glenn

Outstanding Health Information Management Graduate: Rainey D. Johnson  

Outstanding Medical Laboratory Technology Graduate: Kaitlyn M. Pumphrey

Outstanding Exercise and Sports Science Student: Tarryn Naomi Thomas

Outstanding Sports Management Student: John Lehman

Outstanding Achievement in Biology: Emily R. Smetana

Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry: Donald L. Wengerd, III

Outstanding Physics Student: Nicole L. Carron

Outstanding Environmental Science Student: Aubrey Zeltwanger

To view photos of the event and download your free copy, visit https://csmphoto.zenfolio.com/p285384130.

CMS Page Edit