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An Early Spark — First-Year Programs Honors Outstanding Freshmen

University 101 Instructors Nominate Students Who Share Thoughts and Insights, Ask Relevant Questions, Use Campus Resources and Encourage Peers

By Gavin Colton
NKU Marketing + Communications intern

The Office of First-Year Programs honored 36 Outstanding Freshmen on March 16 at the annual Celebration of the First-Year Experience in the James C. and Rachel M. Votruba Student Union ballroom.

Amazing faculty and teaching assistants were also honored at the celebration.

Jeanne Pettit

The Outstanding Freshmen were nominated by their University 101 instructors.

“Outstanding freshmen are students who demonstrate the attitudes and behaviors necessary to be successful in college,” says Jeanne Pettit, the director of First-Year Programs.

“These are students who come to class prepared and engage in the classroom experience; students who share their thoughts and insights with the class and ask relevant questions; students who use their campus resources and encourage their peers.”

The University 101 program for first-time freshmen was founded in 1986 and has helped thousands of NKU students make the right connections on campus.

A Look At University 101 Experiences

Brian Murray Found His Passion in College of Informatics

Photo by Gavin Colton for NKU

Broadcast journalism was always just a hobby for Brian Murray, who always thought he would go into theater.

Brian attended the Journalism in the Digital Age summer workshop twice—first as a junior at Villa Madonna Academy and then again as a mentor during the summer before his senior year at NKU. He had an interest in videography but didn’t know much about it—or what he wanted to do with his future. As a high school student, the camp sparked his interest, but his heart was still set on theater.

It naturally followed that Brian began his studies at NKU as a theater major. But when he starting taking electronic media and broadcasting classes during his second semester, he realized that, as much as he liked being in front of the camera, he enjoyed playing a behind-the-scenes role even more. Having gained experience through the journalism camp, Brian was able to hit the ground running in the EMB program.  

“I don’t think I would have been so fast to switch my major had I not joined the camp,” Brian says. “The camp gave me the roots I needed to be an EMB major and put me on the right path. It hits all the right notes and sets a precedent for what you’ll be doing in broadcast journalism.”

Since then, Brian has made countless videos for offices and departments on campus and plans to start his own production company with a few friends after he graduates next week.

“The camp not only gave me the skills I could use to help me in my major, but it gave me contacts within the University,” Brian says. “Without the camp, I would have lost that sense of direction. I think it really opened a whole new avenue of opportunity for me.”

Tiana Nwaisser

Passion for Learning
and an Opportunity
to Connect with Others
Close to Home at NKU
for Tiana Nwaisser

For Tiana, the decision to attend NKU was an easy one. NKU was close to home in Walton, Ky. which allowed her to stay connected with her family.

But while she may not live on campus, Tiana has taken every opportunity to become involved in University activities. When she’s not studying or working out at the Rec Center, Tiana tutors local children and family friends in Walton as well as her fellow peers at NKU.

“I don’t have a lot of time on my hands, but when I do I like to help the youth and I love to tutor because I love learning and teaching,” Tiana says.

One of the first things she noticed at NKU was the personal nature of her professors. She attributes much of her success to the encouragement of her professors and mentors.

“They all actually cared about their students and I think personally I have done well so far with the help of my professors,” Tiana says.

Tiana hopes to go the Chase College of Law once she completes her undergraduate degree.

Though she is unsure what field of law she would like to pursue, she’s sure about wanting to help underprivileged people in any way that she can.

“Tiana is an exceptional student,” says Tiana’s University 101 professor, Travis Hall. “She was a driving force in the classroom, leading discussion and using her life experiences to help her fellow students relate to the material.”

Marcus "Tommy" Mansu Lends a Helping Hand

Tommy Mansu

Though currently undeclared, Marcus “Tommy” Mansu hopes to eventually become an art teacher and particularly focus on less-fortunate students.

In his first year at NKU, Tommy has volunteered at a food pantry, preparing food for the homeless community. He encourages other students to extend a helping hand as often as they can while in college.

He is a member of Next Generation Artists and has relished the responsibility of being in a group of like-minded people.

“The responsibility has had a positive effect on my personality. I have matured over the last year. NKU has really brought me out of my shell. I’m starting to understand who I am and where I want to be in life.”

His advice to other NKU students? “Determination is key to anything in life. To those who say you cannot do something, prove them wrong! Reach goals, accomplish things that you think you would never accomplish, and just keep on pushing.”

“Tommy is a hard-working, dedicated and determined student,” says Joel Robinson, Tommy’s University 101 professor and mentor. “Throughout the semester, he demonstrated an inquisitive mind and distinguished himself as a classroom leader. Tommy approached challenges with a positive attitude, which was respected and appreciated by his classmates. His work ethic, willingness to share his thoughts and ideas and his strong bond with his peers are the qualities that make him an outstanding freshmen.

Mai-Lin Maney Finds Her Place on Campus

Mai-Lin Danielle Maney Photo by Gavin Colton for NKU

Mai-Lin chose NKU because it was close to home yet offered an opportunity to branch out and become involved in a metropolitan college environment.

“NKU is a great place. And it’s a very open, beautiful campus, and every one is very friendly. If someone is ever lost there are many people happy to help you,” Mai-Lin says.

The Burlington, Ky. local played basketball through high school and contributes her leadership on campus to the lessons she learned through the sport. Being part of a team has also made her more aware and mindful of those around her she says.

Though many professors and friends have helped Mai-Lin settle into her first year at NKU, she is thankful for her advisors’ help.

“My advisers have helped calm my nerves this year,” Mai-Lin says.

In the future, Mai-Lin hopes to get into the radio industry.

 “Mai-lin Maney made the most of every opportunity that was presented in the class and encouraged others to do the same,” says Tracy Hart, Mai-lin’s University 101 professor. “She went out of her way to connect with classmates and the teaching assistant. She will definitely be successful here at NKU.“

James Lowell Harrington IV Found Home Away From Home at NKU

James Lowell Harrington IV

As a member of the NKU Pep Band James Lowell Harrington IV has become a familiar face at home basketball games, playing the flute.

The Cincinnati native was originally attracted to NKU for its acclaimed anthropology department, though today James says that he’s unearthed a more fundamental reason to pursue his studies on this side of the river.

“To me, NKU means family,” James says. “Ever since I arrived at NKU I’ve felt like I am part of one big family.”

Living on campus has allowed James to meet new people and become more independent. In addition to playing in the Pep Band, he is also a member of the Freshmen Service Leadership Committee and worked with Habitat for Humanity to help construct houses for those who are less fortunate. He’s delighted that NKU gives him an opportunity to help people and have a positive impact on the community.

One day, James hopes to become an anthropologist.

“James was a delight to have in class,” says Danielle Cirelli, James’s University 101 professor. “He quickly distinguished himself as a dedicated student who put forth exemplary effort on every assignment.  James’s diligence, positive attitude, and openness to learning were key in his success. I am truly excited to see the heights James will reach during his time at NKU and beyond.”

The 2016 Outstanding Freshmen and Nominating Faculty

Hector Anaya
Nominated by Tracy Hart

Adam Barbro
Nominated by Tracy Hart

Adam Beiting
Nominated by Tracy Hart

Sam Beiting
Nominated by Brandelyn Tosolt

Tiffany Bizeau
Nominated by Ryan Padgett

Brent Booth
Nominated by Caroline Braden

Spencer Bultman
Nominated by Jeremy Chipman

Brittany Carter
Nominated by Shawn Clark

Sarai Dean
Nominated by Pamela Wagar

Cayla Destefani
Nominated by Tom Ramstetter

Brooke Dougherty
Nominated by Jim Kaufman

Amanda Franklin
Nominated by Pamela Wagar

Dylan Gebhart
Nominated by Debra Lusczynski-Tarka

James Harrington
Nominated by Danielle Cirelli

Sarah Hoderlein
Nominated by Peg Adams

Kirsten Huff
Nominated by Amy Danzo

Charla Jamison
Nominated by Lynn Warner

Jacob Knueven
Nominated by Lenore Kinne

Lauren Kouns
Nominated by L. Sue Murphy Angel

Jimmy Lyons
Nominated by Karen Chinetti

Mai-Lin Maney
Nominated by Tracy Hart

Katie Mann
Nominated by Mike Irvin

Keshila Mann
Nominated by Collette Thompson

Alison Mann
Nominated by Dannie Moore

Tommy Mansu
Nominated by Joel Robinson

Deja Metcalf-Davidson
Nominated by Tracy Stokes

Tiana Nwaisser
Nominated by Travis Hall

Dejah Rawlings
Nominated by Erika Jay

Arah Samuels
Nominated by Ryan Padgett

Molly Sexton
Nominated by Jessica Rhodes

Tyler Smith
Nominated by Monica Gray

Chantelle Thompson
Nominated by Jeff Varrone

Tabby Watts
Nominated by Jeff Iker

Nate Weyman
Nominated by Tracy Hart

Darion Williams
Nominated by Andy Espelage

Caroline Winstel
Nominated by Rees Storm