Outstanding Student(s) of The Year

Each spring, SSS faculty review the roster of senior SSS participants to select one or two recipients of the TRiO/Student Support Services Outstanding Student(s) of the Year award.

Recipients of this award are those students who have taken full advantage of the TRiO program courses and services and meet the following criteria: GPA of 3.0 or greater; Participation in TRiO; TRiO advocacy; Campus association (involvement and participation in activities).

2011-2012 TRiO/SSS  Student of the Year

Marissa Stitt

Marissa Stitt came to BSU in the fall of 2008 intending to major in Criminal Justice.  She knew nothing about the TRiO program until she took the TRiO College Orientation class from Phil Dahl.  Marissa is a self-proclaimed planner and said the College Orientation class was awesome because it taught her how to use the course scheduling materials to plan what courses to take and when to take them to meet the requirements for both liberal education and for her major.

When Marissa took the TRiO Life Career Planning course she began to understand her values and interests more deeply and decided that majoring in criminal justice was not the right fit for her.  She discovered she wanted to work with people to help them move on from harmful events.  So she changed her major two times from criminal justice to health education and ultimately to psychology.

Marissa Stitt (fourth from left) with Sarah Young, Crystal Cleven, Kelli Steggall, and Sharon Gritzmacher.
Marissa Stitt (fourth from left) with Sarah Young, Crystal Cleven, Kelli Steggall, and Sharon Gritzmacher.

 Marissa’s four years have been incredibly productive.  Not only will she graduate this May with a very high GPA, but she has also been involved in a variety of campus activities – often in leadership positions.  She has served on Lifestyle Educators for two years (president her sophomore year), the President’s Student Commission her sophomore year, on the SAFAC committee for three years (president her senior year), and on Phoenix for three years (secretary her junior year and president and treasurer her senior year).

She has also held several on-campus jobs including working in interlibrary loan, in the health education office through the student center for health and counseling, in the TRiO/SSS/UB office, and as a Psychology TA for the Lifespan Development course.  Her high academic standing and campus involvement have earned her several awards while at BSU including the BSU leadership award all four years and the Dyrhaug Scholarship in 2011-2012 awarded to an outstanding student majoring in psychology.

Marissa credits participating in the TRiO/SSS program with helping her get her bearings and create a plan to graduate in four years.  She is extremely grateful to Phil Dahl who encouraged her not to panic every time she changed her major by reassuring her she was headed in the right direction.  Marissa continues to head in the right direction toward her goals.  She is entering graduate school this coming fall at Minnesota State University, Mankato to pursue a Master’s of Science degree in mental health counseling.

Marissa’s experience of using what she learned in her TRiO classes to her help make decisions about her future and then set a course to reach her goals in a timely manner is a wonderful example for other TRiO participants.  We are honored to name her as the TRiO/SSS student of the year.  Congratulations Marissa!

2010-2011 TRiO/SSS  Students of the Year

Brittany Glass

Brittany Glass came to BSU from Big Lake, MN in the Fall of 2007. She identified herself as an undecided major and ended up taking all of our TRiO/SSS classes.  While in the Life Career Planning course and trying to determine her career direction, she wrote a paragraph about “Why she was in College – and specifically attending BSU.”  The following is an excerpt from her paragraph.

“The reason why I am in college is to better my life. My brother and I are first generation college students. I want my life to be the best it can be. I want to be completely successful and I want to know at the end of my life that I did everything that I could to make my life better.”

She is now graduating this Spring with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and an excellent cumulative GPA. She works in the Admissions Office and has been assisting with the registration of new incoming freshman at AARs.  Brittany is pursuing a one year position with AmeriCorps which will place her with a non-profit organization in St. Paul.

We are confident that the BSU degree Brittany is receiving will help her achieve the better life she dreamed of as a freshman!

Jordan Spychalla

Jordan Spychalla entered BSU in the fall of 2008 as a TRIO/SSS student and hit the ground running. His grades were exceptional his entire time at BSU, and he will graduate magna cum laude (cumulative GPA: 3.97) with a BS in Mass Communication in May of 2011.

While at BSU he has been a part of the FYRE program, both as a student and as a Peer Academic Assistant during his sophomore and junior years. He also served on the Maple Hall Council and as a student senator. During this, his senior year, he has served as co-president of the BSU Student Senate.

His level of academic achievement and his commitment to Bemidji State University make him truly deserving of the TRIO/SSS Student of the Year award.

2009-2010 TRiO/SSS  Students of the Year

Donna Majava

Donna Majava is a non-traditional student who has been in our program since the fall of 2006. During her freshman year she completed both TRiO/SSS College Orientation and Reading and Study Skills. Throughout her time at BSU she has been a highly dedicated, determined, and successful student majoring in sociology and minoring in psychology. This has resulted in her earning the designation of cum laude graduate with a cumulative GPA of 3.64.

In addition to achieving a high GPA, she has volunteered her time as a tutor in a local school district, tutored for the Disabilities Office and has been involved in a number of student presentations. Her most recent presentation, which she made at BSU’s Student Achievement Day, was on “Influenza Pandemic: Expectations of Emergency Management Response Plans for Household Preparedness in Four Selected Minnesota Counties.”  In addition to her many accomplishments, Donna has been accepted to the Master of Science Counseling/Psychology Program at BSU and will begin classes in the fall!

She is an example of our best marketing tool for TRiO – a successful student that makes sure others know about the services!  Congratulations Donna.

Jordan Moss

Jordan Moss began as a freshman at BSU in the fall of 2005. During his first semester, he took two classes offered by TRiO/SSS: College Orientation and Reading and Study Skills, and became a familiar face around the TRiO department.

His accomplishments include being named to the Dean’s List every semester, serving on the “Who’s Who” and Leadership Awards Committees, and serving on the Orientation Committee. In 2009, he received the Robert Kramer Scholarship, a scholarship awarded to the outstanding student in Aquatic Biology. Finally, he has served as the President of the BSU Ducks Unlimited fundraiser the past three years.

In addition to Jordan’s school and volunteer activities, he has been employed by the Hobson Union since starting at BSU beginning as a Building Assistant and working his way up to Lead Student Manager. He also coached girls and boys basketball for Bemidji Community Education and completed two summer internships with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Once Jordan completes his student teaching at Crosby/Ironton School District, he will have earned two Bachelors of Science Degrees: one in Aquatic Biology and the other in Science Education. He will also have earned a Coaching Specialist.

Jordan has accomplished all of this while earning a 3.46 GPA! Congratulations Jordan – we know that you will do great in your future endeavors!

2008-2009 TRiO/SSS  Students of the Year

Sandra Hamilton

Sandra Hamilton started at BSU in the fall of 2005 with the idea of becoming a teacher. She became a familiar face within the TRiO/SSS program, taking all of the courses offered by TRiO during her freshman year.

Sandra has been employed throughout her college career while maintaining a full course load and a GPA of 3.13.  She is currently completing her student teaching, and her recommendation from her supervising teacher is exemplary.

Congratulations, Sandra, on your accomplishments. We know you have a bright future educating our youth!

Lia Pirro

Lia Pirro has been a valued member of the TRiO/SSS Program since her first semester at Bemidji State University.

Lia has offered her leadership and communication skills to TRiO by working as a Teacher Assistant for the TRiO/SSS College Orientation and Life Career Planning courses. Lia was also called on to mentor students. Once again, she stepped forward and gave 110%. Lia has also served as an Orientation Leader for Academic Advising and Registration Days and has worked with TRiO advisors. Her contributions to our program are priceless.

Congratulations, Lia!