Student Excellence Awards 2017

Genasee Bass Genasee Bass. While achieving high academic success during her pre-nursing classes and in the difficult nursing curriculum, Genasee has dedicated herself to the study of nursing practice on the Lewistown campus. She has also encouraged fellow students to participate in activities in the community and has offered both time and money to support those activities. Though being located at a physical distance from Havre, she creates extracurricular activities that help students feel a part of campus life. She is "innately supportive to anyone in need, compassionate, logical and reasonable." Genasee volunteers for Make-A-Wish foundation and National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). The last two years she has participated in a local community program for elementary-age children providing mentoring and support. She sewed more than 40 blankets for residents at a long-term facility. After graduation, Genasee plans to move to Billings to work as a Registered Nurse

Gabriel A. BenavidezGabriel A. Benavidez. Gabriel graduated Woodlake Union High School in 2013 and began his collegiate career at Merced College where he was a member of the football team and was team captain. Upon completing his work at Merced, Gabriel came to Northern to continue his football career and was a member of the 2015-16 Lights football team. He was selected Academic All-Conference during that season. Gabriel decided to end his football career so he could focus more of his energy to other pursuits. He served the University as Resident Assistant (2015-2017), Academic Tutor for the Learning Success Center (2016-2017), President of the Healthy Lifestyles Advocates (HLA) club (2015-17), Member of the Northern Student Wellness Committee (2017), and represented Northern for the Hill County DUI Task Force (2016). He also represented MSUN at the BACHUUS Initiatives Conference this year. Gabriel will graduate with departmental distinction and with Latin Academic Honors in May. After graduation from Northern, Gabriel will attend Baylor University where he has earned a research assistantship in the department of Public Health. He will be part of a team of students who will provide nutritional education to minority and low-income families who live close to the Mexican border. Funding for this project is provided by the USDA. With long term, professional goals as a researcher, Gabe plans to pursue a Ph.D. in public health with plans to contribute to the knowledge base to help underserved populations and communities that lack access to health care service.

Thomas Cooper Thomas Cooper. Thomas (Tommy) graduated from Laurel High School in 2012 and came to MSU-Northern to study Civil Engineering Technology and to wrestle for the Lights. He has wrestled for Northern from 2012-2017. He is a two-time Academic All-American wrestler (2016 and 2017), qualified for the NAIA National Tournament, and served as team mentor for 2015-2016 and 2016 and 2017. During his junior year, Tommy had a season ending injury that required surgery-he still made it to practice every day to support his teammates. Tommy has been on the Dean's List for ten semesters at Northern. In addition to his athletic and academic success, Tommy has volunteered for a number of organizations and events while at Northern. His volunteer work has included: Secretary of the MSU-N CET Club, helping the Havre Wrestling Club at practice, refereeing tournaments and other related activities, surveying the Havre Trails property to help with future renovation, with other wrestling team members, setting up the Lion's Club tent for the Pheasants Forever fundraiser (2-12-2017), volunteering for the Pheasants Forever trap shoot fundraiser (2012-2017), volunteering at the Chinese Auction for the NLASF fundraiser (2012-2017) and the Spring Fling fundraiser for the NLASF (2012-2017.) After graduation Tommy plans to work for Anvil Engineering in Billings.

Courtney CotaCourtney Cota. Courtney came to Northern upon her graduation from Roundup High School in 2014. She has been deeply involved with student life, volunteering widely to make our campus a better place and she is an original member of the MSUN Cross Country team. She is a key member of the campus Sustainability Team and she volunteers her time with the monthly Recycle Hi-Line community drives. In addition, Courtney has been a valuable volunteer for the Multicultural Center and the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Programs. Among her contributions are playing music for the 2015 St. Patrick's Irish American Heritage Celebration and the 2016 MSUN Festival of Nations. She painted the mural that was the centerpiece of the Multicultural Center's Homecoming float and is the featured Artist of the Month for March, 2017 at the Multicultural Center gallery. She has been described as a "dedicated ally for the rights of the LGBTQ individuals on our campus. In addition, Courtney has served the MSU-Northern Community as a Peer Educator for Healthy Lifestyles Advocates-specifically encouraging peers to quit using tobacco, as a member of the MSUN Community Involvement Association-donating time at local soup kitchens and can drives, and as a member of the MSUN Financial Literacy Committee. Courtney is a member of the Business Professionals of America club and has done graphic design work for many campus organizations and events. Upon graduation, Courtney plans to move to Barstow, California, pursue a career in virtual graphic design, travel, run, and build a tiny house on wheels.

Natalee Faupel.Natalee Faupel. Natalee graduated from Butte High School in 2013. She provided consistent and strong leadership for the Skylights basketball team for four years. She was captain of the team her senior year, NAIA All-Conference (2013-2017), NAIA All-American (2016-2017), Frontier Conference Player of the Year (2016), Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) First Team All-American (2016-2017), MSUN Female Athlete of the Year (2016), and during her final season as a Skylight, was named Captain of the team. This year Natalee became Northern's All-Time Leading Scorer, surpassing the record that had been held for 25 years. While achieving a high level of success on the court, Natalee was also excelling in the classroom. She has been on the Dean's Honor Role throughout her academic career, was named NAIA Academic All-Conference (2013-2015) and NAIA Academic All-American (2015-2017). Natalee has also been active in countless community-based service projects. During her senior year alone, she has participated in more than twelve (12) community-based service projects. Natalee has majored in Health Promotion and minored in Business. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school to pursue a Master's degree in Sports Management.

Joshua GomezJoshua Gomez. As one of our many "non-traditional students", Joshua graduated from Rock Springs High School-a number of years ago, (1999). He served as active duty in the Army for 14 years, where he was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. For the last 3 ½ years, he has served with the Montana Army National Guard as a member of the Joint Force Headquarters Montana. He is a Sergeant First Class in the Guard. Joshua is an active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW Post 497) and holds the position of Chaplain of that organization. He organized and conducted the first ever Hi-Line Veteran Stand-down. Joshua is very busy serving his University, his community and his church. He works full-time for the University in the IT Department while taking a full load pf classes. He serves on the Rape Prevention and Education Task Force and the Veteran's Charge Group. Serving in the community is important to Joshua. He serves as a member of the Lay Ministry for the First Lutheran Church and has used his knitting talents to knit hats, gloves, and scarves to donate to the Feed My Sheep soup kitchen as part of the "Hats Off for Havre" drive (which he initiated). So far, over 100 hats have been donated. Joshua graduated Magna Cum Laude (with departmental distinction) with an Associate in Business Technology from Northern in May, 2015, earning Dean's List recognition for four consecutive semesters. Joshua was recently recognized by Montana State University president, Cruzado as "Pure Gold" for "exhibiting an ability to inspire others, enhance the strengths of the university and enhance Montana State's remarkable spirit." Joshua will graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in Business and a minor in Accounting. After graduation, Joshua plans to continue his education by working toward a Master of Divinity degree at Wartburg Seminary and continue his work on campus and in the community for the support of veteran issues and services.

Jessica HoelJessica Hoel. Jessica graduated from Polson High School in 2014 and came to Northern to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice, with a minor in Health Promotion. While at Northern she has served as a Resident Assistant for two years, an ASMSUN Senator for two years, student assistant with the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Programs for 2 ½ years and assistant for Intramural Sports. In each of these positions Jessica has been recognized as one who not only performs her responsibilities in an exemplary fashion, but routinely seeks out ways to be more effective and helpful in each role. She has routinely volunteered her time for numerous campus events including: cleaning the gym at 3:00 a.m. the morning after the 2015 Pow Wow and volunteering with the 2016 Festival of Nations. She has manifested her concern for her fellow students and the University through her work as an RA and service as Senator, representing student interests and concerns to the administration. In addition to her work in the classroom and volunteer activity at Northern, Jessica serves as a Specialist in the Army National Guard. "She always-without exception, goes above and beyond. She is always willing not only to help with the office work, but also to help any student who needs assistance using D2L or other similar challenges." After graduation, Jessica plans to work with adolescents within the Juvenile Justice System.

Chelsea MavencampChelsea Mavencamp. Chelsea graduated from Saco High School in 2013 and came to Northern to pursue a degree in Biology, with a minor in Applied Agriculture. During her four years at Northern, Chelsea has held numerous volunteer and leadership roles including: Resident Assistant (2 years), Enactus-including one year as president, one year as vice president, and one year as secretary, and Business Professionals of America (BPA), president (3 semesters). In 2016, she earned a number of National BPA Post-Secondary Awards, most notably, Video Production Team (4th place nationally). Chelsea also volunteered with the Learning Success Center, creating posters of the student tutors and represented the University in a MSUN recruiting video and served as a Hands-on-History volunteer. She has tutored Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Fuels and Lubricants in the Learning Success Center. She also worked with Northern Sustainability and has been a dedicated member of the Postsecondary Agriculture Students (PAS) Club at MSUN. She, along with five other students represented Montana and MSUN at the PAS National Conference in St. Louis, Missouri in 2016. A top performing student, Chelsea "is never late with required work, early for every class meeting, and doesn't hesitate to ask questions about that which she doesn't understand. She represents the exceptional academic students we have at MSU Northern. She interacts professionally with her instructors and never hesitates to help other students in their understanding of course materials." She has been recognized on the Dean's List throughout her tenure at Northern. Chelsea was Project Author of a Research Project that explored the use of silver sagebrush as a feed amendment for chickens and how this feed affects protein content of breast tissue which was presented at a National Meeting, the Botanical Society of America in Savanah, Georgia. After graduation Chelsea plans to attend veterinary school and become a doctor of veterinary medicine and then serve the needs of the rural community by returning to the region to practice. She has been accepted to veterinary programs at Washington and Colorado State Universities.

Tayla SnappTayla Snapp. Tayla graduated from Denton High School in 2013 and came to Northern to pursue a degree in Business Administration, with a minor in Applied Agriculture, Marketing, and Small Business Management. Tayla has made many and varied contributions to the Northern community. She has been a member of Northern Collegiate Stockgrowers for four years, serving as secretary for three years; a Northern Student Ambassador for three years, serving as secretary for one year and as president for two; Business Manager (3 years) for the Associated Students of Montana State University-Northern (ASMSUN); lead a successful on-campus food drive (3 years); Homecoming Queen her junior year and earned the Volunteer of the Game Award in her sophomore year. Throughout her Northern Career, Tayla was on the Dean's List each semester. After graduation, Tayla plans to continue employment as District Administrator at Waddell & Reed in Havre through the summer and then pursue a career in agribusiness.

Brandy TannahillBrandy Tannahill. Brandy graduated from Troy High School in Fullerton, California in 2005 and came to Northern via work in Lewistown, Montana. Her interest in agriculture brought her to Northern. While at Northern, Brandy has been a member of the Postsecondary Agriculture Students (PAS) Club and has attended the national PAS Conference leadership and agricultural knowledge events. She recently volunteered to read agricultural books to first graders at Highland Park School. Brandy spends significant time programming and otherwise helping with KNMC, Northern's radio station. Brandy has a strong interest in entomology and has prepared and delivered excellent research presentations at major entomological and pest control conferences. In the summer of 2015 she designed and conducted a field research trial with her future Co-Op employer, Research Designed for Agriculture, on systemic insecticide efficacy on wheat stem sawfly in spring wheat. In April of 2016, she presented the results of that research at the Entomological Society of America's (ESA's) Pacific Branch Conference. Brandy made a presentation titled, "Working with Millennials in Agricultural Contract Research Organizations: during the 2016 National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants national conference to promote synergy between generations in the ag industry. She presented on the same topic at the North Central Weed Science Society conference in Des Moines, Iowa. Upon graduation from Northern, Brandy plans to return to California to be close to her family and new spouse. She will work in agriculture in Orange County. She is interested in consulting for citrus and strawberry producers in California to help them deal with impending ag science concerns such as the establishment of Asian citrus psyllid, which vectors citrus greening disease.

Jaime ToscanoJaime Toscano. Jaime graduated from Baldwin Park High School in 2011 and attended Citrus College where he earned an Associate degree in psychology. He transferred to MSU-Northern in the fall semester of 2015 and majored in Business Administration and minored in Accounting. He has been a scholar-athlete at Northern, playing football for two seasons. In addition to his involvement with football, Jaime worked in the university library and where he quickly earned a reputation as a hard worker, respectful person and a good writer and thinker. He is known as a creative and gifted storyteller. Jaime participated in the MSU-N Spanish Speaking Group, volunteered for the Boys and Girls Club of the Hi-Line in Havre, assisted staff members to prepare for the annual Festival of the Trees fundraising event. After graduation Jaime plans to get some work experience before going to graduate school to study Business Finance.