ReconnectDonate NowLogin

Northwestern 2018 Outstanding Seniors, other awards announced


ALVA, Okla. (April 25, 2018)Twelve Northwestern students will be recognized as Outstanding Seniors at this year’s Spring Alumni Reunion Awards Ceremony, Saturday, April 28, at 5:15 p.m. in the Northwestern Student Center Ranger Room.


A committee selected Betty Naa Awula Abbey, Biraj Aryal, Rachel Carter, Blake DeMond, Audrey Estes, Megan Garnett, David Gutierrez, Dana Kausek, Erin Norrie, Jean De Dieu Nshimiyimana, Osamu Sakamoto and Trista Watson.

This award honors outstanding graduating seniors and is sponsored by the Northwestern Foundation & Alumni Association. Recipients must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5, have completed at least 60 credit hours at Northwestern, never been subject to academic or disciplinary action, be involved in campus and/or community activities and show promise future achievement.


Outstanding Seniors:


Betty Naa Awula Abbey, an international student from Ghana, is a senior biology major and chemistry minor. Abbey earned her certificate in phlebotomy at the Autry Technology Center (Enid, Okla.) in August 

2016. For three years, Abbey has been on the Northwestern President’s Honor Roll and the Vice-President’s Honor Roll, and was the recipient of the Fen-Brown Memorial Scholarship. Abbey has been the president of the Red and Black Scroll Honor Society and the secretary of the International Student Association while also being an active member in the Medical Students Association, Baptist Student Union, Northwestern Food Committee and Northwestern choir. She also finds the time to tutor for the Northwestern Academic Success Center, and is a student assistant for the Northwestern library and Northwestern News. Abbey has shadowed an Alva, Okla., dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Pierce, extensively and has aspirations to become a dentist.



Biraj Aryal, a Nepal native, graduated in December 2017 with a Bachelor’s in computer science and a minor in mathematics with a 4.0 cumulative grade point average. Aryal has been praised for his outstanding work ethic maintaining multiple part-time jobs, working 60-70 hours a week and taking 18-21 credit hours while maintaining a 4.0 at Northwestern. While at Northwestern, Aryal was an active member of the International Student Association, Computer Science Club and the Business Club. Aryal was also a member of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry and went on mission trips to Alabama (2015) and Louisiana (2017). He has been on the President’s s Honor Roll every semester. Aryal is currently a tier 1 technician for TkFast, Inc. in Wichita, Kan.







Blake DeMond, a native of Broken Arrow, Okla., plans to graduate from Northwestern this May with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. He was a member of the President’s Leadership Class and is a Northwestern Scholar Ambassador. DeMond has been on the President’s Honor Roll and Vice President’s Honor Roll, and took the Leadership Northwestern course in the spring semester of 2017. During 2015-2017, DeMond was a student worker in the Office of Recruitment at Northwestern and his tasks included conducting 

campus tours, contacting potential students and handling student recruitment information. While attending the nursing program, DeMond also works as a full time assistant manager at a local merchant.




Audrey Estes, of Tulsa, Okla., is pursuing a biology major with a minor in health and sports science. She is currently employed as a physical therapy technician at the Human Performance Centers in Alva, Okla. Estes is concluding her fourth season as a starting catcher for the Northwestern Ranger softball team after participating for four years. She is currently the president of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, is an active member of the Medical Sciences Club and Red and Black Scroll Honor Society. She was also a member of the President’s Leadership Class. Estes has received the Great American Conference (GAC) Academic All-Conference honors, was on the President’s Honor Roll, and was named the NFCA All-American Scholar-Athlete in the 2016-2017 school year. Estes has been accepted into the physical therapy programs of both Wichita State University and the University of Kansas Medical Center.





Megan Garnett, of Alva, Okla., graduated in December 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in mass communication with a minor in fine arts. She also completed the graphic design specialist career major course at Northwest Technology Center (Alva) in May 2013. While 

at Northwestern, Garnett was an active member of the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Art Society as the social media rep, treasurer and secretary, and the Northwest Technology Center Digital Design Advisory Committee. She also was on the President’s Honor Roll and the Vice President’s Honor Roll, and was named the NWOSU Artist of the Year in Fall 2014-2015. Garnett currently runs her own photography and design business. She created Megan Garnett Photography in October 2015, and Megan Garnett Designs in December 2017. 






David Gutierrez, of Woodward, Okla., recently graduated in December 2017 with a biology major and physics and chemistry minor. Gutierrez began attending Northwestern in 2014 following his freshman year at the University of Oklahoma. While at Northwestern, he was an active member of the Chemistry Club, Society of Physics Students and served as the president of the Medical Sciences Club. Gutierrez is active in the community with his volunteer efforts which include painting a house, community garden clean up, and disaster relief efforts in Houston with Oklahoma Baptist after Hurricane Harvey. He also tutored at the Academic Success Center in math, physics, chemistry and biology. In 2015, Gutierrez was selected as an Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) Scholar, which is an extremely competitive summer undergraduate research fellowship at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center.





Dana Kausek, an Enid, Okla. native, is pursuing her bachelor’s in social 

work with a minor in psychology. In 2007, Kausek received her dental assistant certificate from Autry Technology Center, and following that, she received her associate’s degree in healthcare administration from Oklahoma State University (Oklahoma City). Kausek has been actively involved in social work organization at Northwestern serving as vice president of the Social Work Association of Tomorrow (SWAT), vice president of the Psychology Club and a member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). She is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, was on the President’s Honor Rolls at OSU-OKC and Northwestern, and Vice President’s Honor Roll at Northwestern. Kausek is currently a field practicum student at Millennium Healthcare and plans to pursue her master of social work degree at the University of Oklahoma upon graduation.





Rachel Kraus, of Alva, Okla., graduated a biology health-science major with a minor in exercise and sports psychology in December 2017 with Cum Laude honors. She was the recipient of several Northwestern scholarships including the Valedictorian Scholarship her freshman year, the Limeades for Learning Scholarship and Upper Classmen Academic Scholarship. During her freshman year, Kraus was a member of the President’s Leadership Class, Student Government Association and Baptist Collegiate Ministry. She was also an active member of University Singers for three years, and was part of the Choral Leadership Team her junior year. During her senior year, Kraus was the student assistant at J.R. Holder Wellness Center. She is currently the coordinator of graduate studies at Northwestern preparing students for graduation. Kraus plans to pursue a master’s degree at Northwestern beginning this summer.


Jean De Dieu Nshimiyimana, an international student from Rwanda, will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry and currently maintains a 4.0 cumulative grade point average. Nshimiyimana is a Northwestern Scholar Ambassador, the president of the International Student Association and an active member of the Medical Sciences Club as the public relations officer. He is a part of the 

Student Government Association Senate and Chemistry Club. He has been named to the President’s Honor Roll since Fall 2014, and was a member of the Red and Black Scroll Honor Society. Nshimiyimana is a learning assistant for general chemistry at Northwestern and tutors for the Academic Success Center. Upon graduating, Nshimiyimana plans to apply to medical school and become a doctor so that he can return to his country to help give much needed medical care.





Erin Norrie, of Chisholm, Okla., is pursuing a biology major and chemistry minor at Northwestern. While at Northwestern, Norrie has been an active member of several campus organizations including secretary of Northwestern Scholar Ambassador, secretary for two years of the Medical Sciences Club, worship leader for the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, a member of Northwestern Singers and a starting pitcher from 2013-2016 for the Northwestern softball team. Norrie has been on the President’s Honor Roll and Vice President’s Honor Roll. She currently works as a pharmacy clerk at Holder Drug. Following her graduation in May, she plans to attend the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center to pursue a degree in allied health sciences.







Osamu Sakamoto is expected to graduate in May 2018 with a degree in nursing. While at Northwestern, Sakamoto has been actively involved on campus and was the junior representative of the Student Nurses’ Association, a member of the National Student Nurses’ Association and the Red and Black Scroll Honor Society. Sakamoto has been a part of 

the Northwestern Community Concert Choir and was a photographer for Northwestern News, receiving the Photographer of the Year Award in 2016. He has also served as a lab assistant for human anatomy and physiology tutoring students and helping with class and lab preparation. Sakamoto was also on the President’s Honor Roll and Vice President’s Honor Roll.







Trista Watson, a Turpin High School graduate, is pursuing a degree in early childhood education. Watson was a member of the Northwestern cross country team in 2015 and cheerleading squad in 2014-2015. She has been active on Northwestern campus as a mentor at the Literacy Center, a part of the President’s Leadership Class and Northwestern Food Committee. She is currently an active member of the Student Oklahoma Education Association. Watson is currently a children’s gymnastics instructor at Mrs. Dian’s Gymnastics and a worker at Puddle Jumpers Daycare.









Other Award Recipients


Aryal, Riley L. Pearce and Nshimiyimana will be awarded the T.C. Carter Award, presented to the graduating seniors with the highest grade point average.

Other Northwestern studenst and faculty to be recognized include: Pearce, receiving the Newman Civic Fellow Award; Sierra F. McKinnon (Alva) and Milissa A. Britt (Enid), receiving the Outstanding Psychology Student Award; Watson, receiving the Dr. Joe Dollins Merit Award; Morgan Marks, receiving the John Ted Meier Student Teaching Award; Nshimiyimana, receiving the John F. Kennedy Award; Rachel Davis, receiving the Sabin and Pearl Percefull Scholarship Award; Katelyn Van Vickle, receiving the deSERVING Ranger Award; and Dr. Kylene Rehder, receiving the John Sheffield Teacher of the Year Award.




Phone: (580) 327-8593
Fax: (580) 327-8499

Northwestern Foundation & Alumni Association
709 Oklahoma Blvd.
Alva, OK 73717

© Copyright 2015 Northwestern Foundation & Alumni Association. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy