Celebrating PSU student success, fall term 2019
Author: Jennifer Ladwig
Posted: February 17, 2020

In support of the first goal of Portland State’s five-year strategic plan — elevating student success — Currently now features student success each term, acknowledging achievements such as publications, scholarships, grants, presentations and more. Here are some of the students who made us proud fall term.


PSU transportation students take home the Traffic Bowl Trophy 

A team of five Portland State Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning (STEP-ITE) members won the 28th Annual Bill Kloos Traffic Bowl Competition held by Oregon ITE in November. This trivia-based challenge tests the knowledge of transportation engineering and planning students from Oregon and Washington. The team won $500 that will go towards STEP student activities for PSU transportation students. Team members included Nicholas Puczkoeskyj, Urban Studies Ph.D. candidate; Rohan Sirupa and Katherine Keeling, Civil Engineering graduate students; and Gabby Galvez and Polina Polikahina, Civil Engineering undergraduate students

History students win Oregon Heritage Awards

Katie Bush and Adam Fitzhugh, History master's students, won the Oregon Heritage Fellowship awards, recognizing excellence in student research on a topic related to Oregon. Fellows receive $2,000 from the State Historic Preservation Office and present at the Oregon Heritage conference. Katie Bush’s work examines tools Portland used to monitor the mentally ill from around 1900. Adam Fitzhugh’s focuses on a 19th-century conflict between native people and a group of white settlers on the Southern Oregon coast. 

Graduate student wins award from Portland Reading Council

Katharine Tapio, a student in the Graduate Teacher Education Program, received a $500 award from the Portland Reading Council. Tapio is currently a student teacher and is taking courses for the Reading Endorsement. She hopes to earn the ESOL endorsement.

Junior recognized for residence hall leadership

Aja Bedwell, Portland State Residence Hall Association national communications coordinator and a junior majoring in business, received the Silver Pin Award from the Director of the Pacific Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls (PACURH) at its Regional Leadership Conference hosted at PSU. This is the highest level of recognition that a regional director can bestow and symbolizes the leadership and direction given to PACURH.

Sophomore chosen for McNair fellowship

Nya Mbock, a sophomore studying Communication, has been selected to participate in the winter 2020 McNair Scholars program. The McNair Scholars Program is an undergraduate research fellowship that prepares first-generation and underrepresented undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. 

Education students awarded scholarships

More than 100 Education students won awards to support their studies at the Dean’s Scholarship Celebration this November. Several recipients were selected by Carith Wiseman, College of Education development coordinator, to be featured here on account of their life stories and achievements. Hafsa Awo, who is studying in the Bilingual Teachers Pathways program, received a Pivotal Scholars Fund for Math/Science Teacher Education and a Renaissance Foundation College of Education Scholarship. Laura Braun, who is pursuing a master's with the Graduate Teacher Education Program in secondary education, also received a Pivotal Scholars Fund for Math/Science Teacher Education. Caitlin Lucy Brown, a master's student working toward a GTEP Elementary with an ESOL Endorsement, received the Capps Family Scholarship. Gaspar Lopez Lopez, a master's in School Counseling student, was awarded the Scholarship and a College of Education Scholarship. S Sweetwater Sahme, a master's student in Counselor Education, received the Art Terry Scholars’ Fund and the College of Education Scholarship. 


Dmitri Kalashnikov, a master's student in the Geography Climate Science Lab, presented his thesis research at the 2019 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, held from Dec. 9-13. Dmitri’s poster focused on the meteorological conditions necessary for lightning outbreaks in the western United States, gleaned from analyzing 30 years of lightning data.

Elizabeth Lester and Audrienne Manansala, master's students in Counselor Education, co-presented “Disability Justice, Racial Justice, and Queer Justice: Historical and Contemporary Perspective” with Counselor Education faculty Rana Yaghmaian and Deanna Cor at the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision conference. The presentation, a unique opportunity for students at the master's level, reviewed the historical underpinnings of the intersection between ableism, racism and queerphobia and offered practical considerations for counselors, counselors in training and counselor educators and supervisors.

James A. Mayik, a doctoral student in the College of Education’s Educational Leadership doctoral program, presented a paper titled “Rebuilding Post-Independence and Post Civil War K-12 Education Systems: Creating Quality Education in South Sudan to Reverse Youths Emigration” at the Another Brick in the Wall: Rethinking Education conference, part of the International Association for Multicultural Education in Amsterdam on Nov. 14. Mayik works full-time as a middle school science teacher at Jackson Middle School in Portland Public Schools.

Angela Molloy-Murphy, a doctoral candidate in the Educational Leadership Doctorate’s specialization in Curriculum and Instruction, presented “(Re)Conceptualizing Plastic as Kin” at the Responding to Ecological Challenges with/in Contemporary Childhoods: An Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Climate Pedagogies in London, Ontario, from Jan. 31 through Feb. 2.

Amy Patterson Sandie, master's in Special Education student; Cesar Astudillo Zepada, master's in Secondary Education student; and Jaime Andrea Rae Mathis, master's in Leadership for Sustainability education student, spoke at the College of Education Foundation Dean’s Scholarship Celebration. 


We want to celebrate your students! Email submit student success items to and include the following information: 
    •    The student’s full name

    •    The student’s year and area of study (example: Jane Doe, a junior studying art history)

    •    Student’s job, volunteer or research position if applicable. For example, if a student won an award for their work as an employee with the PSU Residence Hall Association, their position with residence life would be necessary for the write-up

    •    The full name of the award, honor, scholarship or fellowship the student received

    •    The date the award was given

    •    Any other relevant information about the award, such as length of fellowship, total scholarship amount, location of award ceremony

    •    A horizontal image, if you have one

    •    Links to any other additional information you would like to be included in the write-up, such as news stories; web pages or documents for the awards/scholarships/fellowships; and accessible pages for publications (such as the Amazon listing for a student book available for purchase, or the article's journal web page for an academic publication)

Captions (from top):

The Portland State University's Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning team won first place in the 28th annual Bill Kloos Traffic Bowl Competition held by ITE. The team featured STEP president Nicholas Puczkowskyj, vice president of finance Rohan Sirupa, vice president of communications Katherine Keeling, vice president of events Gabby Galvez and vice president of creativity Polina Polikahina.

Caitlin Lucy Brown and Tom Chambers.

From left: Deanna Cor, Audrienne Manansala, Elizabeth Lester and Rana Yaghmaian.

Cesar Astudillo.