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Washington State University

Top Ten Senior Awards

Class of 2019 | Pullman

For more than 80 years, Washington State University has recognized ten of the top seniors in each graduating class. These women and men represent the highest standards in specific aspects of the college experience, including academics, athletics, campus involvement, community service, and visual and performing arts.

Devon Holze

Devon Holze

Campus Involvement

  • College of Arts and Sciences, Honors College
  • Applied Mathematics and Political Science, Spanish
  • Hazelton, Pennsylvania

Involvement

Spearheaded student initiative to increase access to hygiene products in gender-neutral and women’s bathrooms. Peer education lead at Cougar Health Services, orientation counselor at Office of New Student Programs, Cougar Connector at Office of Admissions, ASWSU Senator and Chair Pro Tempore of the Senate, co-director of registration for the S.H.A.P.I.N.G Conference, president of WSU’s In It to End It organization to raise awareness and advocate for the end of modern slavery, radio host for KZUU, founding member of RUN WSU which aims to support students of color who are running for leadership positions, member of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, member of Delta Delta Delta, member of MEChA and APASC (the regional student affiliate of the national Association for Asian Studies). Won the President’s Award for Leadership, Knebelman Prize in Mathematics, and Kevin Charles Colton Scholarship, among other awards and honors.

Favorite WSU experience

I would say just being an orientation counselor for a summer was a really good experience. You have students come from all over the world and get excited to go to WSU. I love WSU. So it was really fun to get to spread that excitement. I had students from Guam, all over Washington, California, Idaho. I had people from the East Coast — none from Pennsylvania like me but Virginia and New York. I had some international students, too. I know for sure my students made their first friends on campus at Alive! It was very cool to be part of that.

Future plans

I’m going to take a gap year, and then I want to go to grad school for public administration. I plan to stay in Pullman, work, save money, and apply to grad school. I’m looking most closely at Seattle University. I want to go into nonprofit work. That is the dream. I’m not sure what kind of nonprofit yet. Areas I’m passionate about are women, immigration work, and environmental stuff.

Paige Danielson

Paige Danielson

Athletics

  • Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
  • Electrical Engineering
  • St. Cloud, Minnesota

Involvement

WSU Varsity Women’s Rowing Team, President of Honors Student Advisory Council, Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honors Society), WSU Coug Pals Volunteer, Research Assistant for the Systems on Chips Lab, Two-time Pac-12 All-Academic First Team Honoree, Google Cloud Academic All-District Team, Most Improved on WSU Women’s Rowing Team

Favorite WSU experience

It’s hard to pick one just one experience, as it’s the sum of the little experiences that has made my time at WSU wonderful. One experience that stood out was representing WSU at NCAA Division I Rowing National Championships the past three years. It’s been incredible to compete with and against some of the top rowing athletes and instilled in me an even deeper pride for WSU.

I’ve had support from peers, professors, and staff at WSU the past four years. And not only in Pullman. While traveling across the country, as far east as Florida, I’ve heard “Go Cougs!” in the airport more than once. The sense of community within I’ve felt within rowing and at WSU has made my time here special.

Future plans

I will begin working toward my Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at University of Colorado-Boulder next fall. I will focus on electromagnetics, radio frequency, microwaves, and am pursuing a research career.

Shi Min Tan

Shi Min Tan

Academics

  • College of Veterinary Medicine, Honors College
  • Neuroscience
  • Pullman, Washington

Involvement

Research on cocaine addiction and memory reconsolidation in the Fuchs lab, including running her own project; collected data in colon-rectal cancer screening project; author or co-author on several journal articles and conference presentations; shadowed clinicians; served as a chief research associate for the National Alliance of Research Associates Program and recruited, organized and trained associates; held multiple offices in the WSU Neuroscience Club; recipient of numerous scholarships; speaks three languages fluently and Spanish at an intermediate level; plays violin in the WSU orchestra.

Favorite WSU experience

In my immediate family, I’m a first-generation college student—it was a little scary, because I didn’t know what I was doing!

It was a shock to to win Top Ten Senior. There are a lot of amazing people here! I was fortunate to be able to do research in the neuroscience department. I started out as a freshman without really knowing where I was going with it but by my senior year, I had my own project that became part of my honor’s thesis. Besides being a STEM student, I really enjoyed playing violin in the symphonic orchestra. That was a big stress reliever for me, as I was able to do something outside of science and also feed my passion for music.

Coming in freshman year, I knew I wanted to do study abroad—but the price tag was pretty high. But through my department and the Honors College I was able to get funding to go to Guatemala, serving with the Hearts in Motion program and providing medical support to the people there. This past summer, I was a recipient of a Gilman Scholarship which enabled me to travel to Costa Rica to study Spanish. One of my goals is to be fluent in Spanish as a healthcare provider.

Future plans

I’ve been admitted to the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, so will be starting that next fall. I love the state of Washington and am hoping to stay here—but it depends on where life takes me and where opportunities open up.

Garrett Snedeker

Garrett Snedeker

Visual and Performing Arts

  • College of Arts and Sciences, Honors College
  • Music: Piano Performance
  • Ellensburg, Washington

Involvement

President of Allegro, WSU’s student association for music advocacy, where he launched the Allegro Concert Series in response to arts cuts on campus; organized partnership between School of Music, Department of Fine Arts, and Black Student Union to bring cellist, visual artist, and activist Paul Rucker to WSU; and organized guest artist series with performers such as Hollywood film composer, studio musician, and WSU alumnus Paul Henning. Founding member, Arts Without Borders—organized recital featuring student compositions and artwork. Guest conducted WSU Symphony Orchestra, composed original music with student poetry for junior recital as protest against budget cuts, published original composition in the Honors College literary journal Palouse Review, sang and played piano for God’s Harmony Gospel Choir, substituted as an organist at Pullman churches, guest lectured at Whitworth University, performed at music festivals around the world. Presented research at Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) National Collegiate Symposium, and National Collegiate Honors Council Conference.

Received a Fulbright U.S. Student award to London’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Won the 2016 and 2017 Washington State MTNA Young Artist Competition, 2018 WSU Concerto/Aria Competition performed with WSU Symphony Orchestra, 2018 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival Multi-Mic Category with God’s Harmony Gospel Choir, gold medals at Musicfest Northwest in 2017 (two-piano) and 2016 (romantic and contemporary categories). Received the WSU President’s Award for Leadership, Emeritus Society Excellence Award for Research and Scholarship in the Arts and Humanities, first place in student posters (social justice category) at the 2018 National Collegiate Honors Council National Conference, Phi Beta Kappa, and many other scholarships and other awards.

Favorite WSU experience

The Paul Rucker performance was pretty spectacular. I loved that it was in a new place on campus, the Spark Building, where he performed cello with multimedia. There were nine projectors where he was sharing, through music, his research on slavery and mass incarceration in the United States. For example, he collects artifacts from the Jim Crow era like lynching postcards and sets music to them. It was powerful to have music be a catalyst for conversation. The music opened us up so we could talk about these issues. That’s what I love about the power of music here. It’s what Paul Rucker brought and it’s what I hope to bring to my performances.

Future plans

I plan to come back to the U.S. after my Fulbright and pursue a second degree. University teaching may be in my future, but the school has given me so many experiences and now I’m excited to see what life is like as a musician outside of academics. I’ll likely have a small piano studio, accompany other musicians, have an organist or pianist or choir director job at a church. I’ll look for opportunities to perform and share the research I’ve done here.

Austin Anderson

Austin Anderson

Campus Involvement

  • Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, Honors College
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Spokane, Washington

Involvement

Captain of WSU Cheerleading team (three-time national finalist, including the best showing ever by the Cougar cheerleaders), resident adviser at Global Scholars Hall, studied abroad in Ecuador and Ireland, team member in the Innovation for Sustainability Energy Research Group that develops methods for hydrogen fuel cell storage (recipients of an Amazon Catalyst award), environmental health and safety intern with Collins Aerospace, Coug Pals letter exchange between student athletes and elementary school students. Appeared on ESPN, Fox Sports, and beyond for his rapid-fire dabbing on Dad’s Weekend.

Favorite WSU experience

An easy one is College GameDay. In the years I’ve been here, we’d been close a few times. In the weeks leading up to it, it was either us or another game—it was always the other game. So when I found out it was coming here, to get to have that my senior year, meant a lot to me. When we actually got to the day, it was ridiculous. We were getting up at 3 a.m. to do some news interviews. At 4 a.m., everyone was freezing and we were shivering in our uniforms, but there were students as far as you could see behind you. There’s hundreds of Cougar flags in the air and Ol’ Crimson in the background. The student signs were hilarious, so we handed them to the girls and lifted them up to get the signs on television. It was so much fun.

Future plans

I haven’t locked down the exact industry I want to go into. That’s a big part of why I went into chemical engineering, because it’s very diverse. I’d like a job where I can go to many different sites. My senior project was building distillation equipment for a Tri-Cities company, Solar Spirits. I want to do something like that, where it makes peoples’ lives better, then balancing that with something I enjoy doing and I wake up in the morning excited to go to work. I also want to combine my passion for engineering with my passion for business.

Bogdan “Theo” Mynka

Bogdan “Theo” Mynka

Visual and Performing Arts

  • College of Arts and Sciences, Honors College
  • Music: Vocal Performance, French
  • Kharkiv, Ukraine

Involvement

Founded Arts Without Borders, a collaborative organization aimed at uniting arts on the WSU Pullman campus. Vice president of ALLEGRO, the Student Association for Music Advocacy, president of the student chapter of the National Association for Teachers of Singing, or SNATS. Appeared in multiple opera, theater, and musical theater productions within the School of Music, including Fenton in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Jack in Into the Woods, and Igor in Young Frankenstein. Sang in Concert Choir and Madrigal Chamber Singers as well as performed the national anthem for WSU Athletics; sang at commencement and convocation; won numerous scholarships and singing awards, including the 2019 aria/concerto competition; served as a counselor at summer Cougar String Camp; worked as a librarian in the Kemble Stout Listening Library; worked as the advertising director for STAGE, WSU’s student theater; served as an ambassador for the Honors College and helped facilitate Honors 198, a one-credit class for freshmen; wrote opinion columns for the Daily Evergreen; acted in two TV shows for the student-run production company Cable8; and received multiple awards and honors, including membership in the Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society.

Favorite WSU experience

It’s simple stuff. It’s just being on campus. I really enjoy walking around this campus. It’s gorgeous. You’re isolated from everything. There’s no loud city noise. There’s something romantic and beautiful about it. Pullman sunsets are especially incredible. If I have 20 or 30 minutes, I’ll go to the second or third floor of the Terrell Library, grab a random book, read some passages, and put it back. I love that. I also spent a lot of time in the Kimbrough Music Building, in the practice rooms. Sometimes, it’s just walking in and walking out that make everything OK. You struggle in the practice rooms. You have to trust the work that you do and the work you have done. You have to trust your voice. In college, you have to face yourself. I can truly say I found myself here.

Future plans

I want to do opera. I want to teach and perform and write and compose. And I want to travel. Ultimately, I want to end up back in Europe or splitting time between the U.S. and Europe. I was educated in Ukraine, Russia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. I speak five languages: English, Russian, French, Ukrainian, and Serbo-Croatian. I want to travel and sing. I’m going to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study for a master of music in vocal performance and literature. I’m working on establishing myself as a vocalist and an artist. The rest will come later.

McKenna Woodford

McKenna Woodford

Community Service

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Biological Sciences, Chemistry
  • Chandler, Arizona

Involvement

Pen-pal with elementary school children to improve their reading and writing skills; taught the gospel and volleyball to kids in the community through her church; Special Olympics volunteer at annual basketball tournament; volunteered at the Hope Center thrift store; volunteered at the Regency Center retirement home, playing bingo, painting nails and building relationships with community elders; volunteered with Little Spikers, promoting physical activity and providing mentorship. 6’ 4” captain of the women’s volleyball team for two years; named to the Pac-12 All-Academic First Team three years in a row, and named to the 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-District® 8 team; finished WSU career ranking eighth all-time in kills (1,257), eighth overall in kills per set (2.95), and fourth all-time in total points (1,445.5).

Favorite WSU experience

I fell in love with volleyball and figured out there were options to play in college. I was scouted while playing with a club team in Chandler, Arizona. I visited a lot of other colleges but decided this is where I wanted to go. My small-town roots came out—I was raised in Sedona, Arizona—and Pullman seemed like the kind of town I wanted to fight for. It’s very family-friendly, and I liked the culture of the volleyball program—that underdog feeling. WSU women’s volleyball was at the bottom of the Pac-12 when I got here, so I liked the idea of joining in and trying to help turn that around. And with the help of a lot of people, we made that happen! I was twice named to the USA College National Team, which meant I got to travel to Europe in 2016 and Thailand in 2017. I worked with a lot of kids at various camps, which our coaches wanted us to do, but that’s who I am, too. I want to be someone who is a servant and serve the community. It was odd to me to get an award for community service—that’s just something you do! That said, I am deeply honored.

Future plans

More volleyball! I’m headed home for the summer, back to Chandler. Probably starting in September, I’ll be playing professional volleyball, probably in Europe—but I don’t know exactly where or for who yet, as contracts don’t come out until later in the summer. Volleyball is super big in Europe and they’re always looking for American players who can hit—and I guess that’s me! So I’m going to keep playing while I can. Eventually, I’ll get into the health sciences and going back to school. My dream is to do medical mission work.

Anna McLeod

Anna McLeod

Community Service

  • Carson College of Business
  • Management Innovation and Change, Entrepreneurship Psychology
  • Woodinville, Washington

Involvement

Led efforts to raise $37,000 to build a school in Malawi, Africa, while president of Panhellenic Council. Helped reorganize the council by implementing a new position for diversity and inclusion. Panhellenic Council’s Officer of the Year for 2018, member of the Order of Omega Greek Honors Society, vice president of organization for Kappa Kappa Gamma, member of the Standards Committee for Kappa Kappa Gamma, Rho Gamma (student counselor) for Panhellenic Recruitment, and chapter representative at the 2017 Kappa Kappa Gamma Leadership Academy.

Favorite WSU experience

I spent spring break my senior year in a very small village in the Kasungu District of Malawi, one of the world’s least-developed countries, through a partnership between the buildOn organization and the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation. It took over a year to raise the money through a GoFundMe.com campaign, pizza and cupcake sales, and donations from local companies. We were building the Kakuyu school — mixing cement, digging trenches, transporting bricks, and carrying sand and water by bucket. It got very personal after meeting the students who would be attending the school. My host sister, Gazina, was in sixth grade. She woke up at 6 a.m., and she didn’t get to school until 10 a.m. It took her almost four hours to walk there. Once this new school is completed, she will only have to walk about 10 minutes. My experience in Malawi is one I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Future plans

I’ll be working as a recruiter in human resources at Amazon in Seattle. I start mid-July. I also want to be an active alum with my chapter. And I eventually want to travel to Thailand and many other locations around the world.

Devon McCornack

Devon McCornack

Athletics

  • Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, Honors College
  • Bioengineering
  • Moses Lake, Washington

Involvement

Developed DevoCo Diagnostics, a business tailored to the creation of a pancreatic cancer detection device through the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps program; Men’s Rowing Team captain, undergraduate research experience in Dr. Wen-Ji Dong’s lab.

Favorite WSU experience

One of my favorite experiences was competing in the Pac-12 Rowing Championships every year. It’s been an honor to line up and race against current and future Olympians, while representing WSU in one of the fastest-growing conferences in the nation.

Rowing has also given me skills to be successful in the field of bioengineering: time management, teamwork, and discipline. I’ve learned about the importance of falling in love with the problem you are trying solve, rather than looking for just one solution. It opens up a space for exploring solutions you may not have expected.

Future plans

I will attend school at WSU to earn a master of science in engineering. During my graduate program, I plan to work on completing the pancreatic cancer detection device, and eventually bring the product to the market.

Lars Neuenschwander

Lars Neuenschwander

Academics

  • Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Bioengineering, Spanish
  • Pullman, Washington

Involvement

Member of the Harold Frank Engineering Entrepreneurship Institute and president of the Harold Frank Entrepreneurship Club. First place winner in the 2018 WSU Medical Hackathon. Won the Grand Prize at the WSU Business Plan Competition and second place in the University of Washington Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge for Appiture, a handheld device with integrated camera and software that can screen for autism-spectrum disorder in minutes and works for children as young as two years old. Member of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the National Society of Leadership and Success, and the WSU chapter of AiCHE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers). Student ambassador for the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture.

Favorite WSU experience

I loved being a student ambassador for the Voiland College. Being able to interact with incoming students and share some of my amazing experiences at WSU has been so rewarding. It’s wonderful to see how much potential future WSU classes have.

Another one of my favorite experiences was the summer I spent working as a volunteer in the FIZ (Frank Innovation Zone) in 2015, when it was still being built. I helped set up the shop and got to play with so many different things that are engineering oriented—I think that’s where I discovered my passion for engineering and design. The fact that all students, regardless of major, can use this space to be creative and translate their ideas into reality is something that can never be overvalued. It’s incredibly rewarding to have been a part of it.

My experience in undergraduate research at WSU was the catalyst that determined my career plans. Being able to work on everything from jellyfish tanks to the origins of antibiotic resistance has allowed me to explore my interests and realize that I’m truly passionate about bringing engineering and medicine together.

Future plans

I’ll be applying for medical school this summer and working at the WSU College of Medicine in Spokane. I’m taking a gap year to work as a research assistant with the professor who mentored my senior design project, which is a device to screen for autism-spectrum disorder, and bring it to market.