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SBU students receive academic honors at "A Premiere of Excellence"

Rachel Tippens receives honors cords from Dr. Rick MelsonBOLIVAR, Mo. – Southwest Baptist University students graduating in May were recognized for their contributions to their academic areas and divisions during “A Premiere of Excellence” ceremony Thursday evening, April 7. 

This ceremony recognizes three groups of students – honors graduates, Gordon and Judy Dutile Honors program graduates, and Area-specific academic awards. The ceremony also featured a time of devotion, a personalized coffee bar, finger foods and a photo booth. 

The honorees included:

Outstanding Art Graduate – Hannah Brown, Republic, Mo.

Outstanding Elementary Education Major – Madeline Geurin, Bolivar, Mo.

Outstanding Elementary Education Major – Ky’Lee Hoyt, Lebanon, Mo.

Outstanding Sport Management Senior – Quinten Nelson, Ozark, Mo.

Outstanding Exercise Science Senior – Konner Ireland, Great Bend, Kan.

Outstanding Senior in Social Work – Natalie Lajeuness, Springfield, Mo.

Outstanding Criminal Justice Senior – Blake Ford, Lee’s Summit, Mo.

Outstanding Psychology Senior – Tyler Gallion, Springfield, Mo.

Outstanding Political Science Graduate – Jay Dunham, Eldon, Mo.

Outstanding Business Area Graduate – Ryan Carmack, Springfield, Mo.

Outstanding Accounting Area Graduate – Jessica Swartz, Clever, Mo.

Outstanding Math Area Graduate – Rachel Evans, Bolivar, Mo.

Outstanding Computing Area Graduate – Caleb Burnham, Bolivar, Mo.

Outstanding Natural Sciences Senior – Mary Rose Foster, Frisco, Texas

Natural Sciences Service Award – Corynn Knight, Bolivar, Mo.

Outstanding Language & Communication Senior – Allison Swetnam, Liberty, Mo.

Outstanding Bible & Theology Graduate – Michael Martinez, East Moline, Ill.

Outstanding Christian Ministry Award – Jedediah Bond, Crete, Neb.

Florence Nightingale Award – Courtney Miller, Bolivar, Mo.

Academic Excellence & Servant-Leadership Award – Tyler Burnett, Ballwin, Mo.

Academic Excellence & Servant-Leadership Award – Tyler Eads, Neosho, Mo.

Gordon & Judy Dutile Honors Program Graduates – Grace Archer, Harrison, Ark.; Julia Bainter, Springfield, Mo.; Amanda Berkstresser, Lee’s Summit, Mo.; Caleb Burnham, Bolivar, Mo.; Nathaniel Dascher, Highlandville, Mo.; Jay Dunham, Eldon, Mo.; Tyler Eads, Neosho, Mo., Tyler Gallion, Springfield, Mo.; Matthew Hart, Springfield, Mo.; Charles Kessler, Topeka, Kan.; Aubrey Prettyman, Louisburg, Kan.; Nathan Reisner, Royse City, Texas; Thomas Schaal, Fayetteville, Ark.; Aubrie Sorrell, Edna, Kan.; Kailey Weiskopf, St. Louis; Joseph Wilson, Willard, Mo.; Coleman Yantis, Carl Junction, Mo. 

Tyler Eads receives an academic awardIn addition to the individual honors, SBU President Dr. Rick Melson and Provost Dr. Lee Skinkle presented cords to 121 seniors graduating with honors - 42 Cum Laude, 34 Magna Cum Laude and 45 Summa Cum Laude.

SBU will host three Spring commencement ceremonies – one ceremony for bachelor degree recipients at 3 p.m., and one for associate degree recipients at 7 p.m., Friday, May 20, and one for graduate degree recipients at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 21. The ceremonies also will be available for viewing simultaneously on livestream. Visit for more information about the ceremonies. 

Event Photo Album

PHOTO 1: SBU President Dr. Rick Melson (right) presents honors cords to Rachel Tippens during “A Premiere of Excellence” academic honors ceremony.  

PHOTO 2: Jenell Wagner, professor and department chair of accounting at SBU (right), presents Tyler Eads with the Academic Excellence & Servant-Leadership Award during “A Premiere of Excellence” – SBU’s academic honors ceremony.

*Published: 4-13-2022