Outstanding Fall Graduates 2019


outstandingsSeven students have been named the outstanding graduates of their schools and were recognized during Palm Beach Atlantic University’s fall 2019 Honors Day ceremony on Thursday.

These students will receive special recognition during fall commencement at 3 p.m. on Friday, December 13, at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach.

Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Randy Richards quoted Romans 13:7 “Give to everyone what you owe them….If respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

“There are people here who have earned it, and today we have the opportunity to bestow honor upon them,” said Richards.

Additionally, he announced the Freidheim Fellows for 2020: Michigan native Benjamin DeHaan, a junior studying business management and Maria Landron, a junior public relations major from Royal Palm Beach. DeHaan’s research topic is NATO revisited, an analysis of its past, present and future value to U.S. foreign policy. Landon will present her research on Mexico and Central America as foreign policy priorities. The fellows work with a faculty mentor and former U.S. Senator George LeMieux on their research.

Sarah Selden of Littleton, Colorado, is the outstanding graduate in the School of Arts and Sciences. An English/secondary education major and a student in the Frederick M. Supper Honors Program, Selden is a member of both the English and the education honor societies at PBA. She has had papers accepted and has presented them at three external conferences including The Children’s Literature Association, in addition to presenting twice at PBA’s Interdisciplinary Research Conference. She serves as a volunteer writing coach at a local Title I High School. In service to PBA, she has been both a resident assistant and a writing coach in the Center for Writing Excellence. Her intellect, character, interpersonal skills, professionalism in all aspects of her studies and her work are all of the highest caliber. Her professors say that she embodies academic and professional excellence as well as Christian faith, humility and gratitude.  

Emily Headley of Ocoee, Florida, is the outstanding graduate of the School of Education and Behavioral Studies. Majoring in exercise science, Headley’s commitment to academic success, service, and God are evident in the participation choices she has made while at PBA. She is a Farish Scholar. Among her other accomplishments is receiving a QI grant to study the correlation between joint mobility and fall risk on students with autism spectrum disorder. She presented her research at the 2019 National SHAPE Convention, where her presentation got her noticed by a professor who suggested that she apply for a graduate assistantship at Honolulu University conducting an ongoing cancer related fatigue study. But Headley has other plans! In addition to her scholarly work, she is a student leader in the Human Performance Laboratory working as a Health and Wellness leader, and teaching three group fitness classes in the Greene Complex each week. She participated in the 2019 spring break mission trip to Honduras and served as a dance therapy mentor for physically and mentally disabled children. She’s managed to do all of this while also serving as a Welcome Team member in her local church and maintaining a very high GPA. She plans to attend graduate school where her goal is to earn a doctorate of physical therapy and become a neurological physical therapist specializing in neurodegenerative diseases.

Jordan Hart is the outstanding graduate of the School of Communication and Media. A communication major with a psychology minor, Hart came to PBA from Rockford, Illinois, and is a student in the Frederick M. Supper Honors Program. She is described as embodying the Midwest values of hard work, humility, friendliness and civility, which are important qualities for civil discourse and redemptive communication that are integral to the communication program of study. Hart is an intern for the Rinker Center for Experiential Learning, which required special permission from the school but was granted based on her very persuasive application. Her qualifications for this role are exceptional as she previously studied abroad for a semester in Edinburgh, loves international travel and, to date, has visited over 20 countries. She completed an additional internship in Cuba resulting in a publication credit. Hart is a member of the President’s Lyceum, served as a Presidential Ambassador and founded the communication club, Communitas. She served on the events committee for Women in the Window International. In January, she begins fulltime work with the Tarsus Group, an events and trade show company, where she will serve as the Americas Show Coordinator, based in Milwaukee.  In the meantime, she also awaits a decision on her application for a Fulbright Award as an English language teaching assistant in Norway. 

Taylor Boyd, a management major from Lakeland, Florida, is the outstanding graduate of the Rinker School of Business. A transfer student, she completed her junior and senior years here, and will graduate at age 20. During her first semester at PBA, she attended the mission trip to Panama. She served as a MAST transfer peer mentor throughout her time at PBA and completed the majority of her Workship hours at the Family Church high school ministry. In May, she traveled with the Marketing and Franchise European Study Abroad Tour to London and Munich. She completed her internship requirement at the Waste Management office in Okeechobee, Florida, and for the past two semesters, was a work study with the Rinker School of Business. She received a number of scholarships including the Sorrel Ross Bollett Scholarship, Theodore and Vivian Johnson Scholarship and the Forrest Lattner Scholarship.

Adam Pina of Loxahatchee, Florida, is the outstanding graduate of the Catherine T. MacArthur School of Leadership. Born in Texas, Pina served in the military for 16 years – eight years in the Navy and eight in the Army Reserves, including two years in Afghanistan. Additionally, he has 16 years of experience in law enforcement, beginning with four years at the Broward County Sheriff’s Department before joining the police force for the Town of Palm Beach. He began working on his organizational leadership degree in January 2017, while working in Palm Beach. In July of that same year, he experienced an accident while on the job that resulted in 16 fractures, forcing him to retire for medical reasons. While recovering in the hospital, he was wondering about his future including continuing his education. He was supported by Professor Tom Miller and others who prayed with him and encouraged him to continue his studies. As the Lord worked things out, Pina was hired four months ago to work at Palm Beach Atlantic as a major supervised by Ann-Marie Taylor, the chief of Campus Safety & Security. 

Sarah Hahn, a studio art major from Bakersfield, California, is the outstanding graduate for the School of Music and Fine Arts. Hahn is said to possess an enthusiastic work ethic, tremendous artistic abilities and a servant’s heart for her sphere of influence. She is a recipient of the McCleod Opportunity Scholarship and was a James Mallory Wilson Scholar. She is involved in the Department of Art’s student exhibitions and was recently recognized with a “merit award” for her art work, which is currently on display in the De Lesseps Gallery. Committed to improving the quality of life for others, she has dedicated her time over the past three years in Rwanda with “Under His Umbrella,” a ministry dedicated to assisting leaders in the local church and their communities. In the process, her life has been transformed, which has positively impacted the redemptive stories she tells through her art. During her time in Rwanda, she updated sponsorship profiles, taught art classes, participated in home visits, and interacted with the students and staff of the schools located in the villages of Kanazi and Musenyi. In West Palm Beach, she holds a leadership position at the Titus House, an off-campus college ministry committed to giving young men and women a place to call home and deepen their relationship with Jesus. She spends her summers hosting art camps teaching elementary-aged kids and also serves the high school ministry at her local community of faith.

Megan Alsene of Winter Garden, Florida, is the outstanding graduate of the School of Ministry. A Biblical and Theological Studies major, a Frederick M. Supper Honors Program student, and a member of the Theta Alpha Kappa Honor Society, Alsene has maintained an almost perfect GPA.  A gifted communicator, she was selected as a Q Union Fellow, a speaker for Senior Chapel and a presenter at the Honor’s Banquet for prospective students. Alsene received the Outstanding Presenter Award at PBA’s 2018 Interdisciplinary Conference. She is a tutor in the Center for Writing Excellence as well as teaches and tutors students studying the Hebrew language. Additionally, she served on PBA’s Middle East Cultural Exchange and Compassion Trips to Jordan in 2018 and 2019, as well as helped lead English immersion experiences in Colombia for a group called to be international missionaries. She also volunteered as an English as a Second Language tutor with the Bridges Language Academy in West Palm Beach. Alsene currently is pursuing a Master of Divinity at PBA.

Additionally, the School of Arts and Sciences honored Gynn Horkott of Grapevine, Texas, as the outstanding student in history and Miami native Ariana Fernandez, who received the award for outstanding student of foreign language. The School of Education and Behavioral Studies recognize Kayla Bricker of Ocala, Florida, as the outstanding graduate in education and Nathan McBrayer of Wellington, Florida, as the human health and performance outstanding graduate. The Department of Dance in the School of Music and Fine Arts is Brianna Figueroa of Orlando, Florida.

Dr. Richards recognized the faculty who had been promoted this year: Kellie Barbato, from affiliate to assistant librarian; Elias Chahine, from associate professor to professor of pharmacy practice; Cidya Grant, from assistant to associate professor of chemistry; Michelle Keba, from assistant to associate librarian; Eric Lowdermilk, from assistant to associate professor of biblical and theological studies; Danilda Martinez, from instructor to assistant professor of digital media production; Nathan Maxwell, from assistant to associate professor of biblical and theological studies; Angie McDonald, from associate professor to professor of psychology; Carl Miller, from assistant to associate professor of English; Deborah Morgan, from associate professor to professor of nursing; Sandra Ojurongbe, from assistant to associate professor of nursing; Francisco Plaza, from associate professor to professor of politics; Dana Strachan, from associate professor to professor of pharmacy practice; Barbara VanderWerf, from instructor to assistant professor of business; Jane Wilson, from assistant to associate professor of nursing; and Angela Witmer, from assistant to associate professor of biology.


Photo caption: From left: -- front row -- Megan Alsene, School of Ministry; Adam Pina, Catherine T. MacArthur School of Leadership; Emily Headley, School of Education and Behavioral Studies; --back row-- Taylor Boyd, Marshall E. Rinker Sr. School of Business; Jordan Hart, School of Communication and Media; Sarah Selden, School of Arts and Sciences; and Sarah Hahn, School of Music and Fine Arts.