Yavapai College honors top students across district

Photo: Prescott Evening of Recognition honorees in attendance

Yavapai College faculty and leadership honored the top students across academic and technical education disciplines during traditional “Evening of Recognition” ceremonies at both the Verde Valley and Prescott campuses.

The limited-attendance events featured congratulatory remarks from YC President Dr. Lisa Rhine and Academic Affairs Vice President Dr. Diane Ryan.

“The students recognized at this ceremony have worked hard to distinguish themselves from others academically and through leadership and/or service. This group is particularly distinct because they continued to excel, grow, develop, lead and serve in the midst of pandemic,” President Rhine said in her remarks. She noted that each student honoree was vetted by faculty and staff – a difficult task given the college’s talented student population.

Speaking directly to the honorees, Rhine said: “You have proven yourself as outstanding leaders in our community. As educators, we are very proud of you and we thank you for your contributions. Your tremendous potential is very clearly reflected in your accomplishments. We are so fortunate that Yavapai College gets to be part of your journey and personal story.”

In her remarks, Vice President Ryan described the honorees as “special and unique” and said it’s important they cultivate their uniqueness throughout their life journeys. One way to do that, Ryan said, is to never stop learning. “If you always invest in yourself, you will always be evolving, changing and growing, which will keep you special,” she said.

The highest student honors of the evening were the President’s and Vice President’s Awards for Academic Excellence.

Earning the collegewide President’s Award this year was Kari Warne, a judicial studies student who is one of only 20 community college students nationwide to earn an All-USA Academic Team Scholarship. A multiple national and state scholarship winner and campus safety officer, Warne also devotes time to non-academic pursuits like the College Honors Program, Phi Theta Kappa and the advisory board of the National Center for the Prevention of Community Violence.

Culinary Arts student Nika Roberts was the Vice President’s Award winner for the Verde Valley Campus and Sedona Center this year. Her instructor, Chef Robert Barr, said Nika “always finds time to assist other students in being successful. She is a model student and one which embodies what Yavapai College is all about.”

Early Childhood Education student Jocelyn Beeson claimed the Vice President’s Award for the Prescott campus. Her instructor, Professor Tara O’Neill, praised Beeson for taking “every opportunity, academically and in the field to learn more about teaching. This speaks to her dedication as a student and her potential as a future teacher.”

Following are the Verde Valley Campus and Sedona Center Outstanding Student by discipline for the 2020-2021 academic year:

English, Daniel Fradenburg

Sociology, Hannah Roderick

Biology, Thomas Blatz

Biology, Giacomo Gandolfi

Viticulture and Enology, David Finch

Culinary, Benjamin Casas Culinary, Ethan Anderson


Following are the Prescott Campus Outstanding Student by discipline for the 2020-2021 academic year:

Visual/Graphic Art, Dedra Smith

Visual Arts, Rachelle Sturdevant

Dance, Shannon Shea

Instrumental Music, Emily Schuler

Choral Music, Keiona Mack

Performing Arts, Andre Sylvester

Performing Arts, Gabrielle Baker

Sociology, Elizabeth Smith

Paralegal, Hannah Hovelsrud

English, Amanda Borja

English, Leah Farrington

Business, Brenda Clemen

Video Game Development, Stephen Driscoll

Allied Health, Katherine Morace

Early College, Alexander Cyr

SSS/TRIO, Autumn Re

Special Recognition in Humanities, Jeremiah Parchim, Katie Reeves, Amanda Urquiza and Markus Weinzinger