By: Alexis Stallard & Matthew Revels, Editor-In-Chief & Sports Editor
As the school year ends, Newman is preparing to say goodbye to its latest set of graduates. And though all have accomplished big things by earning their degrees, some have ended their college years having accomplished much and having earned extra accolades.
The Vantage wanted to spotlight some of these outstanding seniors and decided who better than the nominees for the annualAblah Award, which is Newman’s most prestigious honor and is given at graduation to one male and one female graduate who have made impactful contributions as students. Faculty members elect the finalists for the award, and etchings of the both award winners, posing with the faculty members who influenced them most, hang on the walls in the DeMattias Hall atrium.
The two winners will be announced at graduation, which is at 1 p.m. on May 12 at Hartman Arena.
Here’s a closer look at each of the nominees:
LAUREN ESFELD is a biology major with a concentration in pre-optometry, and she also has a minor in communications. She has been a Transitions and Traditions facilitator for three years, been a part of the women’s tennis team for four years, has been an SGA senator as well as the public relations chair, and has been a student on the President’s Student Cabinet for the past two years. She has also been a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for four years with her last two years as the president.
In her role with SAAC, she restarted the intramurals program with the help of senior Ian Lecki and planned several events and annual fundraisers. She has also worked for the admissions department for two years giving tours and encouraging students to enroll at Newman.
She said her proudest achievement at Newman is being nominated for this award and said that she has loved her Newman experience.
“I have been blessed with getting to know so many people that are involved in so many different parts of campus,” Esfeld said.
She will attend the University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry in San Antonio, which is a change from her previous plans to attend the Pacific University College of Optometry in Oregon.
MICHELLE TONG is a nursing student who has been involved in several different areas of campus. She has been a member of the Multicultural Leadership Organization, where she was president this year. She has also worked as a Resident Assistant for the past few years and also has worked in the admissions department. She has also been a part of the Asian Student Association, Chorale, President’s Student Cabinet and the Gardening Club.
Tong said that her proudest accomplishment at Newman has been her involvement with MCLO.
“The transformation and growth of the annual Cultural Extravaganza has been incredible to not only see but to be a part of,” Tong said. “MCLO and planning the Cultural Extravaganzas gave me the opportunity to learn and practice leadership skills that I will take with me for years after my time at Newman.”
She plans to start her job as a labor and delivery nurse at Ascension Via Christi once she passes her National Council Licensure Examination.
MARISSA FRESHOUR is double majoring in criminal justice and psychology with a minor in sociology. She has been involved with several large events over the years at Newman including Party on the Plaza and High Tea. She also has been a member of the mental health support club and the first generational student’s club. She was an ASC scholar, mentored a freshman ASC student, and has been involved in campus cleanup projects.
Freshour said that she feels her dedication to community service is her proudest achievement at Newman. She has completed more than 350 community service hours and hopes to have completed 400 by graduation.
“I give back to my community because I was once in the shoes of those that I serve,” Freshour said.
Both of Freshour’s parents had substance abuse problems that caused them to be in and out of prison, which led her to move out at 16, she said. She then became the full-time guardian of her two younger brothers while working and going to school full time.
“Attending high school then college full time, while working full time, and being a full-time parent is extremely stressful and challenging,” Freshour said. “Therefore, when I give back to those who have gone through the same adversities as me, it gives me a sense of pride and purpose in my life that cannot be compared to anything in this world.”
Freshour said that her time at Newman has been fulfilling and educational and that she appreciates her professors for their understanding and help during difficult times in her personal life.
Freshour will begin working on her Master of Social Work degree in the fall at Newman. She said she hopes to become a therapist in an organization or work as a school counselor once she gets her license.
EMILY MADDUX, is a history major and a 2021 graduate of the radiologic technology program. But she was heavily involved with the theater department and the Sloppy Joes Improv group and has been involved in several productions both on and off stage.
She said she’s proud of the growth that she has experienced in her four years at Newman.
“During that time, I have earned two degrees, found a rewarding job in healthcare, and have gained the tools necessary for my future,” Maddux said.
She said she also appreciates the friends that she has made at Newman. She will study in a fellowship program in Massachusetts for the summer before going to Wichita State University in the fall to complete her Master’s degree in history, with an emphasis on museum exhibits. She’s not sure what comes after that.
TALIA POWERSis a biology major with a pre-med concentration and minors in music and chemistry. Powers has been involved in several things across campus such as the Cheer and Dance team, the Troubadours, and Chorale all four years. She has also been a part of the Hispanic And Latino Organization as the secretary, has been a member of SGA, worked in the library and as a laboratory assistant, and has served as the president of Newman University Medical Professionals Club.
Powers said that the achievement she is most proud of was recently winning the Claudine Axman Award for biology.
“It was very humbling to know that my professors thought highly of me and that my work in my classes all four years had shown through,” Powers said.
She said she is incredibly grateful for her experience at Newman, including meeting friends and professors who have made a big impact on her life. She plans to continue her academic career at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita.
GARRETT VANDEVENTER has been involved primarily in baseball during his two years at Newman. Through baseball, he has emphasized giving back to the community and to the game of baseball whenever possible.
“During my time here, I've learned that sometimes it's more important to give back to the game by helping younger athletes and sacrificing time to teach kids things that I've learned during my baseball journey,” VanDeventer said.
He said that being a student athlete is not the easiest thing to manage, especially during the season. But he is proud that he can make a positive impact both on the field and in the classroom.
He said his biggest accomplishment while at Newman has been helping change the culture of the baseball program while still making an impact within the classroom. VanDeventer also said he has loved his time at Newman.
“Ive been able to meet a lot of great students, teachers and form a lot of great bonds with my brothers on the field,” VanDeventer said. “It's something I will be forever thankful for.”
VanDeventer plans to stay at Newman and use his last year of athletic eligibility while pursuing an MBA with a focus in leadership. Besides school and baseball, VanDeventer will intern for an accounting firm in Wichita, where he hopes to take on a full time position. If he can keep playing baseball, he said, he would love to. But he’s leaving that plan up to God.
MARCUS LINES has been involved in Campus Ministry, where he is the president of the board of students, and he has played a big part in restarting the Jets For Life club, where he is treasurer. Lines said he has especially loved being involved with Campus Ministry.
“It has been a grat gift to be a part of a community with such beauty and laughter,” Lines said. He also said he’s proud to have undertaken his thesis. He never intended to go to college, he said, mainly because he did not want to write any more papers. Now, Lines finds himself finishing up the last few sections of his thesis, which he says is something just short of a miracle.
Lines said he’s also loved being able to have brunch or dinner with some of his professors. He loved that he could learn more than what they teach in the classroom and was able to ask them big questions about life. He plans to work for an excavating company this summer, then in August, he’ll move to Sterling, Virginia, to study. After completion of his doctorate, Limes plans to move back to Wichita and work as a therapist and eventually as a professor.
MINH NGUYEN has been involved with the Multicultural Leadership Organization as the vice president, in the Newman University Medical Professional Club as the research chair, and also has been involved in the Asian Student Association, the theater club, Newman Chorale, Troubadours, Sloppy Joes, and the library team.
Nguyen said his biggest accomplishment at Newman has been being able to call some of the best people around him friends. Nguyen's experience has been “extremely enriching and rewarding,” he said, and he credits a lot of it to Dr. Jenna Persons, who he said has been a kind and knowledgeable mentor, and toDeanne Zogelman, who he said rekindled his love for music and let him be wild on stage.
Nguyen now plans to pursue a combined M.D and Ph.D in genetics and genomics as well as be involved in local theater productions and musicals outside of school.
AUSTIN SCHWARTZ has been involved in many theater productions during his time at Newman and also was a longtime captain in the Sloppy Joes Improv Troupe. He also was a leading member of the Newman Chorale and helped write the script for the group’s big Spring Musical during his last two years at Newman.
Schwartz said his biggest accomplishments were being able to write and direct a few shows for the theater department. His biggest production was this spring’s “The Office,” where we wrote and directed and built and designed the set for the production.
Schwartz, who also wrote for The Vantage, said he was happy to have made great friends and met great people during his time at Newman.
IAN LEE has played on the men’s basketball team for three seasons, he is a member of SAAC and used to work in the events department. A native of Canada, Lee was one of 58 students to earn a spot on the MIAA’s Academic Honor Roll list. He is very grateful for his time spent at Newman as well as his friends and people he has met along the way. Lee plans to work for a company in Texas as a Graduate Training Analyst.
PHOTO: Alexis Stallard, Editor-In-Chief