Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Rosemary Niedens and Khoi Nguyen

Khoi Nguyen receives coveted St. Catherine Medal

Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Rosemary Niedens (l) and Khoi Nguyen (r)


The 2017 Newman University Academic Honors and Awards Banquet was held on April 19 — a night to honor student scholars, outstanding academic leaders and university supporters.

To allow family and friends to celebrate with them, this year’s student award winners were notified in advance so they could invite family and friends to attend the annual celebration.

The St. Catherine Medal was the only student award that was kept as a surprise for the night, along with two awards for faculty and staff — the Teaching Excellence Award and the Staff Excellence Award.

The prestigious St. Catherine Medal was awarded to nursing student Khoi Nguyen. This annual award is given to a sophomore or junior who has demonstrated outstanding service to the university and has established an excellent record of scholastic achievement.

“It was a lovely surprise and I wish that my parents were at the banquet to share this joy with me,” Nguyen said. “I am truly honored to be the recipient of the St. Catherine Medal. I appreciate all the support I have received and I believe that I would not have been on stage to receive the award had it not been for those who have made important impacts in my life.”

The Teaching Excellence Award was received by Joshua Papsdorf, Ph.D., associate professor of Theology and director of Graduate Theology Programs. The award is presented each spring to a full-time faculty member who has demonstrated an innovative or dynamic approach to courses, course revisions and teaching techniques. The recipient has the honor of speaking at the following spring commencement ceremony.

The Staff Excellence Award is presented each year to a full-time staff member who goes above and beyond in the performance of his or her job duties. The award went to Debbie Flax, administrative assistant to the dean of Undergraduate Studies, Division of Science and Mathematics.

Following the banquet, several students spoke of how they felt about receiving an award.

“I’m so excited,” said Liping Peng, a senior who received the Faculty Choice Award for Radiologic Technology. “I can’t believe I was chosen. I’m so proud of this.”

Hilary Cabrejos, who received the Creative Achievement Award said, “It’s an honor to be recognized. I’ll be sorry to leave. The people and culture are amazing here.”

“I think tonight I finally realized that my time (at Newman) is coming to an end,” said senior Diane Kemp, who received the Sister Vivian Miller Award in Education. “It’s been really nice to stand back and see all that’s been accomplished here.”

“I was on the verge of crying,” said Ruben Lerma, who received the Outstanding Senior Chemistry/Biochemistry Student Award and has been given a fellowship from Kansas State University to pursue a doctorate in the genetics of plants. “I do feel like I did a lot of work for Newman, but Newman did a lot of work for me. It’s great to be recognized by the faculty that I can do what I did.”

Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Rosemary Niedens said, “It makes you feel like as faculty and staff that all the work I’ve done is worth it.” She further emphasized, “We have fantastic students who have done fabulous things.”

The names of all award recipients have been placed on a plaque just west of the elevator in the Dugan Library.

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