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Awards convocations recognize achievement in academics, athletics

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – By tradition, the last two Bethel convocations of the school year recognize students for their academic and athletic accomplishments.

Kent Allshouse, athletic director, opened the May 4 convocation.

Doug Maury, director of Bethel’s athletic training program, announced Kansas Athletic Trainers Society (KATS) honors for 2015: 1st Team – graduating seniors Mariah Ekart, Wamego, Taylor Morris, Buhler, and Tanner Steingard, Henderson, Nebraska, and seniors Tori Kaufman, Cortez, Colorado, Kendra Scott, Newton, and Lauren Ulrich, Walnut, California; 2nd Team – graduating senior Brooke Powers, Wamego; and Honorable Mention – sophomore Rachael Terbush, Castle Rock, Colorado.

Both academic and athletic awards from the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics were announced (see sidebar for complete list).

Other special awards were:

  • Dorothy Wedel Kaufman Honor Scholarships to Kaylen Fike, sophomore from Ada, Oklahoma, Alex Nguyen, junior from Hanoi, Vietnam, and Will Shoup, senior from Newton;
  • C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest awards to Jacob Miller, junior from Westmoreland, first place for “For the sake of peace, please remember that not all terrorists are Muslim,” and Jesse Voth-Gaeddert, senior from Hesston, second place for “Bridges of Understanding”;
  • Writing Fellowship award to Kaylen Fike;
  • “Teachers of Promise” awards to graduating seniors Desiree Bishop, Newton, and Alyssa Scheuerman, Scott City, in elementary education, and Jason Friesen, Inman, and Sadie Minkevitch, Newton, in secondary education;
  • the J. Lloyd Spaulding Award for Economics and Business to Stacey Weber, graduating senior from Hesston.

Brad Born, vice president for academic affairs, presented an award given periodically to a faculty member, the David H. Richert Distinguished Scholar Award, to Karen Bauman Schlabaugh, professor of music.

Thresher Awards went to two seniors honored for making “outstanding and sustained contributions in their academic field.”

Patricia Shelly, professor of Bible and religion, presented a Thresher Award to Benjamin Kreider, North Newton, in Bible and religion, and David Long, professor of art, to Jessie Pohl, Moundridge, in art.

The May 4 convocation wrapped up with two “special recognition” awards:

  • The John O. and Esther Schrag Helping Hand Award, to Hamilton Williams, associate professor of social work, nominated by seniors Katelyn Melgren, Olathe, and Tevin Freel, Houston;
  • Resident Assistant of the Year, to Ethan Birdwell, sophomore from Moore, Oklahoma (Voth Hall).

Born opened the second of the two awards convocations, held May 8.

Campus Pastor Peter Goerzen presented the Seth Dunn Memorial Award, which Dunn’s family established following his death in an accident Aug. 1, 2011, right before his senior year at Bethel.

This award goes to a student “who identifies areas of needed change on campus, challenges others and takes action that makes a difference in accordance with the stated ideals and values of the Bethel community.”

Goerzen presented the award to Abby Schrag, junior from Newton.

Other special awards followed:

  • Gerald Schrag Award for mathematics to Dylan Jantz, graduating senior from Newton;
  • Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society inductees (from fall 2014) – graduating seniors Lani Astorga, Omaha, Nebraska, Kylie Blaylock, Towanda, Melissa Dodge, Wichita, Katrina Horner, La Junta, Colorado, Nichole Ilderton, Wichita, Jera Mason, Garden City, Jennifer Reed, Douglass, Kelly Reimer, Hesston, and Asha Williams, Wichita. Astorga also received the Iota Chi Excellence in Nursing Scholarship Award for having the highest grade point average in the senior nursing class;
  • 2015 Undergraduate Research, Internships and Creative Activity (URICA) Awards to Will Shoup in literary studies, Renee Stucky in history, Lila Tibbets in psychology, Leah Towle in education, Natalie Unruh in biology and Emily Wedel in biology (see sidebar);
  • Ray and Betty Funk Award for Entrepreneurship to Adam Arciniega, Avondale, Arizona, Justin Haflich, Pretty Prairie, Richard Linares, Desert Hot Springs, California, and Kyle Riesen, Beatrice, Nebraska;
  • Waldo H. and Linda Zielke Friesen Awards in Global Ministries (which have not given for several years), to students for work done during the January 2015 interterm – graduating seniors Melinda Regehr, Whitewater (Jerusalem Seminar), Ethan Rodenberg, Halstead (East-Central Europe), and Jesse Voth-Gaeddert, Hesston (East-Central Europe), and sophomore Austin Regier, Newton (Mexico).

Allshouse presented Bethel watches to four-year letter winners: Taylor Durant, Westminster, Colorado, and April Harpe, Memphis, Tennessee, women’s basketball; Brieanna Zerger, Hutchinson, women’s basketball and women’s soccer; Ethan Knight, Moundridge, Sam Morrison, Winfield, and Seth Tarrant, Conway Springs, football; Ethan Rodenberg, Halstead, golf; Alex Hagen, Flower Mound, Texas, and Benjamin Kreider, North Newton, men’s soccer; Angelina Adame, Newton, Paige LaFever, Hutchinson, Meghan Phillips, Wichita, Sarah Schell, Topeka, and Madison Wiles, Hutchinson, women’s soccer; Sarah Cunningham, Oskaloosa, and Victoria Roberts, Sedgwick, softball; Jesse Voth-Gaeddert, Hesston, men’s tennis; and Allie Hipp, Claflin, women’s tennis.

Allshouse also named “B” Letter Award winners for those who have been in their sport at least two years.

The May 8 awards convocation concluded with “special recognitions”:

  • Student “ambassador of the year” for Admissions – Kelsey Peterson, junior from Plano, Texas;
  • George Rogers Outstanding Athlete of the Year Award (one male, one female) – Adam Arciniega, senior from Avondale, Arizona (basketball), and April Harpe, graduating senior from Memphis, Tennessee (basketball);
  • Douglas A. Penner Champions of Character Scholarships – Kaylen Fike, softball, and Kelsey Peterson, women’s soccer;
  • Gerry Sieber Service Award – Brennan Peacock, men’s soccer coach, who showed “unselfish willingness to do whatever is needed, often without being asked,” according to Kent Allshouse, athletic director.

Allshouse also introduced a new award that will be given each year to an enthusiastic Bethel athletic supporter, named to honor “Bethel’s #1 fan,” Loren Reusser of Newton.

Reusser is such a consistent presence at Bethel games, particularly football, basketball and volleyball, Allshouse said, “he’s even recognized by the visiting athletes and coaches.

“He’s come to [epitomize] what it means to be a Thresher fan.”

Allshouse inaugurated the Loren Reusser Award by presenting it to Reusser himself, who was present with his wife, Peggy.

Bethel President Perry D. White concluded the final convocation of the year by noting one faculty promotion: Rachel Epp Buller, from assistant to associate professor of visual arts and design.

He also named staff and faculty with 30 years of service to Bethel – Barbara Thiesen, co-director of libraries, Mike Ratzlaff, maintenance, and Merle Schlabaugh, professor of German – and with 20 years – Ami Regier, professor of literary studies, and Brad Born, professor of literary studies, and vice president for academic affairs 2005-2015.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2014-15 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2014-15. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.