Apple Day 2022: A spotlight on winning students, staff, faculty, and alumni

All Apple Days are special, but Apple Day 2022 was extra special: it was the first in-person Apple Day since March 2020. The day featured ceremonies, awards, and a spotlight on the impact of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and donors. 

Ribbon Cutting 

Ribbon Cutting Russ Hall

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the renovated Original Broadway Entrance to Pittsburg State University in front of Russ Hall was held at 11 a.m. to kick off the annual Apple Day observance — a day that celebrates the founding of PSU.  

The Original Broadway Entrance was erected in 1940 by the Work Projects Administration and Kansas State Teachers College, as PSU was known then. It was a gift from the senior classes of 1936, 1937, 1938, and 1940. Senior class gifts from the classes of 2000 and 2003-2008 helped fund its recent renovation.  

The ribbon-cutting featured brief remarks from PSU President Steve Scott. The ribbon was cut by Advancement Ambassador Evan Garrett, class donor and Mid-Continental Restoration employee Chase Halsey, University Architect Lindell Haverstic, Scott, Vice President for Advancement Kathleen Flannery, SGA Vice President Bella L'Heureux, and Advancement Ambassador Braden Zaner. 

Free apples!

Apple Day apples

As has been tradition for generations, faculty handed out apples on the Oval and in the Overman Student Center. They were donated by Marrone's Produce. The tradition is a nod to a fine the university's first president, R.S. Russ, had to pay in Topeka when lobbying the Legislature to pass an appropriation that would fund a permanent building for PSU.

Apple Dessert Contest   

Apple Day desserts

The long-running Apple Day Dessert Contest was held in the Gorilla Crossing of the Overman Student Center at 11:30 a.m. and drew a diverse field of entries. 

In the Apple Pie Division, winners were Angela Moots in first place, Cassidy Pankratz in second place, and Gentry Woodward in third place. In the Apple Dessert Division, winners were Carsyn Hughes in first place, Howard Smith in second place, and Neal Zoglmann in third place. 

Dr. Ralf J. Thomas Distinguished Service Award 

Distinguished Service Award

In a ceremony at the Wilkinson Alumni Center at 2 p.m., the recipient of the 2022 Dr. Ralf J. Thomas Distinguished Service Award was recognized. 

Since graduating in 1988 with a degree in Plastics Engineering Technology, Kevin Griner, president of Harold Payne Plastics, LC, has been an active alumnus and strong supporter of that department. He has found many ways to make a difference to students today, including helping to start an endowed scholarship funded by an annual golf tournament.

To date, he’s helped raise through the Annual Plastics Alumni Golf Tournament well over $200,000, including building an endowed scholarship through the PSU Foundation, of more than $100,000. Additionally, from this endowment, $108,000 in scholarships have been awarded to students, and $20,000 to support the PET programHe has also served on the Plastics Engineering Technology Advisory Council, as well as on the PSU Alumni Association Board of Directors. Full story.

Good Apple Award  

This year, the Apple Day Committee chose two Good Apple Award winners from a pool of nominees that graduated within the last five years, embody what it means to be a Pittsburg State University Gorilla, and already have made an impact. They were recognized during the Apple Day Convocation held at 3 p.m. in the Crimson & Gold Ballroom in the Overman Student Center. They were: 

Savannah Self

Savannah Self, who graduated with a degree from the Family & Consumer Sciences Department in 2017, then earned a master’s degree in child life and a certificate in play therapy.  

A military spouse, she has played a big role in Afghanistani resettlement support in Indiana and Wisconsin, has helped deliver therapeutic activities to women and children, and has served as a hospital volunteer.  

She started an initiative so that children of military service personnel would have access to the same medical support as other children. Today, she is a child life specialist in a pediatric intermediate care unit in Illinois. She credits much of what she has achieved to the experiences and the support of faculty she had here at Pitt State. Full story. 

Lynzee Flores

Lynzee Flores, who graduated with degrees from the Department of English and Modern Languages and the Department of Communication in 2016.  

With a drive to succeed, she built a network among her peers, faculty and staff, and community members, and even a host family when she studied abroad in Spain. A former Outstanding Senior Woman and winner of the Golden Gorilla Award, she went on to make a difference through volunteer work, including teaching basic Spanish to employees at Ascension Via Christi Hospital and working with adult ESOL students in Kansas City.  

After earning a master’s degree she began work on a PhD in political communication at the University of Kansas, which she will finish this December. She teaches at KU and at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, and has helped facilitate the Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute through the U.S. State Department. Full story. 

Also at Apple Day Convocation, the following awards were given: 

Dr. Robert K. Ratzlaff Outstanding Faculty Awards  

In the Apple Day Convocation held at 3 p.m. in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom at the Overman Student Center, three Outstanding Faculty Award winners were recognized for making lasting impressions on our students, who nominated them. 


Goldie Prelogar, an associate instructional professor in consumer education and personal finance in the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences. Students described her as being positive, taking time to learn each student’s name, and truly caring about their mental health and well-being.  


Christopher Childers, an associate professor of history in the Department of History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences. Students described him as being an excellent, encouraging, and engaged teacher who is not only an expert at his subject matter, but is kind and compassionate.  


Grant Moss, a professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages. Students described him as having an enthusiastic and positive attitude that is contagious and being a teacher who pushes them to grow in their abilities and reach their potential. 

Voya Outstanding Employee Recognition Awards 

Each year, Voya Financial Advisors awards two $750 stipends, one to an unclassified employee and one to a university support staff. 


This year’s USS honoree was Barb Barto, administrative associate at the Overman Student Center. Nominators called Barto a problem solver for all things related to events happening in the student center, and said she was key to the success of those events.  

This year’s UPS honoree was Becky Krause, IT development coordinator in Information Technology Services. Nominators said her effort and knowledge are critical for campus issues to be resolved efficiently, and daily she handles dozens of support tickets.  

Professors Beyond the Classroom Grant Awards 

Funded by the PSU Student Government Association, they were given to seven faculty members who will use the money to positively impact students. 

Grant Moss, English and Modern Languages, who is working with a study abroad experience to Alicante Spain this summer. 

Rion Huffman, Graphics and Imaging Technologies, who will offer students a travel photography opportunity that will allow them to shoot a wider range of subject matter and experience different environments. 

Neil Snow, Biology, who will guide students at the Welder Wildlife Foundation in Sinton, Texas, where they will collect specimens and interact with local wildlife biologists and plant specialists. 

Andrew George, Biology, who will take students to the Platte River in Nebraska to study Sandhill Crane migration and a greater prairie chicken display. 

Dory Quinn, History, Philosophy and Social Sciences, who will provide Mental Health First Aid training from the National Council for Mental Well-Being. 

Todd Hastings, Music, who will help a student compete in a national trumpet competition featuring players from across the country including Juilliard, UCLA, and Baylor. 

Mayumi Kiefer, Art, who will expand materials and resources so that more students can interact with ceramics making and the community through demonstrations and small group learning.   

Golden Gorilla Award 

Golden Gorillas

Since 1997, the Golden Gorilla Award has been given each year to recognize students for their significant achievements in academics, service, and involvement on campus and in the community. This year’s recipients were:

  • Taylor Brynds, a business and psychology major from Cherokee, Kansas 
  • Marci Heatherly, a secondary English education major from Girard, Kansas 
  • Rachel Ruiz, a chemistry (pre-med emphasis) major from Pittsburg 
  • Lauryn Macy, a nursing major from Diamond, Missouri 
  • Paul Worsley, a biology (pre-med emphasis) and history major from Pittsburg, Kansas 
  • Savana Quinn Smith, a biology (pre-med emphasis) major from Joplin, Missouri 
  • Hannah Huffman, a unified elementary education major from Carl Junction, Missouri 
  • Madison Reese, a biology and chemistry major from Ozark, Missouri 
  • Amber Large, a mathematics (emphasis in teaching grades 6-12) major from Branson, Missouri  
  • Abby Noble, a chemistry major from Eureka, Kansas 
  • Audrey Hartwell, a social work and Spanish major from Overland Park, Kansas 
  • Jack Tenbrink, a construction management major from Overland Park, Kansas 
  • Mackenzie Mansel, a psychology major from Nixa, Missouri 
  • Braden Shelton, a biology major (pre-med emphasis) from Fort Scott, Kansas 
  • Neal Zoglmann, a unified elementary education major from Conway Springs, Kansas 
  • Joseph George, a technology and engineering education major from Overland Park, Kansas 
  • Cale Chapman, a communications major from Mission, Kansas 
  • Jaiden Patterson, a psychology major from Olathe, Kansas 
  • Kassidy Toomay, a music education major (flute studies emphasis) from Shawnee, Kansas 
  • Ellie Lewis, an Elementary Education major from Overland Park, Kansas 
  • Kailan Cloud, a psychology major (concentration in HRD) from Grove, Oklahoma 
  • Alexandra Vanzant, a biology major from Webb City, Missouri 
  • Emma Hertig, a nursing major from Lawrence, Kansas 
  • Jason Rowland, a nursing major from Riverton, Kansas 
  • Skylar Rosenfeld, a nursing major from Olathe, Kansas 
  • Braden Zaner, a business marketing and strategic communications major from Raymore, Missouri 
  • PSU President Steve Scott, on behalf of the Apple Day Committee, to honor his 13 years as president 

Centennial Scholarship drawing 

This annual drawing began when the university turned 100 in 2003 and is sponsored by the PSU Foundation. Any undergraduate student currently enrolled, who also will be enrolled as an undergraduate this fall, was eligible. 

The winner of one of the two $500 scholarships was entered through their participation in the Apple-solutely the Best: Notes of Gratitude to Faculty & Staff program. Students submitted online thank-you notes to PSU employees. Those notes were compiled and emailed to the recipients. The student receiving this scholarship was Khadija Ceesay. 

The winner of the other $500 scholarship was an attendee at Apple Day whose name was drawn randomly. That student was Alexandra Vanzant.