PSU names Outstanding Seniors for 2015

  Friday, May 1, 2015 2:00 AM

Pittsburg, KS

PSU names Outstanding Seniors for 2015

When they aren’t writing and editing, Ellen Wieberg and Michael Giffin are thinking about the speeches they will deliver to the classmates at Pittsburg State University’s 111th spring commencement ceremonies on Friday and Saturday, May 8-9.

Wieberg, from Spring Hill, Kan., and Giffin, from Pittsburg, were recently named PSU’s Outstanding Seniors and with that honor comes the opportunity to speak to their classmates.

Wieberg will earn a bachelor’s degree in communication with and emphasis in public relations and minors in graphic design, multicultural studies and women’s studies. She is a member of PSU’s Honors College and has earned numerous academic awards including the Golden Gorilla Leadership Award, the Outstanding Student in Public Relations Award, the Resident Assistant of the Year Award, and All-A Scholastic Honors.

Wieberg is a member of and has served in leadership positions for numerous campus organizations including the Presidential Emerging Leaders Program, the International Affairs Global Leadership Institute, the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Society, National Resident Hall Honorary, Lambda Sigma Honors Society, the Public Relations Committee, PSU TOMS, Phi Kappa Phi Senior Honor Society, Lambda Phi Eta Communications Honor Society, and Pitt Pals.

In addition to her academic pursuits and working on campus, first as a Resident Assistant in one of PSU’s residence halls and later in the Office of International Programs, Wieberg has been very active in numerous forms of community service. Her community service includes work for the SEK Humane Society, the Red Cross Blood Drive, TOMS, the Children’s Advocacy Center, United Way, Salvation Army bell ringing, the Family Resource Center, Midwest Foster Care, and many more.

Wieberg said her PSU experience has deepened her interest in studying multiculturalism. In addition to her on-campus cultural experiences, she has traveled to Europe for two consecutive summers and lived with five separate host families in Germany.

After graduation, Wieberg will spend a year in the U.S. on a communications fellowship focusing on leadership and diversity before heading the England, where she has been accepted into the media and public relations masters program at Leicester University. Eventually, Wieberg said, she hopes of a career with a non-profit organization “while making a true impact. . .on a global scale.”

Giffin will earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He is a member of the Honors College and has earned All-A Academic Honors for six out of seven semesters. His other academic awards include completion of the International Knowledge Experience program, the Outstanding Freshman in Chemistry Award, the Golden Gorilla Award, the Global Leadership Institute and the Student Government Association Senator of the Year Award.

At PSU, Giffin has conducted chemistry research on electroactive polymers under the guidance of Charles Neef, Ph.D. He shared his findings in a poster presentation at the Midwest Regional American Chemical Society.

Giffin’s student employment on campus includes serving as legislative affairs director for the SGA, tutor, lab assistant, teaching assistant, and research assistant.

Giffin’s international experience includes spending five months in Malta with trips to Morocco, Germany, Austria and France.

Giffin has been a member of and provided leadership in a number of campus organizations, including the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, the Lambda Sigma Sophomore Honor Society, the Society of Physics Students, the Chemistry Club, Young Americans for Liberty, College Republicans, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Crimson Club and the Student Government Association.

His community service includes ringing bells for the Salvation Army, Adopt-a-Highway, working as a volunteer custodian and teaching children’s church at South Broadway Baptist Church, and the Big Event.

Following graduation, Giffin plans to begin an accelerated chemistry master’s degree program at PSU while his fiancé completes her baccalaureate degree. The two of them plan to continue their education in Europe.

In addition to speaking at commencement, the two outstanding seniors will be honored with brass plaques on the Outstanding Senior Walk in front of Russ Hall.

The tradition of selecting the outstanding seniors goes back more than 60 years and it’s the highest honor a student can achieve at PSU. The selection process begins with nominations from faculty, members of the unclassified staff and student organization presidents. Nominees are judged by their academic pursuits and GPA, organizational involvement at PSU, offices held in organizations, honors and scholarships, community service and volunteer work, and employment while attending PSU. The finalists are submitted for an advisory vote by faculty and members of the unclassified staff before the selection committee selects the honorees.

The university will hold four commencement exercises on May 8-9 in John Lance Arena, 1701 S. Homer. Students from the College of Arts and Sciences departments of biology, chemistry, English, family & consumer sciences, mathematics, modern languages & literatures, music nursing, physics and general studies will graduate at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 8. The commencement ceremonies for students from the Kelce College of Business and from the College of Arts and Sciences departments of Art, Communication, History, Philosophy and Social Sciences will begin at 8 p.m. that day.

On Saturday, commencement exercises for students from the College of Education will be held at 9:30 a.m. Exercises for students from the College of Technology will begin at noon.



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