2020 LAS Awards

Outstanding Students: Undergraduate & Graduate

Outstanding Student in Leadership

Adey is a first generation American. As the first person in her family to be born in the U.S., it was imperative for Adey to go to a university and get an education. Over the past four years, Adey has earned a spot on the Dean’s List with a GPA of 3.5 and above. She has also kept busy during her time at UCCS as a member of the African Student Association and co-president of the Practical Magic club. In 2019, she won the chance to be the opening speaker for the Significant Speaker of 2019, Tarana Burke, the founder of the MeToo movement. Adey’s capstone raised funds for a non-profit organization that distributes feminine products to girls and women in need. The Department of Communication is proud to award this year’s Outstanding Student in Leadership to Adey Abebe.

Outstanding Student in General Communication
Jodi is a non-profit association director whose focus is on education and business development. She has ten years’ experience in business administration, organizational management, and government services. She is adept at directly leading teams in a dynamic and fast-paced environment. Jodi has focused her education on communication services, project development, digital marketing, and professional negotiation. Her education has enabled her to manage budgets, employees, events, quality assurance, and company compliance. She is adept at data collection and analysis for the purpose of organizational improvement. Jodi is a Karen Possehl Women’s Endowment (KPWE) Scholarship recipient, a member of Lambda Pi Eta National Communication Association Honor Society and a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Member. Jodi’s capstone project pertains to communication persuasion in job interviews. We are proud to honor Jodi Battle as this year’s Outstanding Student in General Communication.
Outstanding Student in Sports Communication
Derek is the first man in his immediate family to earn a bachelor's degree. Derek graduated from San Dimas High School in Southern California and attended UCCS for all four years of his college career. He initially enrolled as a Sport Management major before switching to Sports Communication. He has taken both online and traditional classes at UCCS. Over the past five semesters, Derek has worked part-time as both a reporter and a photographer for the The Scribe, the on-campus student-run newspaper at UCCS. The Communication Department is happy to award this year’s Outstanding Student in Sports Communication award to Derek Lee.
Outstanding Student in Media Studies
Meghan Lee Johnson is one of the many non-traditional students here at UCCS. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Meghan was unable to complete her college degree beyond her freshman year and went straight into the workforce as a dental assistant for 13+ years. At the age of 31, Meghan decided to return to school to complete her degree in Communication with her emphasis in Media Studies. While enrolled as a student, Meghan has remained on both on the Dean's and President's List. Meghan is co-president of Lambda Pi Eta National Communication Association Honor Society. Meghan has had a life long love for film and television, with the goal to be in an active role in the production process. She has a particular passion for acting, writing for film and television, and directing. Beyond the technical aspects of creating film and television, Meghan is truly passionate about critical analysis of media. She considers it of great importance to understand how and why media are produced, and same for their various effects on people and society. Meghan's deep-seated passion is to utilize media studies in the world of film and television with the purpose of making a positive difference in the world around her. We are excited to present Meghan Johnson as this year’s Outstanding Student in Media Studies.
Outstanding Online Student in Communication
Joshua Shepherd enrolled at UCCS, pursuing a BA in Communication. During his junior year, Joshua was contacted by a Best Buy corporate executive where he accepted a job, sold their home, and moved to Minnesota two weeks later. During his senior year, Joshua became the proud father of a new baby girl. After realizing the importance of family, the new mother and father decided to make the move back home to Colorado. Through the years, Joshua has maintained balancing working full time, going to school full time, coaching gymnastics, cheer, and circus, all while trying to keep up with his new baby girl; he is just happy she can't walk yet. Even through all the chaos, making the most of UCCS’s online degree in Communication, Joshua will be finishing up and graduating this May to prove to his daughter just how important education is. We are so proud to award our inaugural Outstanding Online Student in Communication award to Joshua Shepherd.
Outstanding Student in Digital Filmmaking
While in high school, Galen got cast in a THEATREWORKS show, Ludlow, 1914 at UCCS. During that time, he came to value UCCS’s beauty, community, and spirit to do one’s best. After he graduated from The Classical Academy with college credits because of dual enrollment at PPCC, he began school at UCCS in 2016. A year later, he declared a Digital Filmmaking major, and learned the capability of digital media and their potential to change the world. Over his last three semesters, Galen has helped write, direct, and edit the sixth season of UCCS’s The Bluffs. After graduation, Galen plans to continue working on projects that empower others and motivate change. We are proud to present Galen Westmoreland with the Outstanding Student in Digital Filmmaking award.
Outstanding Student in Organizational/Strategic Communication
Outstanding Graduate Student
Having returned to UCCS in 2016 to finish her bachelor’s degree, Jolena is the first of her family to not only earn her BA, but her MA as well. The daughter of a disabled military veteran, Jolena is a non-traditional student who has been driven towards self-improvement. She has fervently pursued her education while dedicating herself to volunteer work with diversity and inclusion initiatives, as well as working a full-time job at USAA. She also has served as vice-president of public relations for her local chapter of Toastmasters. Ever since she was young, she has worked with foster children, and as long-term placements in her household came of age, she later transitioned to volunteering as their guardian and acting as their representative in multiple ways. Jolena is extremely proud of her achievements at UCCS. Jolena has been driven to study the area of dialogue, dedicated to trying to find a way to bridge gaps in difficult and even wicked conversations. Jolena has achieved excellent grades during her tenure at the college and been on the President’s list multiple times. She consistently says that “returning to college was the best decision I had ever made because I have created multiple passions in my life.” Her capstone project this semester covers a training in building trust in dialogue that was inspired and informed by professionals in the community, which she hopes to be the first step in helping others fix communication problems within our society.
Hanne Murray
Outstanding Graduate Student
Hanne Murray is fascinated by wide-spread cultural meaning-making practices and actively participates in questioning societal values and norms as they pertain to hegemonic systems of privilege and oppression. She is passionate in her ability to connect with people, to understand the motivations behind behaviors, and to perpetuate understanding and active engagement within the world. She values in-depth examination of cultural artifacts, specifically media, and is energized by knowledge and post-structuralist methodologies of interpretation. Hanne aspires to translate theoretical knowledge and cultural research into conversations that recognize humanity among all peoples to create a world that is indiscriminately equal. Hanne’s capstone project examines portrayals and messaging around gender and class in relationship competition reality television programs such as The Bachelor. Without question, the Communication Department is delighted to present the award for Outstanding Graduate Student to Hanne Murray.