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Student Awards

Shepherd University strives to be the gateway to the world of opportunities and ideas.   We are committed to the five core values of Learning, Engagement, Integrity, Accessibility, and Community.  We encourage our students to embrace these values, through leadership opportunities that foster, develop and strengthen positive leaders.

Each year students are recognized by clubs and organizations across campus who who embody these values, and who leave a lasting impression on members of the Shepherd Community.


Criteria: The Accounting Club presents this award to an outstanding senior who must be active member of club; have minimum 3.0 in major and overall GPA; must be a graduate of the current calendar year; and be selected by majority vote of active members.

Jenna Marple | Jenna has served in the Accounting Club as an active member since fall 2018. She is an accounting major and has exhibited outstanding leadership in the Club by serving in the roles of secretary, vice-president, and president. In her role as president for the last two years, she provided leadership by conducting meetings and organizing events for the Club. During Covid, Jenna used virtual platforms to continue the Club’s activities, i.e., meetings, speaker presentations, meet the firms, and the annual alumni dinner. Jenna exemplifies what it means to be a leader in an organization.


Criteria: The Chapter Distinguished Service Key Award is a chapter’s highest level of distinction. The award is a black key that displays the Greek letters of the Fraternity in gold and is given in recognition to brothers for outstanding service to their chapter. Brothers are presented the award at a chapter event or banquet on the recommendation of a special chapter committee. Criteria Distinguished service on a chapter level; that is, making an outstanding and unique contribution to the chapter as a whole. Exemplifying and furthering in demonstrable ways the principals of Leadership, Friendship and Service. Making a sustained contribution in a leadership role over a period of time.

Mary Barker | Mary has gone above and beyond Alpha Phi Omega’s expectations for service. She has consistently done more service hours than any other brother in the chapter for nearly every semester she has been in the fraternity. She has dutifully served as Service Chair and has successfully led the chapter in performing numerous service projects. In short, the Alpha Zeta Mu chapter of Alpha Phi Omega is pleased to award Mary Barker with the Distinguished Service Key Award!


Criteria: The Black Student Union presents this award to a member of the BSU’s executive board who Shepherd University staff recognizes for their commitment to bettering their organization.

Kayla Blake |Kayla is a B.S Student in Communication & New Media and President of the Black Student Union. She is an exceptional leader. During her time in Black Student Union, she has successfully taken the role of Vice-President and assisted in the operations of the organization. She is a leader who can represent the black students on campus. She has successfully planned events like the cookout and the seductive delight event. She played a significant role in planning these events and showcased the qualities of a true leader. She has also taken steps to initiate black fraternities and sororities on campus. Due to Kayla’s efforts, black students on campus will have the opportunity to join a community where they feel like they belong.


Criteria: The Office of Student Community Service recognizes students who have demonstrated exceptional involvement in community service through their office. Recipients must complete an exceptional amount of community service hours during an academic year, encourage others to become involved in community service opportunities/created community service opportunities and be active in at least one community service-based organization/club, tied to the Office of Student Community Service.

The Ram Pantry volunteers, listed below, have exhibited continued hard work and dedication to serving the Shepherd community. Every week, the volunteers showed up and helped maintain and operate the pantry. Their dedication and leadership have been so rewarding to watch as they have grown to be campus ambassadors! We are so proud to have each of them representing the Ram Pantry. They have helped turn the Ram Pantry into a warm and welcoming space for the entire Shepherd community!

Autumn McClung
Xavier Hersom
Picture Not Available Dakota DiMarino
Gena Boice
Jennifer Jaafar
Olamide Adegbamigbe
Mary Liz Page – Community Member
Charles Connolly – Community member


Criteria: The Offices of Diversity and Equity, Social Equity, Inclusion, and Title IX, and Multicultural Student Affairs recognizes an outstanding student who inspires others to commit to creating a more inclusive campus community. The selected student is dedicated to promoting an awareness of cultural and diversity issues on campus as well as in the surrounding community. This student will have demonstrated an appreciation for a diverse climate and, moreover, worked to help others understand the importance of multicultural appreciation and social justice. The recipient will be selected by the Shepherd University Diversity and Equity Committee.  Criteria: Minimum 2.5 GPA, One letter of recommendation, Must have participated in campus activities that foster diversity and social justice.

Kiara Rakestraw | Kiara is a psychology major with an Aging Studies minor. She earned Dean’s list honors and awards such as the Leadership for a Better World certificate. Kiara is a student leader, intern, and researcher. She was a key organizer of Ram’s Rally for Respect last fall bringing students from all walks together. As an intern for the Office for Diversity and Equity, she conducted research on trauma-informed care for continuing education for teachers in Berkeley and Jefferson County schools. Kiara is founding member of WISE Talk, upper-level Shepherd students who mentor and encourage diverse students in the Wisdom Inspires Student Empowerment (WISE) program. Her final research project for her psychology internship was an inventory of social justice-related coursework for a COPLAC partnership. This initiative was provided evidence for a multi-campus project for 34 institutions to create shared social justice specializations and minors. Kiara also completed a faculty-led research project with Dr. Howard-Bostic linking the art to historical and academic studies of environmental racism, sexism, and gender inequality.


Criteria: The awardee epitomizes the qualities found in visionary leaders and community service heroes at Shepherd University. The award is for a student who characterizes “the definition of a servant leader” for the team of interns in the Office for Diversity and Equity. The student assists with developing and recommending policy, programs, initiatives and education for the awareness, improvement, and success in diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice.

Kennedy Ntiamoah | Kennedy is majoring in Sociology with a concentration in Criminal Justice and a minor in business administration. He plans to become a U.S Marshall or F.B.I. agent. He is a member of the Shepherd University Football team. During his football career, he was a pertinent member of special teams who contributed to the team’s success competing in the NCAA Division II Football Championship for the 2021 season. Kennedy is an intern for the Office of Diversity and Equity. As an intern, he assisted in the planning of the African American Homage exhibits and poetry read. He is also a mentor and speaker for the Wisdom Inspires Student Excellence (W.I.S.E.).


Criteria: Shepherd is committed to developing the next generation of leaders for our campus, community, and world. Shepherd’s Leadership for a Better World program is designed to increase the capacity of students to become effective change agents.

The students below have invested time developing their leadership skills by completing a minimum of nine training workshops and reflections. Through attendance, participation, and reflection on workshops, trainings, and events rooted in the Social Change Model of Leadership, these students have learned how to become stronger leaders and agents for positive social change by developing consciousness of self, others, and our greater society. In addition to building their professional skills, those who completed the program will receive a certificate and graduation honor cords and their names will be added to a plaque in the Student Center Ram’s Den.
Abigail Johnson
Abigail Stevens
Ben Pigott
Boluwatife Dogari
Chris Turner
Heather Cook
Kiara Rakestraw
Kitanna Rakestraw
Kristen Vernon
Lilian Davila
Lillian Robbins
Marie Yvette Matchouambou
Mary Barker
Mohammed Balassi
Shelby Daugherty
Xavier Hersom
Shannon “Shay” Williams
Skylar Mansfield
Bailey Hansing
Pictures Not Available Kenneth Kline
Claude Black
Emily Speranza


Criteria: The Shepherd University National Millennial & Gen Z Community Chapter recognizes a student in the Shepherd University chapter of the National Millennial & Gen Z who has demonstrated commitment to leadership, advocacy and professionalism in the communication field. Through professionalism and dedication, this student has served as an impactful voice that has advanced the reputation and profile of Shepherd University, the Department of Communication, and Generation Z in their interactions with agencies, brands, professional organizations, NGOs, and/or government.

April Price | April is the student president of the Shepherd University chapter of the National Millennial & Gen Z Community. April has represented our university and the Department of Communication exceptionally in professional settings on club trips to Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Portland where she interacted with executives from major brands and creative agencies. April has jumped at leadership opportunities within the club and is poised, positive and professional in her interactions with executives. A few of her leadership experiences include organizing and co-leading the Dialogue with Leaders in the Disability Community alongside Kevin Bradley, Senior Advisor of Inclusion and Diversity at Zebra Technology; organizing and co-leading an executive conversation with Ms. Susan Johnson of Andrews McMeel Universal; participating in numerous executive conversations with leaders from Hilton, KPMG Managing Partners, Axis Agency, Walt Disney Imagineering and Team One, among others.


Criteria: The Office of Residence Life recognizes anyone in Residence Life who consistently or notably exceeds their typical job expectations and has a deep investment for residential students. The recipient shows exemplary performance serving residents, supports and encourages fellow staff, and demonstrates keen ability to balance responsibilities.

Jera Bassett | Jera has been one of the most professional yet understanding people they have ever worked with. She is great at her job and always is available for help. Among other skills, one nominator wrote, Jera is responsive and always willing to help a student out. Jera has shown consistency in her work and aide and someone I know always tries their best. Jera is there for her staff, is a great source for help, and is a shoulder I trust to lean on.
Elana Gutmann | Elana is the perfect example for what an RA should be. Elana is inclusive, hardworking, and passionate about her role in Residence Life. Not only does she go above and beyond for all residents, but she also does so for her staff. She is the first to provide a safe space, support, positivity, and advice to everyone who needs it. There has never been a second when Elana was not 100% invested into her role as an RA.


Criteria: The Rotaract Club recognizes a student who has shown continued dedication to service above self, as well as commitment to upholding the values of Rotaract. Recipients also show outstanding initiative and leadership capabilities for the betterment of the community.

Alyssa Garagiola


Criteria: The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee recognizes a student leader who is an excellent role model, inspires others to work collaboratively and creatively, demonstrates initiative, promote a meeting that is respectful, collegial, and supportive, as well as fosters pride in Shepherd Athletics.

TaRaessha (Rae) Henderson| Rae held the position of president for SAAC and has been an excellent role model for the committee by inspiring other members to get involved with fundraisers and community events and starting many initiatives for the Athletic program.


Criteria: The Tau Sigma Honor Society recognizes a Shepherd transfer student who has displayed exemplary leadership qualities, academic excellence, and service to other transfer students and the campus community as a whole.

Marie Yvette Matchouambou| Marie Yvette is a graduating senior Nursing major, who has displayed Outstanding Transfer Student Leadership characteristics since transferring to Shepherd in 2019. Marie Yvette has been a member of Tau Sigma (an honor society recognizing the academic achievement of transfer students) for two and a half years and has served as the chapter President since August 2021. During her time as a Tau Sigma officer she has helped to increase transfer student visibility, campus involvement, and member participation. Under her leadership, Tau Sigma has held more events and been more active as a campus organization than at any prior time in chapter history. Before transferring to Shepherd, Marie Yvette earned an Associate’s Degree from Frederick Community College. She is married and has four children and hopes to put her skills and service to work at one of the leading regional medical centers after graduation.


Criteria: Shepherd University TRIO department recognizes an active participant in the TRIO Student Support Services Program who is also a a campus leader supporting the mission and vision of the University. The recipient must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 and be a graduating senior with a bachelor’s degree.

Emily Walker | Emily joined the TRIO Student Support Services program in August 2019. Emily was actively involved with our SSS program in a variety of ways since joining, including regularly meeting with her TRIO advisor and attending the workshops and events. She served as a peer mentor helping new TRIO students in their transition to Shepherd and our TRIO SSS program. She also became our very first social media manager. Emily created a Shepherd TRIO SSS Instagram page and was responsible for posting upcoming events and important information as well as student and staff spotlights. She accumulated 100s of followers for the account. Emily also won the State and Regional TRIO scholarships two years in a row. Outside of the TRIO SSS program, Emily was very involved on campus with community service. She was the President of Phi Epsilon Kappa as well as a member of Kappa Delta Pi National Honor Society for education majors and Tau Sigma National Honor Society for transfer students. Off campus, she has been a Little League softball coach for multiple seasons. She worked several jobs to put herself through school. Emily balanced all of these things while continuing to be an outstanding student. She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education with a concentration in Physical Education in December 2021 with a 3.8 GPA. Currently, she is enrolled in the Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction here at Shepherd. Emily is a great example of the amazing students in our TRIO program and is a true TRIO Achiever.

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