NMU Names Outstanding Graduates

Northern Michigan University has announced its outstanding graduates from each academic department. The honorees received their degrees at NMU’s spring commencement earlier this month. The graduates and their majors are identified below (listed by hometowns in alphabetical order, with Michigan cities first). All graduated in May, unless otherwise indicated.


Alpena: Stephen Luty, economics, worked in the Modern Languages and Literatures department and the Center for Student Enrichment on campus during his time at NMU. He plans to pursue a job in the area of finance or management;

Ann Arbor: Katherine Niemann, clinical sciences, graduated with a 4.0 GPA with a major in speech, language and hearing sciences and a minor in French. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in speech-language pathology;

Crystal Falls: Joan Toivonen is the outstanding grad in the school of education, leadership and public service. She served as the NMU chapter president of the Student Michigan Education Association, Student Council for Exceptional Children and as a lab assistant in the Digital Learning Design Laboratory; Jennifer Vollenweider, math and computer sciences, graduated in August 2014 with a master’s in mathematics education and teaches mathematics at Forest Park High School in Crystal Falls, Michigan.

Davison: Mikenzie Frost, communication and performance studies, was a producer for Public Eye News, resident adviser and founder of the NMU Figure Skating Club. She recently accepted a position as a multimedia journalist at ABC 10 in Marquette;

Escanaba: Rebecca Pelky, English, graduated with an MFA and is a King-Chavez-Parks Future Faculty Fellow. She was president of the Graduate Writers Association and an associate editor at Passages North literary magazine.

Gladstone: Cody and Cameron Anderson both graduated with degrees in biology and will attend medical school together in the fall. 

Greenville: Michael Rotter, biology, graduated with his MA. He has published on the rare “walking fern” in Michigan and discovered two new species of thimbleberry gall wasp. He is a doctorate student at the University of Northern Arizona.

Ishpeming: Emily Bartanen, business, graduated with a 4.0 GPA as a distinguished student within the College of Business; Bradlee Koski, earth, environmental and geographical sciences, earned a degree in geomatics and was a member of NMU’s chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon International Geographical Honor Society. Casey Phillips, business, completed an MBA and is beginning a career as a project manager at 906 Technologies;

Kinross: Tyler Dettlof, English, graduated with his master's. He presented scholarly work at conferences such as the College English Association and the Native American Literature Symposium, served as the writing contest coordinator for the Diversity Common Reader Program and interned at Passages North literary magazine;

Marquette: Frank Lombard, social work, helped establish the veterans' lounge on campus and participated in a social work field placement internship at the Department of Veteran Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Marquette. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work; Willow Grosz, English, tutored at NMU’s Writing Center, was active in the International English Honor Society, served as an editorial intern at Passages North literary magazine and was a teaching assistant for EN 300 fiction workshop; Kurt Kilpela, mathematics and computer science, graduated in December 2014 with a double major in mathematics and computer science. He co-authored papers that were presented at three international conferences and was scheduled to present at a fourth conference in May; Lee Piggott, psychology, is a member of PsiChi, the psychology national honor society and the senior author of an open-access textbook for a university psychology course, which will be released this summer; Melissa Zeglen, political science, graduated with a double major in political science and philosophy. She was an off-campus representative for ASNMU, Student Law Forum Secretary, a member of the Mortar Board National Senior’s Honor Society and tutor. She will continue her education in law school. where she plans on continuing to advocate for victims of domestic and sexual violence;

Menominee: John Mans of the school of education, leadership and public service, earned his master’s in educational administration and supervision and will continue his position as an ISD superintendent;

Negaunee: Casey Torreano, biology, earned a degree in biology with a physiology emphasis and a chemistry minor with a 4.0 GPA. He was involved in Superior Edge, intramural sports and St. Paul’s Catholic Church during his time at NMU.

Powers: Andrea Savord, psychology, was a student and graduate teaching assistant in NMU’s psychology master’s program. Her research project involving music and psychology was recently submitted to the 2015 World Haptics Conference;

Ravenna: Emily Allen, biology/physiology, graduated with a 4.0, was a recipient of the Luther S. West Scholarship, a Division II athlete in NMU’s cross-country and track programs and an active member of the ROTC program. She will attend the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry in the fall;

Republic: Samantha Chevrette, technology and occupational sciences, graduated with a degree in hospitality management and contributed outside of class by volunteering and working in a variety of program settings;

St. Johns: Alexandra Fletcher, international studies, studied abroad for a full semester in Morocco, where she interned at the Association IPDF Meknes Women’s Center. She also volunteered as an international buddy to an international student, served on the committee for internationalization, worked with the International Programs Office as a campus global ambassador promoting study abroad and served as teaching assistant in a world history class;

Skandia: Elisabeth Underwood, engineering technology, made the Dean’s List every semester was an electronics tutor in her department;

Traverse City: Kevin Flohe, economics, was co-president of the Economics Student Association, a member of the Telion Chapter of the Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society and worked for two years as a research assistant for Sam M. Cohodas Professor Tawni Ferrarini;


Maricopa: Bob Hicks, philosophy, plans to continue taking philosophy courses at NMU toward the goal of earning advanced degrees.

Phoenix: Nicholas Pond, history, presented the results of his research at the NMU Sonderegger Symposium and plans to continue his education in graduate school with the goal of becoming a professional historian;


Arlington Heights: Samuel Tallidis, health and human performance, graduated with a 4.0 GPA and plans to be an educator.

Bolingbrook: Lauren Somogyi, earth, environmental and geographical sciences, graduated with a degree in environmental studies and sustainability and a minor in math. She was involved in marching band, Superior Edge, Women for Women, Relay for Life, the Student Leader Fellowship Program, Mortar Board, and Gamma Theta Upsilon International Geographical Honor Society.

Mundelein: Arika Egan, physics, was a double major in physics and philosophy. She was the founder of the NMU Social Justice Committee, played in the NMU Jazz Band and Combo and parts of her work were presented at the Argonne National Laboratory undergraduate research conference. She was selected as the student vocal soloist at May commencement, leading the audience in singing the national anthem and alma mater. She will remain at NMU for a time as an adjunct instructor in the physics department.

Palatine: Elizabeth O’Brien, modern languages and literatures, graduated with majors in Spanish and biology. She has been active in NMU’s Spanish Club, residence hall government and biology research.


Minneapolis: Rosie Frankowski graduated in December 2014 with a master’s of public administration (MPA) degree. As a graduate student, she worked as the MPA Fellow with the City of Marquette, was a varsity student-athlete and recipient of NMU’s Gildo Canale Award. Frankowski skis professionally for APU Nordic Ski Center.


Berlin: Lexi Pomplun, chemistry, earned a degree in forensic biochemistry. She was president of the Forensic Biochemistry Club and conducted research in the chemistry department with professor Eugene Wickenheiser. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in biochemistry.

Kaukauna: Abbey DeBruin, biology, was an athlete for NMU's women’s basketball team and was named to the GLIAC academic excellence team. She will be attending medical school in the fall; Matt Kilgas, health and human performance, graduated with a 4.0 in exercise science and presented papers at the Midwest American College of Sports Medicine meeting and at the International Rock Climbing Research Congress in Pontresina, Switzerland.

New Berlin: Victoria M. Gabrielsen, music, has been the president of NMU’s chapter of the National Association for Music Education and has served as concertmistress in the NMU Orchestra and performing with the Marquette Symphony Orchestra, she is currently student-teaching at Bothwell Middle School and Marquette Senior High School;

Washburn: Cole Swiston, biology, graduated with a degree in biology-physiology. He has conducted research at the Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center and will enter medical school in the fall to become a pediatrician.

Prepared By
Abby Roche
Student Writer