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A standing ovation for the students, staff, alumni and programs that have enriched the Roadrunner community.

By Josie Lavender

May 26, 2021

Rowdy jumping with arms raised in celebratory stance; blue sky background.In addition to Faculty Citings, the Early Bird shines a spotlight each month on the accomplishments of Metropolitan State University of Denver faculty, staff and University partners. If we missed an award, accolade or opportunity to celebrate an accomplishment big or small, please email us at

Stand-up staff and students

MSU Denver’s talented students inspire the entire campus community with their academic prowess, determination and positive impact. The recipients of MSU Denver’s 2020-21 Outstanding Student Awards and Spring 2021 President’s and Provost’s Awards exemplify what it means to be a Roadrunner and to embrace CADRE values.

The MSU Denver community congratulates:

  • Nayeli Cisneros, Spring 2021 President’s Award winner
  • Derek Brekken, Spring 2021 Provost’s Award winner
  • Braedan Weart, 2020-21 Outstanding Service, Student Affairs Award winner
  • Helena Steenberg, 2020-21 Outstanding Student in the College of Business
  • Zahava Heydel, 2020-21 Outstanding Student in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
  • Benjamin Garrett, 2020-21 Outstanding Student in the College of Health and Applied Sciences
  • Ebbie Pell, 2020-21 Outstanding Student in the School of Education.

Academic advisor and scholar Alison Tishman and Economics student Ellie Beaudo know the meaning of applied learning. After recently taking a Political Economy of Immigration course taught by Alex Padilla, Ph.D., associate professor of Economics, Tishman and Beaudo reached out to Westword to share their advocacy for immigrant rights. This month, Westword published Tishman’s op-ed titled “Undocumented Workers Are Essential and Deserve Stimulus, Too” and Beaudo’s “It’s Time to Put a Stop to Immigrant Smuggling and Coyote Ugly.” A Roadrunner cheer goes up for these inspirational scholars.

Stephanie Shufelt is an Air Force veteran with an unparalleled commitment to community service. Shufelt is studying Elementary Education at MSU Denver and just received her certificate in trauma-informed practices. Her journey from military to education hero was recently featured in RED. Give it up for this amazing Roadrunner.

Tanya Haave, women’s basketball head coach, was awarded the 2021 Inclusive Higher Education Certificate Program’s Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award at the IHECP Certificate Ceremony on May 12. The award is given to faculty and staff members who contribute to the organization’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusivity in higher education and who work tirelessly to improve opportunities for the Auraria Campus’ diverse learners. 

See a video clip of the award presentation and Haave’s acceptance speech.

The 2021 IHECP Certificate Ceremony also featured 2020 Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award winner Elizabeth Hinde, Ph.D.

Congratulations to these exemplary educators!

Stellar graduates

Ley-Lonni Marie Woodruff graduated from MSU Denver’s Master of Social Work program within one year and has already secured a position as a case manager at Mile High Behavioral Healthcare in Denver. Learn more about her growth from a homeless youth struggling in the foster-care system to an agent for change as an accomplished graduate in RED. A big round of applause for this ambitious scholar!   

Josephina Carlacci-King and Allison Poeling are MSU Denver Hospitality graduates with promising futures. Both were selected for the Rita and Navin Dimond Fellows Program, which enabled them to pursue their calling as industry leaders. Carlacci-King persevered through balancing multiple jobs during school and a life-threatening accident. Poeling also faced her share of academic road bumps after a career shift in the middle of the pandemic. Despite the obstacles, these two rock-star graduates have shown true Roadrunner grit. Read more about Carlacci-King and Poeling in RED. A well-deserved congratulations to these up-and-coming hospitality leaders.

MSU Denver students are unique in their passion and drive for excellence. It is with great pride that the University celebrates the successes of all 2021 spring graduates. Shine on, Roadrunners!

Distinguished departments

Accessibility and diversity are core values for MSU Denver that the Nutrition and Dietetics Department has proudly elevated. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics presents a Diversity and Inclusion Action Award to departments focusing on the successful recruitment, retention and leadership development of underrepresented communities. This year, MSU Denver’s Nutrition and Dietetics Department has received the honor for promoting equity in higher education. Thank you to the staff and faculty members working to implement CADRE values.  

Newsworthy Roadrunner reporters

The Society of Professional Journalism seeks to promote the spirit of fellowship among journalists and civic responsibility to the community while furthering the ethics and ideals of the profession. Each year, they honor exemplary journalists in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming with the “Top of the Rockies” award. This year’s award-winner lineup includes several Roadrunners who have embodied CADRE values in their budding careers. Hats off to:

  • Deb Hurley Brobs, former chair of Journalism at MSU Denver
  • Vic Vela, Speech and Communications alumnus
  • Cara DeGette, affiliate faculty, Journalism
  • Matt Hollinshead, Individualized Studies alumnus
  • Jenny Sparks, Photojournalism alumna
  • Timothy Hurst, Multimedia Journalism, alumnus
  • Matthew Jonas, Journalism alumnus
  • Sara Hertwig, Journalism alumna and former photography intern, Strategy, Marketing and Communications.

Topics: Academics, Alumni, Award, CADRE, Excellence, Kudos

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