Terry O'Banion Student Technology Awards Past Winners

2017

Student Developer Champion: Ethan P. Pawelski

Ethan P. Pawelski is enrolled in Southwestern Michigan College’s Application Development program. Ethan has undertaken, on a voluntary basis, tutoring his fellow students in app development as his college’s tutoring department does not provide this service. Ethan maintains a 4.0 GPA, and, after earning a two-year Application Development A.A.S. as a distinguished graduate, he plans to complete a bachelor’s degree, also in Application Development. “Ethan is intelligent, ambitious, driven, and extremely creative. He can MacGyver all sorts of innovative contraptions and goes above and beyond to exceed my expectations,” states Professor Christine Stiles.

Student Technology Champion: Emilie C. Robertson

Emilie C. Robertson is enrolled in Anne Arundel Community College’s Web Design and Small Business degree program. Overcoming challenging circumstances, she is working her way through college and maintains a 4.0 GPA and is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa. With a demonstrated focus, attention to detail, and innate creativity, she supports her concepts with a strong understanding of technology and balances it with a deep empathy for people who use the Web. Her instructor, Erik Dunham, explains, “Web design gives her a chance to help others communicate their messages to millions of other people in ways that are creative and new.” He states, “I am continually impressed with her observations and desire to make the Web a useful space for everyone.”

Student Technology Champion: Michael Vazquez

Michael Vazquez is enrolled in Moraine Valley Community College’s Information Management Systems program, earning eight industry certifications in his academic career, studying part-time over a five-year period. Michael was recommended for this award based on his outstanding academic performance and perseverance to overcome family and cultural barriers to higher education. He is a first-generation college student who is working his way through school with plans to transfer to receive a bachelor’s degree in the technology field. He serves on campus as a technology tutor, building empathetic relationships with his fellow students. As his department chair Michelle August asserts, “In my seventeen years of teaching, few students have matched him in kindness, genuineness, and positivity. Michael has technical skills and people skills in equal abundance; a rare find!”

2016

Student Developer Champion: Benjamin Carpenter

Benjamin Carpenter is a freshman enrolled in Johnson County Community College’s Web Development & Digital Media program. Ben has undertaken, on a voluntary basis, the building of a personal food computer (PFC). The food computer movement is led by the MIT Media Lab Open Agriculture Initiative. These computers are built from scratch and only a few currently exist. The PFC supports sustainability goals and can grow food in any location, regardless of climate, addressing global hunger and nutrition. Ben maintains a 4.0 GPA, and, after earning a two-year Computer Information Systems A.A.S. at Johnson County Community College, he plans to start his career or, perhaps, transfer to a four-year university to complete a bachelor’s degree. “Ben’s joy, curiosity about how things work, and patience make him an exceptional candidate for this honor,” states Professor Lisa Friedrichsen.

Student Technology Champion: Katrina Zayas

Katrina Zayas is enrolled in Valencia College’s Information Technology program. Overcoming a challenging early life, she is working her way through college and has earned top grades and a spot on the President’s List, and is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa. As the first female Vice President of Valencia’s Technology Club, she has volunteered over 150 hours to teach students computer programming, and provides computer repair services for students. Katrina was on the winning team of the Deloitte Challenge, in which students are asked to come up with a real-world solution to a problem that the firm is facing. Her instructor, Heith Hennel, explains that this scholarship will help Katrina reach her goal of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in information technology. He confirms, “This scholarship will really help. You will never meet a more well-mannered, high-achieving, goal-setting student.”

Student Technology Champion: Michael B. Sammons

Mike Sammons is enrolled in Kirkwood Community College’s innovative Energy Production and Distribution Technologies program. Mike was recommended for this award based on his outstanding academic performance and aptitude placing him in the 99th percentile of his class. Mike is ambitiously pursuing two honors programs, an unprecedented achievement in his department. He is developing his own version of FarmBot Genesis, which seeks to automate small-scale and greenhouse farming to get more fresh produce to more people in the most economical way. As his instructor Chad Dougherty asserts, “During the past year, I have had a chance to work with Mike on a number of occasions. He is an exceptional student and a joy to have in the classroom. His creativity and inquisitive mind are an absolute pleasure.”

2015

Student Developer Champion: Zachary Endrulat

According to Dawn Patitucci, Zachary Endrulat is an ideal student. “He pushes himself hard, confronts challenges head on, and digs deep into problem solving and research.” Zachary has taken a few night classes at a time for the past four years while working during the day. He is finally nearing graduation with a degree in programming, but knows he will never stop learning. “The world keeps changing and growing; one can never know it all, so I just keep going and changing with it,” he said.

Student Technology Champion: Whitney King

Whitney King has been working and attending school for the past eight years. She is currently pursuing an associate’s degree in business intelligence, after which she plans to enroll in the Bachelor of Applied Science program at Bellevue College. Whitney, who maintains an A average, is engaged in class discussions and her work is always complete, accurate, and on time. Debi Griggs nominated Whitney for this award as “a worthy student who will benefit from pursuing additional education in technology and who can serve as a role model to other females interested in entering STEM fields.”

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