Announcing the 2017 Alumni Awards for Excellence

Alumni Award for Excellence
Each year, the Western Alumni Board chooses students from a large number of nominees to be recognized for their service, academic achievements, creativity and initiative in the classroom, and being outstanding representatives of Western State Colorado University.

The Alumni Awards for Excellence celebrate Western State Colorado University as a community of teachers and learners. The Award, established by former President Harry Peterson in 1997, is an opportunity to recognize the talents and achievements of our graduates and remains the University's highest honor for its graduating seniors.  Over the last twenty years many extraordinary students have been nominated and honored. 

Members of the Alumni Board of Directors review nominations and select honorees.  Every student nominated is outstanding and the selection process is always challenging.  

The criteria for the award include:

  • outstanding scholarship,
  • creativity, thoughtfulness and initiative in the classroom,
  • service to the campus/community outside the classroom, and
  • service as an excellent representative of Western State Colorado University.

In addition, to be eligible for this award, students must:

  • have graduated in December 2016, August 2016 or be graduating in May 2017.
  • have achieved a minimum G.P.A. of 3.2 (a student who transferred in to Western will have their transfer GPA taken into consideration).
  • have earned 60 credit hours or more at Western. 

Proudly Presenting the Spring 2017 Alumni Awards for Excellence Recipients 

dani bovee
Danielle "Dani" Bovee

Dani is from Woodland Park, Colo., majoring in Music Education with K-12 Teaching Licensure.


Dani has been an active participant in Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Wind Symphony and the Percussion Ensemble and served in many leadership capacities in the NAfME (National Association for Music Education) over her four years. She also completed a master class with the Metropolitan Opera Singer, Keith Miller, as well as two master classes with the traveling group, Opera Colorado. Dani still found time to travel herself, as she completed her student teaching year in Anchorage, Alaska while participating as a professional chorus member in the Alaska Chamber Singers. Dani won the F. George Damson Music Competition in 2015 and received several scholarships while at Western. She will graduate with a 3.91 GPA and has been hired as a high school choir director here in Colorado where, "I will continue to spread my passion for music to students."

bryant byrd
Bryant Byrd

Bryant is from Perrysburg, Ohio, majoring in Exercise and Sports Science, Exercise Science Concentration.


Bryant has been active in the Wellness Elevated program, serving as a personal trainer. He also competed in NCAA cross-country and track & field sports while at Western. Bryant spent much of his time conducting research in the High Altitude and Performance lab. He examined the effects of exercise on the body in studies: "Zumba Gold (R): Are The Physioogical Responses Suffiecient to Improve Fitness in Middle-Age to Older Adults?" and "The Effects of Ischemic Preconditioning on Endurance Athletes." He earned many academic and athletics scholarships. Bryant will graduate with a 3.66 GPA and will start the graduate program in Exercise Sports Science for High Altitude Performance at Western in the fall.

scott doyle
Scott Doyle

Scott is from Lafayette, Colo., majoring in Economics with a minor in History.


Scott has served in many leadership roles across campus, including in the Honors Program, the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society and as a Resident Assistant for two years. Scott has also been a participant of the Western Chamber Orchestra for four years as a Cello player and a delegate of Western's Model United Nations team for two years. Scott swam on Western's club swim team for two years and traveled all across the state in the process. For two semesters, Scott served as a Supplemental Instruction Leader for Macroeconomics and Statistics classes, which involved observing class lectures, creating original lesson plans, and teaching difficult material to struggling students, in a group setting. Scott earned many academic and music scholarships and will graduate with a 3.93 GPA. He will serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso, West Africa for the purpose of teaching math to Junior-High age students beginning this summer.

bryan gray
Bryan Gray

Bryan is from Goodland, Kansas, majoring in Recreation & Outdoor Education, with an emphasis in Outdoor Leadership.


Bryan is a field instructor and office staff at Wilderness Pursuits where he has led Wilderness Based Orientation in the West Elk Wilderness.  He works for IT Services where he runs the projector for the campus theater.  He enjoys serving as Western’s White Water Club President and is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society. Since 2014, he has been increasingly involved with Gunnison Valley Mentors (GVM) volunteering and working in various positions. He graduates with a 3.94 GPA. After graduation, he will work for Gunnison Watershed School District as a Summer Experience Instructor and will direct the Summer Youth Program for GVM.  Next school year, he plans to be a case manager and in-school mentor for GVM.

allie huizenga
Allie Huizenga

​Allie is from Elizabeth, Colo., majoring in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Energy Management and a minor in Spanish.


Allie has been very active in her discipline, with involvement in the Western Association of Professional Landmen club. She traveled frequently to Denver and Houston for North American Prospect Expo (NAPE) conferences and other meetings with industry professionals. In summer 2016, Allie and Western professor, Jessica Richards, partnered with Texas Tech University on the World Energy Project in Peru. Allie is also a part of Western's Model United Nations team, the Geiman Fellows and the Honors Program. Allie still finds time to be a part of Western Ambassadors, leading prospective students and families on campus tours and Preview Days. She maintained a 3.71 GPA and was recently awarded the 2017 American Association of Professional Landmen Outstanding Graduate award. After graduation she will move to Houston, Texas to begin a career with Carrizo Oil and Gas.

jocelyn leroux
Jocelyn Leroux

​Jocelyn is from Durango, Colo., majoring in Biology, with an emphasis in Environmental Biology & Ecology and a minor in Environment and Sustainability.


Jocelyn is active inside and outside of the classroom, as she served as both a Biology field crew member and crew leader. Her senior thesis examined butterflies, "Climatic Factors and Flower Morphology Effects on Nectaring and Flight Behavior of the Federally Endangered Uncompahgre Fritillary Butterfly." She is employed by The Mountain Pact to conduct research for Executive Director and contribute data for policy campaigns.  Jocelyn enjoys a variety of outdoor pursuits, such as skiing, climbing, and mountaineering. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder and a guide and lead instructor at Colorado Outward Bound School. Jocelyn is in the final stages of self-developed, externally funded research project, which she will submit for publication. Amidst this, Jocelyn maintained a 4.0 GPA and will attend Western Washington University's Environmental Studies program for an M.A. in Environmental Policy beginning September 2017.

Mandie Little

Mandie is from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, majoring in Sociology, with an emphasis in Criminal Justice and a minor in English.


Mandie kept herself very busy as a Sociology student here at Western. She has been involved with the Sociology, Politics and NAfME clubs, the Honors Program, the Model United Nations team and Chamber Singers. As a teaching assistant for English 102 and Communication Arts 202 classes, Mandie worked with students on their writing and public speaking skills. She was recognized for her service and scholarship in the Sociology Honors Society and English Honors Society. Mandie recently ​presented her research "Cultural Meanings of Serial Killers in the United States" at a Sociology Research symposium at Adams State University on April 8, 2017. She also was a guest lecturer in SOC 397 "Serial Killers" class.​ She will graduate with a 3.93 GPA and "would love to continue working at Western as well as do some advocacy work regarding the conditions of the United States Correctional System​." 

mitchell rigert
Mitchell Rigert

​Mitchell is from Cedarburg, Wisconsin, majoring in Music, with an emphasis in Piano and Percussion.


Mitchell has participated in nearly every musical ensemble during his time at Western including Symphonic Band, Percussion Ensemble, Choir, Jazz Bands, Saxphone Quartet, Steel Pan Ensemble and a timpanist for the Orchestra. Mitchell teaches music privately and for ORSCH,  a progressive and alternative school in Gunnison. He plays with several local bands and won the annual F. George Damson Music Competition in 2016. Mitchell also works at the Bean, local coffee shop and spends his time playing chess, soccer and reading. He will graduate with a 3.57 GPA and is looking forward to "spending time in the mountains, discovering other cultures and languages, spending time with my family, and continuing to study classical music and jazz, while also writing music."

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 - 9:30am