Rebecca M. Blocksome, a graduate of Hays High School, was recognized Saturday, May 18, with the Fort Hays State University Alumni Association Torch Award as the outstanding graduating senior during the university's Commencement exercises.
The university also recognized Dr. Raymond Wilson, professor of history, as the recipient of the Alumni Association's Pilot Award and Ron Neseth, interim chair of the Department of Allied Health, as the winner of the Navigator Award.
The Torch Award is given each year to the outstanding senior. Candidates are nominated by members of the faculty on the basis of leadership and academic excellence.
The Torch and Pilot awards were presented by Shelley Hunt, a 1985 FHSU graduate and president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. "It is my honor as president of the Alumni Association to recognize two deserving award recipients who exemplify excellence," said Hunt. "One is a graduating senior and the other is a member of the teaching faculty. Both were chosen by carefully selected committees for outstanding performances in their roles at this university," she said before awarding the first honor, the Torch Award, to Blocksome.
"As one faculty member wrote," said Hunt, "the beauty of this individual is that she not only possesses knowledge, but also wisdom. Others look to her as an inspiration, and she is respected by students and faculty alike."
Blocksome, a bachelor of fine arts major in the graphic design program, achieved a cumulative grade-point average of 3.97 while serving the University Leader at various times as editor in chief, opinions editor, online editor and senate reporter. She is currently copy editor for the university yearbook, the Reveille, and has also worked for the yearbook as graphic designer and as a page editor and designer. She also spent a year as executive assistant of the Student Government Association and worked for the university's Office of University Relations as both a graphic designer and as a news writer.
Blocksome was a 1998 National Merit Scholar, was on the Dean's Honor Roll seven semesters and was an FHSU Presidential Scholar. She also received the 2000 Alpha Lambda Delta Trow Undergraduate Scholarship, the 2000 David S. Barr Award for social justice writing and was an exhibitor in the FHSU Student Honors Art Show in 2001 and 2002. Her activities include Mortar Board, Baptist Campus Student Fellowship, the Honors Program Committee of the College of Arts and Sciences, and membership in the Creative Arts Society and the Downtown Hays Development Corp. Cultural Arts Committee.
She also holds brown belt rank in traditional-style Tae Kwon Do karate.
Candidates for the Torch Award are nominated by members of the faculty. The recipient is chosen on the basis of leadership, involvement on campus or in the community and outstanding academic achievement.
Wilson was named as the recipient of the Alumni Association's Pilot Award, given on the basis of professional excellence, involvement on campus or in the community and commitment to teaching. Candidates are nominated by members of the graduating senior class.
He earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1967 from Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO, and his M.A. degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1972. In 1977 he received his doctorate from the University of New Mexico. Wilson joined the faculty of Fort Hays State in 1979 as an assistant professor of history. He earned promotion to associate professor in 1983 and to professor in 1988.
In presenting him with the Pilot Award, Hunt said, "His dedication to the students and to this university is evident in his commitment to professional development and service to the university. He shares his love for history with his students, stimulating their intellectual curiosity. As one student says, 'He has made me eager to come to every class. He cemented my desire to become a teacher. If I am half as good, I will be a great teacher.' "
Neseth was given the Navigator Award as outstanding academic advisor based on how closely the faculty member adheres to the university's goals for academic advising. Candidates are nominated, interviewed and selected by graduating seniors. His award was presented by Kathryn Buchanan, a graduating senior from Council Grove.
"He truly believes in faculty advising and the mission of academic advising," said Buchanan in her introduction of Neseth.
"His interest in student success and persistence in the radiology program is evident to his advisees and his peers," she said.
Neseth received an associates of science degree in radiologic technology and a bachelor of science in medical diagnostic imaging from Fort Hays State in 1995. In 1999 he received a master of science in communication from FHSU.