Brull, Wilson, Mercer win top FHSU Commencement awards

HAYS, KS -- Julie Ann Brull, a graduate of Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, was recognized Saturday, May 12, as the outstanding graduating senior during Commencement at Fort Hays State University.

The university also recognized Sharon Wilson, instructor of English, and Dr. Debbie Mercer, assistant professor of elementary education.

The FHSU Alumni Association selected Brull for the Torch Award, given each year to the outstanding senior. Candidates are nominated by members of the faculty on the basis of leadership and academic excellence.

Brull, a nursing major with an emphasis in leadership studies, achieved a cumulative grade-point average of 3.75 while serving as an active member of the campus choirs, Mortar Board, Sigma Theta Tau, the Fort Hays Association of Nursing Students and Christian Challenge. She also helped to establish the FHSU Nurses Christian Fellowship.

One faculty member, writing in support of Brull's nomination, said, "In all endeavors, she is a highly motivated learner and leader, and was an excellent role model for other students."

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.

She earned an associate of arts degree in English and psychology from Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, CO, a bachelor of arts in English and psychology from Adams State College in Alamosa, CO, and a master of arts in English from the University of Nebraska. She has been a member of the teaching faculty at FHSU for more than 20 years.

Shelley Hunt, president of the Alumni Association, said of Wilson, "Her dedication to the students and to this university is evident in the professional and personal committees she has served. She shares her love for English with her students hoping to engage and stimulate students' intellectual curiosities.

"Her devotion to students is evident, as one says, 'she makes her students excited about the material she teaches and helps to get them more involved with the class, through presentations, group work or in-class discussions.' "

Mercer 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.

Mercer received a bachelor of science in family and child development, a B.S. in elementary education, a master of science in elementary education and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from Kansas State University. She began teaching at FHSU in 1998.

In presenting Mercer with the Navigator Award, Mandy Donley, graduating senior from St. John, said Mercer "has made many contributions to academic advising here. Her interest in student success and persistence in college is evident to her advisees and her peers."

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