Congratulations to the December 2014 CAS Maize & Blue Award Winners!


The Maize and Blue Award is the highest academic award bestowed upon graduates of the University of Michigan-Flint. Recipients not only have to show excellence in their coursework and GPAs (3.75 or better), but must also be nominated by their faculty/department to be eligible. Nominees are considered based on their intellectual maturity and depth, character, talent, and service to their department, community, and UM-Flint. The Scholarships, Awards, and Special Events Committee and the Provost then chooses up to thirteen outstanding students from each graduating class to receive the Maize and Blue Award.

The College of Arts and Sciences would like to recognize and congratulate our student recipients for this great achievement! Read below to learn more about our winners through the faculty who nominated them:

Grace A. Carey, BA double major in Anthropology and Sociology
Graduating with High Honors

Nominated by Hisyar Ozsoy, Assistant Professor of Anthropology:

“Grace has an excellent academic record and graduated with a 3.99 GPA in August 2014 (Anthropology and Sociology Majors, Honors Program, and a minor in International and Global Studies). Her academic record speaks for itself. She is very intelligent, diligent, resourceful and open-minded. Her intelligence, intellectual curiosity and dedication truly distinguish her scholarship from others. The quality of character she displays in interpersonal relationships and the talents she demonstrates in extracurricular activities also distinguish her from others. Grace has displayed an extraordinary rapport with other students, staff and faculty and has been singled out by many as a treasured member of the UM-Flint community. She has been an active member of several student intellectual communities and clubs and someone who enriches the intellectual life of the community. I simply could not think of a more deserving candidate for this award. Seven faculty gave Grace their strongest recommendation possible, for she fully embodies the pillars of the Maize and Blue Award – intellectual depth, talent, character, and service to the community – and has effectively used these to contribute to the efforts to ‘revitalize Flint’ toward making it a better place for all.”

Rebecca A. Horning, BS in Applied Psychology
Graduating with High Honors

Nominated by Dr. Hillary Heinze, Assoc. Professor of Psychology:

Becca was unanimously supported by our faculty [for the Maize and Blue Award], most of us have been fortunate to work with her in various capacities and contexts. Throughout her time at the University of Michigan-Flint, Becca has demonstrated a range of interests, being involved in virtually all aspects of psychology–research, community service, supplementary instruction/tutoring and peer mentoring. I will highlight the many ways in which Becca personifies the core pillars of this award: intellectual depth, talent, character and service to the department, university and community.

Perhaps most importantly, Becca is truly passionate about psychology. She is curious, engaged in her learning, consistently going above and beyond what is required to enhance her knowledge, skills and experience in psychology. Dr. Bellamy describes Becca as “a student who clearly has a zest and curiosity for learning that makes her standout amongst her peers and is at the top of her class”. Dr. Stein notes that Becca is a pleasure to work with because she is so eager to learn: “…Becca seems to see challenges as opportunities for growth. She takes responsibility and seeks out additional material and guidance.  It has never been ‘how can I get an A’. It has been about committing to changes that will allow her to get the most from her education.”

Becca not only has excelled in courses required for her degree; she has pursued numerous supplementary and/or elective departmental and university opportunities, further demonstrating her passion for psychology and love of learning. She has presented her research at student and professional research conferences (Midwest Psychological Association), she has attended leadership workshops, engaged in study abroad (Netherlands), completed a psychology internship (Fenton Schools), and assumed leadership roles in student clubs and organizations (Psychology Club; Golden Key; Psi Chi). In addition to her own research, she has assisted ongoing faculty research projects.

As noted across achievements and involvements, Becca is clearly not motivated by grades or building a resume, but by her passion for learning, doing good work and helping others. Interpersonally, she is one of those students you hope to have in class or collaborate with (hence, her involvement with so many department faculty and richness of faculty comments). She is engaged in courses and discussion, thoughtful, and she always seems to be smiling and bubbling over with excitement, whether discussing her organizational involvements, courses, internship, research activities, study abroad, or academic plans.

Even when facing significant challenges, Becca remains positive and solution focused. Dr. Stein notes, “Things don’t always go as planned. Becca’s positive attitude allows her to easily overcome obstacles. As a researcher, she was flexible and able to make adjustments as necessary. She responds well to criticism…I find this to be quite rare among our students.” Another common thread is her conscientiousness and dedication to helping others, whether it be her classmates, children in the schools, UMF students or vulnerable individuals within the Flint community. She is kind, warm and always willing to help, often putting the needs of others above her own.

In all that she does, Becca personifies intellectual depth, talent, character, and commitment to service, to not only excel in her coursework, campus and community activities, but to inspire excellence in others. We believe she will continue to inspire positive change in future endeavors. She has the [Psychology] department’s highest recommendation.

Andrew M. Slabchuck, BA in Philosophy
Graduating with High Honors

Nominated by Dr. Jami Anderson, Assoc. Professor of Philosophy; Dr. Benedicte Veillet, Asst. Professor of Philosophy; Dr. Simon Cushing, Assoc. Professor of Philosophy

Dr. Anderson: “As both his instructor and his advisor, I believe I have gotten to know Andy during the past few years and am well positioned to assess his merits for this award.

Andy possesses all the traits that make him an ideal student. His papers are excellent: his analyses of the issues are intelligent, his writing is clear, his arguments well-structured and his reasoning persuasive. Andy is engaged: he comes to class prepared for enthusiastic discussion and, while he takes the matters seriously, he is genuinely pleasant to discuss ideas with. He obviously values input from his classmates and they enjoy his company and respect his ideas. What is most impressive, though, is the commitment Andy brings to his university education. . . during the past few years Andy has had to face and overcome amazing obstacles—ones that would prove far too much to handle for many of us. Yet, not only has Andy survived, he has succeeded.

During the past year, I have watched Andy move beyond simply being an excellent philosophy student in the classroom to becoming what I think of as a genuine citizen of philosophy. In February 2014, he presented a paper (“Chess and Regress”) at the undergraduate conference hosted by the Philosophy Department and the Center for Cognition and Neuroethics; he later published his paper in the student managed undergraduate journal compos mentis. This year he is a very active Vice President of our Philosophy Club and helped grow that club from last year’s flabby four-member group to the throng that now meets for hours on end every single Thursday afternoon. (I am witness to this group’s weekly enthusiasm as I teach my Metaethics course in the same room they hold their meetings and every week I have to hustle them out of the room because they cannot tear themselves away from the conversation—and there is Andy, right in the midst of it, not only sharing his ideas but mentoring our younger, new majors and minors.) He will also help organize the upcoming 3rd Annual undergraduate philosophy conference in February 2015 as well as help organize the two compos mentis journal publications that will be published during Winter semester.

Andy told me a week or so ago that he has finally settled on a career plan, which is to go to law school to study disability law. He is fully aware of how difficult it is for individuals who have disabilities to enjoy the full accessibility they have a right to, which would allow them to live to their full potential. I am confident that Andy will not only succeed in law school, but will work hard to make the world a fairer and better place. Andy Slabchuck is one of the best students I have had the honor to teach at UM-Flint and therefore it is with mixed feelings that I contemplate his upcoming graduation. On the one hand, I regret that he will no longer be a student in my philosophy courses, yet on the other I look forward to news of his future accomplishments. I have no doubt that he will do honor to both the Philosophy Department and the University of Michigan-Flint.

Elisa C. Taylor, BFA – Performance
Graduating with High Honors

Nominated by William Irwin, Assoc. Professor & Chair of Theatre: 

I could think of no one more deserving when I was asked to nominate candidates for the Maize and Blue Award. While working with Elisa in the Theatre Department I have been amazed by her vigorous commitment to bettering herself and her peers’ experience in the theatre. Even in the face of some adverse circumstances, Elisa conducts herself with poise and with sensitivity to her fellow classmates. She always exhibits compassion and sincere empathy.  She is also passionately curious about the world and how things work. Further, I can attest without hesitation that her work ethic, sincerity, preparation, communication skills and generosity make her a true delight to work with and know. Similarly, she possesses a natural ease and engaging vibrancy, which make her ideally suited for any classroom, rehearsal hall, and/or social situation. Students of theatre will be hard-pressed to find a better peer-mentor while exploring the craft. She has a great, off-beat sense of humor, never takes herself too seriously and possesses a sincerity that makes all with whom she comes in contact feel comfortable. She is a team player and is exemplary in her conduct, solidarity and maturity. Our entire department has been enriched by her presence.

Finally, her service work has been impressive and impactful. She has been deeply committed to serving our department, our university, and the community (both locally and internationally.) As Treasurer of the UM-Flint Student Theatre Group, she has worked tirelessly at securing funds and organizing travel arrangements in order for theatre students to attend meaningful master-classes and/or professional workshops. She also contributes regularly to F.U.E.L., future minded University-students for environmentally-conscious living, as the organization’s vice-president. She serves as the vice-president of the UM-Flint College Democrats where she promotes progressive public policy and encourages her peers to actively participate [in] local, regional and national politics. Additionally, she contributes regularly to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and the Flint River Clean-up initiatives. Her most impactful service, in my estimation, has been her work in Tanzania where she has volunteered with the Aston Vision Orphanage teaching English and Math where she also worked tirelessly to raise funds and initiate the construction of new restroom facilities for the orphanage. I find this level of service to be incredible when combined with her level of academic success, creative productivity and employment responsibilities. She is truly impressive and selfless.

JoAnn S. Zak, BA in English
Graduating with High Honors

Nominated by Dr. Jacqueline Zeff, Professor of English – Literature