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Graduate student assistants honored at awards banquet

April 3, 2014 : By Joshua Tiprigan/Liberty University News Service

Awardees and presenters of Liberty University's first annual GSA Awards Banquet.

Dr. Emily Heady (left), dean of the College of General Studies, and Dr. Douglas F. Mann (right), dean of the Liberty University Graduate School, honored 17 graduate student assistants for their contributions.

Liberty University honored 17 graduate student assistants (GSAs) for their exceptional contributions to the Graduate School during the first GSA Awards Banquet on Tuesday, April 1, in the Hancock Welcome Center. The winners were chosen by the faculty of their respective departments.

The Graduate Student Assistantship program grants more than 200 Liberty graduate students the opportunity to build relationships with faculty and undergraduate students while furthering their education. GSAs assist faculty with proctoring, grading, and other needs for online and residential courses. They are awarded an academic scholarship and a stipend.

Liberty offers more than 150 graduate degrees in either a residential or online setting. Graduate School degree offerings range from ministry-focused fields like the Master of Arts in Religion to programs like the Master of Business Administration that prepare students for the professional world.

Gretchen Cline, coordinator of graduate administration, believes that the GSA program is essential because it allows undergraduate students an opportunity to learn from role models who are typically closer in age.

“It’s really a discipleship program between the graduate students and the undergraduate students,” Cline said. “GSAs are above and beyond in academics and outstanding in their spiritual character and their professionalism.”

The program also grants GSAs additional exposure to mentorship opportunities from Liberty’s faculty beyond the Graduate School’s impressive 8-1 student-to-professor ratio.

“The GSA program serves to allow graduate and doctoral students the opportunity to engage in valuable experience in chosen areas of study,” Cline said. “As the GSA teaches and mentors other students, they are preparing for their professional careers alongside seasoned faculty.”

Dr. Douglas F. Mann, dean of the Graduate School, said that while only a handful of graduate students were honored at the banquet, all GSAs lend a hand in the university’s mission to Train Champions for Christ.

“(GSAs) are a vital part of the university academic community,” he said. “These students serve as academic mentors and teachers alongside our faculty and are integral to the success of our academic programs.”

This year’s GSA award-winners were Shiree Craft, Maureen Mutisya, Andrea Rugenus, Karissa Marken, Kendra Johnston, Abigail Brentner, Elise Green, Nathan Schwenk, Jeffrey Robinson, Kevin McGinn, Christina Pallaria, Joshua Duffy, Carolyn Wicks, Kyle Bailey, Emily Bixler, Ashton Klingensmith, and Daniel Shay.