Goshen College President Rebecca Stoltzfus honored eight graduating seniors with the new President’s Graduating Leader Award, along with their high school and college mentors, during a special banquet ceremony on Friday, April 21.
“This new award honors outstanding Goshen College seniors who have demonstrated academic excellence and leadership inside and outside the classroom,” said Stoltzfus. “I want to extend my personal congratulations to each of these student awardees and each of the mentors.”
This year’s honorees include Katia Gutierrez Avila, a nursing major from Goshen; Bryan Nataren Barahona, a physics major and math minor from San Pedro Sula, Honduras; Kevin Bollmann, a business major from Basel Switzerland; Grace Hitt, a music and history double major from Cincinnati, Ohio; Greta Lapp Klassen, an art and English double major from Goshen; Olivia Krall, a history major from Carmel, Indiana; Robert Sanders, a sports management major from Merrillville, Indiana; and Angie Ticen, a music and education double major from Chalmers, Indiana.
This new award will be given annually to outstanding Goshen College seniors who demonstrate academic excellence and leadership inside and outside of the classroom. In addition, each student awardee chose an outstanding high school faculty or staff member and an outstanding Goshen College faculty member who supported their development to also be recognized with their own awards. Students were selected through a competitive nomination process which includes faculty and staff recommendations and student self-reflections. Student awardees receive a $500 award as part of the honoring.
Katia Gutierrez Avila
Avila is a nursing major from Goshen. She has been an active student and leader within the nursing department during her time at the college, even serving as a teacher’s assistant.
“She comes to everything with a growth mindset,” said Susan Setiawan, associate professor of nursing. “When there are challenges, she steps back from it, she thinks ‘what can I do to take care of myself and how can I learn from this.’”
Avila chose Gail Gerber, a language arts teacher at Goshen High School, as her high school mentor. “In the midst of all the stress associated with high school, I could always count on Gail offering a kind smile and sweet words of encouragement,” said Avila. “Not only was Gail’s support extremely appreciated but it also taught me what it looks like to love what you do.”
Avila chose Setiawan as her mentor during college. “Susan showed me compassion and patience as she helped me navigate through one of my most difficult years. She helped me piece together aspects of myself and my world views,” said Avila.
Bryan Nataren Barahona
Barahona is a physics major and math minor from San Pedro Sula, Honduras. While at GC Barahona has been a member of the Commuter Student Association as well as the Latino Student Union.
“When he came in he was somewhat shy and quiet and then he started asking questions,” said Paul Meyer Reimer, professor of physics. “Bryan has really shown what it means to be a lifelong learner and taking charge of what he was learning, asking questions in and out of class.”
Barahona chose Edy Roberto Madrid Artia, a religion and history teacher at White Dove School in Honduras, as his high school mentor. “He advised me to think about the future and helped keep my head straight during my turbulent teenage years,” said Barahona.
Barahona named Meyer Reimer as his honored college mentor. “Paul Meyer Reimer was there during one of the most difficult times I’ve had in my life and I felt compassion outside or inside the classroom. I felt like someone was there to listen to me and help me,” said Barahona.
Bollmann is a business major from Basel, Switzerland. Bollmann transferred to Goshen College in the fall semester of 2021, has been a member of the Men’s Tennis Team for two seasons and is a resident assistant.
“Kevin exhibited true curiosity and an eagerness to learn,” said Jonathan Geiser, associate professor of business. “It was always wonderful having his big smiling face in the classroom.”
Bollmann named Iris Ballbach, his business, law and economics teacher as his honored high school mentor.
“The reason I nominated Iris was not only because of what she taught me, but, mainly her personality,” said Bollmann. “It’s about where our path goes in the future and I could always talk to her about this.”
Geiser and Andrew Hartzler, professor of accounting, were his honored mentors at GC.
“One thing that always motivated me to go to class was Jonathan and his energy,” said Bollmann. “When he stepped into the classroom I could tell he loved his job and he was prepared.”
Hitt is a music and history double major from Cincinnati, Ohio. Hitt has been a member of the Goshen College Symphony Orchestra and the Voices of the Earth choir. She has also served as a research assistant and a tutor.
“Grace is an encouraging and peaceful presence in the classroom,” said Matthew Hill, professor of music.
Hitt’s honored high school mentor is David Kaiser, the retired band director at Wyoming High School. “He showed a good model for how to be an effective and kind leader who cares for everyone, even people who operate very differently from you or who might think very differently from you,” said Hitt.
Hitt named Julia Schiavone Camacho, associate professor of history, as her honored mentor at GC. “She encouraged me to believe in myself at a time when I was having trouble feeling like I was fitting in the department,” said Hitt. “She is a really thoughtful scholar and I’ve appreciated her mentorship and support a lot over the past four years.”
Greta Lapp Klassen
Lapp Klassen is an art and English double major from Goshen. While at GC, Klassen has been an editor for the student newspaper, leader of Goshen Monologues and a winner of the C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest.
“Most striking about Greta’s leadership is its subtlety, her knack for quietly but powerfully sharing her talents with her peers to accomplish goals that matter at GC and in the world,” said Jessica Baldanzi, professor of English.
Her honored high school mentor was Betsy Poling, her art teacher at Goshen High School, who is now a teacher at Concord West Side Elementary School.
“When I was in Betsy’s class, I took a lot of pride in our sketchbook assignments and there was an informal awards ceremony and I got ‘sketchbook of the semester,’” said Klassen. “I think about that award when I think about my art career.”
Lapp Klassen named Duane Stoltzfus, professor of communication and faculty advisor for The Record, as her honored mentor while at Goshen College.
“Even though I am not a journalism or communication major, I think my involvement with The Record is what really helped me think of myself as a writer officially for the first time,” said Klassen. “The Record has been probably the single best writing practice for me the past four years.”
Krall is a history major from Carmel, Indiana. Krall has been an active member of the campus community by singing in the Voices of the Earth choir, working in the admissions office and serving as a leader for Goshen Monologues.
“Whether interacting with a prospective student who is not sure whether Goshen College can be home for them on our behalf, or peer-reviewing her work with other students at various stages in their studies, Olivia is able to lead, foster engagement and cultivate confidence in others’ intellectual journeys without drawing attention to herself,” said Philipp Gollner, associate professor of U.S. history.
Krall credited Joshua Miller, social studies teacher at Carmel High School, as her honored high school mentor. “Mr. Miller was always inspiring and encouraging to me, he always made sure I was curious about class and he really sparked an interest in history for me,” said Krall.
She chose Gollner as her honored mentor while at GC. “Over the four years you’ve encouraged me and challenged me even when it’s not something I always want to hear,” she said.
Sanders is a sports management major from Merrillville, Indiana. He has been an active member of his community, both on and off campus. While at GC, Sanders played on the basketball team, served as a resident assistant and was involved in campus ministries.
“In all situations, Robert has proven to be a thoughtful, caring and trustworthy man,” said Heidi Dyck Hilty, sponsored programs and grant coordinator. “It is a joy to see Robert grow and develop as he uses his gifts for God’s work, building community and wholeness for all people.”
Sanders chose Anthony Patton, head basketball coach at Merrillville High School, as his mentor during high school. “Coach Patton has been a mentor as a representation of what it’s like to be a man of faith, but also in business, in athletics, in servanthood,” said Sanders. “In a minority community, we need that representation, and that representation is so important because it gives you somebody to look up to and model yourself after, and he has been that person in my life.”
Even though Sanders did not cross paths with Dyck Hilty until later in his college career, he still credits her as his mentor while at GC. “Her compassion, her heart and her genuine authentic investment in me has been so vital to my sense of self-worth,” said Sanders. “In her genuine attitude and authenticity, she embodied servant leadership for me.”
Ticen is a music and education double major from Chalmers, Indiana. She has been extremely active in the music department serving as an accompanist for both students and vocal ensembles.
“Hers is one of quiet endurance leading by example, never complaining, finding strength in humor and above all in her faith,” said Hill.
Ticen chose Chris and Bethany Burch, youth leaders at her church, as her mentors during high school. “The Burches showed young me, time and time again, what it meant to be a leader. They selflessly offered their time and wisdom over and over again, without fail, despite the struggles that they faced in their personal lives,” she said.
Ticen chose Hill as her mentor while studying at GC. “These past four years have not been easy, and there have been many times when that has shown up in my personal performance, but Dr. Hill has never given up on me. He met me where I was at and showed me he saw me as a person and not just another college student he had to teach,” said Ticen. “He’s the kind of leader that commands respect and chooses kindness. He is dedicated and devout, enthusiastic, compassionate and faithful.”