Past Awards


Fall 2023 Honors

Devon McClure
Highest Distinction
Devon is receiving Highest Distinction for his oral/creative video project - Change Management Perspective on Enterprise Automation. He is graduating with his degree in professional communication with strategic emphasis. His project involves a presentation that offers ways organizations can strategically adopt process automations while maintaining employee satisfaction. Throughout his time at UCCS, Devon has worked in various roles for a technical content marketing agency, Fixate IO, spanning marketing analytics, process improvement, and software development. In the future, he hopes to continue his graduate studies in both business analytics and organizational communication. He also aspires to start his own consulting business that helps organizations adopt automation technologies.
Ariel Flatt
High Distinction
Ariel Flatt is receiving High Distinction for her written course/ personal experience synthesis and reflection essay - There is No Ladder. Ari is an Organizational and Strategic Communications major. She became interested in communications at an early age and has dabbled in everything from sculpting, fencing, trivia, acting, voiceover work to standup comedy. Throughout her time at UCCS, she has been able to increase her experience in the professional field in areas such as advertising media sales, public relations, campaign and project management, client analytics, social media, event planning and execution, and more recently, email strategy. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering with the Pikes Peak Arts Council and acts as the program manager for ArtBOSS. After graduation, she hopes to continue becoming more involved with the local art community and spend time with family and friends.
Natalie Gallardo
Natalie Gallardo is receiving Distinction for her written project on Cultural Diffusion and the impact of different countries in the US. Natalie is a Communication major with an emphasis in Applied Digital Media. At a young age, the medical field and becoming a doctor was her main area of interest with meeting people and helping them as a priority. Throughout the years, Natalie’s love of the medical field has remained, but profession has been altered, with becoming a Communication major to help corporations and businesses that specialize in nonprofit or community services. In Natalie’s free time, she enjoys reading books, traveling to visit family, and spending time with her husband and their two children. After she graduates from UCCS in December, Natalie hopes to advance her career and gain new hobbies to do with her family.

Spring 2023 Honors

Savannah Dome

Savannah is graduating with a degree in general communications with a minor in psychology. She has been awarded the honor of graduating with distinction for her paper describing the effects semiotics have on explicit and non-verbal communication in businesses and media. Also highlighting how prevalent this communication tool is and how it can portray messages through colors, symbols, and associations. Savannah has always been a person who loves learning and expanding her knowledge. The college environment is a place for her that promotes growth and nurtured her longing to always learn more.

When beginning college, Savannah was not a person who had a clear vision of what she wanted to do in life. However, she chose to become a communication major because of the versatility of this type of degree, and because of how integral communicating is on several levels, from mass communication to interpersonal. She dove into a degree because of her ideas of how it could shape her future, only to discover during her time in higher education that she loves all the aspects of communication, and through all the classes she took, realized it is exactly what she wanted for herself. She is so appreciative to have had the chance to better herself and pursue new ideas through school. Savannah is so excited to graduate with her degree and is planning to find a career where she can continue to push herself and learn new things, but also help and support others. 

2022 Honors

Elizabeth Canright
Highest Distinction
Elizabeth is graduating with an emphasis in general communication as an AMP (Accelerated Master’s Program) student. She has been awarded the honor of Highest Distinction for submitting an honors project focused on uncertainty reduction theory (URT) and how that theory translates from interpersonal application to leadership theory. She accomplished this by highlighting concepts, themes, and theories from several communication courses across general, leadership, and digital film department areas, demonstrating a comprehensive and thorough understanding. Finally, her honors project explored the unfolding of URT in her life as a UCCS student and how that learning experience translated into her future endeavors. Elizabeth enjoys the field of communication because of its intersectionality with other disciplines like psychology, sociology, journalism, marketing, and current events and is interested in organizational and public relations. During the spring 2022 semester, Elizabeth participated in a graduate assistantship learning best practices in social media management and creating content for the UCCS communication Facebook page. She has been a scholar with the Reisher Scholarship and Reach Your Peak Scholarship and would like to express her deepest gratitude to those two foundations for their support of her undergraduate studies. After graduation, Elizabeth will work in office administration for her husband’s company, Cabinet Craft Finishes. Upon completing her master’s degree in communication, she hopes to teach college communication courses.
Ryan Maikell
High Distinction
Ryan is graduating with an emphasis in strategic communication. He has been awarded the honor of High Distinction for his honors project focusing on concepts, themes, and theories he learned in two courses of study (Crisis Communication and Ethical Leadership). His project proposed and offered a review of their similarities in preparing future leaders for effective stewardship of their respective organizations offering tangible strategies for avoiding pitfalls. Ryan’s literature/theory review of crisis communication theories included stakeholder theory, planning theory/theory of planned behavior, and attribution theory. His examination of ethical leadership theories included leader-member exchange theory (LMX), authentic leadership theory (ALT), and virtue ethics primarily focusing on courageous leadership. Ryan has a passion for sustainability. Throughout his time at UCCS, Ryan has served as the Chair of the Green Action Fund, worked on campus with the Gateway Program Seminar and Office of Sustainability, and been a scholar with the Chancellor’s Leadership Class. Upon graduation, Ryan will begin a position with Vanguard in their Emerging Leadership Development Program.
Richard Mills
Highest Distinction
Richard is graduating with a double major in economics and communication with an emphasis in digital film communication. He has been awarded the honor of Highest Distinction for his honors project developing a treatment for a six-episode PBS style documentary series on the food and beverage culture of Colorado. Richard’s creative project proposed a series outlining the education of consumers on farming and manufacturing of food and beverages in Colorado to increase localism including plans for meetings with farmers, ranchers, cheese producers, winemakers, distillers, brewers, and other producers to tour facilities and preview their products. His treatment articulated a planned cooking segment at the end of each episode where all the previewed products are used to make a simple meal that viewers can duplicate at home. His proposed treatment also included an overview of each region’s history including the environmental, economic, and social issues affecting each community to increase viewer and consumer awareness. Richard is a Colorado native, who after two decades in the debt collection industry returned to UCCS to finish his bachelor’s degree. In addition to his contributions on student films as graphics designer, editor, and producer, Richard works in the Excel Writing Center as a writing consultant, the Office of Innovation at the CU System Office as a Coursera script editor, and with UCCS Media Services as a crew member for sports and events. He is planning to pursue his MBA in Marketing at UCCS in the fall while continuing with his on-campus positions, as well as pursuing freelance opportunities in filmmaking. His goal is to work in advertising and marketing for local food and alcoholic beverage producers, as well as produce documentary and educational media about the agricultural economics, history, and culture of his home state.
Megan Morse
High Distinction
Megan is graduating with an emphasis in general communication in the online degree program. She has been awarded the honor of High Distinction for her honors project exploring her educational motivation and journey as a non-traditional student. Specifically, she provided her reflections on courses and theories that influenced her significantly, discussing knowledge gained and explaining the cumulative impact they have had in her life. In her honors project she indicated her Crisis Communication course prepared her to think about using communication to navigate a crisis event by evaluating real-life crisis events using a SWOT analysis and a crisis management plan (CMP). She shared how her Organizational Leadership course inspired her to reevaluate her current organizational leadership culture and build skills and tools to provide meaningful feedback. This facilitated a career change she shared is a source of professional pride and growth incorporating concepts and theories such as servant leadership and referent power. Megan finally reviewed the very real and transferable skills learned in Business and Professional Communication, specifically setting SMART goals, building SCRAP visuals, and the importance of using mock interviews to prepare for scheduled interviews. As a non-traditional student, Megan began her college career at Pikes Peak Community College where she earned an Associate of Arts in Communication. She transferred to UCCS, where she enrolled as an online-only student. As a full-time employee, a wife, and a mother, Megan is excited to graduate and complete her educational goals with honors.
Emma Sansoni
High Distinction
Emma is graduating with an emphasis in leadership communication. She has been awarded the honor of High Distinction for her honors project examining topics and principles from some of her favorite courses applied to the “art of communication” explaining why she finds communication a truly fascinating field of study. She states that to begin, Interpersonal Communication provided a solid foundation with the communication model and self-fulfilling prophesy. Nonverbal Communication went on to fascinate her with social penetration theory and the aspects of paralanguage. In Mass Media and Society, she was intrigued by learning how to navigate the rapidly growing world of technology in terms of news networks, social media, and the “deep dive into the media and advertising,” specifically highlighting the two-step flow theory. Finally, in Ethical Leadership, she felt important takeaways included virtue ethics and Barbara Kellerman’s profile of bad leaders for establishing strong ethical foundations for leaders and leadership. Emma is excited to continue her studies in communication by attaining her master’s degree.
Danika Silerio
Highest Distinction
Danika is a Professional Communication scholar on the Leadership Track. She has always been an outgoing, conversational person, so getting a communication degree just seemed inevitable. Throughout her studies at UCCS, her passions flourished and new experiences presented themselves. By working in the UCCS Office of Admissions, Danika found her calling! She intends to pursue a career in higher education. She hopes to work with the Latinx population or Pueblo residents to help students much like herself through the treacherous journey that is the college experience. After graduation, Danika plans to take a short break before obtaining her Masters in Student Affairs and Higher Education
Savannah Watson
Highest Distinction
Savannah is graduating with an emphasis in leadership communication. She has been awarded the honor of Highest Distinction for her honors project electing to explore Servant Leadership Theory. In her project, Savannah explains how servant leadership has been one of her favorite leadership theories throughout her coursework with her initial stated project objective to "unpack it further.” She discusses why she chose to explore this theory, how it affects overall leader-follower behavior and attitudes, the empirical relationships to organizational and employee outcomes, its spiritual applications and the importance of leader motivations, and the overall results seen in terms of commitment levels. Finally, she finishes her discussion reflecting on how the application of the theory impacts and relates to other leadership concepts, themes, and theories such as leader-member exchange theory and empowerment. Savannah chose to pursue a degree that would apply to numerous job contexts and felt that communication would be a creative yet meaningful major. She has loved exploring various theories and applying them to real world projects throughout her coursework. One of her favorite projects involved directing the marketing blitz and branding for the launch of a small church in Texas, called Kingdom Life Worship Center. Over a year later, Savannah still loves managing the church’s website and social media accounts. Outside of her coursework, she has enjoyed serving as a youth leader at her church’s youth group where she has been able to build relationships with and mentor teenagers. She also regularly takes her hyper dog running and cooks meals with healthy tricks alongside her mom. Savannah knows life is often full of twists and turns, but ultimately seeks a career where she can help others live purposeful and joy-filled lives.