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Three graduates honored with Spirit of Creighton Award

Three Creighton University graduates were honored with the University’s highest student award at commencement exercises on May 12.

The 2018 Spirit of Creighton awardees are Samantha Kappenman, a graduate of the School of Dentistry; Tyler Clement, a graduate of the Heider College of Business, and Samantha Stoupa, a graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Spirit of Creighton Award is conferred upon students who embody the spirit of Creighton’s founders. Awarded annually since 1955, the award honors undergraduate, graduate and professional students for their initiative, enterprise, academic achievement and outstanding character traits.

KennemanDuring the morning ceremony, Kappenman, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was awarded a doctor of dental surgery degree, summa cum laude. In letters from her nominators, Kappenman was lauded for her work ethic. At the dental clinic and in her coursework, she is always willing to come in early or stay late, to put in time on weekends to prepare for exams, do labwork, and get ready for patients before their appointments. While diligently attending to her own education, she spends her precious free time tutoring others, attending free or discounted after-hours clinics, and she also works two jobs as a dental assistant. She puts her patients at ease with her excellent communication skills and her compassion. Her patients leave giving her hugs and leaving little gifts.

She is involved many extra-curricular activities and has been extremely busy outside the classroom in her seven years at Creighton (three as an undergraduate and four as a dental student). She has been involved with everything from Biology Club to the Anna Tyler Waite business organization. She served as president of the student tour guides and as a leader in the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, and on the Student Philanthropy Committee to the American Student Dental Association. She has been inducted into both Alpha Sigma Nu, one of the highest honors afforded to a student at a Jesuit institution, and Omicron Kappa Upsilon, the highest honorary society in dental education.

Tyler ClementClement, of Shawnee, Kansas, graduated from the Heider College of Business with a master of business administration degree during the afternoon ceremony. Striving for excellence in all he does, Clement, who has been a member of men’s basketball program for five seasons, has held a perfect 4.0 grade-point average his entire academic career, beginning with his undergraduate study in financial analysis and marketing. In March, Clement was named a CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-American, joining Rick Apke (1978) as the lone Bluejays in history to earn first-team honors. The award recognizes both his work in the classroom and the community, and as a student-athlete. He was also a finalist for the BIG EAST Michael Tranghese Postgraduate Leadership Award.

Clement has devoted many hours of his time to community service, whether as a youth camp counselor, or attending numerous community events, always putting others before himself. As noted by one of the faculty nominators, “Tyler epitomizes the definition of student-athlete and servant-leader. Navigating four years as an undergraduate double major in accounting and finance and completing an MBA, while participating in Division I athletics, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA, is testament to his dedication to excellence. He is a fearless public speaker and a leader in the classroom.”

Sam StoupaStoupa, of Omaha, Nebraska, graduated summa cum laude from the College of Arts and Sciences during the afternoon ceremony, with a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry. She plans to earn a PhD in translational science, with a goal to teach at the university level and research more effective approaches to today’s most pernicious diseases. Stoupa is involved in both biochemistry and biomedical sciences research, her multiple projects focusing on investigating allosteric ribozymes as synthetic genetic switches, targeting bacterial riboswitches in antibiotic development and investigating carotid plaques and the components of their extracellular matrices. A student in Creighton’s Honors Program, Stoupa served as vice president of the Honors Program Student Board, a member of Creighton’s Chamber Choir and she is a 2016 National Institutes of Health INBRE Scholar. Stoupa was also the 2015 Top General Chemistry Student at Creighton. Her faculty mentors are biochemistry professor Juliane Strauss-Soukup, PhD, and biomedical sciences professor Devendra Agrawal, PhD.

One of Creighton’s 2017-2018 Clare Boothe Luce Scholars and a 2017 Goldwater Scholar, Stoupa’s nominators were legion, and praised her dedication, perseverance, and willingness to give of her time and talents to causes beyond academic halls. “Beyond Sam’s scholarship and loyalty to academics in the classroom and laboratory, she has also found time to exemplify some of Creighton’s most important educational goals,” wrote one nominator. “She exemplifies being ‘men and women for others’ by sharing her gifts, pursuing justice and having concern for the poor and marginalized and always living out magis, the ‘more,’ by striving for excellence and, in doing so, retaining integrity of her character and responsible action on moral and ethical issues.”


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