The School of Information Technology always expects our faculty to have a difficult task choosing from among several excellent students to present the undergraduate and graduate student awards. Being recognized this way means more than studying and earning a high GPA. It also is an acknowledgment of these students as leaders in the classroom and community, and recognition as an example for other students. The professors and advisors who select the recipients enthusiastically acknowledge their hard work and accomplishments. Congratulations to each student for their excellent performance and thank you for all you contribute to the School.

Jeremy Howard is the recipient of the Distinguished Freshman Award. Howard is known for taking initiative and asking questions to improve his work. He has a strong work ethic and is prompt, committed, and always willing to learn. He is quick to help others. Apart from his web development skills, he is also an accomplished musician. His chosen major is information systems web development.

Carlitos Bernal is our Distinguished Sophomore. Bernal is a first-generation college student who is highly motivated to excel. He is majoring in information systems web development. He unselfishly looks for ways to help others and assists fellow students in learning class content. His mentor is impressed with his focus on improving himself as an IT professional and his compassion for others.

Our Outstanding Sophomore is Evan Hazzard, who is majoring in general computer science. Hazzard is described by one of his professors as an excellent student and a rare find. He sets high goals for himself and thrives on being challenged. For fun, he participates in the ISU intramural soccer program.

We have two Outstanding Junior recipients this year. The first is Megan Smaga. Smaga is a smart and engaged student who works hard in and out of class. Cybersecurity is her chosen major. She is a lab monitor, teaching assistant and grader for the School of IT and works as a tutor in the Visor Center. If everything works out in this crazy year, she will serve a summer internship with the FBI.

Our second Outstanding Junior is Nicholas Dunne. Dunne is an excellent student in the general computer science major—bright and hard-working. He is eager to learn and highly motivated to deliver quality work. He’s willing to assist others and is very encouraging to his classmates and co-workers. He’s a strong team player and has developed very strong relationships with even the most tenured employees on his team.

Our Distinguished Senior is General Computer Science major Nicholas Todd. Todd is a confident, competent young man. His maturity and communication skills are unparalleled by his peers. He works diligently to ensure he can follow through on all his commitments, and he has the ability to delegate tasks as well as share information with his peers. Todd works with other students in his class to make sure each is doing their best work.

Our Outstanding Senior is Brandon Long who is completing a Cybersecurity major. Long is an outstanding, hardworking young man to work with both in the classroom and on the job. He is proactive in asking questions, eager to learn, and goes above and beyond. He represents the department at monthly meetings with the director knowing he will get the most out of it to benefit both himself and the guys he works with. His supervisor says he will truly be missed when he advances to the career of his choosing!

We have a new award this year for Outstanding Service. Cybersecurity major Casey Johnson is the first recipient. Johnson is an exceptional individual who possesses a unique blend of amazing characteristics. She is extremely intelligent while having a modest and thoughtful demeanor. She is exceedingly driven and passionate, while still able to foster a team attitude. And she has a very confident and engaging personality that contains strong natural leadership qualities. She also has a rare combination of strong technical aptitude, along with a high-level of interpersonal skills. Johnson has led two registered student organizations and coordinated numerous student activities in that role.

The Outstanding Graduate Assistant is Liza Fernandes. Fernandes is a dedicated and motivated individual who works hard at whatever she is doing. She has excelled in her classwork and takes her academics very seriously. Her job in Student Affairs IT exposed her to new ideas, concepts, and work that she had not done before. It was challenging for her, but she worked hard to produce and deliver applications that met customers’ needs. Fernandes is friendly, personable, and got along well with her colleagues.

The Distinguished Graduate Student is Blaze Smallwood. Smallwood is one of our non-traditional students. Due to his years of work experience, he brings a powerful and unique perspective to classroom discussions and he is incredibly driven. He worked with his daughter’s school superintendent creating and developing the solution program for housing their standards-based grading system for his capstone project. Smallwood has met with that team biweekly for almost two years and has been the catalyst for giving them the new assessment system they currently use. Smallwood has added features to the standard system giving them the power to run query reports to drill down on students’ levels of knowledge as well. They are also adding more features as they get ready to roll it out to the next level.

The Outstanding Graduate Student is Sowmia Janakiraman. Janakiraman is a highly motivated and self-disciplined student. She has been a real asset as a research assistant to her faculty mentor. She does an amazing job balancing her obligations at school and with her family. She is quieter than many of her classmates but is a joy to have in class. She is extremely talented and is always one of the first in the class to grasp a new concept or skill.