Trine recognizes Distinguished Students for the Class of 2022

May 12, 2022

Trine University has named Meghan Schrader, an English and communication major from Fort Wayne, Indiana, as the winner of its Robert B. Stewart Award for its Class of 2022.

The university also has named Distinguished Students from each of its academic schools.

Schrader will graduate from Trine with a 4.0 grade point average. During her time at Trine, she served as co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Writers’ Block, Trine University’s online literary journal, and as executive editor and director of creative design for Trine’s HAC Media Team.

During her four years at Trine, she completed multiple internships, both on and off campus, and served as a tutor at the university writing center. She also was a member of the Sigma Tau Delta honor society.

When asked whom she would nominate for the Department of Humanities and Communication senior award, Schrader wrote a one-page nomination for each of the department’s seniors, including who they were and why they mattered.

The Robert B. Stewart Award is presented to the graduate who most clearly exemplifies the traditions and values of Trine University through achievement in scholarship, leadership and citizenship. Each academic school at Trine nominates a graduating senior for this award; Schrader represented the Jannen School of Arts and Sciences.

Other Trine University Distinguished Students included Tara Bieniewicz of Chesterfield, Michigan, representing the Franks School of Education; Kate Gardner of Bourbon, Indiana, representing the Ketner School of Business; Timothy Mayer of Endicott, New York, representing the Allen School of Engineering and Computing; Shelby Tucker of Waterloo, Indiana, representing the College of Health Professions; Jessica Westphal of Fulton, Ohio, representing the Rinker-Ross School of Health Sciences; and Tom Freese of Bryan, Ohio, representing the College of Graduate and Professional Studies.

Tara Bieniewicz

An elementary education/special education dual licensure major from Chesterfield, Michigan, Bieniewicz earned a 3.9 GPA, receiving President’s List honors for seven semesters and Dean’s List for an additional semester. In addition to her areas of licensure, she has earned Google Teacher and Project Lead the Way certification.

She is active outside of the classroom as a member of Trine Christian Athletes and the women’s basketball team. She was recently named an NCAA Division III Fourth Team All-American, only the second All-American DIII athlete from a Trine women’s basketball team. She holds the Trine record for most career three-pointers and led her team in scoring during their memorable run to the Final Four this past season.

During summer breaks, Bieniewicz has worked as a paraprofessional in a special education classroom and as a camp instructor for multiple basketball camps. In addition, she has prepared and served meals at the Salvation Army.

Kate Gardner

Gardner has maintained a 4.0 GPA while completing a double major in accounting and finance, a social innovation minor and her MBA.

In addition to being an exemplary student, the Bourbon, Indiana, native has been involved in Christian Campus House, Ehinger Fellows, Accounting Club, Finance Club, Delight Ministries and Student Government. At Christian Campus House, Gardner has led big and small groups as well as weekly campus-wide events, and has mentored fellow students individually.

She has completed internships with Fry, Trowbridge, and Associates and with Lippert Components, and will work in the internal audit department at Lippert after graduation.

Timothy Mayer

Mayer has earned a 4.0 GPA while earning a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering with minors in robotics and mathematics.

The Endicott, New York, student’s academic accomplishments include completing a Research Experience for Undergraduates at Oakland University titled “Error-Correction in Underwater Inertial Navigation.” As a member of his capstone project team, Mayer developed a genetic algorithm to optimize the geometry of a Lenz-based Vertical Axis Wind Turbine, with the objective of improving efficiency and startup. A paper describing the project took first place at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Region III Student Conference.

Mayer’s campus activities have included serving as principal chair viola and marching band section leader with Trine musical groups, serving as president of Trine’s Amateur Radio Club, working as an undergraduate research assistant for Trine innovation 1, membership in Tau Beta Pi, and competing in the NASA Space Apps Hackathon.

Mayer also is an Eagle Scout.

After graduation, he plans to continue his education by pursuing a Master of Science in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, where he will focus his research on robotics and controls.

Shelby Tucker

From the outset of her time at Trine University, Tucker, of Waterloo, Indiana, was a leader to her peers by demonstrating excellent attendance, providing thoughtful input to classroom discussions, and working in the lab with her classmates. Students are able to apply for apprenticeships after the first year of the program, but, thanks to attentiveness and after-hours practice in the lab, Tucker was offered an apprenticeship during her first semester. She successfully balanced the apprenticeship and school obligations and graduated with a 4.0 GPA.

At clinicals, Tucker was commended for displaying effective communication to staff, anesthesiologists and surgeons, accompanied with respect and a desire to learn. She consistently earned high scoring evaluations from all facilities.

Prior to graduation, Tucker accepted a job at Parkview Regional Medical Center. She has continued to hone her skills and is an important part of the team in the operating room.

Jessica Westphal

Westphal is a biology/pre-physical therapy student from Canal Fulton, Ohio, who maintained a 4.0 grade point average in the accelerated undergraduate direct entry program and was able to graduate in three years. A Spanish minor, she was one of the inaugural members of Trine’s Alpha Beta Nu Hispanic Honorary Society

Part of Trine’s Honors Program, Westphal was a decorated skater on the figure skating team, where she served as co-captain. She also worked for the Thunder Ice Rink and the Science Fair. She was vice president for Athletes Connected and philanthropy chair and new member educator for Theta Phi Alpha, as well as a member of Order of Omega.

She has and is currently working at Indiana Physical Therapy and Intelligent Fitness, and will enter Trine University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program in the fall.

Tom Freese

Freese worked for 12 years at a community hospital after graduating high school, eventually becoming system administrator. The Bryan, Ohio, resident started at Trine University in 2019 as a system administrator and was recently promoted to IT Operations Manager at Trine. As a Trine student, he will earn both bachelor’s and master’s degrees while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. 

A husband and father of three children, Freese shared he never wanted his kids to feel like he was too busy with homework to play with them. All his homework was done after they went to bed, resulting in many late nights.

  • Robert B. Stewart Award

    Robert B. Stewart Award - Meghan Schrader

  • Franks School of Education

    Franks School of Education - Tara Bieniewicz

  • Ketner School of Business

    Ketner School of Business - Kate Gardner

  • Allen School of Engineering and Computing

    Allen School of Engineering and Computing - Timothy Mayer

  • College of Health Professions

    College of Health Professions - Shelby Tucker

  • Rinker-Ross School of Health Sciences

    Rinker-Ross School of Health Sciences - Jessica Westphal

  • College of Graduate and Professional Studies

    College of Graduate and Professional Studies - Tom Freese

Last Updated: 05/12/2022

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