Outstanding Graduates Spring 2024

Published: May 3, 2024

Chancellor’s Award


The Chancellor’s Award is emblematic of UW-Parkside's top graduating student.

Kalyn Diercks

Kalyn Diercks | Theatre Arts

Kalyn Diercks majored in Theatre Arts with concentrations in Acting and Design & Technology. Kalyn was previously awarded the Picken Scholarship, the Goldstein Scholarship and the Arno Gunther Memorial Scholarship.

Kalyn is a gifted performer, costume designer, and costume technician. She has earned an award for excellence in costume design from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 3.

Kalyn has taken on other production roles and has worked on every show produced at UW-Parkside during her time as a costume shop student-employee. Kalyn served on the Season Selection Student Committee for three years.

She has served as both the secretary and activities and events coordinator for the Drama Club. Kalyn was selected as a student mentor and as a Theatre Arts recruitment ambassador. She has served as a summer camp director for Cedarburg Children’s Theatre and was hired as a costume apprentice and stitcher for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

Congratulations, Kalyn!

Outstanding Graduates – alphabetical order

Each year, faculty members of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside nominate students in the senior class to receive the university's Outstanding Graduate Award. A committee of faculty and staff then select the recipients. 

Ally FranciscoAllison Francisco | Economics & Marketing 

Allison (Ally) Francisco is earning dual degrees with a BA in Economics with the Monetary and Financial Economics concentration and a BS in Marketing with a Sales certificate.

Allison’s success as a student-athlete has been recognized with an NCAA Athletic Soccer scholarship, the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Academic Excellence Award, a Distinguished Scholar scholarship, a Marketing Achievement Award, and the UW-Parkside Tomasek Scholarship.

She has competed on UW-Parkside’s Sales Team and served as president of the Economics Club. Allison was selected as a team captain of UW-Parkside’s Women’s Soccer team and served as a member of the team’s Leadership Council for four years.

Allison has been involved in community-based learning projects and has interned for organizations including UW-Parkside’s Professional & Continuing Education, Soccer Buddies, and Jockey International. Allison has volunteered for the Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network, the Jockey Being Family Foundation, the Sleep in Heavenly Peace nonprofit, and the local Wisconsin SE RUSH Soccer Club.

Congratulations, Allison!

Makenzie KaputMakenzie Kaput | Secondary Education & History

Makenzie Kaput is graduating from the Secondary Education and History majors. She has earned a 6-12 History Education teaching license and has been on the Dean’s & Provost’s Lists every semester since she transferred to UW-Parkside. She also received the department’s Academic Achievement Award.

Makenzie has participated in UW-Parkside’s partnership with Racine Unified School District, mentoring high school students who are interested in careers in education. Makenzie completed her clinical hours at Bradford High School in Kenosha and at Case High School in Racine. She participated in a special International Baccalaureate internship program during student teaching at Starbuck Middle School.

Makenzie was also a member of the UW-Parkside soccer team for four years and served on the Ranger Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as well as the Women’s Soccer Leadership Council. She has been coaching youth soccer for seven years, frequently volunteers in her mom’s classroom, and regularly volunteers at the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

Congratulations, Makenzie!

Ria PatelRia Patel | Biological Sciences

Ria Patel majored in Biological Sciences and minored in Psychology and Chemistry. She first attended UW-Parkside as a Parkside Access College Credit (PACC) student and is a first-generation college student.  Ria was chosen for the competitive human anatomy tutor position and has been an outstanding tutor and supplemental instruction leader in the Parkside Academic Resource Center.

She has two years of experience working as an ophthalmic technician and has volunteered at Aurora Medical Center in a variety of capacities. Ria has engaged in numerous activities on campus, including serving as the secretary for the UW-Parkside Pre-Health Club and a senator for the UW-Parkside Student Government. Ria also participated in the Rural and Urban Scholars Community Health program.

Ria has been accepted to the Doctor of Medicine program at UW-Madison and will be matriculating in Fall 2024. She also intends to earn a Master’s of Public Health degree and promote preventative health care measures within communities.

Congratulations, Ria!

Sarah Plutchak

Sarah Plutchak | Biological Sciences

Sarah majored in Biological Sciences and minored in both Psychology and Chemistry for Pre-Health Professions. She has served as the chair of the Student Life Committee as an executive board member of the Parkside Volunteer Club and planned the annual “Parkside Period Project.”

Sarah also participated in the Rural and Urban Scholars Community program and attended UW-Parkside as a high school student through the Parkside Access College Credit (PACC) program. Sarah has been a tutor and supplemental instruction leader in the Parkside Academic Resource Center. She has experience as a certified nursing assistant, has worked as a community health intern, and as an ophthalmic technician. She has served as the public relations manager for the Pre-health club, a senator and vice-president of the Parkside Student Government, and an elementary school reading enrichment volunteer. 

Sarah also frequently volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Prevent Blindness Wisconsin, SendASmile, and Aurora Medical Center. Sarah has been accepted to the Doctor of Medicine programat UW-Madison.

Congratulations, Sarah!

Elishai Riley

Elishai Riley | Political Science

Elishai Riley majored in Political Science, is a transfer student and has left his mark on UW-Parkside.  He has been very involved on campus including being elected president of the Parkside Student Government.

Elishai has interned for multiple offices on campus and has participated in many extracurricular activities. He interned in the College of Arts and Humanities to support recruitment efforts. In this role, he drew or painted murals on and off campus. After designing for 6th Avenue in downtown Kenosha, he flourished, and he got involved in multiple collaborative projects.

He also developed a Kenosha Mayoral Forum during the 2024 Winterim to help promote civic engagement and democratic participation. He collected questions directly from the community and collaborated with UW-Parkside faculty and staff to complete the project. Elishai also produced "The Office of the President" Instagram video series to enrich and reinforce civic engagement with the student body.

Congratulations, Elishai!

Antwaun SandersAntwaun Sanders | Master of Business Administration

Antwaun Sanders is earning his Master of Business Administration while working full-time as a manager in accounting in New York. He earned his undergraduate degree from UW-Parkside through the Flex Program offered by UW Extended Campus.

Antwaun demonstrated perseverance in the face of adversity to return to school after having to take a short sabbatical for personal reasons. Immediately following graduating with his BSBA, Antwaun enrolled in UW-Parkside’s online MBA program. He is still working full-time and living in New York, and still exercising a positive influence on others.

Antwaun has distinguished himself in the online MBA finance courses with his ability to synthesize concepts to “real world” events. He is diligent and resourceful. After his May MBA graduation, he will continue his studies and intends to earn an accounting certification in the near future.

Congratulations, Antwaun!

Cal SolversonCal Solverson | Master of Arts in Professional Communication

Cal is a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Professional Communication program. They use communication theory to develop strategies to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in professional and community environments.

Cal works full-time in financial services at Principal Financial Group and has taken on multiple leadership roles to advance the company’s DEI efforts. They are the chair of the LGBTQ employee resource, created the Parents and Allies of Transgender and Non-binary People Learning Group, and worked with Principal’s Human Resources department to revise the employee handbook to be more culturally inclusive.  

Cal also serves as the director of public relations and social media for Capital City Pride, a non-profit organization in Des Moines, Iowa. They were recently nominated for Des Moines Magazine’s Emerging LGBTQ+ Leader Award. Cal is an active participant in state politics and has spoken publicly at hearings at the Iowa state capital.

Congratulations, Cal!

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