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Craft, Roschyk win SMC math/science awards

During a week when Southwestern Michigan College is honoring its best students through numerous events, the Math/Science Department April 26 honored two of its finest students, Abigail Craft and Anaya Roschyk.  Craft received the Darrin Williams Memorial Scholarship, the highest award the department bestows. Roschyk received the department's Appreciation Award, won by Craft in 2018, Chair Ria Thomas announced.

Craft, of Niles, graduates May 4 and transfers to Western Michigan University.

Earlier in the day Craft, majoring in applied mathematics with a physics minor, was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community college students. She volunteered weekly with the Roadrunner Kitchen, PTK’s food pantry for SMC students.

“I appreciate her interest in promoting STEM,” physics instructor and STEM Club advisor Andrew Dohm said. “She helped out at an elementary event we had this year. Last year she was a counselor at our STEM Summer Camp, so we offered her the facilitator position to run the math workshop.”

“Abigail was my math tutor this year,” instructor Robin Shipkosky said. “Initially, she was a little shy, but very quickly she understood her classroom role — to be my second set of hands and eyes. I didn’t know this initially, but Abigail does plan on becoming a math educator. She has the heart of an educator and is going to be so successful, whatever level she teaches.”

 “She’s a very strong student,” agreed Mark Pelfrey, who taught Craft Calculus II and III. “Very chipper attitude, always very positive, handles things with grace. She’s an absolute pleasure to have in class. I’m very excited to see what comes next for a fellow mathematician in the making.”

The Darrin Williams Memorial Scholarship was established in memory of a 1988 SMC graduate from Dowagiac. This STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) transfer scholarship recognizes a second-year student who exhibits traits Darrin exemplified: scholarship, service to the department, integrity, cooperation and a sense of humor. Williams went on to Michigan Technological University and died in an auto accident coming home for Christmas.

The Appreciation Award was established in 2012 to honor a high school student or returning student planning to continue at SMC who demonstrates a strong work ethic, shows academic promise, plans to pursue a STEM-related career and made a significant department contribution.

“Anaya is hands down the best student I have had in my lab with respect to knowledge, ability, determination and personal skills,” Dr. Douglas Schauer, chemistry instructor, said. “She’s going to go on to some pretty big things and should leave here with every accolade we can offer.”

Pelfrey, co-founder of the Honors Program, noted Roschyk was one of the first two dual-enrolled high school students admitted. “She has just blown us out of the water,” Pelfrey said. “She has done everything she needs to do to meet program requirements and plenty more. She constantly goes above and beyond the call of duty. She’s strong in every discipline she works in.”

That night Roschyk brought down the house with an electric guitar solo on Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” to close the Collage Concert. She presented her research evaluating maple leaves for removing toxic heavy metals from water to the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Orlando over spring break.

“I have a huge passion for both chemistry and music,” she said. “If I go into chemistry, I’d like to research how music affects your brain. Music therapy is a fascinating subject” she tackled April 17 in her NoTED Talk.

Roschyk, of Granger, will spend two weeks in New Haven, Conn., July 28-Aug. 10 at the Yale Young Global Scholars program with participants from more than 100 countries.

“I love moments like this because it helps us see the great work done by our students and our faculty with those students,” Thomas said. “We love seeing our students soar like you two have.”