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February Students and Faculty of the Month

The Honors College is excited to launch Students and Faculty of the Month! We will be recognizing nominated students and faculty members for their dedication to the Spartan community.

In addition, the HC will feature students and faculty that embrace our values, including inclusion, critical thought, collaboration and integrity.

During the month of February, Jessica Stokes and Ryan Maccombs were chosen as Faculty of the Month. Merlinda Sewavi, Kelsey Abner, and Sam Barans were chosen as Students of the Month.

Jessica Stokes

Stokes is an educator pursuing a Ph.D. in English at MSU, with a specialization in Women’s and Gender Studies. Currently, they serve as a Faculty of Record and Teaching Assistant.

“Professor Stokes is the absolute definition of a professor who goes above and beyond for their students…They put students’ mental health before any curriculum and really deserve to be recognized for their work,” their nominator said.

In addition, Stokes is a co-founder of the HIVES Research Workshop and Speaker Series, made possible by being awarded a Creating Inclusive Excellence Grant from the College of Arts and Letters.

HIVES is a scholarly, artistic, and communal organization. The workshop seeks to create a generative space for conversations at the intersections of disability studies and animal studies.

Ryan Maccombs

Currently, Maccombs teaches Multivariable Calculus and is a Teaching Specialist at MSU. In his role, he coordinates the calculus sequence at MSU, which involves a blend of instructional and administrative tasks.

According to Maccombs, he enjoys working with students and will always say yes to more teaching. In addition, Maccombs goes above and beyond to make learning easy for his students. He has shown this through the several series of instructional videos that he has made for his students.

Maccombs loves technology and has dabbled in programming too! He has authored hundreds of WeBWorK problems and has written Python scripts for grade calculations.

His nominator said, “He provides a plethora of ways to study the material for MTH 234, and he posts the class videos after the lectures so sick students can keep up.”

Merlinda Sewavi

Sewavi is a senior studying Microbiology and Human Biology, with minors in Bioethics and Health Promotion, in the College of Natural Sciences.

She is currently an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering, in the Division of Developmental and Stem Cell Biology. Sewavi’s project is an organoid model of a human pluripotent stem-cell based heart, where she’s learned about human cell and tissue culture.

In the fall, Sewavi presented at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. She’s also extremely involved in the Spartan community, including being a part of various organizations: H-STAR, Student Health Advisory Council, African Student Union, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Sewavi’s nominator said she is an outstanding graduating senior and researcher. “…I especially appreciate that for several years she has shared her experience as an HC student with others with authenticity and heart,” they said.

In addition, Sewavi was recently awarded in the Engineering, Math, and Physics section of ABRCMS.

Kelsey Abner

Abner is a sophomore studying Supply Chain Management in the Broad College of Business. She is extremely involved in the Spartan community, including being a part of various organizations: the Golden Key National Honors Society, Black Students’ Alliance, Broad Mentorship Program, Honors Students of Color Coalition, and the Spartan Association of Public Health.

Abner’s nomination was based on her academic success. “She is a member of the honors college with a GPA of 3.9 and just got admitted to the Broad College of Business,” her nominator said.

Abner is also a Drew Science Scholars member. She has an interest in research that explores mental health and the factors disproportionately affecting mental health in the Black community.

In addition, Abner is a student volunteer at the Hamilton Community Health Network in Flint.

Sam Barans

Barans is studying Psychology and Mathematics, with minors in Cognitive Science and Social Science Quantitative Data Analytics. He’s an Alumni Distinguished, Social Science, and Community Engaged Scholar.

“He always has insightful responses during class discussions and works extremely hard every day to help the people who depend on him,” his nominator said.

Barans recently served as an Alumni Distinguished Scholarship Leader, where he spoke on panels and assisted in designing the competition. He’s also a member of Tower Guard and H-STAR.

Barans is a Professorial Assistant to Dr. Richard Lucas, where he’s learned to code individual responses to surveys and produce psychological data.

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