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ISU-Meridian recognizes student excellence honorees at May 9 Commencement and confers 241 degrees

May 11, 2016

Photo of five ISU Meridian Student Excellence Honorees.

BOISE— Jennifer Gess received the 2016 Student Excellence Award at Idaho State University-Meridian’s 11th annual commencement ceremony May 9 at the Boise Centre.

“I was very surprised and thrilled. I had an amazing experience at ISU, and I’m honored to be a part of the ISU community,” said Gess, clutching her certificate and honorary plaque.

Gess, who received her Doctor of Philosophy in counselor education, is a gifted scholar and researcher specializing in counseling issues within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, bisexual and queer community (LGBTQ+).  She has published peer-reviewed articles and presented her research at state, regional and national conferences.

She is president of the Idaho Counseling Association and is founding president of the Idaho Association of LGBT Issues in Counseling.  Gess, who is in private practice in Boise, specializes in child and family therapy, group counseling and issues relating to LGBT children, youth and adults.

Gess was one of four finalists for the award. The other honorees are Tiffany Calás, pharmacy; Colette Cremeans, physician assistant studies, and Elisabeth Gebhart, speech language pathology.

A fifth ISU-Meridian student, Michelle Wilkin, was also recognized at commencement for receiving a 2016 ISU Alumni Association Outstanding Student Achievement Award representing the College of Pharmacy. 

Author and educator Hartzell Cobbs, who served as executive director of the Boise-based Mountain States Group for 17 years, was commencement speaker.

“When you leave today, you will leave with more than a degree… you will leave with a calling. We will trust you with our health and often our lives,” he told the graduates, most of whom received degrees in the health professions and health sciences. 

ISU President Arthur Vailas congratulated students and their families and spoke of the role of higher education in changing the lives of future generations.

“We have the greatest opportunity in human history to make a difference,” he said.

ISU-Meridian conferred 241 degrees, including 61 Associate of Arts degrees awarded to Renaissance High School students through a partnership with ISU and the West Ada School District.

Here’s the breakdown of  degrees:  Two Doctor of Philosophy (Counselor Education and Counseling); 11 Doctor of Audiology; two Doctor of  Nursing Practice; 31 Doctor of Pharmacy; five Master of Counseling; four Master of Physical Education/Athletic Administration; 30 Master of Physician Assistant Studies; three Master of Public Health;  three Master of Business Administration; one Master of Health Education; 13 Master of Science (Medical Laboratory Science and Speech Language Pathology); one Master of Education (Deaf Education);  69 Bachelor of Science (Medical Laboratory Science, Nursing, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Sign Language Interpreting, Emergency Management, Fire Services Administration); 6 Associate of Science (Sign Language Studies and Paramedic Science), and 61 Associate of Arts (General Studies).

Photo Cutline:

Student Excellence Honorees, from left, Tiffany Calás, pharmacy; Elisabeth Gebhart, speech language pathology; Colette Cremeans, physician assistant studies; top honoree Jennifer Gess, Counseling; and Alumni Association Outstanding Student Achievement Award winner from the College of Pharmacy, Michelle Wilkin.