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NSLS Members in the News

JULY 2022

With summer in full swing, NSLS members continue to make hot-off-the-press headlines using their leadership skills they've developed in our program. We hope you find their stories as inspirational as we do. 

Our mission at the NSLS is to Build Leaders Who Make a Better World. Our members participate in social and volunteer events, and take part in a wide range of local service initiatives. Upon graduation, they apply the interpersonal skills they've acquired to start businesses, pursue promotions, and more.


Ashley Spry, Bemidji State University, has always had a passion advocating for mental health awareness. The mother of two has been working in the mental health space since graduating high school and is currently a full-time domestic violence prevention advocate in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

She earned the $1,300 David and Diane Parnow Scholarship and the $400 Jack and Marie St. Martin American Indian Scholarship, and is using the financial assistance toward degrees in psychology and sociology.

With the pandemic forcing educational institutions to pivot and create virtual learning opportunities, she felt comfortable diving in as a full-time mom and mental health worker. She enrolled in classes at Bemidji State, where her late grandfather graduated in 1969. 

Ashley is a member of Bemidji State's Indigenous Students in Psychology cohort, a scholarship program dedicated to psychology students with Indigenous backgrounds.

Read the Full Story from Bemidji State University >>



Liana M. Bailey-Crimmins, Southern New Hampshire University, has been promoted to Director of the California Department of Technology. 

This comes after holding many leadership roles throughout her career, including Chief Information Officer and Chief Information Security Officer of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, and Chief Information Officer of California Correctional Health Care Services. 

As Director of the California Department of Technology, she'll lead the partnership with state/local governments and educational institutions to deliver digital services and implement quality assurance for state government IT projects. 

This role also leads the charge on protecting California's public data and spearheading innovative new technologies to continue to keep the state at the forefront of technology.

Read the Full Story from the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom >>



Jessica Leicht, Lakeland University, brings her creativity and dedication for helping others anywhere she can. This eventually led to her being named Outstanding Student for both of her majors: communication and graphic design. 

To earn this honor, she exemplified "The Lakeland Spirit" through her involvement on campus, including participating in the marching band, drum line, concert choir, and other music programs. She was also a four-year member of the women's tennis team, as well as a member of the debate team, color guard, and a tutor for other students. 

She helped highlight mental health awareness on campus by writing, designing, animating, and narrating a video about the stigma surrounding mental health, how it affects college students, and ways to seek help. 

She looks forward to taking her creativity into an agency setting where she hopes to work as a user experience (UX) designer.

Read the Full Story from Lakeland University >>



Michael Gonzalez, Northeastern State University at Broken Arrow, was named Student of the Year by the National Cybersecurity Student Association (NCSA). The vision of this organization is to cultivate a national community that supports students in their cybersecurity endeavors, whether that's through career opportunities, mentorship, or other avenues. 

He earned this prestigious recognition during the 2022 3CS Conference, which comes with a scholarship to further his education. Before his goals in cybersecurity, he battled addiction. With the support from family and a passion for the subject matter, he found a fresh path to success. This passion led him to starting the NSU chapter of the NCSA on campus and he further developed his skills by serving as NSLS Chapter President. 

Michael is the first in his family to attend college and looks forward to taking his bachelor's degree in cybersecurity into a career that will allow him to provide for his family. He also plans on helping other students by creating a lab and setting up partnerships with cyber firms to offer mentorship opportunities.

Read the Full Story from the Oklahoma City Sentinel >>



Josette Stewart, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, has been named a 2022 AWESOME scholar (Achieving Women's Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management, and Education). The $5,000 AWESOME scholarship awards are dedicated to recognizing and providing financial assistance to exceptional women studying supply chain operations. 

Josette earned this honor through her entrepreneurial pursuits, academic excellence, and involvement on campus and the community. The Chancellor's List student was president of the Supply Chain Aggies and the Midwest Aggies student organizations, volunteered through the Cleveland Muny Football League, and mentored students in the Deese College of Business and Economics as part of the Black Male Initiative. 

She’s also a young entrepreneur, starting her own business and acting as CEO of JB Signature Collection, a fashion accessories line she started in 2015. She donates a portion of her earnings to charities that help other young entrepreneurs get closer to achieving their goals. 

She held a highly sought-after internship with IBM and is currently a supply chain management and operations intern with Apple in Austin, Texas.

Read the Full Story from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University >>


Other NSLS Members Receiving Recognition IN JULY:

Asia Evans, Valdosta State University, graduated magna cum laude and earned the 2022 Clare Philips Martin Scholarship, presented to students with a minimum GPA of 3.5, active in both on- and off-campus activities and organizations. Full Story >>

Sierra Smith, Bloomfield College, was named an Institute for Nursing (IFN) 2022 Scholarship award winner, a program providing $15,000 in scholarships to 14 outstanding New Jersey nurses and nursing students. Full Story >>

Dr. Alexis Blue-Wilson, Capella University, was named to Fayetteville Observer's 40 Under 40 Class of 2022 for her work in foster care, fertility, and infant loss awareness. Full Story >>

Hayden McLaughlin, Frostburg State University, is the winner of the $2,000 2022 Derek Thomson Sheely Leadership Award, given to students demonstrating excellence in the classroom and in the community.
Full Story >>

Sage Sowels, Texas State University, and her news team were presented with two Anson Jones awards from the Texas Medical Association for their coverage on COVID anxiety and their series on teen mental health.
Full Story >>

Caitlin Mertins, University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, was selected as an Academic All-America At-Large student athlete in women's bowling by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Full Story >>

Ashley N. Wesolowski, University of Phoenix, has been recognized for her impact on the community, with plans to open a crisis shelter for those living with special needs in Hawaii. Full Story >>

Karina Flores-Garcia, George Mason University, earned the Virginia Sheriffs' Institute (VSI) scholarship, which supports students across Virginia as they pursue an education in criminal justice. Full Story >> 

Heather Dodson, Yavapai College, told her story of overcoming illiteracy by leaning into education as her school's student speaker at commencement. Full Story >>

Zirwa Mian, University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, was featured for her inspiring immigrant story, detailing the path she took from Pakistan to the US as a first-generation college student and graduating with a bachelor's degree in biology. Full Story >>

Brianne Fruge’, Xavier University of Louisiana, is the recipient of the Thomas H. Simmons Memorial Award, given to exceptional students in the School of Social Work. Full Story >>