Student Awardees Stand Out for What They’ve Given Back

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is excited to celebrate the Interdisciplinary Studies, Political Science, and Public Safety Administration graduating classes of 2024.

Congratulations to: Keegan Butler, Maria Fernanda Galina, Vartui Khanjaryan, Ridwan Mahbub, Ariana Telimian and Ariel Telimian, who will graduate from the Political Science program. In Interdisciplinary Studies, we congratulate Elizabeth Burch, Nicolas MacDonald, and Jaclyn Navar. Congratulations also to Juan Becerra and Ricardo Huerta who will graduate with degrees in Public Safety Administration.

Three of these students, one in each program, have been identified by the faculty for their outstanding achievement. While all students are honored for their academic success, these achievements demonstrate that academics is only one part of what makes a Woodbury student shine.

Keegan Butler earned the award for Outstanding Achievement in Political Science. CLAS Dean Will McConnell says Keegan is a natural gifted leader. His participation on campus includes 1.5 years of service as the president of the U.N. student association, and he helped faculty member Dr. Eric Schockman draft the constitution for U.N.I.T.Y., the alliance for LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff.

Off campus, Keegan has also been involved in many initiatives: he was a high-level campaign worker in Mayor Karen Bass’s election campaign, and he volunteers with Pauly’s Project, a food and sneaker drive for people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. He has contributed to Planned Parenthood outreach, and was instrumental as a student planner for the United Farm Worker’s field trip for Dr. Schockman’s Cesar Chavez class. Keegan was also involved in political circles in Maine, where he was a high-level campaign worker for Sarah Gideon’s U.S. Senate run.

Keegan has the highest GPA in the Political Science program, and, in his final semester, he designed a 24-credit unit experience to enable him to fast track his entry into graduate school. He was accepted to and will be attending Columbia University’s Political Science program.

Jaclyn Navar received the award for Outstanding Achievement in Interdisciplinary Studies, as well as the award for Outstanding Achievement in Professional Writing. About this achievement, Dean McConnell noted that “across the 16 years I have been advisor for the INDS program, Jaclyn has designed the most extensive set of interlocking course pathways of any single student.” In addition to this achievement, she also graduates as a member of the Honors Program, in which she completed a second senior thesis, was published twice in Scribendi, the national anthology serving Honors Programs and Colleges, and presented on two panels at the Western Regional Honors Conference in Long Beach this spring.

In addition to academic accolades, Jaclyn has also been active in building Woodbury community: she was the student organizer and host of CLAS’s 2023-24 Verse Come, Verse Serve open mic events, and she volunteered for the Young Storytellers program, in which she worked with minority-identifying students from lower income backgrounds to complete workshops in filmmaking. She also wrote, narrated, filmed, and edited a promotional film for that program. Jaclyn’s leadership skills were a boon to CLAS when she served as our student presenter for the recent University of Redlands Board of Trustees’ visit to Woodbury’s campus, about which Dean McConnell said, “I think it’s safe to say, she stole the show.” She is also a library student worker, and, through that experience, she became interested in sociopolitical questions surrounding archiving. In her exploration of those questions, her scholarly work considers archiving collections at the intersection of minority representation, sociopolitical inflections of “value,” and historically marginalized voices and experience. According to all who have worked with her, “she’s a real powerhouse.”

Ricardo Huerta received the award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Safety Administration. Ricardo’s internship experience reflects his professional, proactive, and excellent organizational skills. After searching across multiple opportunities for an internship, he chose the Los Angeles County Probation Department College Internship Program. The program accepts a limited number of applications each year, and Ricardo’s preparation and professional comportment ensured that he secured one of these limited spaces. He then ran with this opportunity: he underwent an extensive background check to receive his VISTO Volunteer ID badge at LA County Probation Headquarters in Downey, participated in the Academic Internship Program orientation, and completed Visto training. Through this training, he received excellent guidance through the strict regulations that all professional members of these programs must observe. In January 2024, he was assigned to the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall, where he worked with the educational services department. This department offers eligible young adults the opportunity to finish high school and start college.

Ricardo’s dedication to his internship indicates the deep wells of care and strength our PSAD graduates share, as well as the difficult social positions these graduates accept as they attempt to give back to their communities through their education. As Ricardo states, “My internship experience with LA County Probation at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall changed my perspective of incarcerated young adults. I learned that labels such as juvenile, delinquent, incarceration, juvenile hall, juvie, and detention center are damaging stereotypes that criminalize and dehumanize these young adults.” His successful experience, captured in his wording, is echoed by his internship supervisor, who wrote that Ricardo is “an exceptional student and worker . . . dependable, honest, neat, and engaging, I would love for him to stay with us, but we know he has to graduate.” Yes, he does. And he has! We thank Ricardo for representing both the PSAD program and Woodbury University so well.

Translate »