NWCCD students, staff honored with 2020 Excellence Awards


Northern Wyoming Community College District is proud to announce their 2020 Excellence Award Winners. Each year, the District recognizes staff and students who have made exemplary efforts to support the goals and overall mission of the District as award recipients.

Individuals are selected based on nomination by their peers. One classified employee, professional employee, faculty member and student at both Sheridan College and Gillette College is selected each year.

This year’s Sheridan College award recipients include Sarah Aksamit, administrative coordinator for the vice president of student affairs; Ryan Shippy, digital strategist; Jill McGraw, business faculty member; and Keegan Jenness, a secondary education and business major.

The 2020 Gillette College award recipients include Jessi Maurer, coordinator of academic affairs; Grace Henderson, assistant director of campus life and housing; Liz Hunter, engineering and physics faculty member; and Zachary Milliron, an elementary education student.

Aksamit was recognized for her pivotal role in the District’s pandemic response this year.

“Sarah was critical in our response to the pandemic, including mentoring students as they faced COVID-19. She helped the college maintain high safety standards for everyone that ultimately allowed us to continue face-to-face instruction,” said Jana Clements, NWCCD risk manager.

According to Wendy Smith, associate vice president for strategic communication and public relations, Shippy was recognized for his humble leadership and dedication to higher education.

“Ryan has taken the lead on many large recruitment projects and is an excellent team member,” she said. “He exemplifies a lifelong learner and cares very much about our mission.”

McGraw, a business faculty member, was recognized for her role as coordinator of the Sheridan College Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence as well as her work to develop curriculum for a forthcoming Bachelor of Applied Science program at the District.

“Jill has been instrumental in developing the Bachelor of Applied Science degree program and helped our faculty move to fully online instruction last spring,” said Travis Grubb, dean of career and technical education.

Keegan Jenness, a secondary education and business student at Sheridan College, hopes to work in elementary education and plans to pursue his bachelor’s degree after graduation this year.

“Keegan is an effective student leader whose work ethic is unmatched,” said Bradley Branson, coordinator of campus life. “We are thankful to have him as part of our team. We have no doubt wherever Keegan lands he will exhibit excellence.”

Maurer was recognized for her role as a problem solver.

“Jessi has been instrumental in ensuring that the course schedule is accurate which has helped increase our enrollment and helps ensure students are able to complete programs on time,” said Grubb. 

Grace Henderson oversees housing and activities at Gillette College. According to Susan Serge, director of student affairs, she works hard to help students grow.

“Grace is phenomenal at challenging and providing support to students. She has helped them grow, develop and persevere during their time here,” she said.

Liz Hunter, a Gillette College engineering and physics instructor, was recognized for her recruitment efforts as well as her work to expand equipment available to students.

“Liz has been awarded several grants to secure supplies and equipment for her departments. She has also worked hard to grow the engineering program, working with high schools to recruit students,” said Beau Corkins, a math faculty member at Gillette College.

According to Serge, Zachary Milliron is a role model to his peers and a student leader on campus.

“Zach always remains optimistic and has served as a role model to his peers to maintain a positive attitude and keep moving forward no matter the situation. He truly embodies what it means to be a Gillette College Pronghorn,” she said.

All Excellence Award winners were honored during a virtual awards ceremony on Jan. 11, 2021.