Honored for Excellence

April 17, 2023

Medallion awards are given to a select group of UM-Dearborn's top graduates — with one of those students receiving the Chancellor's Medallion. Here are the CASL and CEHHS recipients.

Photo of Commencement Spring 2019

Each semester, UM-Dearborn honors a very select group of students with a Medallion Award. Chosen by faculty from their respective colleges, graduates are recognized for their outstanding quality of character, intellect, integrity and academic record.

Three Medallion awards are given per college — with one of those students selected to receive the Chancellor’s Medallion. These students will be recognized during the April 30 commencement celebrations.

Here are the College of Arts, Sciences, & Letters and the College of Education, Health, & Human Services recipients.

The awardees from the College of Business and College of Engineering & Computer Sciences — a CECS grad earned the Chancellor’s Medallion this semester — are listed here.

Diana Nichols, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters

Photo of CASL grad Diana Nichols

Diana Nichols is receiving her Bachelor of Science in chemistry and received university honors in Fall 2019. During her time at UM-Dearborn, she had an exceptional presence in the classroom and on campus, where she actively pursued various undergraduate research opportunities.

Diana received the 2022 SURE Best Poster award for her research on the synthesis and characterization of B2 vitamin derivatives with applications in vitamin deficiency detection. Diana worked with Chemistry Associate Professor Simona Marincean on the project and presented the results of this research at the Spring 2022 American Chemical Society National Meeting and at the 2022 Central American Chemical Society Regional Meeting. She is currently working on a first-authored manuscript from the research and plans to submit it for peer review.

Diana’s engagement on campus extends beyond the classroom. As a nontraditional student who transferred to the university in 2019, Diana subsequently became the president of UM-Dearborn’s Chemistry Club. In this role, Diana coordinated  numerous activities for Dearborn Wolverines.  

Diana was accepted into multiple graduate schools for chemistry and will enter the University of Michigan’s organic chemistry doctorate program in the fall. 

Elizabeth O’Hotzke, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters

Photo of Elizabeth O'Hotzke

Elizabeth O’Hotzke is receiving a Bachelor of Science in behavioral and biological sciences with a minor in psychology and a certificate in writing. She received university honors four times and was named to the Dean’s List from Fall 2019 through Fall 2022. In addition, Elizabeth is a  two-time James B. Angell Scholar, was awarded the William J. Branstrom Prize in 2020, and is this year’s behavioral and biological sciences Honors Scholar.  

Elizabeth excelled in challenging courses ranging from organic chemistry and microbiology to cognitive psychology, ethics in research and medical anthropology. She has served as a consultant with UM-Dearborn’s Writing Center and as a supplemental instruction leader for several courses.

Complementing her academic achievements, Elizabeth is actively engaged in student life and volunteer work, both on and off campus. A participant in Alternative Spring Break since her first year on campus, Elizabeth has served as the ASB executive board education and training coordinator since Fall 2021. She has been on two community service trips, where she helped address literacy needs and food insecurity. Elizabeth is an active member of Detroit Catholic Campus Ministry, serving as organization president since 2021. Over the past three years, Elizabeth has participated in numerous tutoring and educational outreach opportunities in Dearborn and Detroit, including volunteering as a middle school math tutor. She is also a volunteer assistant junior varsity softball coach at Manchester High School, her former school.

Elizabeth has been described as an exceptional student and has been praised as being at the top of her class by numerous professors. Upon graduation, Elizabeth plans to pursue a career in the health professions.

Richard Tharrett, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters

photo of CASL grad Richard Tharett

Richard Tharrett is receiving his Bachelor of Arts with a double major in political science and  journalism and media. He was awarded the Maxwell Gray Film Fellowship through the University of Michigan Eisenberg Family Depression Center, where he directed original videos and worked alongside therapists and other professionals in the field to promote mental health.

Last year, Richard won first place in UM-Dearborn’s writing awards for his documentary film  “Second Chance,” which shares the experience of a formerly incarcerated man who served nearly 40 years in prison. Richard also works for UM-Dearborn as a production assistant, producing campus videos and advising journalism students. 

Currently, Richard is an intern in Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s communications department, where he works closely with the governor’s speechwriter to draft speeches, facilitate interviews and craft messages to address key problems facing the state of Michigan. Outside of school, Richard is a competitive unicyclist, a hobby and sport that has taken him across the world, most recently to France to serve as the director and chief judge of a competition at the world championships for unicycling in 2022.

After he graduates, Richard plans to pursue a career in multimedia journalism or communications in the public sector.  

Katrina M. Chester, College of Education, Health, and Human Services

Katrina Chester

Katrina M. Chester is receiving her Bachelor of Arts in special education. She received university honors in 2023 and was named to the Dean’s List for five semesters.

For her elementary certification, Katrina student-taught in a second-grade general education classroom, an upper-elementary resource room, and a middle school special education classroom. 

To help local students ages six through 11 who needed additional support in mathematics and language arts, Katrina was a volunteer tutor from December 2020 to June 2022. During student teaching, she also participated in the school’s Parent Teacher Association, assisting with Scholastic Book Fairs, holiday events and fundraisers. 

Following graduation, Katrina plans to work in an elementary school resource room or a lower elementary general education classroom while pursuing her master’s in special education with an endorsement in autism.

Her hope is to one day work in a self-contained autism classroom, where she can advocate for students who can have such a wide range of abilities, and help others gain knowledge about inclusion efforts with neurodiverse students.





Yasmina Elmeligi, College of Education, Health, and Human Services

Photo of Yasmina Elmeligi

Yasmina Elmeligi is receiving her Bachelor of Arts in language arts. She received university honors in 2021 and 2023 and was named to the Dean’s List every semester since Winter 2019.  She is a James B. Angell Scholar, a member of the national French honors society Pi Delta Phi and the recipient of a Spanish Honors award. During her UM-Dearborn career, she was awarded a Dean’s Scholarship, a Dearborn Dependent Scholarship and the James and MayBell Loeb Scholarship.

Through her studies, Yasmina participated in an action research capstone project where she tested two different best practices — graphic organizers and PowerPoint presentations — to determine which one is  more equipped to increase student understanding and progress. She also completed training through the GLOBE program, which helped her obtain the background needed to lead a class in performing field and lab protocols.

On campus, she served as a tutor in French, Arabic and Spanish, and a lab assistant at the Kochoff Foreign Language Lab. In addition, she has provided tutoring at the language lab since 2019 and she worked as an office assistant in the Department of Language, Culture and the Arts from 2019 to 2022.

Yasmina has also been very active in campus groups. She has served as president of the French Club, the event coordinator of La Mezcla, and a member of the UNICEF Club, Active Minds, buildOn and the Arabic Club. As a member of the French Club, she helped in the co-sponsorship of buildOn’s first annual fundraising dinner. 

Yasmina plans to pursue a master’s degree in educational leadership.Once she earns her graduate degree, she plans on working as an ESL coordinator or a classroom teacher.

Bianca Freeman, College of Education, Health, and Human Services

Bianca Freeman

Bianca Freeman is receiving a Bachelor of Science in health and human services with a concentration in public health. She received university honors in 2022 and was named to the  Dean’s List for eight semesters. She is the recipient of an Impact Opportunity Scholarship, the Go Blue Guarantee and a DTE E-Challenge Scholarship.

Bianca completed an internship with professors Natalie Sampson and Carmel Price on their research project, “U.S. Clean Air Act Title V Public Notices as Barriers to Environmental Justice: Lessons from a Plain Language Analysis,” for the Environmental Research-to-Action program. She presented the team’s preliminary findings at the 2022 American Public Health Association Conference.

In addition, Bianca is currently working on the DTE E-Challenge, helping to craft an energy savings plan for the UM-Dearborn campus. She also works on the All of Us study — a National Institutes of Health initiative that aims to build a diverse health database — at Henry Ford Health as a research recruitment specialist. In her role, Bianca informs people about Henry Ford Health’s ongoing research and why it is important.

Bianca volunteered in the Student Food Pantry for the Fall 2022 semester. Also, for one of her courses, she assisted with grant writing for the Concerned Residents of South Dearborn, a neighborhood association that focuses on social, economic and environmental concerns.

Bianca plans on pursuing a Master of Public Health degree. Before that, she will take a gap year to explore different public health career paths.