Plainville student wins Torch Award as FHSU's outstanding graduating senior

Torch Pilot Navigator

05/13/16 cn/kb
HAYS, Kan. - Arianne Fisher, Plainville, was named today as the recipient of the Torch Award as the outstanding graduating senior from the Class of 2016 at Fort Hays State University.

She will receive a Bachelor of Science in psychology with summa cum laude honors from the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences Commencement, which begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 14, at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

The announcement of the Torch Award came at the annual Graduate and Faculty Luncheon, sponsored by the FHSU Alumni Association. The Pilot Award for outstanding faculty member and the Navigator Award for outstanding faculty advisor were also announced. All three recipients will be recognized at Commencement.

Dr. Christie Brungardt, assistant professor of leadership studies, was the Pilot Award Recipient, and April Terry, instructor of criminal justice, was the recipient of the Navigator Award.

Dr. Marcy Aycock, a 1984 FHSU graduate and a past president of the Alumni Association, introduced Fisher, a 2012 graduate of Plainville High School. Fisher was selected from 32 nominees.

Aycock quoted one faculty member who said in support of Fisher's nomination, "The Torch Award was designed to honor outstanding seniors who exemplify the values FHSU wishes to instill in its graduates. These values -- leadership, high personal standards, and scholarship -- are integral to an informed citizen in the 21st century. Naturally, the Torch winner should possess each of those values at a very high level. Arianne Fisher, however, possesses each of those values at an extraordinary level."

Another faculty member wrote, "She was far and away the best undergraduate teaching assistant I have had in 18 years, and the one who has handled the most responsibility. Her work exceeds that of most graduate-level teaching assistants."

Fisher has served as president of three on-campus organizations, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness on Campus, an organization she helped to found at FHSU. She is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the Fort Hays Honor Society, Tigers in Service, Women in STEM, and the Women's Leadership Project. She was also a two-term peer mentor for the Psych Investigators Living Learning Community.

Fisher has worked in various undergraduate teaching and research assistant roles within the Department of Psychology since 2013. Her research has led to eight presentations at academic conferences and a peer-reviewed publication in an undergraduate research journal. She will continue her studies as a master's student in the psychology program at FHSU.

Aycock also introduced the Pilot Award winner. "Christie isn't the kind of teacher who just lectures and expects students to fully understand it. She integrates real life with theory making the subject matter much more enjoyable and relatable," said one student quoted by Aycock.

The student continued, "Christie is always positive, enthusiastic, innovative and committed all while being challenging to the students. There is a mutual respect between student and teacher."

Molly Morgan, a Wilson senior who serves as vice president of the Student Government Association, announced April Terry as the recipient of the Navigator Award.

The award was created in 1998 to recognize an outstanding academic advisor based on how closely he or she adheres to the university goals for academic advising. Candidates are nominated, interviewed and selected by graduating seniors.

Morgan quoted a student nomination that read, "She has never rushed or said she was too busy to help a student. In fact, she goes above and beyond what is required of an advisor and shows genuine care to her students."

The Alumni Association instituted the Torch and Pilot awards in 1974 to emphasize the importance of excellence in teaching and learning. They are presented every year at the Graduate and Faculty Luncheon in advance of Commencement.

The Torch Award candidates are nominated by members of the faculty on the basis of classroom excellence, participation in professional organizations, and involvement in student or civic activities.

The Pilot Award is given on the basis of classroom excellence, ongoing research and service activities. Candidates are nominated by graduating seniors. Nominations for the Navigator Award are also made by graduating seniors in a process conducted by the Student Government Association.

Cutline: From left is April Terry, Christie Brungardt and Arianne Fisher.

The Alumni Association, established in 1916, is dedicated to identifying and serving the needs of more than 65,000 graduates living throughout the United States and over 70 foreign countries. For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 785-628-4430 or

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