The Academic Scholar Award recognizes excellence in scholarly conduct, accomplishment, and contributions during the student's time at American Military University.
The award is given to one graduate and one undergraduate student from each academic school in the current graduating class. Each graduating class includes six conferrals: August 1, October 1, December 1, February 1, April 1, and June 1.
- Minimum GPA: 3.70 (undergraduate) and 3.90 (graduate)
- Have high levels of engagement and rapport with instructor and peers in the classroom
- Have consistent participation in discussion forums, etc.
- Have made an impact on peers and leadership at the University through co-curricular or service activities
- Additional leadership or scholarly achievements that can be documented by the nominator
- Nominations may be made by faculty, staff, students, alumni, and those familiar with the nominee’s work
- Nominees will be notified and asked to provide a narrative of no more than 250 words or a 2-minute video reflecting on their time at AMU
- Top candidates in each academic school are presented to the University Provost for review
- The University Provost grants final approval
All materials are to be submitted in one complete packet on the award nomination form. Late or incomplete submissions will not be considered.
- A complete nomination form
- A letter of recommendation from a faculty member. The letter must provide examples of how the student has made excellent contributions to the classroom by engaging with the content and/or leadership among their peers throughout the class. You may want to give your recommendation writer a summary of the award
- An example of a high-quality assignment from your studies, including faculty feedback
- Link to an online portfolio, link Portfolium (optional)
- A reflection of your time at AMU. The reflection may be submitted as a narrative of no more than 250 words or a video of no more than two minutes
- Your current professional resume
- Nominations are accepted at each conferral throughout the year
- Top candidates in each academic school are presented to the Academic Awards Committee for review
- The University Provost grants final approval
- Award recipients will be honored during Commencement weekend, and should we have an in-person celebration, one night accommodations and individual travel expenses to attend Commencement will be paid for by the University
- Award recipients receive a plaque and medallion to be worn at Commencement
- Award recipients are not required to attend Commencement to accept the award
Undergraduate Recipient - School of Arts, Humanities, and Education
Hannah Via graduated from APU in October 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a GPA of 3.9. Her love of psychology started out of a desire to help remove the stigma around mental health due to her own struggles with depression and anxiety. During her time at the University, Hannah was highly involved in various clubs and honor societies, including Pi Gamma Mu and Golden Key. She also founded the Jewish Student Association to honor her culture and religion while she pursued her degree.
Hannah currently works for UVM Hillel as their IACT Israel Engagement Coordinator, running their Birthright program. She is also a graduate student at Capella University, seeking a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. Her work with the University is not done, however, she serves as the President of our Alumni Advisory Council for 2022.
Undergraduate Recipient - Wallace E. Boston School of Business
Dina Fontenelle graduated summa cum laude from APU with a bachelor's degree in business administration in December 2021. Her degree concentration was in business analysis, and she maintained a 4.0 GPA.
Dina is originally from the small Caribbean island of St. Lucia and migrated to the United States several years ago. From an early age, Dina was taught to work hard for anything she wanted and persevered, although her academic was overwhelmed with struggles.
She received multiple President's List awards for her scholarly abilities, and she is a member of the Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society. Her interest in business strategy, operations and analysis was inspired from assisting her brother in his small business. In addition, Dina has managed multiple teams and projects in a Fortune 500 company.
Dina takes pride in helping others and wants to be a role model for girls, single women, and single parents. She participates in diversity, equity, and inclusion groups like Women's Network and Black Heritage Network at work. In addition, Dina hopes to someday be more deeply involved in a foundation that will help Caribbean immigrant women transition from the islands to America.
She has donated her time to helping and feeding the less fortunate in her community and volunteered to educate university students on financial literacy. She is a member of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), a worldwide association with the purpose of helping institutions and information technology professionals with IT governance. Her ultimate educational goal is to achieve her Ph.D. In her free time, Dina enjoys traveling, gardening, enjoying nature and spending time with family.
Undergraduate Recipient - School of Health Sciences
Roderick was accepted to many higher education institutions, but just one caught his eye: APU. From day one, the University has truly been Roderick's strength and the guiding force to his academic excellence.
Pursuing a degree was especially challenging for Roderick. He had to balance a tough academic schedule, undergo many surgeries and cope with chronic pain after being diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome.
In addition, Roderick faced a series of family deaths, making it hard for him to remain focused while he was going through so much. He credits God, his faith and a great support system for helping him to keep going through life and his academic journey.
Roderick successfully navigated his way through every semester as a straight-A student and has a 3.9 GPA. He will graduate summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in sports management from APU.
Majoring in sports management is tailored around Roderick's everyday duties of serving local youth and empowering low-income disadvantaged communities. As a sports management major, Roderick uses sports to empower the kids he helps.
Roderick loves coaching, mentoring and creating greater opportunities for youth, which he has done for over 15 years. Upon graduating from APU, his focus is to open a youth sports academy for kids from disadvantaged communities and backgrounds.
Some of his noteworthy accomplishments include being on the University’s Dean’s List, being a member of the Sports Management and Sports Health Sciences Honor Society, and being inducted into The Society for Collegiate Leadership and Achievement and the University’s chapter of Golden Key International Honour Society. He was also selected to be a University Ambassador and received recognition from the Central Florida Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). His life is committed to making a difference and changing lives.
Undergraduate Recipient - School of Security and Global Studies
Vanessa Jean Zander has served eight years of active duty in the Army, completing an associate is science degree in 2019 from Barton Community College. In April 2022, she graduated from AMU with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and global security. Her concentration was in human security and globalization.
Vanessa earned her degree while she served a nine-month overseas rotation as an Abrams Tank Mechanic, attended the Drill Sergeant Academy and moved to a new state. She often had 15-hour workdays as a Drill Sergeant. Despite the challenges of a hectic life and a few misfortunes along the way, she was determined to finish her classes.
Vanessa took three classes at a time and finished her degree within 18 months, earning a GPA of 3.963. Immediately after completing her degree, Vanessa began a master's program at AMU towards a dual degree in emergency and disaster management and homeland security. She currently volunteers 24 hours a month as a disaster action team duty officer with the American Red Cross.
When Vanessa is not working, volunteering, or completing homework, she enjoys spending time with her wife, playing guitar, and reading. Vanessa always has a passion for learning and motivates her Soldiers to pursue further education despite any challenges they may face.
Vanessa is a first-generation American whose family originates from Brazil. She is thankful to her parents for their courageous efforts to immigrate to the United States, leaving everything familiar behind for a better life. Her accomplishments exemplify their investment in her future and her determination.
Undergraduate Recipient - School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math
David Ruiz graduated summa cum laude from AMU with a bachelor's in information technology management in October 2021, with a GPA of 3.91. He also serves in a leadership role as the webmaster for the University’s Association of Technology Professionals.
David is an Army veteran with 27 years of military service. His interest in information technology developed over the years while he worked as a signal communicator for the United States Army and other countries’ armed forces throughout his military career. He continues to develop his knowledge of IT and cybersecurity by continual education and staying up to date with current trends.
David has a strong desire to help his fellow students and veterans to achieve their potential and develop in the IT world. He fosters a positive environment by providing sound guidance and direction on how to further prepare themselves for understanding the corporate IT field. David has a passion for coaching and enjoys helping others to understand how to further their education and pursue their next career steps.
David is now pursuing a master's degree in information technology information assurance and security from AMU. He is in the process of retiring from the Army and will work as the cybersecurity manager for the Fayetteville North Carolina Public Works Commission. He is a musician and enjoys playing electric guitar, cycling, and celebrating life with his family.
Graduate Recipient - School of Arts, Humanities, and Education
Amy Everson graduated from APU with a master's in Education: Student Affairs in June 2022. Her interest in student affairs started as an undergraduate at West Virginia University, where she worked as a resident assistant and served in many leadership roles in student organizations
In 2014, Amy returned to the field of student affairs. Amy is the Director of Student and Alumni Affairs at the University. She leads a team that offers co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities to students through campus leadership, student organizations, and mentoring.
Amy is often inspired by the University’s students and alumni. She takes great pride in creating communities that help students successfully navigate and enhance their academic journeys.
She lives in West Virginia with her husband Tim and daughter Ellie. Amy enjoys baking and exploring new places. As a foodie, she is constantly searching for the perfect charcuterie board.
Graduate Recipient - Wallace E. Boston School of Business
Maria Clark was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She attended both private and public schools, where she demonstrated a strong ability and desire to excel in life and her educational studies.
After graduating high school, Maria joined the Armed Forces and worked her way up to the rank of Sergeant. She worked as an Automated Logistics Specialist for many years before using her military experience to excel and dominate the logistics industry in her civilian career.
Maria has since relocated to Arkansas, where she remains employed in logistics. She spent several years working at a multi-billion-dollar pipe manufacturer as a Logistics Supervisor before transitioning to a new career opportunity.
Maria enrolled at AMU to earn a MBA degree, maintaining a high GPA throughout her tenure with the university. While Maria is not the first in her family to graduate college, she is looked up to by most of her peers, family, and friends.
Maria is always looking for ways to advance, even offering to help others find the best in themselves. Maria loves to spend her spare time traveling, visiting with family and friends, and finding ways to better herself. She also enjoys taking on new tasks; therefore, Maria intends to return for her Ph.D. in the near future.
Adrienne (AJ) Fisher
Graduate Recipient - School of Health Sciences
AJ Fisher was born in the town of Middleborough, Massachusetts, one of the world's highest producers of cranberries. She stood out for her scholarly abilities and talent, winning Cranberry District's Junior Miss award at age 17.
Growing up as a competitive dancer and inspired by her single mother's unrelenting work ethic, AJ began a career in the performing arts with the big dream of being on Broadway. After a decade of pounding pavement in Los Angeles and New York City, she won positions performing with Cirque du Soleil. AJ made her Broadway debut with “Mamma Mia,” where she understudied nine tracks for four years of nightly performances.
In addition to her career in the performing arts, AJ worked as a personal trainer. She earned certifications from Precision Nutrition Coaching. She has also received more prestigious certifications such as Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist from the National Strength and Conditioning Association and Medical Exercise Specialist from the American Council on Exercise.
Her academic pursuits were non-traditional; she had to take a circuitous route to achieve her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Impressed by the roster of published professors, AJ chose American Public University to earn her exercise science degree, while continuing to serve her private clients and having her two children Ozzie and Jo.
AJ recognized the amazing therapeutic benefits of hypoxic training and voluntary breath training during her undergraduate research. This curiosity motivated her to pursue her master's degree at APU.
AJ and University instructor Dr. Adrienne Herrenbruck have been approved for a research grant to examine the effects of hypoxic breathing during functional fitness training on body composition, strength, and basal metabolic rate. AJ also devotes a percentage of her weekly work hours to researching the benefits of hypoxic training, produced by both breathing techniques and at altitude, for the general population.
Graduate Recipient - School of Security and Global Studies
Wahidullah Mayar is from Afghanistan, also known as "the land of beauty and conflict." Prior to the collapse of the Afghan government and its takeover by the Taliban, he worked as a senior strategic communication advisor to the Health Secretary of Afghanistan and a spokesperson with the Afghan Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan.
Wahidullah possesses three master's degrees. He has a master’s degree in strategic communication from the University of Ottawa, a MBA with a concentration in change leadership from the City University of Seattle and a master’s degree in national security studies from American Military University.
He is a medical doctor and trained journalist with more than 20 years of professional work experience. Wahidullah has worked with various international organizations and Afghan ministries, including CNN, Doctors without Borders, United Nations, the United States Embassy to Afghanistan, and the Afghan Ministry of Public Health.
As an Afghan living and navigating different political power shifts in the country, he perceives the shortage of professionals in the Afghan security field as one of the main problems causing Afghanistan’s internal unrest. Realizing the need for Afghan security professionals heightened his quest for pursuing his security studies at AMU.
Wahidullah feels that his education has equipped him with the required knowledge and leadership skills to make meaningful contributions towards advancing peace and security in his home country. His education has helped him to progress toward becoming an agent of change.
He graduated from AMU with a master's degree in national security studies (capstone option) in April 2022. He has a 4.0 GPA and a concentration in security and intelligence analysis.
Graduate Recipient - School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math
Angela Luckey graduated from APU in August of 2021. She holds a master’s degree in environmental policy and management with a focus in environmental planning and maintained a 4.0 GPA.
Angela is driven by the desire to make a difference in her community. She enjoys participating in the development of collaborative solutions to move toward a sustainable future that considers social well-being, environmental health, and economic success.
Undertaking her master's degree was the catalyst for many major changes in Angela's life. She volunteered with student chapters as the vice president of the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) and as the secretary of the Wildlife Society.
After graduating, Angela became the director of the Natural Neighbors Program with an environmental non-profit organization. Through this program, she encourages and educates property owners on how they can support biodiversity and create habitat for the native flora and fauna of Martha's Vineyard.
Angela found her time at the University to be an invaluable experience that empowered her to engage with colleagues and the general public. Some of her major accomplishments include serving on the West Tisbury Conservation Commission, the Mill Brook Watershed Committee and the West Tisbury Community Preservation Committee. She is deeply honored to accept the Graduate Academic Scholar Award from the School of STEM.
The application deadline for 2023 University Awards nominations is January 15, 2023. For additional information or questions, contact the University Awards Committee.