Press Release, Purdue University Northwest:

Purdue University Northwest recognized several exemplary students, faculty and staff members, nominated by their institutional peers, for accomplishments relating to their on-campus community-building and leadership.

The awards were announced at the university’s 2024 Founders Day celebration. PNW’s Founders Day is an annual campus tradition celebrating the anniversary of the university’s founding and the institutional mission of delivering transformational change for the metropolitan region. Founders Day serves as an opportunity to recognize nominees who advance the university mission of academics, scholarship and service to the campus and Northwest Indiana communities. PNW also honors select employees for their years of service.


Two PNW students received awards for their service in the following categories:

Outstanding Undergraduate Student

Dikshant Sharma, fourth-year Mechanical Engineering major

Outstanding Graduate Student

McKenzie Dinga, Technology master’s student


Three PNW faculty members were honored with outstanding faculty awards in the areas of scholarship, teaching and engagement. They are as follows:

Outstanding Faculty Awards

Julia Rogers, assistant professor of Nursing — Scholarship

Hubert Izienicki, associate professor of Sociology — Teaching

Jodi Allen, assistant professor of Nursing — Engagement

PNW administrators and staff members who received awards in each of the following categories are as follows:

Outstanding Academic Administrative Leadership Award

Shuhui (Grace) Yang, department chair of Computer Science and professor of Computer Science

Outstanding Administrative Leadership Award (Staff)

Karen Sullivan, director of Building Services

Outstanding Clerical Staff Award

Joan Buss, administrative assistant, department of Construction Science and Organizational Leadership

Mary Rose Sicinski, graduate program coordinator, College of Technology

Outstanding Service Staff Award

Dianna Vaughn, Print and Mail Services Coordinator

Outstanding Management and Administrative Professional Award

Noemi Elizalde, Graduation and Records Manager, Office of the Registrar

Salvador Cordova, assistant director for Programming and Administration, Office of Student Life

Additional Recognitions

Gisele Casanova, interim chair of PNW’s department of Psychology and associate professor of Psychology, was recognized for her 2024 Purdue University system-wide Dreamer award. Purdue’s Dreamer awards annually recognize individuals and organizations who further the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of service and commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Shontrai Irving, clinical associate professor of Business Law, was recognized for his 2023 Purdue Special Boilermaker Award. The award is provided to faculty and staff members from throughout the Purdue University system that have contributed to the improvement of the quality of life or the betterment of the educational experience for a substantial number of students.

Kwangsoo Park, associate dean of the College of Business and director of the White Lodging School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, was recognized for recently receiving the 2024 Purdue Focus Award. The award is given annually in honor of individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to furthering the Purdue system’s commitment to disability accessibility and diversity.


Purdue University Northwest

Purdue University Northwest (PNW) is a premier metropolitan university dedicated to empowering transformational change in our students and in our community. Located in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago, PNW values academic excellence, supports growth, and celebrates diversity. For more information about PNW, visit