Published Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
Wayne State College held commencement for undergraduate and graduate students May 10, 2014.
Wayne State College held commencement for graduate students at 9:30 a.m. May 10, 2014, in Rice Auditorium and at 2 p.m. May 10 for undergraduate students in the Willow Bowl. A total of 480 degrees - 385 undergraduates and 95 graduate degrees - were conferred at the ceremonies by Wayne State President Curt Frye. Dr. Sheila Stearns, president of Wayne State College from 1999 to 2003 and a member of the Wayne State Foundation Board of Trustees, delivered the commencement address at the undergraduate ceremony.
Graduate Invocation Speaker
Kayla Varley delivered the invocation at the graduate ceremony. She is the daughter of Randy and Pauline Hahn of Aurora, Neb., and wife of Mike Varley of Farmers and Merchants State Bank in Wayne.
Varley graduated with her master of science in education curriculum and instruction-instructional leadership. She earned her bachelor of science in elementary education and special education from Wayne State in 2012.
Varley plans to continue working at Wayne Community Schools teaching life skills to high school students.
Kayla and Mike, both of Wayne, have a daughter, Kinzly.
Graduate Commencement Speaker
Dr. Julian A. Medina delivered the commencement address at the graduate ceremony.
Medina, who is a physician in Miami, Fla., graduated with a master of business administration degree after completing Wayne State’s online MBA program.
Medina earned his bachelor of arts degree in psychology and bachelor of science degree in biological sciences, both Summa cum Laude, from Florida International University in 1999. He earned his medical degree from University of Florida College of Medicine in 2003.
Julian is married to Christina G. Medina, M.D., and has two daughters, Alicia and Andrea.
Undergraduate Invocation Speaker
Jill Stara delivered the invocation at the undergraduate commencement ceremony. She is the daughter of Kevin and Betsy Stara of David City, Neb.
Stara graduated Summa cum Laude and was a Neihardt Honor Scholar. She majored in K-12 instrumental and vocal music education, making the Dean’s List all five years of her education at Wayne State. She was one of four WSC students selected to present in 2012 at the National Honors Council Conference in Boston.
Stara participated in the Wildcat Marching Band, serving as drum major in 2013 and as the trumpet section leader. She also performed for two years with the Nebraska Intercollegiate Band. She was a member of the Philomathean President’s Honor Society, Kappa Kappa Psi honorary band fraternity, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Cardinal Key, Alpha Lambda Delta Freshman Honor Society, National Association for Music Educators, Crazy 8 Faculty Jazz Combo, WSC Choir, and WSC Show Choir. She also played the lead role in the Wayne State musical Little Shop of Horrors and was named Freshman Music Person of the Year.
Stara began teaching grades 5-12 instrumental music at Lakeview Community Schools in Columbus, Neb.
Alumni Achievement Award
Mike Beacom was the recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award. Beacom graduated as an honors-honorable mention graduate from Wayne State College in 1990 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration with an accounting concentration.
Beacom, a Certified Public Accountant, has been with McGladrey LLP for 20 years, with the past 10 years as an assurance partner. McGladrey is considered one of the nation’s largest assurance, tax and consulting firms, with more than 6,700 professionals and associates located in 75 cities across the United States and more than $1 billion in annual revenues.
Beacom started with McGladrey in its Cedar Rapids, Iowa, office, transferred to Las Vegas, Nev., in 1996, and has worked for McGladrey’s Dallas office since 2001. After holding various leadership positions within the firm, Beacom was chosen to lead McGladrey’s Central Region’s Real Estate and Construction Industry Group in 2013. The Central Region’s footprint encompasses the states of Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.
In addition to being involved with numerous professional, fraternal and charitable organizations, Beacom is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Texas State Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Upon graduating from Emerson-Hubbard High School in Emerson, Neb., Beacom received a Cooperating Schools Scholarship to attend Wayne State College. In appreciation of this scholarship and in the spirit of giving back to Wayne State College, he and his wife, Liz, have started The Beacom Demke Family Scholarship in honor of Mike’s parents, James and Mary Ann (Demke) Beacom, who still reside in Hubbard, Neb.
Mike and Liz reside in Frisco, Texas.
State Nebraska Bank & Trust Teaching Excellence Award
Dr. Laura Dendinger, WSC professor of Business and Economics, received the State Nebraska Bank & Trust Teaching Excellence Award. Matt Ley, chief executive officer of State Nebraska Bank in Wayne, presented the award. David Ley, the bank’s chairman of the board, established the award in 1998 as a way of recognizing and strengthening outstanding teaching at Wayne State. David Ley and State Nebraska Bank of Wayne support the college in many ways, including scholarships and as a trustee of the Wayne State Foundation Board of Trustees.
This prestigious honor is awarded on the basis of rigorous standards that require a superior level of effective teaching. Dendinger also was Wayne State's nominee for the Nebraska State College System Teaching Excellence Award.
Dendinger began teaching at Wayne State, serving as an adjunct family member from 1993 to 2000. She was hired as an assistant professor in 2000 and was granted tenure in 2006 as an associate professor and promoted to full professor in 2011. She earned a juris doctorate from University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1985 and a bachelor of arts degree in political science, speech and organizational communications from Creighton University in 1983. She has practiced law from 1985 to the present, most recently general practice and formerly as a prosecutor.
In addition to publishing and presenting in a variety of journals, textbooks and conferences, Dendinger has been active with many professional and community organizations throughout her career. She is a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association and is a certified mediator/facilitator. Her work with the community has included Haven House, Wakefield Community Foundation, Coleridge Community Educational Foundation, Northeast Nebraska Child Advocacy Center, and the Wayne United Way.
The nomination materials for the Teaching Excellence Award note that Dendinger “has an open and personable demeanor that makes her well-liked by students and faculty” and “her entire professional, academic, and personal life has been a record of service to students and to humanity in general as attorney, professor, counselor, advisor, friend and humanitarian.”
Undergraduate Commencement Address
Dr. Sheila Stearns, who served as president of Wayne State College from 1999 to 2003, delivered the commencement address at the baccalaureate ceremony. Stearns left Wayne State to serve as commissioner of higher education in Montana, CEO for the Board of Regents, with responsibility for overseeing six universities and eight community colleges, in 2003.
Since retiring in 2012, Stearns has served as a senior fellow and consultant for the Association of Governing Boards, providing advice to boards of trustees and governing boards of colleges and universities throughout the United States and the Pacific Islands. Currently, she has been appointed to serve as interim chancellor of Montana State University-Billings. She previously served from 1993 to 1999 as chancellor of the University of Montana-Western and as vice president of the University of Montana from 1987 to 1993.
A native of rural eastern Montana, Stearns received all of her degrees from the University of Montana, including a bachelor's degree in English and history, a master's degree in history and a doctorate in educational administration and supervision. She worked six years as a public school teacher and librarian, including three years in Wiesbaden, Germany, before becoming an administrator at UM.
She is married to Hal Stearns, a longtime public school teacher, adjunct professor, and currently a frequent speaker on 19th century exploration of the American West. Sheila and Hal serve as trustees of the Wayne State College Foundation and continue to be avid supporters of WSC and the Wildcats.
They have two children and six grandchildren, all of whom live within walking distance of their home in Missoula, Mont.