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Front row (l-r): Benjamin Pearce, Natalie Vega, Sara White, Caitlin Suter and Lu Yang. Middle row (l-r): Austin Kidd-Anderson, George Agyeah and Tyler Wilson. Back row (l-r): Hattan Omrani, James Torgerson, Austin Hoyle and James Galla. Not pictured: Ryan Olson, Amadeo Carbo, Matthew Frick and Cassondra Billingsley.
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WIU College of Business and Technology Celebrates the 2018 Best of the Best

June 5, 2018

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL - - The Western Illinois University College of Business and Technology (CBT) recognized several outstanding seniors, graduate students, faculty and other award winners for the Spring 2018 semester.

Outstanding Seniors
James Torgerson (Springfield, IL), Department of Economics and Decision Sciences
Torgerson majored in finance and economics with emphases in monetary and international economics and graduated with a 3.9 grade point average. In addition to his academic distinctions, Torgerson was a student-athlete, playing on the offensive line for WIU Football. He was also a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and Beta Gamma Sigma, and he served as the student-athlete representative to Student Government Association.

Austin Hoyle (Bushnell, IL), School of Computer Sciences
According to Hoyle's nominator, the reason he was nominated for outstanding senior was his record outside of the classroom. His work experience included volunteering for McDonough District Hospital's physical therapy department, working as a CNA at a regional retirement community, a facility manager and fitness assistant for the McDonough County YMCA and, most recently, as a software engineer/web application developer/website designer for a local shipping company.

Caitlin Suter (Avon, IL), Department of Management and Marketing
Suter, a senior supply chain management major, completed two internships during the course of her studies. As a warehouse operations intern at DOT Foods, Inc., in Mount Sterling, IL, she was responsible for multiple inventory optimization projects, which resulted in a $10,000 savings in a single warehouse facility. Suter is currently serving as a purchasing department intern at Yetter Manufacturing Company, Inc., in Colchester, IL, where she has assisted in procurement, production scheduling and identifying new suppliers. She has served as the vice president and public relations chair of the Supply Chain Student Association and was selected as the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals Young Leader for the 2017 Global Conference. Suter is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma.

Natalie Vega (East Peoria, IL), Department of Accounting and Finance
Vega was a member of Beta Alpha Psi, the student chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants and Beta Gamma Sigma. She served as a resident assistant from 2015-2018, and was on the Dean's List. She also completed an internship as a corporate accounting intern at Caterpillar, Inc. in Peoria, IL.

Tyler Wilson (Murrayville, IL), School of Agriculture
After graduation, Wilson plans to go back to the family farm in Murrayville and implement new marketing and management strategies. He was the Noble Ruler for the Alpha Gamma Rho House in 2017 during a multi-million-dollar renovation project. Under his leadership, the house also increased its philanthropic giving.

Ryan Olson (Alexis, IL), School of Engineering
Olson was nominated for his outstanding performance in his studies and for his willingness to give back by tutoring engineering students in math and other subjects. After graduation, Olson began his new job as a mechanical engineer at a fire equipment company in Alexis, IL. His nominator said he participated in numerous recruiting activities and spent considerable time with visiting students, answering their questions and promoting the University, College and School.

Amadeo Carbo (Spain), Department of Engineering Technology
At commencement, Amadeo was recognized as the Engineering Technology (ET) Department Honors Scholar, CBT Honors Scholar and ET Outstanding Senior, and he served as a marshal. He is a member of three honor societies and played soccer at WIU. Amadeo's internship was completed in Barcelona, Spain where he worked as a production engineer intern for Ficosa International, S.A.

Outstanding Graduate Students
George Agyeah (Ghana), Master of Science in Applied Statistics and Business Analytics

According to his nominator, Agyeah is an excellent student, hard-working and highly motivated. His research poster "Modeling the success of Kickstarter project" won first place in the graduate research conference in March 2018. He, along with four other graduate students from applied statistics and business analytics, participated in 2018 Data Fest (a weekend-long intense data analysis competition) at Loyola University in Chicago and did an excellent job representing WIU.

Austin Kidd-Anderson (Andalusia, IL), Master of Arts in Economics
Kidd-Anderson completed his Bachelor of Business in Economics at WIU in 2016 with a 4.0 GPA and returned to work soon thereafter to start his master's degree. He was awarded an assistantship and served as a graduate teaching assistant for the past two semesters, providing tutoring assistance to students, grading for professors and assisting where needed. His nominators said he is a bright, hardworking, motivated, disciplined young man with a very bright future.

Hattan Omrani (Saudi Arabia), Master of Science in Computer Science
Omrani came to WIU as a sophomore and began taking undergraduate courses in Spring 2013. He finished his undergraduate degree in computer science in Fall '16, as a Departmental Honors Scholar. He also took advantage of the integrated five-year bachelor's/master's program and began his graduate work in Spring 2017. His nominators said Omrani stands out with consistent excellence in everything he does across his different classes.

Lu Yang (Bettendorf, IA), Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology
Yang has a bachelor's degree in Chinese language literature from Henan University. She speaks four languages (Chinese, English, Japanese and Thai), is an instructor for Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth and Iowa Department of Education Iowa Learning Online. Her nominator said throughout her time in the program, she has been professional, productive and a model for other graduate students.

Sara White (Smithfield, IL), Master of Accountancy
White participated in WIU's integrated five-year bachelor's/master's program and earned her bachelor's degree in accountancy in 2017. She helped to promote the accounting profession as an ICPAS (Illinois CPA Society) student ambassador, and she has been a member of Beta Alpha Psi since 2016, serving as president since May 2017. She also served in several internship positions, including as an assurance intern at RSM US LLP, a tax intern at CPA Associates PG and as a corporate accounting intern at H.D. Smith.

James Galla (Spring Grove, IL), Master of Science in Engineering Technology Leadership
Galla holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology from Western, and he is currently completing coursework in the engineering technology leadership graduate program. He will complete his capstone internship project this summer with GE Transportation. He has worked a variety of jobs while working his way through his postsecondary education. He has managed roofing crews, worked in the WIU Bookstore, been a graduate assistant and was a process improvement intern at GE Transportation in Galesburg, IL.

Other Awards:
Matthew Frick, from Palatine, IL
, was named the David Bloomberg Scholar in recognition of exceptional academic achievement as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) student.

Benjamin Pearce, a senior mechanical engineering major from Loami, IL, was named the Michael P. Kelly Scholar. This award is given to the College's outstanding senior and is based on the student's contributions both inside and outside the classroom. Pearce has two study abroad experiences to his credit, including an internship in Austria and a semester in China. He currently works as an intern for QC MetroLINK in Moline, IL, and he is very involved in recruiting activities for the School of Engineering.

Cassondra Billingsley, a senior marketing major from LeClaire, IA, was awarded the Delta Sigma Pi Key. This award is given in recognition of outstanding academic achievement by a business major with senior standing.

Faculty Award Winners:
Jason Franken, associate professor of agriculture: Excellence in Scholarly, Creative, Performative, Professional Activities
Cathy Onion, assistant professor of business communications: Excellence in Teaching
George Mangalaraj, professor of computer sciences: Excellence in Teaching with Technology
Donna Wiencek, assistant professor of marketing: Excellence in University/Community Service
Shankar Ghimire, assistant professor of economics: Excellence in Internationalizing the Campus

For more information on the CBT, visit

Posted By: Alisha Looney (
Office of University Communications & Marketing