University News

2018 College Valedictorians

Published: May 01, 2018 | Category: Commencement

From left to right: Ashlee Shipp Lieske, Steven Hadley, Mariah Porter, Maddie Topham, Scott Chapman, Jacob Lambertson, (Not pictured: Angela Castagno)

From left to right: Ashlee Shipp Lieske, Steven Hadley, Mariah Porter, Maddie Topham, Scott Chapman, Jacob Lambertson, (Not pictured: Angela Castagno)

Representing each individual college, this year’s valedictorians are among the best and brightest at Southern Utah University. This year there are seven exceptional students, along with the University Valedictorian Maddie Topham . These students are the highest academically ranked in their areas.


College of Humanities and Social Science - Maddie Topham

Madeline Townsend Topham Humanities ValedictorianAs this year’s valedictorian, as well as the chosen valedictorian for the College of Humanities and Social Science, Maddie Topham represents the very best at SUU and exemplifies the ideal student every institution hopes to find. Topham earned an overall 4.0 GPA, consistently found herself on the Dean’s List, and is a finalist for this year’s ‘Scholar of the Year’ award at SUU.

“My professors challenged me academically, inspired me to explore new fields, and helped me build a strong foundation in communication,” said Topham. “Sage Platt, Matt Barton, and Jonathan Holiman were great instigators in helping me get the most out of my experience at SUU.”

Topham’s goal is to become an LDS seminary teacher. After graduating in December with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication, Topham is currently in her last semester of student teaching and will find out this summer what full-time options are available to her and her husband, who is also finishing his student teaching.


College of Education and Human Development - Steven Hadley

2018-05-college-valedictorians-steven-hadley.jpgRoy, Utah native Steven Hadley has always had a love for the world of athletics. His enjoyment of basketball, football, fishing, hiking, and spending time outdoors lead to his pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in athletic training. Though he began his college career at Snow College, he chose to transfer to Southern Utah University after attending to a recruiting fair and being offered a scholarship.

“At SUU, students get to work first hand with student athletes,” said Steven. “I was the senior athletic training student assigned to the football team so I was able to travel and work closely with them all season. It was a great opportunity.”

With graduation right around the corner, Steven says he’s ready for the next chapter in his life. After graduation, he will start physical therapy school. He’s been accepted into Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions Doctor of Physical Therapy Program and starts classes the week after graduation.


College of Science and Engineering -   Jacob Lambertson

2018-05-college-valedictorians-jacob-lambertson.jpgJacob Lambertson always knew he wanted to become a doctor and is currently trying to decide between emergency medicine, neurology, or internal medicine. He hopes to practice medicine in a rural, underserved community upon graduating from medical school.

During his time at SUU, Lambertsen has assisted with the complex research of trying to determine the redox potential of a cell. “This research has implications in cancer treatment for if it is determined that cancer cells have significantly different redox potentials relative to healthy cells, inactive drugs can be administered to the body and only be activated upon entering the unique redox environment of cancer cells,” said Lambertson.

SUU is a place Lambertsen will always call home. The thing he will miss most is the close knit community and the student- faculty interactions, but he is confident that SUU has successfully prepared him for the next step in life. While getting accepted to several prestigious medical schools, Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio is where he will continue his academic journey in Fall 2018.


College of Performing and Visual Arts - Ashlee Shipp Lieske

2018-05-college-valedictorians-ashlee-shipp-lieske.jpgOriginally from Katy, Texas, Ashlee Shipp Lieske came to Cedar City as a young high school student to audition for the Department of Music and was impressed by the professors. She said, “They were so welcoming and helpful. It felt like I would be comfortable here and would be able to get the assistance I would need to succeed.”

Of her time at SUU, Lieske said, “All of my fondest memories revolve around the Music

Department. I’ve enjoyed the performances I’ve been in as well as many of the classes I’ve taken. The highlight of my time here is probably Dr. Ipson’s Music History classes.”

Lieske completed her student teaching at Cedar High School and taught elementary school in Thailand. Her plans for the future include working as a substitute teacher in Iron County, working as a teacher abroad for a few years before settling down in the United States, and working as a choir director.


School of Business -   Scott Chapman

2018-05-college-valedictorians-scott-chapman.jpgChapman earned a reputation at Southern Utah University as a student who never accepted anything less than his best performance. This was the attitude that led him to earn a 4.0 GPA and graduate as a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma business honors society.

A business management major, Chapman learned more than just management principles during his time at SUU, he learned how to enter the workforce. “I had many professors coach me how to conduct myself in a job interview, how to network, and how to market myself online,”said Chapman. “While of course I appreciate all of the knowledge I have gained, the professors of the School of Business helped me and all of their students plan for our entrance into the job market. Every professor in the School of Business cared about my future.”

Chapman has been hired as a management trainee at Enterprise Rent-a-Car and is looking forward to climbing the ranks as he pursues his career in management.


School of Integrative & Engaged Learning - Mariah Porter

2018-05-college-valedictorians-mariah-porter.jpgMariah Porter was born with an instinctive passion for the outdoors. While growing up in Lindon, Utah, she frequently enjoyed hiking, biking, canyoneering, and taking naps on sunny hillsides. After visiting Southern Utah University as a senior in high school, Mariah was impressed by the beautiful campus and engaged professors.

“The faculty and staff seemed to genuinely care about the students.” said Porter. “I was able to design my own degree to fit my exact interests and needs.”

During her time at the university, Porter has completed several internships working with animals and natural resource, including ones at Yellowstone Bear World, Bryce Canyon National Park, and most recently the Dixie National Forest monitoring hawks. She also has journeyed abroad, spending a semester teaching English to children in Thailand.


Graduate & Online School - Angela Castagno

2018-05-college-valedictorians-angela-castagno.jpgA long and proud legacy of Southern Utah University alumni including both parents, three sisters, and several extended family members brought Angela Castagno from Kanab to Cedar City, Utah. Following in her family's footsteps simply felt right.

When asked how she managed to become the valedictorian for the Graduate and Online School Castagno replied, “I applied myself to every class. I didn't just go through the motions. I made commitments, kept them, and managed my time. You can get something out of your education, or you can just pay for it. It's up to you!”

A finalist for the Scholar of the Year award, Castagno will be graduating Summa Cum Laude, the highest distinction recognized at SUU. She plans to apply for the Alternate Route to Licensure program through the Utah State Board of Education and become an elementary school teacher. She encourages other potential non-traditional students to take advantage of the time they have to earn an education.


Contact Information:

Nikki Koontz, director of marketing
435-586-5487
nikkikoontz@suu.edu