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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Psychology major named Outstanding Student in College of Liberal Arts

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Crystal Steltenpohl
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LaVerne Jones
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Crystal Steltenpohl is graduating magna cum laude in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and psychology from the University of Southern Indiana. Her grandmother Rosie Albach, from Germany, and parents Glen and Anja Steltenpohl will attend the Commencement ceremony.

Steltenpohl is this year's Outstanding Student from the College of Liberal Arts, an award that recognizes excellence in academics and service.

"Mark Rusk's enthusiasm for USI, his interest in my enrolling at USI, and the Emma A. Gorby Deans Scholarship were some of the factors in my deciding to attend USI," said Steltenpohl. Rusk is associate director of Admission at USI.

In a military family for 20 years, she grew up living in four different cities in Germany and graduated from the AF North International School in the Netherlands. She also lived in Ferdinand, Indiana, Missouri, and Kentucky.

She lived on the Honors Floor in student housing in 2007. She was skeptical about relating to Hoosier students. "I was concerned because I didn't know the American culture or enjoy the same bands, but I made awesome friends and got involved in student clubs," she said. A resident assistant in McDonald West her sophomore year, she was the resident assistant for the Honors Floor the next year.

She credits her work with student groups and her campus activism for getting into graduate school. She will be attending Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in the fall to begin work on a doctoral program in psychology. During her interview, the admission counselor said her ability to get involved and make a difference was noted. She plans to study diversity in the workplace and in the classroom. Her goal is to become a college psychology professor and develop methods to better represent underserved populations within the curriculum.

Her 3.97 grade point average (GPA) was another plus on the application. A modest young woman, Steltenpohl excelled in her dual majors

"Crystal is a model of academic excellence with an exceptional GPA and a history of service in the University and in the community," said Dean Michael Aakhus. "She has a very bright future."

Her work as vice president, president, and co-founder of Human, Environmental and Animal Rights (HEAR) and her role as Honors Floor RA are the highlights of her college career. "Though HEAR is only two years old, we've sponsored important events including this year's Day of Silence," she said. "Our purpose is to talk about issues, present all sides, and encourage discussion rather than group think."

Her sincerity is evident as she talks about her success in the classroom as a direct result of the caring faculty at USI. "I want to be as committed to teaching as my college professors. I want to be available to my students and encourage them to take risks and to grow."

"Crystal has furthered the cultural experience of the students," said Amie McKibban, assistant professor of psychology. "She organized the Wall of Intolerance and had students write discriminatory things they had heard or said on the paper bricks. Diversity, religion and racism, and poverty are some of the topics discussed during the semester. As the programs concluded, the students could tear down part of the wall, so at the end of the semester nothing of the wall was left. I was proud to work beside her."

While at USI, Steltenpohl has seen the construction of the Business and Engineering Center and additions to the Recreation, Fitness, and Wellness Center and the University Center.

But more than physical additions, she has observed change in USI policies. She cites development in the University's diversity policies. "Same sex benefits and attention to gender identify and expression are important additions," she said.

She also has experienced variation in the perception of USI. "During the summer before freshman year, the tone of the remarks by people who learned I was enrolling at USI were understated," said Steltenpohl. "But in recent months, the response has been enthusiastic, 'Oh, you are attending USI!'"

"And USI now has a female president," she said. "That shows USI is moving in a positive direction."

Liberal arts students are nominated by departments within the college and the award winner is selected by the dean. The Psychology Department unanimously chose Crystal Steltenpohl for the honor.



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