32 Michigan Students Earn 2016 Breaking Traditions Awards

May 12, 2016

LANSING – The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has bestowed 2016 Breaking Traditions Awards on 32 students statewide for overcoming obstacles and stereotypes to achieve success in career and technical education (CTE) programs, State Superintendent Brian Whiston announced today.

“The Breaking Traditions Awards recognize high school and college students who have demonstrated success in CTE programs that are nontraditional to their gender,” Whiston said. “At a time when there is a call from various stakeholders for a more-responsive, market‑driven, schools-to-jobs pipeline, it’s important to recognize the efforts of these students and the programs that helped them.”

The students were scheduled to receive the awards at a ceremony today at the Library of Michigan in Lansing. MDE’s Office of Career and Technical Education oversees high school instructional programs that teach students skills in a specific career cluster. Most programs offer early college credit opportunities to provide a seamless transition to postsecondary education.

“These outstanding students are preparing themselves to enter a career that will benefit them individually while benefitting Michigan through a more diverse workforce,” Whiston said. “By pursuing careers that are nontraditional for their gender, they are role models for peers who may be considering such a career path.”

The list of award winners, in alphabetical order, by county, for each category, follows:

Michigan Breaking Traditions 2016 Excellence Award



Shanaz Sithara Mohamed Samsudeen
Lansing Community College
Computer Programmer



Breanna Baker
Branch Area Career Center, Bronson Jr./Sr. High School
Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Program


Adrianna Brunson
Breithaupt Career and Technical Center, Detroit College Preparatory High School
Automotive Service Technology Program


Jackie Castillo
Lenawee ISD Tech Center
Agriculture, Agriculture Operations & Related Sciences Program


Adelaide Cox
Capital Area Career Center
Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Program


Mallory Denstedt
COOR ISD, Ogemaw Heights High School
Public Safety Program


Catilynn Fogarty
Wexford-Missaukee Career Technical Center, Mesick Consolidated Jr./Sr. High School
Digital Media Production Program


Ashlyn Gillard
Bay-Arenac ISD Career Center, Bay City Central
Building Trades Program


Imanie Haydenx
Kent Career Tech Center, Wyoming High School
Public Safety/Protective Services Program


Alexa Klemundt
Newaygo County Career-Tech Center, Hesperia High School
Agriscience Program


Alyssa Slater
Centerline High School
Fire and Law Enforcement Program

Michigan Breaking Traditions 2016 Merit Award



Kaylie Bohn
Ferris State University
Industrial Electronics Technology Program


Matthew Johnson
Mott Community College
Dental Assisting Program



Rebecca Balinski
Warren Woods Tower High School
Commercial Foods and Hospitality Program


Morgan Brunsting
St. Joseph High School
Woodworking Program


Alicia Cagney
Comstock High School
Education for Employment Law Enforcement Program


Michaela Chambers
Capital Area Career Center, Webberville High School
Automotive Technology Program

Sara Evans
Eaton RESA, Grand Ledge High School
Welding Program


Alexis Farr
Traverse Bay Area ISD, Kalkaska High School
Culinary Arts Program

Grand Traverse

Daisy Gamble
Traverse Bay Area ISD, Traverse City West Senior High School
Welding and Fabrication Program


Rhiannon Hayes
Traverse Bay Area ISD, Mancelona High School
Power Equipment Technology Program


Hannah Kuperus
Allegan County Area Technical & Education Center, Hopkins High School
Machining & CNC Technology Program


Casey Maybrier
Oakland Schools Technical Campus SW
Heavy Equipment & Trucking Technology Program


Samantha Myers
Allegan County Area Technical & Education Center, Hopkins High School
Computer Aided Drafting & Design Program


Kailey Perez
Genesee Career Institute, E.A. Johnson Memorial High School
Culinary Essentials Program


Valerie Reeves
Traverse Bay Area ISD, Mancelona High School
Film and New Media Program


Katarina Scrivener
Kent Career Tech Center, Cedar Springs High School
Engineering and Architectural Design Program


Autumn Tallman
Cheboygan High School
Mechanical Technology Progra


Olivia Wanless
Tuscola Technology Center
Electricity/Electronics Program


Katelyn Wheeler

Capital Area Career Center, Dansville High School

Precision Machining Technology Program


Katherine Winter
Oakland Schools Technical Campus NE, Avondale High School
Mechatronics Program


Mindy Young
Branch Area Careers Center, Coldwater High School
Computer Networking and Technology Program

To qualify for consideration, a student had to meet these criteria:

  • Complete a CTE program that is nontraditional for his/her gender
  • Enroll in a Michigan high school or career center program during the 2015-2016 school year
  • Be nominated by a teacher, counselor, administrator, or other personnel employed by the student’s school or career center
  • Have satisfactory academic standing and acceptable citizenship and disciplinary history
  • Have made a contribution to awareness of nontraditional careers through successful participation in one or more of the following activities:
    • Exemplary completion of a program considered nontraditional for the student’s gender
    • Successful competition in a program-related event or contest
    • Participation in a CTE student organization
    • Actively recruit other students into programs nontraditional for their gender
    • Mentor other students in CTE programs nontraditional for their gender
    • Make significant contributions to the student’s CTE program

Applicants had to provide two letters of support and write a brief narrative explaining their career obstacles faced, plus key accomplishments.

“The MDE is investing in Michigan's future by helping ensure that our children are career- and college-ready, and have the skills the jobs of today and jobs of tomorrow demand,” said Patty Cantú, Director of the Office of Career and Technical Education. “Career and Technical Education is education that works for Michigan.”