Skip to main content

32 Michigan Students Earn 2017 Breaking Traditions Awards

May 11, 2017

LANSING – Overcoming obstacles and stereotypes to achieve success in career and technical education (CTE) programs, 32 students statewide are winners of the Michigan Department of Education’s 2017 Breaking Traditions Awards, 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 building a more-responsive, market-driven schools-to-jobs pipeline, it is important to recognize the efforts of these students and the programs that helped them.”

The students received the awards at a ceremony today at the Library of Michigan in Lansing. Each recipient takes home a trophy and certificate.

The department’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 and benefit Michigan by increasing diversity in our state’s workforce,” Whiston said. “By their determination and dedication to pursuing careers in an area nontraditional for their gender, they are role models for peers who may be considering such a career path.”

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

Michigan Breaking Traditions 2017 Excellence Award:


Mark Ramthun
Ferris State University
Dental Hygiene Program


Binti Abdi
Kent Career Technical Center, Grand Rapids Union High School
Law/Public Safety/Corrections and Security Program

Ashlyn Childs
Lenawee ISD Tech Center, Adrian High School
Welding Technology Program

Morgan Woloszyk
Alpena High School
Welding Technology Program

Michigan Breaking Traditions 2017 Merit Award


Samantha D. Leonardi
Macomb Community College
Automotive Service, GM ASEP Program

Julia Tisdale
Ferris State University
Building Construction Technology Program


Victoria Batko
William D. Ford Career-Technical Center, John Glenn High School
Electronics/Robotics Technology II Program

Jillian Bernotaitis
Romeo Engineering & Technology Center
Engineering/Mechanical Drafting Program

Jalyn Chirco
Career Prep Center
Biomedical Machining Program

Chloe Collier
Kent Career Technical Center, Thornapple Kellogg High School
Information Technology Program

Micah Cuevas
Careerline Tech Center, Zeeland East High School
Natural Resources/Agriculture Science Program

Audrey Davis
Oakland Technical Campus SW, Lakeland High School
Heavy Equipment and Truck Technology Program

Alyssa Everline
Calhoun Area Career Center, Pennfield High School
Law Enforcement/Criminal Behaviors Program

Grant Fry
Bay-Arenac ISD Career Center, Western High School
Early Childhood and Education Program

Destiny Hand
Calhoun Area Career Center, Pennfield High School
Aviation Exploration Program

Starlyn Higgins
Monroe High School
Welding Program

Katelyn Ketelaar
Newaygo County Career-Tech Center, Tri-County High School
Agriscience Program

Molly Mackey
Wexford-Missaukee Career Technical Center, Cadillac High School
Agriscience and Natural Resources Program

Sarah Marshall
William D. Ford Career-Technical Center, Wayne Memorial High School
Firefighter Program

Temple Martinez
Capital Area Career Center, Holt High School
Hospitality and Culinary Arts Management Program

St. Joseph
Sydney Miller
Glenn Oaks Community College, Mendon Middle/Senior High School
Welding Program

Julie Morgan
Lenawee ISD Tech Center, Adrian High School
Building Trades Program

Emily Newborn
Eaton RESA, Eaton Rapids High School
Animal Science and Zoo Management Program

Alexis Nichols
TBA ISD Career-Tech Center, Kalkaska High School
Machine Tool Technology Program

Grand Traverse
Lexi Orth
TBA ISD Career-Tech Center, Kingsley High School
Auto Body Repair Program

Erin Portalski
Center Line Public Schools, Warren Woods Tower High School
Law Enforcement Program

Miranda Rumfelt
Roseville High School
Auto Technology Program

Grand Traverse
Caroline Slack
TBA ISD Career-Tech Center, Grand Traverse Academy
Drafting and Design Program

Taylor Thackston
Oakland Schools Technical Campus NE, Rochester High School
Mechatronics Program

Alissa Tripp
Newaygo County Career-Tech Center, Hesperia High School
Mechatronics Program

Victoria Trudell
Calhoun Area Career Center, Marshall High School
Culinary Arts/Hospitality Program

Grand Traverse
Olivia White
TBA ISD Career-Tech Center, Grand Traverse Academy
Radio and Television Broadcasting Technology

To qualify, 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 2016-2017 school year
  • Be nominated by a teacher, counselor, administrator, or other staffer employed by the student’s school or career center
  • Have satisfactory academic standing and acceptable citizenship and disciplinary history
  • Have contributed 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 genderMake 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 students are career and college ready and have the skills the jobs of today and jobs of tomorrow demand,” said Patty Cantu, Director of the Office of Career and Technical Education. “Career and Technical Education is education that works for Michigan.”