2019 BAAS Outstanding Student: James Miller

Field of Study: Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences

Graduated from: Iowa Park High School 2002

G.P.A.: 3.946

Honors: Academic Recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Mathematics

James graduated from Vernon College in 2012 with a Certification in Surgical Technology and a 4.0 GPA. He works full time as an Orthopedic Surgical Assistant while balancing his family life with his wife and 3 children, ages 6, 4, and 1.

2018 BAAS Outstanding Student: Emilia M. Kuczynska

Emilia M. Kuczynska ProfileField of Study: Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences 

Graduated from: Empik High School, Legnica Poland and was Editor of her High School Paper

Honors: President’s Honor Roll 2017

G.P.A.: 3.92

Emilia moved from Poland to the United States in May 2015, to complete her education and to further her interest in English Studies.  She is fluent in English and Polish, and conversational in the German and French languages. She enjoys traveling, especially throughout Texas. She and her husband enjoy volunteering and working in different Polish communities and helping others to acclimate to the U. S. culture and environment.


2017 BAAS Outstanding Student: Darren L. Clark

Darren Clark ProfileHigh School: Weatherford High School, Weatherford, TX

Academic Honors: Texas Scholar

Darren Clark has been a certified Texas Peace Officer since 1998. During his tenure as a police officer, Darren has served as a detective, patrol officer, School Resource Officer (SRO), S.W.A.T. entry team member, crisis negotiator, advanced accident investigator, honor guard member, and Explorer advisor. Darren holds a Master Peace Officer license, is a certified Field Training Officer, and Police Instructor. Prior to being a certified Peace Officer, Darren worked for almost five years as a public safety dispatcher. During his career, he has been awarded the Meritorious Conduct Award, Police Chief's Commendation, Police Chief's Certificate of Merit, Distinguished Service Award, and Civic Achievement Award.

In 2016, Darren graduated from the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute’s Leadership and Command College. As a part of that program, Darren authored a white paper titled “People Focused Policing: A changing paradigm for Texas policing”. That paper focused on the need for Texas to enhance interpersonal communications training for police officers by employing empathetic communications techniques with a focus on procedural justice.

Darren earned an Associates of Arts in Criminal Justice and an Associates of Arts and Applied Sciences from Weatherford College in 2016.

Darren has been active in his community having served on the Weatherford Planning and Zoning Commission and chaired that body for four years of his six-year tenure. Darren also served on the board of directors for the Parker County Tennis Association as well as CASA of Parker County. Darren is a former Weatherford Chamber of Commerce Ambassador and has coached multiple youth sports teams in both soccer and hockey.

Darren is married to his high school prom date and is the proud father of a daughter and son. Darren enjoys spending time with family, playing in an over-40 wood-bat baseball league, writing, and playing golf. 

2016 BAAS Outstanding Student: Joanie Chalifoux
Joan Chalifoux Profile
Joanie Chalifoux has been named the top 2016 honor graduate in Midwestern State University’s Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Program. Joanie Chalifoux has worked for the Fort Worth Police Department for 21 years. Joanie Chalifoux is a detective currently working in Crimes Against Children Unit. She has previously worked in the Criminal Investigations Unit, Zero Tolerance Unit, Vice Enforcement, Patrol, and Neighborhood Patrol.

She holds a Master Peace Officer License from TCOLE. Prior to her career in law enforcement, she served in the United States Army. She enjoys reading, running half-marathons with her husband, and spending time with their three children and one grandchild.

She has been active in the high school activities of their youngest, including serving as secretary on the men’s soccer booster club. It has been a balancing act juggling a full time career, her son’s sporting activities, and family life while continuing her education. She will graduate summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA.

2015 BAAS Outstanding Student: David Gill
David Gill Profile

David Gill has worked for the Mesquite Police Department for 21 years. He is currently assigned as the captain over the Criminal Investigations Bureau. He has worked in many positions within the Mesquite Police Department including assignments in Patrol, Tactical, Investigations, and Honor Guard.

Mr. Gill graduated from the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas Leadership Command College in 2014. Mr. Gill holds a Master Peace Officer License from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement and has received several departmental awards during his years of service. Prior to his police career, Mr. Gill served in the Texas Army National Guard from 1989-1995 and attained the rank of Sergeant/E-5. He will graduate summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA.

Mr. Gill has been married for over 20 years and has three children. He and his family are active in church and enjoy outdoor activities like fishing, hunting, and camping.


2014 BAAS Outstanding Student: Rachael Eckeberger

The second of five kids, Rachael Eckeberger grew up in Celina, Texas. At the time it was just a small farming community where everybody knew everybody and people watched out for each other. Rachael was an honor student, drill team member, on the yearbook staff, and daughter of one of the greatest coaches ever. She also was active in the church choir and youth group, and was fortunate enough to go on several mission trips with those groups. It was through those trips that Rachael decided she wanted to save the world, one kid at a time. She had seen first-hand that not everyone had life as good as she did. There's a lot of hurt in this world, and even a little support and encouragement can go a long way. So, off she went to Hardin Simmons University where she majored in Social Work and minored in Spanish. Rachael found a new church home and continued to work with kids there and at the local Boys and Girls Club.

Before Rachael could complete her degree, she decided to get married and have a family. Her husband Blake and she will have been married for 15 years in March. They have an amazing 14 year old daughter named Madi and an incredible 11 year old son named Jacob. Both are honor students and active in various sports. Blake and Rachael have always tried to put their kids first.  They have always done their best to work jobs that gave them a little freedom and they have run their own business for the last 10 years so that they could be with their kids as much as possible. When the kids were little she was able to be one of those moms that made all the field trips and class parties. Fortunately they have been able to coach soccer and t-ball for both kids, and Blake has helped with baseball and softball as they've gotten older.

A couple of years ago Rachael was able to go back to substitute teaching. She loved it! It’s given her the opportunity to get to know some really great kids (and teachers), and about a year ago she decided she wanted to teach junior high math, and most likely Spanish, too). After lots of research Rachael ended up at Midwestern State University pursuing her BAAS degree. While trying to finish up, she continued being a sub and she did some tutoring for some of Madi's classmates who were struggling to pass their STAAR tests.

Rachael has recently been accepted into the iTeach alternative certification program, contingent on graduation, so hopefully she will be teaching next fall.

Rachael stated "the last 15 years have been devoted mainly to my family; now back to my plan of saving the world, just through a different route."

2013 BAAS Outstanding Student: Mary Elizabeth Scott Combs (Beth)
Mary Combs ProfileMary Elizabeth Scott Combs (Beth), of Wichita Falls, Texas has been awarded the May 2013 Midwestern State University President’s    Medal for Excellence for Prothro-Yeager College of Humanities and Social Sciences, BAAS Major. She graduated summa cum laude with  4.0 GPA.

Beth is 1995 Honors graduate of Kennedale High School in Kennedale, Texas, where she was voted most likely to succeed. She is also a 2003 graduate of Arlington Career Institute where she completed paralegal studies with a 4.0 GPA.

Additionally, Beth is a veteran of the United States Navy.  She served in the combat systems field as a Fire Controlman when the rating was newly opened to women sailors. In this capacity, she served as a Missile System Supervisor and ORTS technician for the Aegis Missile System aboard USS Hopper (Arleigh Burke Class Guided Missile Destroyer DDG-70) where she was a member of the Commissioning Crew and a Plank Owner. Beth was a participant in joint service operations for the Armed Services Inaugural Committee during the second presidential inauguration of President Bill Clinton; the recipient of meritorious advancement in rank; and the recipient of the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and National Defense Service Medal.

Professionally Beth has worked full-time as a paralegal for the last 10 years. She is employed at Altman Legal Group in Wichita Falls, and will begin work this fall toward board certification through the State Bar of Texas.  Her long term goal is to pursue a master’s degree in history and to travel.

Beth is married to Marine Corps veteran and two-time MSU graduate, Johnny Combs. In addition to holding full time jobs, Johnny and Beth operate their own residential rental property business in Wichita Falls and stay busy with their 4 children:  Isaac (17), Mason (11), Madelaine (8), and Sophie (3). Beth and her family are members of First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls and are involved in soccer, scouting, and other various activities in the Wichita Falls community.

Beth cites two main goals in finishing her education.  The first goal was to prove that not only could finishing school be accomplished while juggling the complexities of life, but it could be done without compromising high personal standards and expectations. The second goal was to be a living illustration to her children of the power of faith, the importance of hard work, and the value of an education.

2013 BAAS Outstanding Student: Tony H. Richardson
Tony Richardson ProfileH. Richardson of Megargel, Texas has been named the top honors graduate for 2013 in Midwestern State University’s Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Program.  Tony graduated as salutatorian from Megargel High School, Megargel, Texas in 1991.

Tony served twenty years of honorable service and retired from the United States Navy (2 July 1991 – 31 July 2011). 




Major awards and decorations include:

  • Meritorious Service Medal (x1)
  • Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal (x3)
  • Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (x5)
  • Navy Unit Commendation Medal (x1)
  • Navy Good Conduct Medal (x6)
  • National Defense Service Medal (x2)
  • Global War on Terrorism Service Medal (x1)
  • Navy Pistol Marksmanship Medal (x1)
  • Naval Aircrewman Designation
  • Enlisted Fleet Marine Force Warfare Specialist

Navy Senior Enlisted Aerospace Physiology Technician of the Year - 2004

Tony is an active member of the Archer City First Baptist Church.  He is happily married for nineteen years to Regina Kay Richardson.  They have three wonderful children:  Anna (15), Guy (14), and Emily (11) all active in the Archer City School system.

Tony plans to seek a Master of Christian Ministry (M.C.M.) degree from Wayland Baptist University.

2012 BAAS Outstanding Student: Rachel DeHoyos
Rachel DeHoyos ProfileRachel DeHoyos has been named the top 2012 honors graduate in Midwestern State University’s Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Program. Rachel DeHoyos worked for the Fort Worth Police Department for 25 years and has a Master Peace Officer certification from TCLEOSE. Ms. DeHoyos is a Sergeant of the Zero Tolerance Unit whose mission is the reduction of Part I crimes. During Super Bowl XLV, she was second in command of the Mobile Field Force (riot control). She has served previously in Patrol, DWI Enforcement, Bike Patrol and the Training Division. She was awarded the Fort Worth Police Department Commendation Bar and was also named Officer of the Year in 1997.

Ms. DeHoyos is a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association and the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas. She has previously served as the National Training Coordinator and Treasurer of the Law Enforcement Bicycle Association. Prior to her law enforcement career, she served in the United States Navy Reserves. She enjoys hunting and cycling and devotes a lot of time and energy to participating in breast cancer awareness events in memory of her mom.

Her main goal after getting promoted to Sergeant in September of 2007 was to go back to school to finish her degree. She started at MSU in the spring of 2008 and it has been a long road to reach this milestone. She hopes her achievements allow her to serve as a role model for other Hispanic females within law enforcement.
2011 BAAS Outstanding Student: Javier Valdez
Javier Valdez of Fort Worth, Texas has been named the top honors graduate in Midwestern State University’s Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Program. Javier received his B.A.A.S. degree May 14, 2011. Javier is a father, husband, and a decorated veteran of the Fort Worth Police Department. Javier has been awarded the Fort Worth Police Department’s Life Saving and Police Commendation Awards. Javier was also a Fort Worth Police Officer’s Association board member when the association negotiated their first meet and confer contract with the city of Fort Worth. Throughout the previous two and a half years Javier has managed to balance his career, family, and Police Officer’s Associations duties, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.


2010 BAAS Outstanding Student: Stan Standridge
Stan Standridge ProfileGrowing up as the youngest of six kids in a tiny West Texas town might not be the average road to university excellence and a life of dedicated public service, but it is the road traveled by Stan Standridge, our 2010 BAAS Graduate of the Year.

After serving in the United States Air Force for four years, Stan joined the Abilene Police Department in 1995, where he has worked his way up through the ranks from Patrolman, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Assistant Chief, and now… Chief of Police.

He is a Master Peace Officer, graduate of the Leadership Command College, and the FBI National Academy. Today we honor the service, perseverance, personal sacrifice, and the academic accomplishments of Chief Stan Standridge because these characteristics have led him to a 4.0 GPA and the position of top 2010 BAAS graduate of Midwestern State University.


2009 BAAS Outstanding Student: Thomas J. Swartz
Thomas Swartz ProfileThomas J. Swartz of Cypress, Texas has been named the top honors graduate in Midwestern State University's Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Program. His major field of study is Criminal Justice. Thomas has been married for 13 years to his wife Karron. They have two children, Paige who is 14 years old and Wilson who is 12 years old.

Before coming to MSU, Thomas earned an Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice Degree and an Associate of Applied Sciences in Paralegal Studies from Kaplan University. At Kaplan, he was on the President's list every semester and graduated with High Honors for Academic Achievement. Thomas is a member of the National Scholars Honor Society.

Professionally, Thomas has served the citizens of Harris County as a deputy sheriff for over 24 years. As a deputy sheriff, he served in the Detentions Bureau where he supervised the new employee training program. He then moved to the Patrol Bureau where he served 8 years as a Field Training Officer and currently performs a unique form of Neighborhood Oriented Policing. Achievement of his degree earns Thomas a pay raise and extra points in the promotional process. He is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Harris County Lodge 39.

Personally, Thomas took over as Den Leader in his son's Webelos Den which was left in limbo after its past leader abruptly left. Facing the prospect of the boys not meeting the requirements to enter Boy Scouts, Thomas rallied the parents to complete the two year program in six months.

Thomas lives by his personal motto: "Integrity is the one asset no one can take from you-you can only take it away from yourself!"

2008 BAAS Outstanding Student: Randi Roanhaus
Randi Roanhaus ProfileRandi Roanhaus of Henrietta, Texas has been named the top honors graduate in Midwestern State University's Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Program. She is the daughter of Bert and Jeanine Roanhaus. Randi has attended Midwestern State University for her entire undergraduate career and is involved extensively within the campus and local Wichita Falls community. She has worked as a student assistant in the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences office and as a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant since 2004. She is recognized as a leader and officer in her organizations and an excellent representation of a proud Mustang. She is a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority of The Gamma Tau Chapter holding several officer positions over the past four years, a Member of University Singers Choir, participates in the Annual Perkins Lecture Series, a Member of The MSU Opera Workshop 2005-2006 and was Awarded the Lead Role in "Die Fledermaus" by Johann Strauss 2006-2007, Founder and President of the MSU Choir Organization, Head chairman of the "By the Students For the Children" Charitable Formal that raises money for medical research to be donated to Cook's Children Hospital and Texas Children Hospital, An MSU Student Ambassador, a Member of Alpha Chi US National Honorary Society Alpha Gamma Chapter and was the Musical Performance Overall Scholarship Winner at the Region I Convention this past March 2008, a Member of the Greek National Order of Omega Honor Society, former President and now alumni member of Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society, An MSU Mustang Host, Member of MSU Intramurals and NIRSA (National Intramural Recreational Sports Association) Region IV, a MSU Spirit Days Peer Counselor, Named Who's Who Among Students In American Universities and Colleges, has been on the Provost's and Dean's Honor Roles, and was awarded Outstanding MSU Senior Woman of the Year 2007-2008.

Randi also considers the music ministry a major part of her life and is an Active Member of her church, First Baptist Wichita Falls, where she participates in the Adult Worship Choir, Praise Team, was a soloist for the 2007 North Texas Christmas Spectacular (NTCS), director of the 4th-6th grades "Kidz Praise", member of the FBC Young Adult Life Group and their YMCA Volleyball Team. She was also a volunteer for Straight Street Ministries and works with their youth vocal groups.

Randi enjoys speaking on her platform "Having a Heart for the Hearts:" (Stressing upon public Awareness for Congenital Heart Disease), voice and dance lessons, and enjoys volunteering for the Main Sea Coast Mission Society, Alzheimer's Research, Gerontology Research, Inherit the Earth, and Habitat for Humanity.

Randi has often used John Maxwell's famous quote, "The first step to leadership is servant hood."

2007 BAAS Outstanding Student: David Mitchell
David Mitchell ProfileDavid C. Mitchell of Corinth, Texas has been named the top honors graduate for 2007 in Midwestern State University's Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Program. David has been married for 10 years to his wife Corinth. They have two children, Shayla (6) and Matthew (3).

Before coming to MSU he attended Cisco Junior College and North Central Texas College. He is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, has been on the National Dean's list and has maintained a 4.0 while working 50 hours a week. He has worked for five years as a Federal Law Enforcement officer for the Department of Homeland Security. He has also worked as a Border Patrol Agent and as a correctional officer for Texas Dept of Criminal Justice. David is also a member of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA). He is a volunteer Youth Soccer Coach and a Martial Arts Instructor.

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father through him." Colossians 3:17 (NIV)X


2006 BAAS Outstanding Student: Mike Cross
Mike Coss of Wichita Falls, Texas has been named the top honors graduate for 2006 in Midwestern State University's Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Program. Mike Coss has been married for 12 years to his wife Jennifer. They have two children, Cassie who is 8 years old, and Joshua who is 4 years old. Before coming to MSU he attended Vernon College where he graduated with an Associate's Degree in Accounting. At Vernon College he was on the president's or dean's list every semester. He also received an Excellence in Accounting Award and was named to Who's Who Among American Junior Colleges. Mike has attended MSU for four years while working full-time. He has maintained a 4.0 GPA and has been on the National Dean's List. In May 2006 he will graduate with a BAAS degree with a minor in business. His educational emphasis at MSU has been in Business and Spanish. He has worked for the United States Postal Service since 1998. During this time he has worked as a business mail analyst, distribution clerk, and express mail carrier. He is also a member of the American Postal Worker's Union where he serves as an officer and member of its executive board. For the APWU he has been the editor of a news publication, and he is currently serving as the treasurer. In the future, he would like to utilize the instruction that he has received from MSU to work in some way with the Hispanic community.

Mike has had a saying that has helped him pull through the hard times………..
"It's ok to feel like giving up as long as you never do it."


2005 BAAS Outstanding Student: William A. "Bill" Reed
William Reed ProfileWilliam A. "Bill" Reed of Fort Worth, Texas has been named the top honors graduate in Midwestern State University's Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Program. Commander Reed of the Fort Worth Police Department received his degree May 14, 2005 at Midwestern State University's home campus.

He earned honors by earning straight A's in the Distance Education Program while working full-time as Commander of the North Field Operations Division of the Fort Worth Police Department. Since 1982 Commander Reed has also served in the Patrol, Traffic, Criminal Investigations, Training, and Special Operations divisions.

He is a 1997 graduate of the Leadership Command College sponsored by the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute. His specialization in the BAAS degree was in criminal justice. Bill has been married for 25 years to his wife Cindy and has two children, Christopher, 20, and Jennifer, 16.


2004 BAAS Outstanding Student: Donald Curry
Donald Curry ProfileDonald Curry of Spring, Texas has been named the top honors graduate in Midwestern State University's Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Program. Mr. Curry, who received his degree on May 15, 2004 at Midwestern's home campus in Wichita Falls, earned honors by compiling a straight A grade record in the distance education program while working full-time as a Houston police officer.

Mr. Curry is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy. His assignments on the Houston P.D. have included Juvenile Narcotics, Community Services, and North Shepherd Patrol Tactical Response Team. In addition, he has worked in the Internal Affairs Division and as part of the Mounted Patrol Detail. His emphasis in the BAAS degree was in law enforcement.