Montana State University

Seven MSU students win 'Torley' awards for community involvement

February 19, 2014 -- MSU News Service

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Tel: (406) 994-4571

Seven Montana State University seniors have won the 2014 Torlief Aasheim Community Involvement Awards, the university's top award for student service.

Blake Bjornson, Emilie Kuster, Alana Lake, Lindsay Murdock, Brittani Nickol, Megan Rothstein and Matthew Sherick are the winners of the award, which recognizes senior students who, in addition to excelling academically, volunteer on campus and in the community. The award was named for the late MSU alumnus Torlief "Torley" Aasheim, former director of the Montana Cooperative Extension Service and a member of the class of 1937.

Blake Bjornson from Missoula is a mechanical engineering major. During his time at MSU he has served in ASMSU as president, vice president and a senator representing the College of Engineering. As a sophomore, Bjornson served as president of MSU's Network of Environmentally Conscious Organizations, and he has worked on what is known as the Smart Building Initiative, a program designed to cut utility costs and make buildings safer. He was also a chapter founder and president of the MSU chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. In 2013, Bjornson won a Udall Scholarship in recognition of his commitment to an environmentally related career and sustained efforts and leadership toward this goal.

Emilie Kuster from Sandpoint, Idaho, is a nursing major. She was a co-founder of SCOPE, the Student Community Outreach Project, which is focused on increasing the number of undergraduate students involved in research. She has also participated in the Student Leadership Summit, the Montana Student Nursing Association and the Undergraduate Scholars Program. Kuster has volunteered as a CAP mentor, at the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, with the Eagle Mount equestrian program and for a bone marrow drive.

Alana Lake from Missoula is a political science and international business major. She has served as an ASMSU senator, Leadership Institute Fellow and vice president of Quad D, a residence hall. She has also been active in ROTC and has served as a member of the Human Powered Transportation Committee, the University Advisory Board, the Core 2.0 committee, and the university’s Conduct Board, which is the judicial system for the adjudication of cases involved alleged violations of the Student Conduct Code. Lake has also volunteered at the food bank and as a mentor at a local elementary school.

Lindsay Murdock from Mount Airy, Md., is a sociology major. She has served as president and vice president of ASMSU and as an orientation leader and resident adviser. Murdock has also assisted with several events and workshops at MSU, including the White House Project, Lilly Ledbetter keynote lecture and Smart Start negotiation workshops. She has served on the steering committee for the Not in Our State Summit on Sexual Assault Prevention and as a member of several committees, boards and task forces, including the Planning Council, Outreach and Engagement Council, Time to Degree Rapid Action Task Force and Financial Literacy Task Force.

Brittani Nickol from Helena is an industrial engineering major who has been involved in a number of organizations, including the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, Institute of Industrial Engineers and Engineering Ambassadors. She has also been a member of University Chorale, Mortar Board honor society, Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, Phi Kappa Phi honor society, Alpha Lambda Delta honor society, Society for Women in Engineering and National Society for Collegiate Scholars.

Megan Rothstein from Billings is a cell biology and neuroscience major. She is a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, Panhellenic Council, Mortar Board honor society and Order of Omega honor society. She has also served as an Advocat and orientation leader and has been a Cancer Support Community volunteer and BreaksAway service program trip leader.

Matthew Sherick from Hudson, Wis., is a chemical engineering major and Goldwater Scholar who has participated in the Montana INBRE program and worked as an undergraduate researcher in MSU’s Magnetic Resonance Microscopy Lab. He is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Phi Kappa Phi honor society. Sherick has served as a member of the Honors Program advisory board and as an Advocat and SmartyCats tutor. He has also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, Can the Griz food drive, Rock Against Rape and as an outreach activity volunteer for MSU’s Engineerathon.

Contact: Kerry Hanson, (406) 994-7620 or, or Malaree Purcell, (406) 994-2522 or