Montana State University

Eight MSU students win ‘Torley’ awards for community involvement

February 17, 2016 -- From MSU News Service

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Eight Montana State University seniors have won the 2016 Torlief Aasheim Community Involvement Awards, the university's top award for student service.

Kamron Ratzburg, Andrew Major, Katya Peterson, Kathryn Riley, Kathryn Pintar, Riley Shearer, Cassia Wagner and Karen Thornburg 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.

Kamron Ratzburg from Galata is majoring in animal science. While at MSU, Kamron has served as president of the Collegiate Stockgrowers, public relations chair for the Ag Student Council and was a member of the pre-vet club. He is also a member of Collegiate Young Farmers and Ranchers, Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity and Alpha Zeta, an honorary, professional society for students in agriculture and natural resources fields. His community service includes volunteering at a spay/neuter clinic, participating in Trick or Treat So Kids Can Eat, supporting his fraternity’s philanthropy at the Alpha Gamma Rho Testicle Festival and helping out at the FFA State Convention. In his spare time, he works on the family ranch.

Andrew Major from Bozeman is earning degrees in both music and cell biology and neuroscience. He founded the Aoide Singers, a select choral group and student organization. Under Major’s leadership, the group has completed concert tours, secured private funding to record a CD and commissioned new choral compositions. Major is also a member of the MSU Chorale and Montanans, the top choir and ensemble for students. A Presidential Scholar, he received funding to attend a choral program at Princeton University and traveled to Kenya with Engineers Without Borders at MSU. Locally, he has also helped Engineers Without Borders with exhibits at the Children’s Museum. Major also gives music performances at assisted living and retirement communities in the Bozeman area.

Katya Peterson from Helena is majoring in business management. At MSU, she has been a member of AdvoCats, InterVarsity and the Management Club. She has also served as a student associate for an upper-division business course, where she has taught seminar-style lessons and served as a mentor for students. Peterson’s community service includes volunteering with PEAKS, where she has spent many hours mentoring sixth grade students in the Bozeman Public Schools, as well as working with InFARMation, an agriculture advocacy program that showcases Montana’s rich involvement in the industry. Off- campus, she works with Tedx Bozeman to help plan the event and volunteers as the assistant speaker coordinator.

Kathryn Riley from Broadus is majoring in health and human performance with an emphasis in exercise science. She has participated in the Exercise Science Club and is completing her second year as an academic peer adviser for the Department of Health and Human Development. She has also been involved as a research assistant in the sociology department and as a member of the Health Professions Club. Her community service includes volunteering with the Eagle Mount therapeutic horsemanship program, volunteering at the Cancer Support Community and instructing with the Montana Arthritis Exercise Program. Off-campus, she assists with care and maintenance of the Riley Ranch.

Kathryn Pintar from Spokane, Washington, is majoring in chemical engineering. She is a member of Chi Omega sorority and the National Panhellenic Council, the governing body for all sororities on campus, where she has served as treasurer and recruitment counselor. She also mentors freshman and sophomore students as a peer advising leader with the College of Engineering and is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Pintar has been involved with Engineering Ambassadors and Advocats, and she serves as a tutor for math and science courses. Her community service includes volunteering for Eagle Mount’s alpine ski program and the Gallatin Valley Food Bank and raising money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Pintar spent last summer at Boston University taking classes on biostatistics as a recipient of a grant for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Summer Institute for Training program.

Riley Shearer from Lake Oswego, Oregon, will graduate with majors in chemical engineering, chemistry and economics, as well as a minor in mathematics. Shearer is an active member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, American Institute of Chemical Engineers and Engineers Without Borders at MSU. He has served as a peer advising leader for the College of Engineering and been involved in various research projects across campus. Off-campus, Shearer has volunteered with Eagle Mount’s alpine ski program, Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital and Big Brothers Big Sisters. He has also participated in science outreach activities in the Belgrade and Manhattan school districts and various philanthropy events through Service Saturdays and Sigma Phi Epsilon.

Cassia Wagner from Whitefish is majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. Wagner has been involved with the MSU Exponent, Model United Nations Club and the Undergraduate Chemistry Society. She has also participated in the Science Olympiad and Expanding Your Horizons events, and she has served as a Text and Critics Fellow for the Honors College and as a SmartyCats tutor. Her community service includes volunteering as a camp counselor at Glacier Meadow Lodge and participating in the Can the Griz food drive to support the Gallatin Valley Food Bank. Off-campus, Wagner is a tutor for America Reads, America Counts and a ski coach for the Bridger Ski Foundation kids’ nordic program.

Karen Thornburg from Missoula is majoring in nursing. She is a member of the National Student Nurses Association and recently was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, an honor society for nursing. Thornburg has completed more than 900 hours with AmeriCorps and completed a voluntary 135-hour summer nursing internship. Off-campus, she has participated as a volunteer fundraiser and adviser for Nurses for Nurses International Foundation, all while spending the last 10 years as a foster mother.

Contact: Natalie Michajla, assistant director of alumni relations, MSU Alumni Foundation, (406) 994-5464 or; or Kerry Hanson, vice president of alumni relations, MSU Alumni Foundation, (406) 994-7620 or