Alumni Awards

February 28, 2012

MSU Young Alumnus: Aaron Scheidies

Aaron Scheidies, BS ’04 (Kinesiology), received one of two Distinguished Young Alumni Awards from the Michigan State University Alumni Association in 2011 – and it’s no wonder why.

Scheidies is a physical therapist, model, public speaker and triathlete who has less than 20 percent of the vision of a fully sighted person.

Despite being born with Stargardt disease — a condition that slowly deteriorates vision — the 29-year-old has competed in more than 100 triathlons. Wildly successful in his pursuits, Scheidies is an eight-time National Champion and a seven-time World Champion.

He also is the world’s first and only disabled athlete to complete an international distance triathlon in less than two hours.

Michael Hudson, director of MSU’s Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, nominated Scheidies. The two met when Scheidies first arrived at MSU, and Hudson says he has always admired Scheidies’ sense of drive.

“He exceeds expectations, excels in academics, athletics and community service, and is now leading in a challenging career,” Hudson said.

“Combine all this with a promising future and an unsurpassed Spartan identity and we all have something to celebrate with Aaron.”

During his time at MSU, Scheidies was president of the Triathlon Club and volunteered more than 100 hours to help other students with disabilities, all while maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

He was a finalist for Best Male Athlete with a Disability at the 2011 ESPYs.




MSU Honorary Alumna: Carole Ames

Former College of Education Dean Carole Ames received the Honorary Alumni Award during Homecoming week 2011 for her outstanding record of service to Michigan State University.

Her nominator, retired Associate Dean Cassandra Book, said the award reflects Ames’ extraordinary 18-year influence as dean, during which the College of Education achieved high national rankings and maintained an unmatched standard of quality in teaching, scholarship and service.

Ames supervised a variety of milestones in the college’s history: the first homecoming tent party, the first online degree program, the initiation of partnerships to improve urban education and the establishment of several outward-reaching centers and institutes such as the Office of K-12 Outreach and the Education Policy Center. Ames, who also was a professor in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education, is well known for her research on children’s social and academic motivation. Prior to her appointment at MSU, she served as associate director of the Institute for Research on Human Development and then chair of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


For a more complete look at Ames’ accomplishments at MSU, visit ?


College of Education Distinguished Alumna: Sonya Gunnings-Moton

Sonya Gunnings-Moton has spent much of her career improving educational opportunities for young people, especially those growing up in underserved or underresourced communities. She is a faculty member and two-time graduate of the MSU College of Education, which presented her with its prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award on Nov. 11, 2011.

Gunnings-Moton serves as assistant dean for student support services and recruitment in the college and as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education. Her job is to foster the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups for undergraduate and graduate program study. She has done so through a variety of successful partnerships and programs, many of which focus on addressing a critical mission of the college: improving urban education.

Through the Broad Partnership, she created powerful connections with the Detroit Public Schools and established a pipeline of opportunities that help young people from urban areas pursue higher education – and particularly careers in education – at MSU.

Today these efforts continue with the Summer High School Scholars program, the Urban Educators Cohort Program and the Urban Immersion Fellowship, which each year exposes dozens of future teachers to the challenges and rewards of teaching in urban environments.

Gunnings-Moton has also been instrumental in setting up the College of Education’s connections in Chicago Public Schools (where many MSU teacher candidates now spend their internship year), seeking new scholarship opportunities and reshaping curriculum to ensure all students understand the issues at stake in today’s urban schools.

Carole Ames, former dean of the college, has stated that “this College of Education owes its urban agenda to Dr. Sonya Gunnings-Moton… She has been the core and fiber of our progress in addressing urban education and social justice.”