The five will be honored at a commencement luncheon at 11:45 a.m. May 14 in the Student Recreation Center-North.
Alumni to receive the award are: Daniele Cerone-Griffin of St. Louis, Missouri; Dr. Damien Myers of Blytheville, Arkansas; Mitchell Newhouse of St. Louis, Missouri; Audrey Stanfield of New York City, New York; and Shanna Wilson of Jackson, Missouri.
The Young Alumni Merit Award is given annually to honor those alumni 37 years or younger who have brought distinction to the University through professional growth, service and individual character. The Alumni Association chooses the recipients from a list of nominees representing each of the University’s five colleges. Nominations may come from faculty, staff and alumni as well as the general public.
Daniele Cerone-Griffin, College of Health and Human Services
Daniele Cerone-Griffin graduated with a Master of Arts in communication disorders from Southeast in 2001, and her Bachelor of Health Science in communication science and disorders from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1999. She was awarded a graduate assistantship while attending Southeast.
Cerone-Griffin is a speech-language pathologist in the Special School District in St. Louis County, where she has worked since 2001. She joined the Augmentative Communication Department in 2006, where she currently works supporting students at the early childhood level. As an augmentative communication facilitator, Cerone-Griffin works in various school districts throughout St. Louis County, providing professional development and supporting educational teams with the selection and implementation of assistive technology to enable students to reach their full potential.
She has many accomplishments throughout her 15 years of teaching. In 2009, Cerone-Griffin authored and published “Photo Occupations WH Questions,” an educational product with Super Duper Publications. She believes all students can be successful and technology can bridge the gap between difficulty and ability by connecting people through communication. She has been awarded the Lasting Impression Award by the Special School District for making a difference both in and out of the classroom and positively impacting students’ success.
One of her more significant accomplishments in the area of service to the community has been the extension and implementation of Project Hope fundraising initiatives. Now in its sixth year, the program provides financial assistance for early childhood special education students and their families, including basic needs, such as clothing, coats, shoes, socks, diapers and food. Cerone-Griffin has served as both the chair and co-chair of the Project Hope fundraising board.
In her free time, Cerone-Griffin enjoys fitness classes, reading and traveling. She met her husband, Scott, while attending Southeast. Her favorite moments are spent with her family and friends.
Dr. Damien Myers, College of Science, Technology and Agriculture
Dr. Damien D. Myers graduated from Southeast in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in biology with an emphasis in biomedical sciences and in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry. In 2008, he was awarded a full fellowship to study genetics at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and graduated in 2014 with a Doctor of Philosophy in human and medical genetics.
While a student at Southeast, Myers was a member of multiple organizations and held key leadership positions across campus, including treasurer of Student Government and president of the Xi Gamma chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He was a student researcher with the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program, collaborating in research endeavors with distinguished faculty in the Department of Biology.
Myers’ ultimate accomplishment while a Southeast student was creating a program then called the College 101 Initiative. This program, which continues today under the Academic Support Centers, allows minority students from the St. Louis metropolitan area the opportunity to visit the Southeast campus and observe the collegiate experience. Over the last decade, this initiative which began as a Homecoming program, has enabled more than 500 high school students to visit Southeast’s campus year-round.
While completing his doctoral studies at Howard University, he was awarded multiple fellowships and awards, including: The Bridge to Doctorate Fellowship, The Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate Fellowship, and The Excellence in Leadership Award for outstanding leadership skills while serving the Howard University residential community. He served as an instructor of the genetics course for the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program at Howard University School of Dentistry. He also taught biology courses and laboratory sections of general biology.
He currently serves as the grade level chair for Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) at Blytheville Collegiate High School in Blytheville, Arkansas. Beginning this July, he will become the director of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for the KIPP Blytheville School District.
Myers is supported by his wife, Trichina Ayers-Myers, his daughter, Yaszmyine Ayers, and his son, Damien Dion Myers, Jr. His ultimate life goal is to ensure all students from underrepresented backgrounds have equal access to STEM careers by supporting them in their respective academic development in the sciences.
Mitchell Newhouse, Donald L. Harrison College of Business
Mitch Newhouse graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in economics from Southeast’s Donald L. Harrison College of Business in 2006, and received his Juris Doctorate with a concentration in civil litigation from Saint Louis University in 2010.
During his tenure at Southeast, Newhouse received the Outstanding Economics Student Award and served on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council. Following graduation from law school, he litigated civil matters in St. Louis, focusing on financial services, personal injury and premises liability cases.
Now a compliance counsel for Edwards Jones’ Investment Advisory & Funds Compliance team, Newhouse is responsible for regulatory and compliance matters associated with Edward Jones’ affiliated mutual fund complex as well as managed accounts held by Edward Jones’ retail investors. Before joining the Investment Advisory & Funds Compliance team, Newhouse handled a broad range of legal, compliance and regulatory matter involving Edwards Jones’ broker-dealer and the firms’ extensive branch network.
In addition to his tenure at Edward Jones, Newhouse served as counsel for Scottrade, Inc., where he provided guidance and legal support to the firm’s numerous business lines and its affiliated investment adviser.
Newhouse’s wife, Colleen, is a 2006 Southeast graduate with a Bachelor of Science in biology. She is a pathology assistant at Barnes Jewish Hospital, an affiliated teaching hospital of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Newhouse attributes most of his success to the incredible love and support he receives from Colleen. They recently welcomed the newest addition to their family, a son, Conley James.
Audrey Stanfield, College of Liberal Arts
Audrey Stanfield graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting and directing from Southeast in 2010. During her freshman and sophomore years, she witnessed the River Campus transition from the Rose Theatre. She was thrilled to perform in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall and the Wendy Kurka Rust Flexible Theatre, and some of her favorite roles performed at Southeast include Meg Megrath in “Crimes of the Heart,” Olivia in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” and Chris Gorman in “Rumors.”
In the summer of 2008, she participated in The Hagen Summer Intensive, a six-week workshop at the prestigious Herbert Berghof (HB) Studio in New York City, New York.
Stanfield moved to New York City in 2010 and returned to HB Studio where, as a member of the ensemble, she performed in numerous plays and original works throughout the city.
Stanfield is a member of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and is signed with Abrams Agency for television and voice-over commercial work. She has appeared in commercials, films, television and Web sketches. She has written a one-woman show and performs original characters and impressions around the city several days a week.
She became a cast member of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in 2012 and began taking improvisation classes. She is a billed actor for the theatre and regularly performs original sketch comedy to sold-out audiences. She hopes to screen test for Saturday Night Live in the next couple of years.
Shanna Wilson, College of Education
Shanna Kelley Wilson graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in elementary education from Southeast in 2002, and summa cum laude with a Master of Arts in elementary administration from William Woods University in 2007. In 2014 she graduated summa cum laude with a Specialist in Education from Southeast.
During her undergraduate years, Wilson was an active member of Kappa Delta Pi and recently served as an advisor for the Delta Nu chapter of Alpha Delta Pi for four years, participating in numerous fundraising organizations through her advisorship.
Wilson is completing her 13th year in education and her fourth year as a building administrator. After graduating from Southeast, Wilson began her career at Immaculate Conception School in Jackson, Missouri, in 2003 and has served in the Jackson R-2 School District since 2006. She has worked as professional development committee president on her buildings’ Professional Learning Communities and School-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions Support Teams. She is currently a member of the school district’s Learning Environment and Facilities team, and a member of the Orchard Drive Elementary Parent Teacher Organization and the Jackson Kiwanis.
As an educational leader of Orchard Drive Elementary since 2012, Wilson has worked to build a culture where students feel loved, safe and inspired to learn. Under her leadership, the Orchard Drive Elementary team incorporated the motto “Every Child is Our Child” to serve as a daily reminder to all teachers and staff that every child is treated as their own while attending Orchard; this includes providing basic needs and care, such as making sure students have had breakfast, brushed their teeth or have a warm coat in the winter months.
Her husband, Shawn, is employed at Buckley Powder, and they have been married for 12 years. They have two children, Lance, 9, and Eva, 7. As a family, they enjoy spending time with their two Goldendoodles and are kept very busy with baseball, basketball and dance schedules. They are active members of St. Vincent de Paul in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.