Indiana State University Newsroom

Alumni Association honors four grads with Rankin Awards

April 24, 2015

The Indiana State University Alumni Association has honored four spring graduates with the Alan C. Rankin Distinguished Senior Awards in recognition of their contributions to the university.

Named after Indiana State's seventh president, who served from 1965-75, the awards recognize outstanding seniors who have demonstrated dedicated membership and leadership ability in campus organizations and in the community.

To be eligible, students must have a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.25 on a 4.0 scale and must produce an essay stating their dedication and leadership on campus and in the community. Recipients must also receive a letter of recommendation from a professor or colleague they have worked with closely.

"These awards recognize the distinguished men and women of the senior class. Being named a Rankin Outstanding Senior was a highlight of my time on campus," said Bill Niederer, Alumni Association board member and 1984 Rankin Award recipient.

Honorees are Whitney Neukam of Washington, Katherine Runge of Brownstown, Blaine Timonera of Batesville and Jonathan Wachala of Munster. Students will be recognized during commencement May 9 at Hulman Center.


Neukam is completing her bachelor's degrees in communication and English and a minor in French. While at Indiana State, Neukam worked at the university's Math and Writing Center as a consultant. She was also a member of the Honors Program where she worked as a peer advisor, a LEAP college readiness counselor and a Sycamore Mentor.

Other activities Neukam participated in include Chi Omega sorority in which she was the director of career and personal development, Order of Omega where she was vice president for fraternal values, a features reporter for the Indiana Statesman and a teaching assistant for two semesters. She was also vice president of Honors Council and a member of Lambda Pi Eta and Alpha Lambda Delta honors fraternities.

Neukam also participated in Indiana State's cross-cultural excursion traveling to a native American reservation in Arizona, an honors trip to Paris and Berlin and participated in various projects through the Center for Community Engagement.

Neukam graduated from Washington High School and is the daughter of Audie and Lisa Neukam. After graduation she plans to take a year off to travel and then attend graduate school to pursue a master's and Ph.D. in interpersonal communication with a focus in research in hopes of becoming an ethnographic researcher.

Runge is completing a bachelor's degree in political science with minors in women's studies, civic leadership and music.

While at Indiana State, Runge worked as an undergraduate research assistant for the Center for Genomic Advocacy, an undergraduate advisory board member of the American Democracy Project, a writing tutor for the Math and Writing Center and a camp counselor at the university's drum major clinic.

She has attended conferences for the Northeastern Political Science Association, Indiana Higher Education Campus Sexual Assault, gave a presentation at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference and received funding for a research presentation.

Her community engagement includes host and coordination committee member for Take Back the Night, volunteer for Lucky Reddy's campaign for Vigo County Superior Court judge and an intern at Terre Haute's Council for Domestic Abuse.

A President's Scholar and drum major for the Marching Sycamores, she was also section leader and co-principal in ISU's Symphonic Band.

Runge's other organizations and memberships include Alpha Lambda Delta
American Association of University Women, Feminist Majority, Kappa Kappa Psi, Honorary Band Service Fraternity and Sycamore Ambassadors/Student Alumni Association.

Runge graduated from Brownstown Central High School and is the daughter of Mark and Katrina Runge.

After graduation, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in American politics at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She will also pursue certificates in women and gender studies and college teaching. After graduating from her Ph.D. program, she plans to pursue a job teaching political science at the college level.

Timonera will graduate with a degree in management and minors in marketing and recreation and sport management.

While at ISU, Timonera completed the University Honors Program. He had internships at Batesville Casket Company and Sycamore Athletics.

His work experience includes Indiana State University intramurals, where he served as a supervisor and referee and Solar Bat Enterprises as a sales and marketing specialist.

Timonera was awarded the George and Marion Johnson Scholarship and was a finalist for the Richard G. Landini Outstanding Junior Award. He participated and volunteered in 18 campus fishing team events and served as the fishing club president.

He graduated from Batesville High School and is the son of Cirilo and Gail Timonera.  After graduation, he plans to attend a combined law and MBA graduate program with a focus in business law and/or energy law. He would like to establish a career as a small business legal consultant in an independently owned or partnered firm.

Wachala is completing a degree in marketing with a minor in Spanish. His college experience includes working as a digital project manager for the ISU Foundation, account management intern at Kargo in Chicago, conference housing operations manager at Yale University and a resident assistant in the honors residence hall at Indiana State.

Other work at Indiana State includes the Honors Council advertising and engagement committee, adviser and trike team captain for Recreational Sports Cycling Council, ESL tutor, community service and cultural volunteer for the Navajo reservation in Arizona, programming chair for leadership engagement activities and fun committee and senate chair for the Student Government Association.

His honors include the President's Scholarship; Campus Connector Award; Excellence in Spanish Award; Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society for Collegiate Schools of Business; Most Enthusiastic Returner Award; Caleb Mills Distinguished Teaching Award Committee; Top Programmer Award, Best Supervision and Implementation of Programming, from the American Marketing Association; Advertising and Social Media Committee, Outstanding Incoming Freshman Scholar; and Alpha Lambda Delta, the national academic honor society for freshmen.

Wachala graduated from Munster High School and is the son of Michael and Carol Wachala. After graduation, he would like to pursue a career in advertising.

Photo: - Whitney Neukam

Photo: - Katherine Runge

Photo: - Blaine Timonera

Photo: - Jonathan Wachala

Writer: Sadie All, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or