Siena Heights University recently announced its 2024 Alumni Award winners. This year’s recipients will be honored on October 4, 2024, during Homecoming Weekend. The awards given out this year were the Saint Catherine of Siena Award, Sister Ann Joachim Award, Saint Dominic Award, and the Honorary Alumni Award.

The 2024 Saint Catherine of Siena Award was given to Paula Sanematsu (class of 2007) of Syracuse, New York. After graduating from Siena Heights, Sanematsu obtained a Master of Science in Mathematics from the University of Tennessee Space Institute and joined Louisiana State University (LSU) to pursue a doctoral degree in Engineering Science. During her time at LSU, Sanematsu investigated image-based pore-scale flow and nanoparticle transport in porous media. She obtained her doctorate degree in 2015 and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at LSU and Syracuse University. Now, Sanematsu serves as a Senior Research Computing Facilitator at Harvard University’s FAS Research Computing. The Saint Catherine of Siena Award recognizes alumni whose outstanding professional achievements and/or volunteer contributions promote Siena positively to the community; who demonstrate strong leadership characteristics; who serve as significant role models for others; and who embody the spirit of Siena Heights University.

De’Angelo Boone (class of 2007) of Adrian, Michigan, is the recipient of the Sister Ann Joachim Award. This award is presented in memory of faculty member Sister Ann Joachim, O.P., and recognizes significant contributions to the University and/or community through activities that demonstrate strong leadership, the ability to get things done, and the capacity to confront issues head-on while maintaining the image and spirit of the University. Boone has undoubtedly done so by spearheading the creation of the City of Refuge Food Pantry, which works to remedy food insecurity for underserved populations in the local Adrian area. In addition, Boone has greatly contributed to the Siena Heights University food pantry and helped on-campus summer residents gain awareness and understanding of food options available to them while the University Center is closed for the summer season.

The Saint Dominic Award recognizes an alumna or alumnus for commitment to Christian education in family, school, or community. Named for the 12th-century Spanish nobleman who founded the Dominican order, the award honors a person who embodies the Dominican philosophy and the spirit of Siena, and who promotes pride in Christian ethics and education. This year’s Saint Dominic Award recipient is Michael Nelson (class of 2001) of Toledo, Ohio. Nelson serves as the founder and Executive Director of JustWrite Inc., a nonprofit organization created to promote teen literacy. JustWrite hosts workshops, competitions, and outreach programs to encourage young writers to find their voice, express themselves, and develop their writing and literacy skills. In this year alone, 600 high school teens in Ohio and Michigan have benefitted from JustWrite, and Nelson’s continuous commitment to the organization and its mission is a direct reflection of his embodiment of the Siena Heights spirit.  

Tom ‘Push’ Puszczewicz of Blissfield, Michigan, is the 2024 Honorary Alumni Award winner. Affectionately referred to as the “Mayor” of Siena Heights University, Puszczewicz has served as the Campus Minister at SHU for over 25 years and made a lasting impact on the Siena Heights community. He has helped foster the faith of many students and demonstrates a consistent commitment to compassion, involvement, and positivity. Puszczewicz routinely involves himself in on-campus events, including making omelets at the notable “Late Night Breakfast” for students during finals week or acting as a card caller for bingo nights, among many other activities. In addition, he has successfully organized and promoted several blood drives on the SHU campus for the Red Cross, which reflects his desire to help others not just in the Siena Heights community, but beyond. The Honorary Alumni Award recognizes non-alumni of Siena Heights who demonstrate exceptional commitment to and support for the mission and spirit of the University.