Recap of 2022 Commencement Award Recipients

Graduates, alumni and faculty were recognized during the 2022 Commencement Ceremony for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the Cumberland community. 

Aleasha Martin Chaw – The Faculty Award of Excellence

Aleasha Martin Chaw accepting the Faculty Award of Excellence from President Stumb

This award is selected by the Faculty Senate and based on academic excellence, integrity, engagement, and personal demeanor. Aleasha graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in Criminal Justice. She has been on the Dean’s list for the past three years, has served as a Presidential Ambassador for the past three years and is a member of the following honor societies: Gamma Beta Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa, Pi Gamma Mu, Philomathean Society where she serves as moderator, and PsiChi. She is also a member of Psy Curious and the Student Veterans Page 9 of 26 Association.

Willian Romero – The President’s Award

Willian Romero accepting the President’s Award from President Stumb

This award is presented to the graduate who embodies the ideals, principles, and spirit of the university. The candidates for this award are judged based on their scholastic attainment, personal bearing, integrity, leadership, moral and ethical conduct, and loyalty to the university. This year’s recipient Willian Romero graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and a minor in Healthcare Administration. He served as the Treasurer of Student Government as well as the President of Best Buddies. As a student athlete on the football team for four years, he was 3-time Academic All-Mid-South Conference and a NAIA Scholar-Athlete. He is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, Gamma Beta Phi and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies. 

Nichole Carey – The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Nichole Carey smiling as she walks across stage to accept the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

This award was established by the New York Southern Society in 1925, in memory of Mr. Sullivan, a southerner who became a prominent lawyer, businessman, and philanthropist in New York in the late nineteenth century. Only a very few select institutions have the privilege to present these awards. Nichole received the 2022 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award and graduated Summa Cum Laude with Bachelor of Arts in English & Creative & Imaginative Writing. As a 4-year varsity starter for the Women’s Volleyball team with 926 career kills, she is 10th in the nation in attacking percentage. She was a 2019 and 2021 Mid-South attacker of the week, 2020 and 2021 2nd team Mid-south all conference, and a three-time Mid-South academic honoree. 

Dr. Michael J. Spalding – The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for Community Service

Dr. Michael J. Spalding with his wife and daughter and President Stumb

As a servant leader with a distinguished career, Dr. Spalding attended Washington and Lee University and received his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Virginia. Lieutenant Commander Spalding then served as a general surgeon for the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, completed a fellowship at Great Ormand Street Hospital in London, and spent the majority of his career as a urologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and in private practice. After his retirement, Dr. Spalding founded the nonprofit, Equal Chance for Education (ECE) in Nashville, TN, a unique scholarship program for undocumented immigrants through which he and other generous benefactors have now paid college tuition for hundreds of additional deserving college students, including Will Romero, at universities throughout the state. To date, 31 ECE Scholars have graduated from Cumberland with 13 of that 31 graduating in 2022. 

Karah Sprouse – The President’s Award for Teaching Excellence

Dr. Karah Sprouse accepting the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence from President Stumb

This award is presented each year to a faculty member who has made a significant difference in the lives of Cumberland students. Nominations are made by the graduating class, with one student saying, “She was completely dedicated to our success and always made students feel comfortable to share real and honest concerns, problems, and opportunities. She adapted to each student because she took the time to learn about us and make us feel seen.” Dr. Sprouse began her career at Cumberland University in fall of 2014 as an adjunct instructor and joined the full-time faculty in spring of 2018. She teaches various business classes in the undergraduate business program and serves as program director for the Associate of Arts in Business program. Dr. Sprouse holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, an MBA from the University of Mississippi and she completed her Doctorate of Business degree at Liberty University in 2020.

Dr. Deputy Chief Dwayne Greene and Deputy Chief Natalie Kay Lokey – Awards of Excellence in the Millard and JJ Oakley School of Humanities, Education and the Arts

Dr. Deputy Chief Dwayne Greene and Deputy Chief Natalie Kay Lokey accept their Awards of Excellence with President Stumb and President of the Cumberland Alumni Association Troy Simpson

Deputy Chief Dwayne Greene is a 22-year police department veteran originally from Atlanta Georgia. Deputy Chief Greene attended Tennessee State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Music and Sociology. He later attended Cumberland University where he earned a Master’s in Public Service Management. He has done additional training at the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command and the Senior Management Institute for Police in Boston.

In 2000, Dwayne started his career with Metro Nashville Police Department. Since then, he has worked in a variety of roles including the Central, North, Madison, and West Precincts, the Specialized Investigation Division Intelligence/Gang Unit, and the Office of Professional Accountability. Commander of the Midtown Hills Precinct, he was appointed by Chief Drake as the Deputy Chief of the Community Services Bureau in December of 2020.

Deputy Chief Greene is involved with many organizations including Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, National Black Peace Officers Association, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Fraternal Order of Police and 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee, where he serves as Executive Board Secretary.

Deputy Chief Kay Lokey began her career with the Metropolitan Police Department in 1996, as a patrol officer. Later she would serve as a School Resource officer, certified to teach both DARE and GREAT programs. After her promotion to Sergeant in 2004, she was assigned to the Training Division. With a promotion to Lieutenant in 2006, she would serve the evening shift at the Hermitage Precinct where she supervised five sergeants and oversaw the daily duties of thirty-five patrol officers. In 2008, Deputy Chief Lokey assumed duties in the Background and Recruitment Division. Deputy Chief Lokey was promoted to Captain in 2010 and would serve in the Central Records Division until her appointment to the Domestic Violence Division in 2012, where she developed and implemented new procedures related to victim intervention and outreach.

In 2014, Deputy Chief Lokey was promoted to Commander of the Midtown Hills Precinct where she developed strong community ties between officers and the diverse neighborhoods they serve, evaluated crime data, and provided direction and resources to address important public safety issues. In 2020, Deputy Chief Lokey was promoted to Deputy Chief of Police and assigned to the Administrative Services Bureau, where she currently serves. Deputy Chief Lokey holds a Bachelor of Arts Management from Trevecca Nazarene University and a Master’s of Science in Public Service Management from Cumberland University. In 2004, she completed the Police Supervision and Leadership program. In 2009, she attended the International Association of Chiefs of Police Leadership in Police Organizations training program.

In 2011, Deputy Chief Lokey attended the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute for Police at Boston University and was staffed by instructors from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She also attended the Southeastern Command and Leadership Academy. Deputy Chief Lokey is a member of the National Association of Women in Law Enforcement Executives. She also volunteers her time by being a guest speaker for the MSP program at Cumberland.

Nathan Johnson – Award of Excellence in the Jeanette C. Rudy School of Nursing and Health Professions

Nathan Johnson receives the Rudy School Award of Excellence with President Stumb and Troy Simpson

Nathan Johnson is the Director of Athletic Training at the Hughston Clinic Orthopedics and serves as the Head Athletic Trainer at Friendship Christian School. He graduated from Cumberland in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education with an emphasis in Sports Medicine. Nathan has served as the longest preceptor and mentor to CU Athletic Training students. Nathan also received the Lifesaver Certificate of Recognition this past spring at the Tennessee Athletic Trainers’ Society (TATS) Annual Symposium. He was 1 of 5 in the state that was awarded this year for saving the life of a student-athlete at Friendship Christian School who was suffering from heatstroke in the fall. 

Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez – Award of Excellence in the Labry School of Science, Technology and Business

Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez accepts the Labry Award of Excellence with President Stumb and Troy Simpson

Byron Sigcho-Lopez serves as the Alderman for the 25th Ward of Chicago. As an immigrant who came to the U.S. alone as a teenager, Byron found care in everyday teachers, coaches, and community members who gave him shelter, guidance, taught him English, and gave him a pathway to a good education.

Ten years ago, Byron settled in Pilsen, a historically immigrant working class neighborhood in Chicago and worked as an adult education teacher, founding the bilingual adult education program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He became politically active after Former-Mayor Rahm Emanuel listed a neighborhood public school for closure where Byron volunteered as a soccer coach and led community efforts to keep that school open which were ultimately successful.

Later, Byron served as the Director of the Pilsen Alliance where he was a leader in the struggle against gentrification and displacement, co-founding the campaign to Lift the Ban on rent control in Illinois. As Alderman, Byron was the Chief Sponsor of an ordinance to curtail harassment of homeowners who have been targeted by developers.

Byron is a member of the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America and holds a Bachelor in Mathematics and Business Administration from Cumberland University, and a Masters in Economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is currently a PhD candidate in the field of Urban Education Policy. 

Josh Crouch – Rising Phoenix Award

Josh Crouch accepts the 2022 Rising Phoenix Award with President Stumb and Troy Simpson

Josh Crouch is a native of Smyrna, TN and graduated from Cumberland University in 2012 with a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts and Secondary Education. Crouch began his teaching and coaching career at Wilson Central High School in 2012 as the Head Freshman Football Coach.

In 2015 he became the Head Track and Field Coach at Wilson Central followed by the Recruiting, Character, and Defensive Coordinator. In 2018, he began implementing the first leadership council and player development structure. He designed a program that holds his athletes accountable horizontally (peer to peer) rather than vertically (coach to player). This allowed for culture to cultivate in the program through everyday tasks rather than just at football. He wants to build good football players, but more importantly – better men, husbands, brothers, and fathers for the future.

In 2018, Crouch moved to Memphis where he served as the Defensive Coordinator and Sports Information Director at St. George’s Independent School. In 2020, he moved back to Middle Tennessee and helped open Green Hill High School in Mt. Juliet where he is a Fine Arts Teacher and the Head Football Coach. In a short period of time, he has set a foundation of leadership and a culture of respect.

His team has a GPA of 3.67 and each player of his team has at least 10 hours of community service. Josh does “man minutes” with his team during the off season to teach life skills such as how to tie a tie, how to change a tire, and how to do finances or taxes and pay bills to prepare them for life after graduation. Josh’s mission statement is to Develop Champions to become better men while pursuing Athletic and Academic Excellence. Josh led the team to their Region 5-5A title in 2021 and he was named the 2021 Large Class Co-Coach of the Year, and Region 5-5A Coach of the Year. 

Congratulations to all of Cumberland’s award winners! We are proud to have a community of students, faculty and alumni who are making a positive impact in the lives of others. 

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