headshots of makena metz and michael sayer

Chapman Honors Outstanding Graduate Students in Pharmacy, Creative Writing Michael Sayer and Makena Metz are the recipients of the 2023 James. L. Doti Outstanding Graduate Student Awards

Chapman University has announced the 2023 recipients of the James L. Doti Outstanding Graduate Student Awards, the highest honor for graduate students at Chapman University.

Michael Sayer, the recipient in the graduate category, is a PharmD, Ph.D. candidate in Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy (CUSP).

Makena Metz, the recipient in the master’s category, is a candidate for a dual MA in English and MFA in Creative Writing in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

The Doti Awards are bestowed annually to an outstanding graduating master’s and doctoral student with a distinguished record of academic accomplishment, scholarly/creative activity, and/or service. The award recipients’ names are permanently inscribed on the Doti Award trophy, which incorporates artist Nick Hernandez’s sculpture “Emergence”, on display in Argyros Forum. The recipients receive a desk-size copy of the trophy with a cash award of $1,000 and are recognized at their college’s commencement ceremony.

Michael Sayer, PharmD, Ph.D

michael sayer
Michael Sayer

Michael successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation in January 2023 on “Application of Informatics Tools to Facilitate the Practice of Precision Medicine with Genomic Testing and Clinical Data.” Michael’s supervisor, Assistant Professor Moom Roosan, said, “Michael’s passion for translational research in improving patient care and assisting with provider decision-making using data analytics, along with his contribution to CUSP and the community, make him an excellent recipient for the Doti Award.”

Michael has a long-standing relationship with CUSP. He is a pharmacist who graduated from CUSP’s inaugural PharmD class of 2018. After graduation, he worked for a year and returned to CUSP for Ph.D. training. During his time at CUSP as a Ph.D. student, Michael published two first-authored manuscripts and co-authored another manuscript in reputable journals. His contributions to other projects will earn him co-authorship for at least two other manuscripts in the upcoming years. He presented his research at local, regional and national conferences via oral or poster presentations. His oral presentation was selected as the Best Oral Presentation of CUSP Research Day 2021. Michael also excelled academically, with a high cumulative GPA for the Ph.D. program.

Furthermore, Michael earned his Teaching Certificate from CUSP. He also volunteered for many in-class activities outside of what was required by the Teaching Certificate program. In addition to his contribution to CUSP, he also served the community as a pharmacist during the COVID-19 pandemic and many community outreach programs through student organizations. He mentored multiple Pharm.D. students for research whose contribution also resulted in poster presentations at local, regional and national conferences.

Michael has been a CUSP student for almost seven years. As his experiences demonstrate, he is committed to contributing to CUSP and the pharmacy community. His hard work, attention to detail, and commitment to excellence, science and society are great qualities that will bring him continued success in his life.

Makena Metz, MA, MFA

makena metz
Makena Metz

As she approaches graduation, Makena Metz is completing two thesis projects. Her MA thesis builds on existing scholarship on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid” by using feminist, queer and disability lenses to examine at how the story’s original elements have evolved into a contemporary “mermaid” canon. Her MFA thesis is an epic fantasy filled with dark magic, personal vengeance and societal rebellion.

The breadth of Makena’s work is exceptional, and the extent of her accomplishments over the last two years is remarkable, both within her academic programs and beyond campus in the larger field.

Importantly, Makena is already actively publishing her work in multiple genres, with more than ten pieces published during her time as a graduate student. Her undergraduate work in Chicago focused on theater and playwriting, so it follows that her screenplays and short plays have been picked up by literary journals and that her animated short films are getting attention. The poem publications are especially impressive, however, because poetry is new to her. Professor Anna Leahy worked with Makena in an Individual Study, and she is now in her workshop focused on building a chapbook manuscript. Leahy said that as a poet, Makena draws from her experience in songwriting, an additional area in which she’s finding great success. She was selected for the Association of Writers and Writing Program’s competitive Writer to Agent program this year.

As a graduate student instructor, Makena has taught two different, self-designed GE courses at Chapman, using an inclusive pedagogical approach, and she has also worked as a graduate writing assistant at the campus Writing Center. In addition, she served as one of the two MFA program assistants who helped with event programming, including the Conference on the American Short Story; drafting the monthly MFA newsletter that goes to students and alums; and admissions, including talking with admitted graduate students as they made their decision about whether to come to Chapman. In this role and in the classroom, Makena has been an integral part of graduate programs and been a leader among her peers, always willing to pick up a new skill for what needs doing.

Learn more about the Chapman’s Class of 2023

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