Michael J. Coles College Reveals 2024 Outstanding Students

KENNESAW, Ga. | May 8, 2024

Outstanding Students 2024
The Michael J. Coles College of Business recently announced the recipients of the 2023-2024 Outstanding Student awards.

Outstanding Student awards recognize exemplary students in each of the College's academic programs. Faculty members nominate students, with department chairs selecting the winners.

Below, you will find details about each of the 18 Outstanding Student award recipients as well as some information about each.

Here is a listing of each student and their respective programs:

Undergraduate Program Outstanding Students

Payal Patel

Accounting: Payal Patel

Payal Patel is a highly motivated and dedicated student. She received runner-up for the Outstanding Student Scholar award for all of Kennesaw State University this year. Payal is serving her second term as President of Beta Alpha Psi and previously held the role of Reporter. She is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma. Additionally, Payal was a member of For Film’s Sake (which is KSU’s dedicated Film Club). She was in the art department and served as art director, set designer, and prop master for three different short films. Payal will be entering the Master of Accounting program at Kennesaw State in the fall.

Economics: Sam Castellano

Sam Castellano is an outstanding student of economics. He has strong coding skills in Python, C, and R. As a member of the honors college and the Coles Scholars Leadership Program, he has participated in reading groups and has undertaken leadership modules and projects, including business-analytic research in Costa Rica. Additionally, he has gained practical experience by working under an economist at Waffle House, contributing to decisions on new restaurant locations.
Sam Castellano
Diego Juarez Rueda

Entrepreneurship: Diego Juarez Rueda

Diego Juarez Rueda is a first-generation college graduate of Mexican descent. He is an Atlanta native and attended Kennesaw State University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He currently works as the CEO of Iron Towers, LLC where he helps bring both his clients & own imagination to life through custom furniture. Iron Towers, LLC originally started as a dream of his father’s, but now he has brought that dream to life. He is also working towards becoming an officer in the Army through the Georgia National Guard. He lives everyday looking for the betterment of both his family and his nation.

Finance: Astrid Cuellar Benitez

Astrid Cuellar Benitez is a finance major with a minor in fintech and a keen interest in the payments industry. She founded the Coles Fintech and Payments Club, the first student organization at KSU centered around fintech and payments, which has grown from 10 to 300 members within a year and attracted interest from industry giants. Following her graduation, she will be joining Truist Bank’s Leadership Development Program, specifically its rotational Technology Track.
Astrid Cuellar Benitez
Karis Morris

Hospitality Management: Karis Morris

Karis Morris exemplifies the qualities of an outstanding student and is deserving of the Outstanding Student Award. Her academic excellence, leadership abilities, dedication to community service, personal growth, and future potential set her apart as a truly exceptional individual who embodies the values of academic excellence, leadership, and service. Karis served as the Vice President of Marketing and External Affairs and the President of the Hospitality Leadership club. Under her leadership, the club successfully organized and executed hospitality industry days, personal branding, and professional development workshops. She was also a member of the University’s marching band and is currently a management trainee with Hospitality Ventures Management Group.

Information Security & Assurance: Daniel DiResta

Daniel Diresta is a dual ISA/IS major and is an Honors College student. ISA faculty have described Mr. Diresta as focused, diligent, and well-prepared for all of his classes, an engaged learner in the classroom, and someone who stands out amongst his ISA peers.
Daniel DiResta
Jessica Harris

Information Systems: Jessica Harris

Aside from an exemplary academic record, Jessica is a community leader and innovator. During her time at KSU she has served as the President of Women in Technology, reviving the club's membership and activity with numerous industry and career development events every semester. Particularly notable among these was the founding of the Apps for Wellbeing Hackathon she led with Girls Who Code and the Business Technology Club in Spring 2023, attended by 108 students. In addition, she has been active in Delight Ministries, The KSU Gospel Choir, and Women in Cybersecurity at KSU. According to peers and faculty she is a sharp, thoughtful colleague and leader who listens, thinks through consequences, and takes actions to ensure success. Since her sophomore year, she has also interned with Deloitte Consulting, recently receiving and accepting a full time offer to join their Cyber and Strategic Risk Team.

Management: Imaan Khalil

Imaan Khalil has a strong record of leadership and is a gifted communicator. As an example, Imaan worked on a team project with members located at universities around the U.S., Germany, and Singapore. Out of the 68 teams and 408 students who participated from around the globe, Imaan’s team earned first place. Imaan is an exceptional student, and we are proud to have Imaan as a representative of the management major.
Imaan Khalil
Cameron Silvera-Robinson

Marketing: Cameron Silvera-Robinson

Cameron has been one of our top Marketing students:  consistent, diligent, and effective across all assignments, class discussions and presence.  His papers were all well researched and flawlessly written.  We have enjoyed Cameron in our classes as one who exhibits a true desire to learn and apply that knowledge.  Truly an example for his peers! Cameron is passionate about music, film, digital art, photo editing and filming. He is the Multi-Media Director of For Film's Sake, and is a member of KSU's film club and the Kennesaw Marketing Association.

Professional Sales: Lauren Dittig

This spring, Lauren was selected as a member of the Sales Ambassadors, an organization honoring sales students who exhibit outstanding aptitude and commitment within the program. As an active member of the Sales Team, she represented KSU with distinction in speed selling competitions at both the National Collegiate Sales Competition and the International Collegiate Sales Competition. Lauren's active involvement in the Sales Club at KSU underscores her dedication to advancing the sales profession and her willingness to contribute to the Sales Center's mission.
Lauren Dittig

Graduate Program Outstanding Students

Alex Goble

Evening MBA: Alex Goble

Alex's outstanding MBA journey is not only marked by his academic achievements but also by his role as a valuable resource for his peers. He generously shares his knowledge, expertise, and insights, serving as a mentor and guide to others in the program. Through his collaborative spirit and willingness to support his classmates, Alex embodies the essence of teamwork, the spirit of KSU, and elevates the learning experience for everyone around him, making him a truly deserving candidate for this distinguished award.

Master of Accounting: Alexandra McRaney

Alex McRaney is an exceptional and confident student who fully engaged in the MAcc program beyond required course work. She was a member of the MAcc team that placed 2nd in the statewide Institute of Internal Auditors Case Competition and was part of a team that crafted a comment letter to the Financial Accounting Standard Board. Not only did Alex perform in the top five of almost every class she completed, but she also achieved the top CPA Exam scores while serving as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Alex set a positive example for her classmates with her work ethic, positive attitude, and willingness to help others.
Alexandra McRaney
Amanda Tambling

Executive MBA: Amanda Tambling

Amanda Tambling was chosen by the EMBA Faculty as the 2024 cohort Outstanding Scholar.  Amanda has achieved a perfect academic record and notable achievements in the graduate program (beyond having earned a 4.0 GPA).  Amanda has notable accomplishments in her civic and professional environment and has proved herself a leader amongst her classmates.  Amanda has a B.S degree in chemical engineering with minors in economics and mineral processing from Michigan Technological University.  She is a senior Customer Manager for one of the world’s largest materials science companies where she works with the executive leadership team to provide market and competitive intelligence to shape the overall business plan, manages account portfolio, conduct negotiations and implement price changes while managing customer relationships.

MS-Fintech: Didier Lopez

Didier has been instrumental in integrating our graduate program with the Coles Fintech and Payments Club. In addition he has exhibited exceptional leadership by providing recommendations that would improve the Fintech program at KSU. Finally, during his stay with us, he was actively engaged in all our networking events such as the Digital Payments Summit, various student club events, and Fintech South.
Didier Lopez

MSIS: Devan Sprayberry

Devan Sprayberry is a very involved student in class who maintains warm interactions with students and professors. He has an indomitable spirit and a contagious capacity to organize peers for effective teamwork. He has overcome his physical disabilities to be a successful businessman while pursuing his graduate degree at the Coles College of Business and Kennesaw State.

MSHMI: Dabnei Leblanc

Dabnei is an innovative and forward-thinking Healthcare Management & Informatics aspirant with extensive experience in project management, healthcare technology, and capital equipment implementation. Dabnei currently works at Varian as a Senior Software Architect. Dabnei was selected to be a fellow with the American Medical Informatics Association, where she will sit for the AMIA Health Informatics Certification. This is an opportunity only offered to 5 qualified HMI students annually.
Dabnei Leblanc
William Yaeger

Ph.D. in Business Administration: William Yaeger

Bill has been a lifelong learner and contributor to business. Most recently, he retired as the President of Belimed, Inc., a Swiss manufacturer of medical devices. He joined the Ph.D. program in 2021, and is scheduled to graduate this spring. Bill is a fantastic doctoral student who has a deep grasp of management theories and methodological approaches. In his dissertation, he proposed that organizational leaders could motivate employees to behave proactively by focusing on ways to simultaneously empower them and hold them accountable for deliverables.

WebMBA: Tiffany Kleimann

Tiffany Kleimann's utilization of data-driven decision making showcases her commitment to strategic excellence, driving impactful outcomes in her teamwork and course deliverables. Coupled with her adeptness in leveraging modern tools, Tiffany consistently demonstrates a team approach that merits recognition with the Outstanding WebMBA award.
Tiffany Kleimann

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