Innocents Society, Mortar Board Members Inducted for 2022-23 | Nebraska today

Students and staff were honored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln at its annual Ivy Day ceremonies on April 2.

The event, co-sponsored by Mortar Board and the Innocents Society, recognized the outstanding contributions of students selected to serve in the two senior honors organizations, as well as the achievements of current members and notable underclass and seniors.

The ceremonies took place at the Sheldon Museum of Art and ended with the traditional planting of ivy by the societies’ 2022-23 presidents – Grace Farson of Papillion for Mortar Board and Bhagya Pushkaran of Lincoln for the Innocents Society.

Aaron Davis, motivational speaker, coach, trainer and attitude expert, delivered the keynote address. Davis is an alumnus of Husker and was a member of Nebraska’s national championship football team in 1994. As a young boy helping his father with an evening job as a janitor, he learned the importance of having a “champion attitude”, regardless of role or title. He is president of Aaron Davis Presentations, a consulting and coaching firm, and a partner in two software companies. He is also the author of three books and co-author of two others.

An honorary membership in the Innocents Society was presented to Erin Burnette, director of the Nebraska Business Honors Academy.

Honorary Mortar Board members were introduced to Randy Hawthorne, product manager at Nelnet and nonprofit leader; and Kenji Madison, associate director of Big Red Resilience and Well-Being in Nebraska.

The Innocents Society inducts 13 new members each spring, with selection based on leadership, academic achievement, and service to the university and the wider community. The Society of Innocents was founded in 1903 to promote the spirit of the university and is the chief honorary of the Chancellor. It’s only Nebraska.

New members of the Mortar Board are brought into the Black Mask chapter each spring by Mortar Boarders wearing black masks and robes. The 26 new members were selected on the basis of advancement in scholarship, leadership and service.

Below is a list by hometown of the 2022 inductees into the Innocents Society and the Black Masque Chapter of Mortar Board. Information includes each student’s academic major(s) and parents’ names.



  • Emma Hoffschneider, Mortar Board, agricultural economics and agricultural and environmental sciences, daughter of Kevin and Jill Hoffschneider.


  • Macy Baldwin, Mortar Board, actuarial science and finance, daughter of Jeff and Gina Baldwin.


  • Savannah Gerlach, Mortar Board, agricultural economist, daughter of Rick and Amy Gerlach.


  • Mitchell Manning, Mortar Board, Agricultural Economics, son of Kent and Cindy Manning.

Big Island:

  • Dominic Pfeifer, Mortar Board, finance, son of Terry and Julie Pfeifer.


  • William Wilton, Mortar Board, family and consumer science education, son of Roger and Kristen Wilton.


  • Thomas Clare, Mortar Board, microbiology, son of Dave and Tana Clare.
  • Helen Duong, Mortar Board, Chemistry and Global Studies, daughter of Nhung Duong and Ngocloan Nguyen.
  • Grant Gubbels, Mortar Board, accountant, son of Scott and Sara Gubbels.
  • Zoe Keese, Mortar Board, biochemistry, daughter of Shari Stenberg and Jason Keese.
  • Bhagyalakshmi (Bhagya) Pushkaran, Innocents Society, political science and mathematics, daughter of Preetha Valsala and Viji Pushkaran.
  • Sam Rice, Mortar Board, Emerging Media Arts, son of Richard and Mary Beth Rice.
  • Kloee Sander, Mortar Board, broadcasting, daughter of Ken and Jennifer Sander.
  • Quin Sleddens, Mortar Board, advertising and public relations, and journalism, daughter of Jeff and Nikki Sleddens.
  • Christine Trinh, Innocents Society, economics and political science, daughter of Son Trinh and YenChau Le.

Spirit :

  • Emma Rutt, Mortar Board, Human Development and Family Sciences, daughter of Lora Waechter and Keri Rutt.


  • Jared Mulder, Mortar Board, Nutritional Sciences, son of Rick and Susan Mulder.


  • Bekka Hitz, Mortar Board, special education (7-12), daughter of Richard Hitz and Colleen McCoy.
  • Ryan Hruby, Innocents Society, Computer Science and Mathematics, son of Thomas and Sandra Hruby.
  • Michael Ilg, Mortar Board, Biological Sciences, son of Shawn Ilg and Laura Schabloske.
  • Vivian Jacobitz, Innocents Society, IT, daughter of Andrew and Lilian Jacobitz.
  • McKenzie Nelson, Innocents Society, German and World Studies, daughter of Jon and Joyce Nelson.
  • Lucy Peterkin, Mortar Board, international trade, daughter of Fred and Kristina Peterkin.
  • Abigail Seibel, Innocents Society, computer genius, daughter of Shari Seibel.
  • Jessica Stump, Innocents Society, psychology and political science, daughter of Michael and Jillian Stump.
  • Jacob Zadalis, Mortar Board, Director of Clifton Builders, son of Robert and Michele Zadalis.

Butterfly :

  • Grace Farson, Mortar Board, Mathematics, daughter of John Farson and Kristin Fricke.


  • Bennett Perlinger, Mortar Board, manager, son of Mark and Debby Perlinger.


  • Madison Sides, Innocents Society, French and English, daughter of Rob and Becky Sides.

Republican City:

  • Abigail Waldo, Mortar Board, secondary English (7-12), daughter of Dwight and Melissa Waldo.


  • Malayna Wingert, Mortar Board, Biological Systems Engineering, daughter of Tania Diaz and Chuck Wingert.


Windsor, Colorado:

  • Micaylon Moore, Innocents Society, Biological Sciences, son of LaKendrea and Micah Moore.

Roswell, Georgia:

  • Jake Duffy, Innocents Society, environmental studies, son of Ann and Matt Duffy.

Arlington Heights, Ill.:

  • Alexis Gravagna, Mortar Board, biochemistry, daughter of Jim and Laurie Gravagna.

South Elgin, Ill.:

  • Patrick Wirball, Innocents Society, biological systems engineering, son of Jeff and Jadwiga Wirball.

Lawrence, Kansas:

  • Caitlynn Kliem, Mortar Board, Human Development and Family Sciences, daughter of Dorothy and Alex Kliem.

Overland Park, Kansas:

  • Regan Vaccaro, Mortar Board, Sports Media and Communications, and Advertising and Public Relations, daughter of Peter and Kimberly Vaccaro.

Shawnee, Kansas:

  • Lauren Rothgeb, Innocents Society, Biological Sciences and Spanish, daughter of Angela Talarico Rothgeb and David and Marilei Rothgeb.

Stillwell, Kansas:

  • Linden Barnett, Mortar Board, Biochemistry and Microbiology, daughter of Ryan Barnett and Kellie Douthit.

Eagan, Minnesota:

  • Meyri Ibrahim, Innocents Society, political science and journalism, daughter of Nawal Osman.

Golden Valley, Minnesota:

  • Brian DuVal, Mortar Board, finance, son of Clay and Rachael DuVal.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota:

  • Kathrine Johnson, Mortar Board, Biological Sciences, daughter of David and Leah Johnson.

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