University Relations and Communications

Top MSU Billings graduates honored for academics, activism, inspiration

May 2, 2014



Carmen Price, University Relations, 657-2243


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — They represent MSU Billings’ Graduate Studies highest ideals in academics, leadership, and community service and campus engagement. Two MSUB graduating master’s students have the distinction of holding the university’s most prestigious honor for graduate students.


The recipients of the Outstanding Graduate Student Award are Brandon Gann and Jeffrey Ridgeway who will receive special recognition at the Montana State University Billings 87th annual commencement on May 3, 2014.


Awards are given to students who have exemplified both personal and academic achievement at MSU Billings including their citizenship in support of the university’s goals and values and their potential for future success and achievement.


Brandon GannBrandon Gann, MSSEd, Adv. Studies, ABA Emphasis


Brandon Gann was recognized Friday afternoon by the College of Education’s Dean Dr. Mary Susan Fishbaugh and the department’s faculty for his outstanding academic achievement while at MSU Billings.


Continuously exceeding the expectations of faculty has earned Brandon the honor of being named one of two outstanding graduate students for 2013-2014. He graduates as a leader in the Applied Behavior program, earning an overall graduate grade point average of 3.92.


“Not only did he excel in his own pursuit, he assisted his classmates by leading study groups and discussions about applied behavior analysis concepts that he experienced in the real world at his place of employment,” his nominator for the award as well as his advisor Dr. Cheryl Young-Pelton said.


On Saturday, during the 87th Annual MSUB Commencement Ceremony, Brandon will receive his Master of Science degree in special education, with an advanced studies option focused on applied behavior analysis.


Brandon also received a double major from MSU Billings in elementary education and special education, graduating cum laude in 2011.

Following commencement, Brandon will sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst professional exam.


Brandon held several internships and work-study positions during his tenure at MSU Billings, one of which asked him to develop a curriculum for training entry-level staff to work with autism to nearly 200 practicing psychologists in the Portland, Ore. area after participating in the 2013 ABAI Autism Conference.  


“His good judgment and mature outlook ensure a logical and practical approach to behavioral analytics and will only assist him in future success,” one internship supervisor, Renae Jones, said. "He was able to maintain a high level of professionalism in all the different environments that he was working in for his internship with families and other professionals that he encountered, including teachers, principals, therapists, and psychologists." 



Jeff RidgewayJeffrey Ridgeway, Master of Health Administration


Jeffrey Ridgeway’s leadership and outstanding academic achievement earned him the honor of being selected as one of two recipients of the Outstanding Graduate Student Awards for 2013-2014.


Jeff graduates on May 3 with a Master’s of Health Administration, earning a 3.7 grade point average.


“An extraordinarily gifted individual, Jeff has distinguished himself as an outstanding student and as a rising star in health information technology management,” Deborah Peters, his nominator and the Director of the Department of Health Administration said.


Among his many academic accolades, Jeff served as an e-Learning graduate assistant during the 2013-2014 year, assisting faculty with online instructional design and research to enhance campus understanding of online learning. He also developed the online venue course shell for student advising within the MSUB Health Administration Program.


Jeff was a Billings West High School 2006 graduate and received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from MSUB in 2011.


Aside from academics, Jeff was named the MSU Billings athlete of the year in 2011 for his athletic performance on the Yellowjackets baseball team. He was also named to the 2010 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Baseball All-Academic Team.


Peters notes in her nomination letter that Jeff is the first student in the MHA program who was so determined to obtain a good position in healthcare management that he volunteered for several months at Billings Clinic until the department realized “They could not get along without him and hired him.”


Jeff’s hard work and determination recently landed him a job with Cerner Corporation in San Diego—the largest publicly traded company in the United States focusing solely on healthcare information technology and a global supplier of healthcare information technology solutions, services, devices and hardware. He began working for the company in April as a senior application consultant. 

“I was quite amazed to look online and learn that Cerner reaches to nearly every corner of the globe,” Peters said. “Jeff’s potential for future success in the world of healthcare administration, particularly in the specific area of health information technology, would seem to be boundless.”


“The faculty at MSU Billings really put in a concerted effort to facilitate both the learning and professional development of their students,” Gann said. “Overall, my professional and academic experience with the MHA program and Billings Clinic have deemed to be invaluable as I have been able to interact with so many people with diverse backgrounds and expertise. Despite the diversity of background however, we all share the same goal and understanding that it’s all about providing and continually improving the quality of care delivered to the patient.”


PHOTO ABOVE: 1) Brandon Gann; 2) Jeffrey Ridgeway