July 11, 2018


McMullen Hall during summer


MSU Billings announces Chancellor’s Excellence Award recipients

Thirteen students granted prestigious scholarship



University Relations and Communications, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES —Montana State University Billings announces Abbigale Hamilton and Shannon Reny as the incoming freshman recipients of the 2018-2019 Chancellor’s Excellence Award scholarships. They join a prestigious group of 11 current MSU Billings students who renewed their Chancellor’s Excellence Award scholarships.


Abbigale Hamilton is a graduate of Lander Valley High School in Lander, Wyo., where she participated in FFA and National Honor Society and competed in soccer and swim and diving. Hamilton was active in her community, where she helped coordinate a blood drive and coached soccer players, among other volunteer activities. She will suit up as a Yellowjacket this fall for the women’s soccer team while pursuing a biology degree at MSU Billings.


Hamilton hopes to become involved on the campus during her time here through joining organizations on campus such as the Honors Program. “… [M]y personal goals I hope to achieve at MSU Billings include becoming a productive member of the community, becoming job and post-education life ready, and being able to receive a next-level education without having to involve my parents financially in the endeavor to the best of my ability,” Hamilton says. “At MSU Billings one of my most important goals is to be able to learn how to function independently and become my own person who can take care of herself. I believe that Montana State University Billings is an institution that is well equipped to help me achieve all of my goals and aspirations.”


Shannon Reny graduated from Libby High School in Libby, Mont., this past spring. Reny was involved in the Libby community and volunteered in a variety of capacities, including as a volunteer soccer coach and at the Thanksgiving Day Community Dinner. She will continue her basketball career at MSU Billings and looks forward to becoming involved in the Billings community during her time as a student-athlete. She wishes to become part of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee to give input to the administrative staff of MSUB Athletics. Reny is interested in enrolling in the College of Education after she arrives on campus this fall.


“Montana State University Billings will be another environment for me to build valuable and rewarding connections with a multitude of people from all walks of life,” Reny says. “These experiences will help me build my personal resume and allow me to be a tool and light to a variety of people. Whether it be with my teammates, coaches, professors, or peers, this next chapter of my life at Montana State University Billings will be filled with experiences that will broaden my horizons and allow me to grow as an individual.”

Hamilton and Reny join a group of 11 other outstanding students who were selected previously.


Recipients for the 2017-2018 Chancellor’s Excellence Award were Casey Skinner, Zachary Sutton and Marcene Skillen-Robison.


Casey Skinner of Shepherd, Mont., is a biology major at MSU Billings. Skinner is involved in the Honors Club and STEM Club and would like to be active in the Drama Club this year, as well. This past year, Skinner participated in Service Saturdays and helped put on the Chemistry Magic Show and Atomic Circus. Skinner was also able to attend the Montana Academy of Sciences conference in Butte this year. “At the end of my first year on the Montana State University Billings campus, I have involved myself in several volunteering opportunities through the Service Saturday program,” Skinner notes. “Being active in our community and science outside the classroom has expanded my skillset and allowed me to grow as an individual.”


Zachary Sutton came to MSU Billings from Columbus, Mont., to pursue a degree in health and human performance with the 3+2 option. Sutton was involved in the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and plans to be active in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship during the upcoming academic year. Sutton was able to complete an internship with the Athletic Training Clinic on campus last fall and also volunteers around the Billings community. “Throughout my first year attending MSUB, I have tried to be active in my community on campus and in the Billings community. I am from Columbus, Montana, and the opportunities pale in comparison to what I have been able to do in Billings,” Sutton said. “Even though I will not be living on campus in the fall, I do plan on being involved on campus through the Service Saturday program and other service opportunities.”


Marcene Skillen-Robison arrived at MSU Billings from Hysham, Mont., last fall. During her first year on campus, Skillen-Robison was involved in the Student Activities Board (SAB), Honors Club, and Yellowjacket cheerleading. Skillen-Robison is majoring in psychology on campus and plans to minor in sociology. Eventually, she would like to become a school counselor, a decision that was shaped by her time volunteering at Camp POSTCARD previously. “After completing my first year at MSU Billings, I feel ready for the challenges ahead, and I am excited about my future,” Skillen-Robison says. “My first year at MSU Billings has been an extraordinary experience, and being a ‘Jacket’ opened up the world for me… MSU Billings offers limitless opportunities to its students, and I feel blessed to be a part of the campus.”


2016-2017 recipients of the award were Sari Robertus, Sam Muskat, Carly Schaff and Brenna Beckett.


Sari Robertus of Joliet, Mont., is a junior pursuing degrees in mass communications and psychology. Robertus is active in RHA, Student United Way, the LEAD program and will be a senator for ASMSUB this upcoming year. Robertus is currently planning on attending a master’s program following her 2020 graduation and explains that while she initially wanted to be a counselor, she has also thought about other careers, such as being a physician’s assistant. Robertus has enjoyed volunteering in Billings during her time at MSU Billings. “Volunteering in the Billings community” she explained, “not only lines up with the motivation behind my academic pursuits, but also serves as a blessing and a wholesome reminder to live with a grateful heart… My goal during my few short years in college is to make that positive difference, continue to achieve academic success and not forgetting the obvious ones—developing life-long relationships and having memorable experiences.”


Sam Muskat came to Billings from Beaverton, Ore., to receive an education in political science and Spanish and to compete in baseball. Muskat volunteered weekly at Beartooth Elementary School last year, where he worked with students in the second grade. He plans to continue this role in the upcoming year, as well. Muskat also volunteered with his baseball team at High Gate Senior Living Residence. He was given the opportunity to be the play-by-play commentator for the women’s basketball team alongside Aaron Like and looks forward to continuing this role during the next season. “My experiences as a contributing member of the MSUB baseball team have given me chances to grow in leadership, and I have appreciated the comradery and friendships I have gained here as well,” Muskat said. “I look forward to another strong year at MSUB, pursuing my academic, athletic and community service goals.”


Carly Schaff of Lavina, Mont., is double majoring in elementary education and reading during her time as MSU Billings. Schaff is involved in Jacket Student Ambassadors (JSA) on campus where she serves as the group’s historian. She has volunteered around Billings and has completed in-classroom practicums throughout the community. Outside of school, Schaff participates in rodeo and works on the family farm. She is thankful for being awarded the Chancellor’s Excellence Award. “Attending Montana State University Billings has provided me with countless opportunities that have contributed to my personal and academic growth. These opportunities include campus clubs, practicum experiences, and class experiences” Schaff says.


Brenna Beckett of Broadview, Mont., is a member of the track and field team at MSU Billings and is majoring in biology with a teaching option. Beckett is active in ASMSUB, JSA and the LEAD program and plans to also be a part of the STEM club this year. Beckett also works in the Student Union Building on campus. Through her involvement on campus, Beckett participated in nearly all Service Saturdays and also volunteered at the Jingle and Mingle and the annual Easter Egg Hunt. “All in all, I've become a more well-rounded person in the past year, and am beginning to understand more about how I can not only make a difference, but also maintain my well-being while doing so,” Beckett says of her sophomore year on campus. “None of my community service, academic challenges and successes, and leadership opportunities would be possible without the funding from this scholarship. MSUB is equipping me with all the tools needed to become the person I want to be, thanks to this generous funding and the resources within the university and community.”


McKenna Myers and Shiloh Skillen-Robison are recipients of the 2015-2016 Chancellor’s Excellence Awards.


McKenna Myers is from Billings, Mont., and is majoring in mathematics with a teaching option. Myers is involved in JSA, the LEAD program and serves as a resident assistant (RA) in Housing and Residential Life on campus. During the summer, Myers is a summer team leader for Upward Bound where she helps mentor high school students toward college. “As college is coming to a close for me, I am very grateful for the opportunities MSU Billings has brought me,” Myers says. “I am glad to end my college career as a Jacket Student Ambassador to help future students find their own niche at this school and a member of the LEAD program so I can gain further knowledge about leadership in the community, especially in my profession…Because of all of this, I owe MSU Billings and appreciate the experiences I have earned here that have helped shape my life. Thanks for helping me accomplish all of this through this scholarship.”


Shiloh Skillen-Robison came to MSU Billings from Hysham, Mont., to pursue a degree in English with the teaching option and a minor in history teaching. Skillen-Robison was the chair of SAB on campus and served on the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Advisory Board. She is also active in the honors program, serves on the Honors Student Advisory Board and hopes to join Sigma Tau Delta this fall. Skillen-Robison volunteered at Service Saturdays and at her alma mater during breaks in the academic year. She also works as a photographer for athletics. “This will be my final year on the MSU Billings campus. While I am sad to see my time here come to an end, I will always be thankful for the opportunities that I have been given,” Skillen-Robison said. “Coming to MSUB was one of the best decisions that I have made, and I am forever grateful for being a Chancellor’s Scholar the last few years.”


Freshman recipients of the award must be incoming freshmen who hold a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or greater; a composite score of 26 or greater on the ACT or 1240-1270 or greater on the SAT; enroll in a minimum of 15 credit hours per semester; sign a declaration of intent to complete a four-year undergraduate degree at MSU Billings; and provide evidence of leadership and a record of school and community service.


Hamilton and Reny were awarded $4,000 per year for four years and will have part of their housing and dining costs waived. They will also receive admission into the University Honors Program. Earlier recipients of the award were funded at different levels.


Hamilton and Reny, along with previous recipients, will have the opportunity to renew their scholarships by earning and maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher at MSU Billings; complete a minimum of 15 credit hours per semester and enroll in a Bachelors degree program and show progress toward their degrees. 


MSU Billings has been awarding the Chancellor’s Excellence Award scholarships since 1998.


For more information on the Chancellor’s Excellence Awards, contact Jennifer Ries at jennifer.ries@msubillings.edu or 406-657-2339.