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From the Vice President

Top Ten Scholars Embrace Life as Broncos

At a wonderful banquet last week, Boise State’s 2014 Top Ten Scholars were honored for their accomplishments as Broncos and given an important charge for their life as alumni of this university: do great things and stay in touch with your Boise State roots.

Delivered by alumnus Kevin Satterlee (B.S., political science, 1990), himself a past Top Ten Scholar and now vice president for campus operations and general counsel at Boise State, it was message full of understanding about how important these top students are to their alma mater.

“Boise State will confer 2,500 degrees next month at Commencement,” Kevin said in his keynote speech to the gathering of these top students, their family members, their favorite faculty and other members of the Bronco family. “But the ten degrees awarded to you are the ten I have the most faith in. They are the ten of which I am most proud and they are the ten I have the most hope in, because I believe you are going to go out and do great things.”

Our Top Ten Scholar award isn’t just about having the best grades. It’s also about being an inspiration to your peers and to future Boise State students through your character, leadership and accomplishments throughout life. As students at Boise State, these ten led by example by being involved in activism, community service, student clubs and student government. Each of them earned scholarships, fellowships or prestigious internships through their merit, abilities and the quality of their work. And because of their engagement as students, their appreciation for the opportunities they’ve been given as students and their love of Boise State, we know that we can count on them be among Boise State’s greatest advocates throughout their lives.

Kevin is a great example of this. He has chosen to make Boise State a focus of his career and this university’s future is advanced everyday by his work. But, as Kevin pointed out in his speech, one doesn’t need to work at Boise State to build its future. Our Top Ten Scholars go on to do an extraordinary array of work that shines a clear light on the opportunities of a Boise State education and builds its reputation every day.

For example, another former Top Ten Scholar, Jason Ellsworth (B.B.A., international business, 1996), credits his Boise State education with his career in a variety of industries all across Europe, Asia, and North America. Today, he runs Clēnera (, a solar energy project development, construction, finance and management company based in nearby Eagle, Idaho.

Laura Johnson (B.B.A., marketing, 1990; B.A., accountancy, 1992) oversees domestic and export market development programs for the State of Idaho. She says her Boise State education was “instrumental” in building her career at the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, where she has organized and participated in 20 international trade missions to over a dozen countries.

A number of former Top Ten Scholars, perhaps inspired by their own gratitude for their past professors, have themselves become college professors, including Jakki Mohr (B.B.A., marketing, 1982), who is the Regents Professor of Marketing at the University of Montana. Jakki is the lead author of the only textbook on the marketing of high-technology products and innovations. She has taught in Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, India, Uruguay, Chile, Canada and France. A few years ago, she delivered a “TED talk” encouraging businesses to “bake biomimicry into their organizational DNA.”

And Tiffany Seeley-Case (B.A., communication/English, 1996; B.A., Spanish, 1997; M.A., education curriculum and instruction, 1999) was part of the university’s storied Talkin’ Broncos speech and debate team as a student and has taught public speaking, critical thinking, and digital and mass media at the College of Southern Idaho for 16 years. Long a supporter of the Talkin’ Broncos, she is a member of the Boise State Forensics Alumni Association Hall of Fame. Recently, she was thrilled to recently become adjunct faculty member at her alma mater, as well.

After they graduate in a few weeks, this year’s cohort of Top Ten Scholars will leave Boise State to go into medicine, become educators and scientists, and aspiring university professors. They will continue to strive for racial, economic and social justice. A few will go overseas to pursue careers in international development and science. Others will go on to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees here at Boise State, in the Ivy League and at other top universities.

And like those who came before them, their success and pride in Boise State will serve as an inspiration to those who will follow them. Through their example and lifelong engagement with Boise State, they help build on its momentum of success.

“If you stay with us we can move mountains,” Kevin told them at last week’s banquet. “Every time you succeed, your university succeeds and every Boise State degree becomes more valuable. Never forget that you earned your degree, that you earned this Top Ten Scholar award and that you are a proud member of the Bronco family.”

Laura C. Simic is vice president for advancement at Boise State University.

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