John C. Stophel Distinguished Student Award


The College of Business John C. Stophel Distinguished Student Award is presented annually to recognize high potential business students who have made significant and meaningful civic contributions to UTC and the College of Business while maintaining a strong academic record.


Students must provide evidence of exceptional extracurricular leadership and community service, strong leadership skills, self-motivating initiative, exceptional presentation skills, and a strong academic record with minimum GPA of 3.0.


Below are the 2012-2013 John C. Stophel Distinguished Students.


Undergraduate Students

Elizabeth Chapman

Sarah Gardner

Richie King

Joseph Kurtz

María Paola Pécora Omaña

Graduate Students

Peter Sauska

Kasey Toth



Undergraduate Students



Elizabeth Chapman

Elizabeth is a marketing major from Burns, TN.

Elizabeth serves as a Cultural Ambassador of the Cooperative Education offices on campus. She has studied abroad in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh, completing an extensive course on Scotland's national history. She is also a member of the University Honors Program in which she has served on numerous committees and a member of UTC Mortar Board. Elizabeth has also participated in a national exchange program to graduate from a certificate program in Entertainment Management at the University of Montana. She was also a student volunteer at the 2012 Pollstar Entertainment Industry conference in Los Angeles, California.

After graduation, Elizabeth hopes to begin working in the entertainment industry in order to gain experience in the different aspects of business in entertainment. She also plans on pursuing an MBA within in the next five years.




Sarah_Gardner Sarah Gardner

Sarah is an entrepreneurship major from Hendersonville, TN.

Sarah is a member of University Honors, Mortar Board Honor Society, Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, and Habitat for Humanity. She serves as a Cultural Ambassador of the Cooperative Education office on campus; she has studied abroad in Linz, Austria and currently serves as vice president of the International Student Organization.  Sarah has volunteered for the Downtown Presbyterian Church, Sunshine Gospel Ministries,  Vacation Bible School, and the Appalachian Service Project among others. Sarah also held a Student Assistantship with Dr. Roland Carter in the UTC Music Department.

After graduation, Sarah plans to attend pastry school, earn a master's degree, and eventually open her own bakery. 





Richie_King Richie King

Richie is a human resource management and general management major from Cleveland, TN.

Richie currently works as a human resource specialist at USXpress Enterprises in Chattanooga and is president of the UTC student chapter of Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). He is also a member of the UTC student chapter of Society of Advancement of Management (SAM). Richie has volunteered for various events including the Susan G. Komen race for the cure and National Down Syndrome Society Buddy Walk. He also served 10 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy as an Electronic Technician.

After graduation, Richie hopes to move into a management position within USXpress and eventually earn a Senior Professional in HR certification as well as a Master of Business Administration degree. Ultimately he would like to have a successful career in HR while balancing a successful home life and watch his kids grow to be successful.




Joseph_Kurtz Joseph Kurtz

Joseph is an accounting and economics major from Cherry Hill, NJ.

While serving as the president of Beta Alpha Psi, Joseph doubled the membership of BAP and organized the annual Meet the Firms event as well as weekly meetings with numerous accounting firms. He is also a member of UTC’s Institute of Management Accountants and Omicron Delta Epsilon International Honor Society for Economics. Joseph worked as an audit intern at Deloitte & Touche LLP during summer 2012. He has also volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club, served as a tutor at UTC, and worked in the Accounting Department as a graduate assistant.

After graduation, Joseph hopes to always have a job where he feels that his work makes a difference to the company where he is employed. Joseph has a job lined up after graduation at Deloitte in Charlotte, NC.





Maria_Paola_Pecora_Omana María Paola Pécora Omaña

Maria is a finance major from Venezuela.

Maria is an active member of the Mortar Board National Honor Society where she participates in fundraisers for the community service initiative. She has served as a volunteer for the Salvation Army in a new tutoring program for children and volunteers for Bloodanooga events as an interpreter for blood drive events when the institution is reaching out to Hispanics in the area. She also is a teaching assistant for three business classes at UTC with Dr. Ahmadi and tutors students for all sections of the three classes. Maria is a member of Omicron Epsilon Honor Society, a member of the UTC Trading and Investment Club, and a recipient of the Financial Executives International Scholarship.

After graduation, Maria hopes to work for an institution that allows for promotion and further development of her skills, preferably in the private consultation, corporate, or banking industries. In the long term she would like to complete her master’s degree as well as a Ph.D. to eventually become a professor at a later stage in her life.




Graduate Students

Peter_Sauska Peter Sauska

Peter is a Master of Business Administration student from Budapest, Hungary.

Peter is a graduate assistant for UTC’s College of Business and was a member of UTC’s tennis team in 2007-2010. He served as captain of the tennis team in 2009. In summer 2012, Peter was the first College of Business international students to successfully take the College of Business Internship class and get hired to be an intern at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Peter also worked the Downtown Connection Research Project for Rivercity, UTC, and the Urban Design Challenge in spring 2012.

After graduation, Peter hopes to work for an international company with a global perspective in sales, marketing, or strategic management. He plans to stay in the U.S. for a few years to seek further career opportunities then return to Hungary to work for a multinational organization.





Kasey_Toth Kasey Toth

Kasey is a Master of Accountancy student from Hixson, TN.

Kasey is currently an internal audit intern for Astec Industries, Inc. Kasey is a member of the Alpha Society and Beta Gamma Sigma. She serves as the reporting secretary for Beta Alpha Psi and helped organized Beta Alpha Psi’s annual Meet the Firms event. For four years she was a worship leader for Campus Crusade and did various service projects with the organization. Kasey is an active member of the UTC Choral Department and is the alto section leader for UTC Chamber Singers.

After graduation, Kasey plans to sit for the CPA exam and begin working full-time with Astec Industries, Inc. She is also considering other career paths in the future such as Public Accounting and the FBI.