Innocents Society, Mortar Board members inducted for 2023-24

· 5 min read

Innocents Society, Mortar Board members inducted for 2023-24

Two red Husker banners on light pole
Craig Chandler | University Communication and Marketing

Students, faculty, staff and alumni were honored by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln at its annual Ivy Day ceremonies on April 1.

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

Ceremonies took place at Sheldon Museum of Art and concluded with the traditional planting of the ivy by the 2023-24 presidents of the societies — Emily Plotnik of Lakeville, Minnesota, for Mortar Board and Brynn Boes of Gretna for the Innocents Society.

Jane Miller, retired president and chief operating officer of Gallup, delivered the keynote address. At Gallup, she oversaw worldwide operations, ensuring that all systems, resources and people were aligned to achieve the organization’s goals. She has served in leadership roles with the Peter Kiewit Foundation, TeamMates Mentoring, Kiewit Luminarium, Omaha Zoological Society, Nebraska Medicine and University of Nebraska Foundation. She received the Omaha Chamber of Commerce Women in Leadership Award and has been inducted into the Omaha Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame.

Honorary memberships in the Innocents Society were presented to Marianna Burks, a lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences and science specialist for the TRIO Scholars Program at Nebraska, and Brittany Duncan, Ross McCollum Associate Professor of computing at Nebraska.

Honorary Mortar Board memberships were presented to Rosalee Swartz, undergraduate program director in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Nebraska; and Angela Garbacz, founder and head pastry chef at Goldenrod Pastries and owner of Goldenrod Grocery.

The Innocents Society inducts 13 new members each spring, with selection based on leadership, academic achievement and service to the university and greater community. The Innocents Society was founded in 1903 to promote the spirit of the university and is the chancellor’s senior honorary. It is uniquely Nebraskan.

New members of Mortar Board are tapped into the Black Masque Chapter each spring by Mortar Boarders wearing black masks and robes. The 26 new members were selected based on scholarship, leadership and service.

Following is a list by hometown of the 2023 inductees into the Innocents Society and the Black Masque chapter of Mortar Board. Information includes each student’s academic major(s) and parent names.



  • LeAnne Bugay, Mortar Board, journalism, and advertising and public relations, Mike and Melissa Bugay.
  • Hannah Kost, Innocents Society, actuarial science and finance, Joseph and Dawn Kost.


  • Henry Drvol, Mortar Board, biological sciences, Robert and Susan Drvol.


  • Allie Gotschall, Innocents Society, nutrition science, Dr. Jeffrey and Tammi Gotschall.
  • Evan Tessendorf, Mortar Board, agribusiness, Ryan and Jaci Tessendorf.


  • Paul Pechous, Mortar Board, special education (7-12), Donald and Nicki Pechous.
  • Katie Tran, Innocents Society, nutrition science (pre-dentistry), Todd Tran and Jenny Vo.


  • Caitlin Murphy, Innocents Society, actuarial science, mathematics and music, Brian and Angie Murphy.


  • Heath Keiser, Mortar Board, animal science, Joe and Carol Keiser.


  • Brynn Boes, Innocents Society, biological sciences, Cory and Denise Boes.
  • Sophie Hill, Mortar Board, management, Robert and Gina Hill.


  • Chanasei Ziemann, Mortar Board, biological sciences and biochemistry, Brian and Justina Ziemann.


  • Preston Kotik, Mortar Board, biochemistry and political science, Michael and Haley Kotik.


  • Allyson Barry, Innocents Society, environmental studies, Sean and Stephanie Barry.
  • Carson Dettmer, Mortar Board, biochemistry, Patrick and Shelley Dettmer.
  • Janana Khattak, Mortar Board, political science, Shandana and Aemal Khattak.
  • Furqan Mahdi, Innocents Society, biological systems engineering, Shaymaa and Saad Jaafar.
  • Samuel Spethman, Mortar Board, political science and communication studies, Matt Spethman and Michelle Hohenfeldt-Spethman.
  • Katherine Swan, Innocents Society, biological sciences, David and Tracey Swan.


  • Cordell Vrbka, Mortar Board, pre-veterinary medicine, and fisheries and wildlife, Jake and Becky Vrbka.


  • Kyle Auman, Mortar Board, computer science, Stacy and Nicki Auman.
  • Hannah-Kate Kinney, Mortar Board, journalism, broadcasting, and advertising and public relations, Jon and Jane Kinney.
  • Jack Kinney, Innocents Society, business and law, Jon and Jane Kinney.
  • Joseph Kirshenbaum, Mortar Board, chemistry and economics, Adam and Nikki Kirshenbaum.
  • Isha Kishore, Mortar Board, finance and Clifton management, Latha Kishore and Kishore Viswanathan.
  • Lauren Kruger, Mortar Board, biological sciences, Cory and Jane Kruger.
  • Ruoxi Liu, Mortar Board, international business, Henry Liu and Sissy Zhang.
  • Shivani Mudhelli, Mortar Board, mathematics and computer science, Nagaraju and Dhanalaxmi Mudhelli.
  • Aaryan Naik, Mortar Board, economics, Dhaval Naik and Nilam Patel.
  • Naren Narasimhan, Mortar Board, marketing, and sports media and communications, Narasimhan Jayachandran and Praveena Bojjireddy.
  • Bridget Peterkin, Mortar Board, computer science, Fred and Kristina Peterkin.


  • John Vacek, Innocents Society, chemistry and psychology, Marc and Carmen Vacek.


  • Madison Stracke, Mortar Board, agricultural education, Mike and the late Jenny Stracke.


  • Jade Paxton, Mortar Board, veterinary science, Arlan and Sarah Paxton.

West Point:

  • Elizabeth Karnopp, Mortar Board, biochemistry, David and Shannon Karnopp.


  • John Esser, Mortar Board, electrical engineering, Tim Esser and Jane Brogan.

Elsewhere in the U.S.

Orland Park, Illinois:

  • Elizabeth Kenes, Mortar Board, actuarial science and computer science, Mick and Mary Kenes.

Grimes, Iowa:

  • Sarah Frett, Innocents Society, psychology, Stacey and Anne Frett.

Le Mars, Iowa:

  • Valeria Uribe, Mortar Board, advertising and public relations, and graphic design, Juan Uribe and Nayibe Torres.

Lawrence, Kansas:

  • Lydia Storm, Mortar Board, biochemistry, Christopher and Amanda Storm.

Olathe, Kansas:

  • Quinlan Couch, Mortar Board, biochemistry, Rob and Colleen Couch.

Overland Park, Kansas:

  • Grant Auman, Mortar Board, political science, economics and Spanish, Jeffrey Auman and Allison Cleek.

Lakeville, Minnesota:

  • Emily Plotnik, Mortar Board, biological sciences, David and Cori Plotnik.

Canton, South Dakota:

  • Isaac Dietzenbach, Mortar Board, actuarial science, Brad and Christal Dietzenbach.

Austin, Texas:

  • Danie Oberpriller, Innocents Society, biological sciences, Trey and Angela Oberpriller.

Fort Worth Texas:

  • Hayden Ullmann, Innocents Society, secondary education, Kevin and Deborah Ullmann.

Recent News