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Mary Kim Ward Resilience and Service Award

Portrait of Mary Kim WardMary Kim Ward served in program development for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for the State of Maryland. She was invited by Secretary Stephen Moyer to join his team in June of 2015 in support of his anti-corruption initiative. 

Prior to this assignment, Colonel Ward served in the Baltimore County Police Department. She worked in several assignments throughout her thirty-three year career. These assignments included numerous precinct locations at various ranks. From 2000 to 2006, Colonel Ward led the agency's Operations Bureau.

Colonel Ward was active in many local and national forums and seminars, including the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at the Kennedy School of Government. Colonel Ward graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. In addition, Colonel Ward was a member of numerous organizations focusing on law enforcement and leadership.

Colonel Ward held a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Education degree from Towson State University, Towson, Maryland, and a Master of Applied Behavioral Science from Johns Hopkins University.

In honor of her lifelong dedication to education and public service, APUS established the Mary Kim Ward Resilience and Service Award. The Mary Kim Ward Resilience and Service Award recognizes resilience, patience, and determination, and a student’s impact and influence on public service, social justice, and inclusion.

Established in 2020, the Board of Trustees presents the award annually during Commencement weekend to one APUS undergraduate or graduate student in the current graduating class. Each graduating class includes six conferrals: August 1, October 1, December 1, February 1, April 1, and June 1.

  • A student of the university in the 2023 graduating class, undergraduate or graduate, who demonstrated a dedication to their academic pursuits through maintaining a 3.5 GPA
  • Demonstrates resilience and determination through obtaining their education despite personal setbacks or challenges
  • A leader who has made a significant impact on their community, industry, or the world
  • Work with or for public service or education with an emphasis on supporting mental health needs, or championing inclusion
  • Nominations may be made by faculty, staff, students, alumni, and those familiar with the nominee’s work
  • Nominees will be notified and asked to provide a narrative of no more than 250 words or video of no more than two minutes

All materials are to be submitted in one complete packet on the award nomination form. Late or incomplete submissions will not be considered.

  • A completed nomination form
  • A letter of recommendation from a faculty member. The letter must provide examples of how the student has made excellent contributions to the classroom by engaging with the content and/or leadership among their peers throughout the class. You may want to give your recommendation writer a summary of the award
  • A reflection on your resilience overcoming personal setbacks or challenges. The reflection may be submitted as a narrative of no more than 250 words or a video of no more than two minutes
  • Your current professional resume
  • Nominations are accepted at each conferral throughout the year
  • The Academic Awards Committee will review all eligible candidates
  • Top candidates are presented to the University Provost for review
  • The University President grants final approval
  • Award recipients will be honored during Commencement weekend, and should we have an in-person celebration, one night accommodations and individual travel expenses to attend Commencement will be paid for by the University
  • Award recipients receive an engraved plaque
  • Award recipients are not required to attend Commencement to accept the award

2021 Mary Kim Ward Award Recipient

Stephanie Duenas

Stephanie is a first-generation Latina to immigrant parents who arrived in the United States in the hopes of giving their children an opportunity to achieve the ‘American dream.’ Inspired by the stories of her parents, along with the support of her spouse and parents-in-law, Stephanie sought to continue her education to assist others in need of mental health. During her academic career, Stephanie has battled cancer and had overcome a miscarriage shortly afterward – experiences soon to provide her with in-depth compassion and empathy toward clients that had suffered similar experiences. While pursuing her master’s degree through the American Military University, Stephanie has served in a victim’s domestic and sexual assault center in Nebraska. A year later, she soon found herself assisting a case manager for a child welfare agency with the state of Nebraska. In both instances, Stephanie utilized her personal experiences to connect with clients and use her bilingual abilities to communicate effectively to promote safety and trust. In February 2021, Stephanie completed her master’s in Psychology from American Military University with a GPA of 3.74. As a military spouse, her interest in the mental health of the armed services has grown significantly. Moving from different duty stations has allowed her to not only observe the difference in cultures but also interact to determine needs within the military community. Utilizing her experiences from the civilian sector, Stephanie has focused her academic and professional career on studying holistic therapies to meet the mental health needs of the armed forces. As an advocate for mental health, Stephanie aspires to build an effective partnership with leaders of the armed forces and mental health providers by joining the Department of Defense. When she is not reviewing current studies, she enjoys taking professional photographs of her two rescue dogs, playing games, and reading.

The submission deadline is now closed. Please stay tuned in Fall 2022 for additional information and contact the University Awards Committee if you have questions.