SIMAGES 2016.1 – NASAGA15 Scholarships

NASAGA 2015 Conference Scholarship Awards

by Becky Rice

NASAGA is a network of professionals working on the design, implementation, and evaluation of games and simulations to improve learning results in education and training. Each year, NASAGA holds an annual conference and awards scholarships for aspiring professionals to attend.  The scholarships pay for the registration fee portion of the recipients’ conference expenses.  This year’s scholarship recipients were Nick Vacarro, Hillary Lauren, and Dennis Yeung.   They were honored at the 2015 NASAGA Conference held in Seattle, Washington.

Nick Vacarro is an Associate Professor at Doane College’s Department of Political Science.  He was awarded the Judee Blohm Memorial Scholarship.  Nick first learned of NASAGA through Twitter feeds while perusing information about making games with Twine.  He had also heard of NASAGA through a blog called Paxsims that he regularly reads.  Coming to Seattle was the first time Nick had attended a conference that was specifically focused on simulation and gaming.  He says it was valuable to encounter perspectives from a variety of fields and to have the chance to draw on the experience and knowledge of others who have made simulation and gaming the focus of their career.   Nick plans to apply the ideas he learned from the conference in his classroom and the insights he gained will be useful in designing and implementing his own educational games in the future.  He is very grateful for the scholarship and plans to attend the conference again.  He hopes all future first-time attendees will benefit from the conference as much as he did.

Hillary Lauren is a Science Communication Specialist and Curriculum and Game Designer at the University of Illinois’ Project NEURON.  She also was awarded the Judee Blohm Memorial Scholarship.  Hillary says that she would not have been able to attend the conference if not for the scholarship.  She lives in Seattle so was lucky to be able to come to this particular one.  Mark Chen, the 2015 Conference President, told Hillary about NASAGA and the amazing conference it sponsors every year and Hillary thought it sounded fun.  The conference was valuable to her in so many ways.  She was able to meet a lot of people, who not only became valuable networking connections, but also became friends.  She realized that with this conference, seeds have been planted that will benefit her in her future career.  She loved being exposed to new ideas and new connections and cannot wait to come back next year!

Dennis Yeung is an Environmental Education student at the University of Hong Kong.  He was awarded the Richard Powers Memorial Scholarship.  Receiving the scholarship and attending the NASAGA conference allowed Dennis to make his very first trip to the U.S.A.  He has enjoyed his time here, learned a great deal, and has met a lot of very friendly people.  Dennis’ love of gaming was sparked by a 2-day simulation he did with his church.  He hopes to use all of the game ideas and game design elements that he picked up at the conference in his thesis.  He definitely is looking forward to the next conference.

All of our scholarship recipients embody what it means to be a true NASAGAn.  Their participation and enthusiasm was unparalleled and their commitment to making learning fun and engaging was clearly evident.  We all wish them the best and can’t wait to see them again next year!  Congratulations!


Becky Rice is currently the Training and Development Manager for the White Castle Corporation.  She has a BS in Biology from the University of Kentucky and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from the University of Louisville.  Becky has had an array of careers, including a bird trainer, a zookeeper, a museum educator, a quality control technician and a high school Biology teacher.  She enjoys scuba diving, golfing, making people laugh and writing.  She has a husband and one son who is almost 4.  Becky believes that the key to making all learning successful is to MAKE IT FUN!

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