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Seven honored as Distinguished Students during spring commencement

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Several graduates at Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s spring commencement ceremony received the Distinguished Student Awards sponsored by the Student Government Association.

To be nominated for the Distinguished Undergraduate Student Award, a student must be a graduating senior with no less than 60 credit hours earned at Texas A&M-Kingsville. The student must have at least a 3.5 grade point average and must be involved in extracurricular activities. The student also must have the endorsement of the dean of the college from which he/she receives a degree.

To be nominated for the Distinguished Graduate Student Award, the student must be graduating, have grade point average of at least 3.5 and have the endorsement of the college dean. 

This spring’s recipients are:

  • Taylor Shirley, Dick and Mary Lewis Kleberg College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences
  • Javon Walker, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Lita Ramirez, College of Business Administration
  • Austin Alford, College of Education and Human Performance
  • Macain Proske, Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering
  • Omar Cavazos, Honors College
  • Crystal Le, College of Graduate Studies 

Taylor Shirley, of Kingsville, has maintained a high grade point average while taking a heavy course load each semester. She is a first generation college student and received her degree in three years.

She worked for the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute and assisted with many research projects that gave her the opportunity to present research at multiple scientific conferences.

In summer 2017, Shirley participated in an internship in Botswana where she conducted research on wildlife and water quality. She has authored and co-authored 11 scientific presentations, five published abstracts and co-authored a peer-reviewed manuscript that is currently in-press for the Journal of Wildlife Diseases.

Shirley’s intends to attend graduate school to receive her master’s and doctoral degrees with the ultimate goal of becoming a professor and research scientist.

Javon Walker is from Houston and graduated summa cum laude with bachelor’s degrees in both chemical engineering and mathematics with a minor in chemistry. He has received 21 academic awards including the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering Scholarship and the Hugh Porter Mathematics Scholarship.

Walker served as president of the Math Club and worked as a tutor with the math department for four years. He is a member of the Honors College and participated in undergraduate research with the McNair Scholars Program.

He will continue his education with an acceptance to Cornell University with a fellowship to pursue a doctoral degree in chemical engineering.

Austin Alford, from Port Aransas, received his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. He served as captain of the 2017-18 academic Student Bowl team and was awarded the 2017-18 Exercise Science Undergraduate Major of the Year Award and the American Kinesiology Association Undergraduate Scholar of the Year Award for the university.

Alford is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, Phi Kappa Phi, Golden Key International Honor Society and Phi Epsilon Kappa Honor Societies. He worked as an exercise science academic tutor. He will pursue his degree in physical therapy at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. 

Lita Ramirez, from Premont, received a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She is a member of the Accounting Society and served as treasurer. Ramirez served as the Becker Campus Ambassador and helped spread awareness of the CPA exams.

She was the recipient of the Texas Society of CPA’s Accounting Excellence Award and she participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program helping senior citizen with their tax returns.

Off campus, Ramirez has owned and operated the Oasis Restaurant in Premont for 13 years. Last summer, she took a position in the accounting department at Bay Limited in Corpus Christi. She will continue to be full-time at Bay while pursuing her master’s degree in business administration at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

Macain Proske is originally from Dime Box and graduated with honors from Giddings High School. He joined the Honors College while receiving the Presidential Scholarship and maintained a near perfect grade point average while earning his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.

He was active in numerous student organizations including Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honor Society, the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, the Golden Key International Honor Society and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Proske has successfully passed the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and will be applying for EIT certification. He plans to pursue his master’s degree in civil engineering specializing in structural engineering.

Omar Cavazos is from McAllen and graduated from the Science Academy of South Texas in Mercedes. He graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering with minors in nuclear engineering and mathematics.

Cavazos has been a member of Golden Key International Honor Society, the Engineering Student Council and the Society of Hispanic Engineers.

He represented the Honors College at the Adelante Leadership Conference and at the HENAAC Great Minds in STEM Conference. He also completed an undergraduate research internship at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Cavazos will pursue his master’s degree in engineering technology at University of North Texas.

Crystal Le is a first-generation college student from Katy. She received her masters of science degree in chemical engineering and will receive her masters of business administration in 2019.

Her research report was on the Techno-Economic Analysis for the Production of 1.4 Butanediol and Tetrahydrofuran, Precursor Chemicals for Spandex Fibers Synthesis.

Le is a graduate research assistant in the College of Business Administration where she has assisted the chair of the accounting and finance department by conducting and analyzing surveys, creating presentations and formatting proceedings for projects like the Economic Forum and the Academy of Finance Conference.

She will take a position as a validation engineer for Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnology in College Station.


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