The Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Junior Award was established in 1982 as a way for our chapter to recognize students who exemplify our motto, “let the love of learning rule humanity.”
The Thomas S. Gathright Scholar Award was established in April 1973 by The Association of Former Students in conjunction with Texas A&M’s Student Government Association. Named in honor of the first president of the A&M College of Texas, this award recognizes outstanding scholastic achievement on a university-wide scale. As of this spring, the two awards have been merged as a collaboration between The Association of Former Students, LAUNCH: Academic Excellence, and the Texas A&M chapter of Phi Kappa Phi.
At its April 14, 2019 induction ceremony, the Texas A&M Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi announced the Gathright Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Junior for each college.
Selection for the Phi Kappa Phi Gathright Outstanding Junior Award is based on an evaluation of research and/or creative production, community engagement, accomplishments/awards, and academic record, with the final selection criteria determined by the dean of each respective college.
In alphabetical order by college, the 2019 Outstanding Juniors are:
Marina Conner College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Savannah Sinowitz College of Architecture
Brody Coombes Mays Business School
Jason Zertuche College of Education and Human Development
Hannah Lehman College of Engineering
Samantha Longridge College of Geosciences
Olivia Osteen College of Liberal Arts
Claire Kovacevich College of Nursing
Gabriella Hand School of Public Health
Jonathan Bywaters College of Science
Demonta Coleman College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Alexandra Yard Texas A&M at Galveston
Seif Elgazar Texas A&M at Qatar
Please keep reading for short bio-sketches of each Outstanding Junior:
Marina Conner is a junior entomology major from Rowlett, TX, who is also pursuing certificate programs in public health entomology and leadership study and development. Conner plays French horn in the Texas A&M Symphonic Band and the mellophone in the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, and has been recognized with several leadership roles and honors through her participation in the Corps of Cadets including serving as a squad leader, Alpha Company Scholastics Sergeant, and was selected for the General O.R. Simpson Corps Honor Society, President George H. W. Bush’s ceremonial funeral procession band, and First Lady Barbara Bush’s funeral procession Honor Guard. Conner is the Department of Entomology representative on the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Council and a co-leader in the Campus Crusade for Christ Freshman Female Bible Study. Conner has pursued undergraduate research in Trinidad and Tobago, and is submitting her personal field study project on the Streak Gecko for publication. An aspiring veterinarian, Conner logged extensive shadowing and volunteer hours, and has previously been recognized by the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, the Texas A&M Pre-Vet Society, on the COALS Dean’s Honor Roll, and with the Buck Weirus Spirit Award.
Savannah Sinowitz is a junior environmental design major from Henderson, NV. Sinowitz serves as Vice President of Recruitment for Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority, and helped earn Chapter of the Year honors from Texas A&M and AEPhi national during her 2018 Executive Board term. Sinowitz also serves on the Command Team for TAMU BUILD, and was Vice-President and Treasurer for Rita Crocker Clements Residence Hall Council in 2016-17. Sinowitz has completed three professional design internships and has previously been recognized with the AEPhi Outstanding Leadership Award in 2017, the Panhellenic Woman of the Year for Texas A&M in 2018, and the Sophomore Dean’s Excellence Award for the College of Architecture in 2018.
Brody Coombes is a junior supply chain management major from Medina, TX. Coombes was a Fish Camp counselor in 2017, a member of Freshman Leaders Establishing eXcellence and Aggie Supply Chain Professionals, and organized the Relay for Life of Aggieland in 2017. Coombes has completed a professional internship and has been active in service through The Big Event, the Brazos Valley Food Bank, and two medical mission trips to Belize.
Jason Zertuche is a junior allied health major from San Antonio, TX. Zertuche serves as Vice-President of the College of Education and Human Development Undergraduate Student Council, and as an assistant in the Health and Kinesiology Academic Advising Office. Zertuche is an Aggie Research Scholar and co-author on a presentation at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in 2018. Zertuche has previously been recognized on the Dean’s List and with a Health Professions Excellence Award.
Hannah Lehman is a junior aerospace engineering major from Austin, TX with minors in computer science and mathematics. Lehman is University Scholar, highly engaged undergraduate researcher, and a dedicated member of the Vietnamese Student Association. Lehman works in Dr. Valasek’s Vehicle Systems & Control Laboratory and has co-authored three professional publications through her work there. Lehman has also completed three professional internships, worked as a TA for engineering courses, and is engaged STEM outreach to middle and high school students through the College of Engineering, her organizations, and on her own time. Lechman has previously been recognized as an Aggie Research Scholar, a Rockwell design award, second place in a student startup competition, and is on the Dean’s List.
Samantha Longridge is a junior oceanography major from Houston, TX with a minor in mathematics. Longridge serves as treasurer of the TAMU Oceanography club, is a member of the TAMU SCUBA club, volunteers with the Department of Oceanography, and is a member of the University Honors Program. Longridge has numerous diving and coastal sailing certifications and she has taken part in three research cruises on the R/V Trident in Galveston Bay and tropical marine biology cruises in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the British Virgin Islands.
Olivia Osteen is a junior telecommunication studies major from Houston, TX with minors in film and art. Osteen has served as staff assistant for The Big Event, an ad hoc senator in the Texas A&M Student Senate, and was a member of Fish Aides her freshman year. Osteen also has extensive professional acting and communication experience including a current role as a content creator for a start-up app with over 170,000 users. Osteen is participating in undergraduate research with Dr. Srividya Ramasubramanian and also serves as a teaching assistant in the Department of Communication.
Claire Kovacevich is a junior nursing major from Double Oak, TX. Kovacevich serves as as an SI Leader for pharmacology, President of the Student Nurses’ Association and is a Student Ambassador for the Texas A&M Health Science Center Opioid Task Force. She has volunteered extensively in Bryan/College Station and has served as Assistant Bid Day Chairman and Academic Excellence Chair for the TAMU chapter of Kappa Delta sorority, and as secretary for Order of the Omega. Kovecevich is self-employed as a personal care attendant, has extensive professional health care experience, and completed a nursing internship at the UT Medical Branch in Galveston. She plans to pursue a masters’ degree and become a Family Nurse Practitioner.
Gabriella Hand is a junior public health major from Meridian, ID. Hand serves as a Student Ambassador for The Association of Former Students and has been on the Traditions Council for two years, serving as the Outreach and Education Chair and a Silver Taps committee member. She is also an undergraduate program representative on the Student Experience Committee for the TAMU School of Public Health and has served as an ambassador for the School of Public Health through Broad Street Society. Hand is also an entrepreneur, running a custom online bakery called Gabbi’s Goodies. Had has previously been recognized as Member of the Year for Traditions Council, the Sophomore Gathright Award recipient for the School of Public Health, and on the Dean’s Honor Roll.
Jonathan Bywaters is a junior biology major from Athens, TX. Bywaters has served as a Resident Advisor for Krueger Hall, is a member of the Texas A&M Pre-Medical Society, and has participated in The Big Event. Bywaters has previously been recognized with the Sophomore Gathright Award for the College of Science, the Timothy P. Scott ‘89 Endowed Lifelines Scholarship, and is on the Dean’s List.
Demonta Coleman is a junior biomedical sciences major from Lufkin, TX with a minor in psychology. Coleman serves as a Community Leader in the FOCUS Learning Community in LAUNCH, as a peer tutor with the Academic Success Center, and as a participant in in Big Event for three years. In addition to extensive volunteer experience, Coleman has engaged in undergraduate research in the lab of Dr. Wenshe Liu, and is on the Dean’s Honor Roll.
Alexandra Yard is a junior marine biology major from Pleasanton, TX with a minor in chemistry. Yard currently serves as President of the Lambda Kappa Alpha Honors Program at Texas A&M – Galveston, student leader for the Coastal College Bible Study, and has had increasing leadership roles with the Sea Aggies Learning Traditions (SALT) Camp, culminating in her role as director this year. Yard has extensive volunteering experience and has engaged in undergraduate research with Dr. Antoinetta Quigg, presenting her research at the Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium and the Texas A&M Galveston Student Research Symposium, at which she was recognized with a first place Marine Science, and third place Overall Undergraduate awards.
Seif Elgazar is a junior electrical engineering major from Doha, Qatar. Elgazar serves as Student Body Class Representative, Aggie Orientation Leader, and is a member of the Eta Kappa Nu honor society. He was Electrical Team Leader for the AIChE Chem-E Car Team which won third place at the AIChE 2017 competition in Barcelona. Elgazar has completed a professional internship and has undertaken undergraduate research with Dr. Hussein Alnuweiri.
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