The Gathright Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Junior Award is a collaboration between The Association of Former Students, LAUNCH: Academic Excellence, and the Texas A&M chapter of Phi Kappa Phi that recognizes the top junior in each of the academic colleges at Texas A&M University.
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.
The Texas A&M chapter of Phi Kappa Phi is pleased to announce the 2021 Gathright Outstanding Juniors! In alphabetical order by college, they are:
Mary Blair McDaniel
Shelley Brielle Mason
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
College of Architecture
Mays Business School
College of Dentistry
College of Education and Human Development
College of Engineering
College of Geosciences
College of Liberal Arts
College of Nursing
School of Public Health
College of Science
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Texas A&M at Galveston
Texas A&M at Qatar
Congratulations, all! The Gathright Oustanding Juniors and the University Outstanding Junior are announced at the Spring Induction Ceremony held in conjunction with Texas A&M’s annual Family Weekend.
Alyssa Low is a junior biochemistry and genetics major from McKinney, TX. Alyssa is a President’s Endowed Scholar and is actively involved in the American Medical Student Association, having served as the Director of Programming and as the current Global Health Committee Chair. She is the Vice President of Academic and Special Events and will be the incoming Executive Vice President for the Honors Student Council. Alyssa is involved in research engineering DARPins, a class of synthetic proteins, as therapeutics in the Chen Lab at A&M’s College of Medicine and was previously a Nathan Schnaper Intern analyzing gene signatures of T-cells in the Singh Lab at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her passion for research has led her to join the Executive Board of the Explorations Journal to further highlight and promote undergraduate research. She currently works in the clinical laboratory at A.P. Beutel Health Center and volunteers with CHI St. Joseph Health.
Abby Steudtner is a junior environmental design major from Plano, TX with a minor in art with a new media emphasis. Steudtner is a proud member of the Texas A&M chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta, where she has held numerous leadership roles. The most notable is Online Media Director, which required her to effectively manage the chapter’s media sites. She also actively supports the chapter’s local and national philanthropies. Steudtner was previously awarded the Phi Kappa Phi Dean’s Excellence Award her freshman and sophomore year. Her future plans include continuing her education through pursuing a Master’s degree in Architecture.
Karissa McIntosh is a junior accounting major from Spring, Texas. Karissa is the Chief Justice for the Texas A&M University Student Government Association Judicial Court. Prior to becoming the Chief Justice, Karissa also served as the Vice Chief Justice her sophomore year and was a Judicial Advocate her freshman year. She is also the President of the Pre-Law Society and has also served as a peer leader for the Mays Business School. In addition to her organizational involvements, Karissa also works as a tutor for the Texas A&M athletics department and enjoys being able to use her knowledge to help others reach their academic goals. After receiving her accounting degree, Karissa plans to attend law school and hopes to combine her passion for law with her business background. Karissa has also been recognized as a President’s Scholar and a Southerland Aggie Leader.
Ashley Heim is a senior dental hygiene major from Mount Pleasant, TX. Ashley is the honor council representative for her class and a student tutor for Biomedical Sciences I and II at the Texas A&M College of Dentistry. She is also a student consultant for the IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access) committee. She participated in undergraduate research through LAUNCH. Ashley has previously recognized as the January 2021 Distinguished Person of the Month and on the Dean’s List each semester. She plans to graduate in 2021 and pursue work as a clinical dental hygienist. Her future holds continuing her education and pursing a Master’s degree in Dental Hygiene or a dental degree.
Janet Rebollar-Trejo is an allied health major from Houston, TX. Janet served as an Academic Peer Mentor for the Department of Residence life, providing one-on-one academic coaching sessions for struggling students. She achieved Level 3 Certified Mentor through the the International Peer Educator Training Program Certification (IPTPC).
Tessa Miller is a junior Civil Engineering major from College Station, TX. She is an active member of Texas A&M’s student chapter of ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers), where she served as membership chair and is currently serving as Vice President. In addition to this, she has been involved with ASCE’s Concrete Canoe team and was recently inducted into Chi Epsilon. In her sophomore year, Tessa traveled to Honduras for a week with Global Engineering Brigades to design a water system for a rural community. During her time at Texas A&M, Tessa has worked as a student research assistant for Texas A&M Transportation Institute, a peer teacher for an introductory engineering course, and completed two professional internships. She has been recognized on the Dean’s Honor Roll and was a recipient of the Sharon D. Bank Memorial Scholarship in Spring 2020. After graduation, Tessa plans to pursue a master’s degree in Structural Engineering.
Paige Wirth is a junior environmental geoscience student with a minor in geographic information science and technology from Madison, Wisconsin. She is the Director of the Aggie Sustainability Coalition and the Student Outreach Intern for the Office of Sustainability, as well as a Senator for the College of Geosciences. She does research in the Geography Department on fire ecology in historical landscapes, and is in the University Honors Program. She has received the Phi Kappa Phi Gathright Deans Excellence Awards Freshman and Sophomore year in the College of Geosciences and was a university nominee to the Udall Scholarship.
Casey Black is a junior double major in German and archaeology with a minor in museum studies from Boerne, Texas. Throughout her time in college, Casey has been an active member of MSC OPAS and has served as the 2020-2021 Director of Publicity and Advertising. Casey is the incoming Director of Student Development for the 49th Season of MSC OPAS. She has received the MSC First Year Involvement Award and the Harold W. Gaines Excellent Service Award for her involvement in MSC OPAS as well as the John. L. Thornton Premier Award for the most outstanding first year member. She was also a participant in the 68th Annual MSC Fall Leadership Conference last August. Casey is an Undergraduate Team Member for an ADVANCE COVID-19 Research Project that seeks to analyze the impacts of the pandemic on the work-life balance of university faculty, under Dr. Cynthia Werner. This summer, Casey plans on studying abroad in Germany with the A&M Germany Language and Culture Faculty-led program, where she will also participate in the AIB Internship Program. She plans on applying to graduate programs to later pursue a Masters and PhD in Archaeology.
Mary Blair McDaniel is a junior nursing major from Thorndale, TX. She is one of six Texas A&M College of Nursing students selected to pilot the honors program for the nursing school and will conduct research with a faculty member as part of this program to submit for publication. Blair is a Terry Scholar and has been an active member of the Terry Scholars Student Organization, serving as a chairman for the community service council. She participated in ASPIRE and served as a mentor for the program. Blair has given back to her community via organizations such as Texas Aggies Fighting Alzheimers, Future Aggie Nurses, and Texas A&M Christian Fellowship. She has also been a Supplemental Instructor for Biology 107 through the Academic Success Center. In April 2020, Blair was part of an interdisciplinary team of students that placed in the top ten for the Corona Task Force Engineering Competition at Texas A&M. Blair has a deep passion for caring for others and plans to obtain her Masters of Science in Nursing in order become a Family Nurse Practitioner so that she can one day provide healthcare to individuals in medically underserved communities.
Darby Johnson is a public health major, biology minor, and a University Honors student from Shiner, TX. Darby has participated in the Broad Street Society and Qatar Student Leadership Exchange, and served as president of both Legett Community Council and Global Dental Brigades, through which she completed a service project abroad. She is also the leader of a lab team conducing research on spent coffee grounds and co-founder and vice-president of Convent Cause. Darby works on campus and has wide interests spanning anything from organic molecules and art history to evolutionary biology and Latin to classic literature, and volunteers extensively in the community and at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Darby is consistently on the Dean’s List and plans to pursue a degree in dentistry and run her own practice.
Will Dow chemistry and biology double major from Aubrey, TX. He is a member of both the Honors in Chemistry and Honors in Biology programs. Will has invested a significant amount of time is service including volunteering regularly at CHI St. Joseph hospital and clinic pre-pandemic, and serving as a peer-led team learning (PLTL) leader for organic chemistry I & II, a teaching assistant for calculus III, and a peer-mentor for the Hullabaloo-U program within the college of science. He has worked in Dr. David Bergbreiter’s lab studying recyclable catalyst/solvent systems since the fall of 2019. Will has previously been recognized with CRC Outstanding First Year Chemistry award as well as the Outstanding Achievement in Organic Chemistry award his sophomore year.
Shelley Brielle Mason is a junior biomedical sciences major from Rowlett, TX. Brielle is a member of the Pre-Vet Society and the Lambda Sigma Honor Society. She currently works as an animal caretaker in the Nabity Lab and, for the past three semesters has conducted research with Dr. Sara Lawhon in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology. She also volunteers at Hope Reigns Ranch, a non profit horse rescue in Magnolia, TX. Brielle is passionate about caring for animals of all shapes and sizes. After graduating, she plans to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine and provide care for exotic animals.
Brianne Wharton is a university studies – oceans and one health major with minors in chemistry and marine biology from Friendswood, Texas. She serves as the Vice President of the Lambda Kappa Alpha Honors Program, as as the Lead Chemistry Lab Technician, and a Student Ambassador for Texas A&M University at Galveston. Brianne is a Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Scholar and Texas Sea Grant recipient, and is a Undergraduate Research Scholars program working on a thesis with Dr. Karl Kaiser on microplastics in Galveston Bay. She has received the Dean’s Honor Roll every semester. After graduation, Brianne plans to continue her studies and research as an M.S. student at the MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
Rand Alagha is a junior petroleum engineering major at Texas A&M University at Qatar. She is Palestinian and was born and raised in Qatar. As part of the Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP), Rand conducts research in drilling, completion, and petrophysics. She has also conducted research about women in engineering as part of the Responsive Research Seed Program (RRSG). Rand serves as the President of the Palestinian Cultural Club, is one of the most active members in the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and is a member of the TAMUQ PetroBowl team which won second place in the regional (MENA) competition. She has gained valuable leadership experience by serving as a student orientation leader, a panelist, and through her participation in different Engineering Enrichment Programs. Rand was recently inducted into two honor societies: Pi Epsilon Tau and Tau Beta Pi and was recognized as a distinguished student by Texas A&M University at Qatar and as an outstanding student by the Petroleum Engineering department.
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