2017 Outstanding Juniors Announced, 278 Inducted

April 12, 2017

On April 9, 2017, the Texas A&M Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi hosted its annual induction ceremony in Rudder Theatre, inducting 278 new members into our prestigious organization and the perspective of “let[ting] the love of learning rule humanity.” Dr. Nancy Dickey, physician and professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, gave the keynote address, making the point to the newly inducted members that “curiosity nurtured, captured, and directed results in a love of learning.” Dr. Dickey is a past president of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and of the American Medical Association, and the first woman to hold either of these positions.

Dr. Nancy Dickey

The induction ceremony is also our opportunity to recognize the superior accomplishments of a few of this already excellent group. Each year, the our campus chapter invites deans to select the most outstanding junior in their respective colleges. The students selected are honored as the Outstanding Junior for their college and are invited to serve as student vice-presidents of our local chapter.

In alphabetical order by college, the 2017 Outstanding Juniors are:

Name                                 College
Kolby Broussard                College of Architecture
Kasey Heath                      College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Hannah Smith                   College of Education and Human Development
Chinmaz Nadiri                 College of Geosciences
Loraine Maxwell               College of Liberal Arts
Lindsey Ray                       College of Science
Sarah Speights                  College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Kendall Ezel                      College of Engineering
Rachel Keathley                Mays Business School
Samuel Rieta                     Texas A&M at Galveston
Shaika Al-Qahtani            Texas A&M at Qatar

2017 Outstanding Juniors
Top row: (left to right) Kasey Heath, Sarah Speights, Samuel Rieta, Hannah Smith, Rachel Keathley
Bottom Row: Shaika Al-Qahtani, Kendal Ezell, Kolby Broussard,, Loraine Maxwell, Lindsey Ray
Not Pictured: Chimnaz Nadiri


Each college Outstanding Junior is invited to interview with the TAMU Phi Kappa Phi Executive Committee and a University Outstanding Junior is selected based on academic merit, research and/or creative production, community engagement, and the student’s record of accomplishments & awards. The University Outstanding Junior is announced at the annual induction ceremony held each spring. Please keep reading for short bio-sketches of each Outstanding Junior:

Kolby Broussard is a construction science major with minors in business and leadership in the design and construction professions. Broussard has worked as a student assistant in the Offices of the Dean of Student Life and as an intern for Alexander Hunt Distinct Homes. He is a member of the National Association of Home Builders – Student Chapter and the Texas A&M Dove Hunters Association. Broussard has previously been recognized with a Gathright Award.

Kasey Heath is an agricultural communications and journalism major with minors in agronomy and horticulture. Heath has worked for the Aggieland Prospective Student Center and as a sales intern for AgriGold, and last summer was a participant in the Namibia Photojournalism and Cultural Pluralism in Agriculture study abroad program. He served as Vice-President of Public Relations for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (C.O.A.L.S.) Student Council and as an Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication Department Peer Advisor. Heath has previously been recognized as College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Study Abroad Photo Contest Grand Champion and with the Outstanding Student Award from the department of Agricultural Communications and Journalism.

Hannah Smith is an interdisciplinary studies major from Montgomery, TX. Smith has been active both in campus organizations such as International Student Mentor Association, Association for Childhood Education, and Aggie School Volunteers, as well as working for employers such as Texas A&M Rec Center and Walt Disney World. She also created and managed a small catering and specialty baking company.

Chimnaz Nadiri is a geophysics major with minors in geology and mathematics. She currently works as a research assistant at the International Ocean Discovery Program. Her project involves paleo-environmental reconstruction of late-Pleistocene bottom water conditions in the Maldives, central Indian Ocean based on ostracods and their paleooceanographic significance. Nadiri has presented her research at the American Geophysical Union meeting. She is fluent in Azerbaijani, Russian, Turkish, and English. Nadiri serves as Treasurer for the Azerbaijani Student Association and as in the Geosciences Tutor program, providing assistance to peers in math, physics, and mineralogy, and has previously been recognized with a Gathright Award.

Loraine Maxwell is an economics major in an accelerated dual degree program, also completing requirements for a Master’s of Public Service and Administration with a concentration in public policy analysis and state & local government. Maxwell has experience working as an intern with Katherine Overbeck Maxwell CPA, PLLC and as a graduate assistant for the Texas Transportation Institute. She has worked with local nonprofits through the Bush Board Fellows Program, served as Public Relations Chair for the Association of Cornerstone Students, and is an active member of the Liberal Arts Student Council. Maxwell has also studied Abroad at the Texas A&M Santa Chiara Study Center in Castiglioni Fiorentino, Italy.

Lindsey Ray is a mathematics major with a minor in applied learning – science, technology, engineering, and math. Ray has worked as a salesperson for Barnes & Noble, as a business math tutor, and as a counselor for Girlstart and Camp Kids-R-Awesome. She serves as Treasurer for AggieTEACH, and has volunteered through Phi ETA Sigma.

Sarah Speights is a biomedical sciences major. She has conducted undergraduate research in Dr. Robert Watson’s Microbial Pathogenesis & Immunology lab, as well as completed extensive volunteering and shadowing at St. Joseph Regional Health Center and Methodist Hospital – San Antonio. Speights has also worked as an intern at The Fertility Center of San Antonio and facilitated a three-day medical clinic as part of the Nicaragua Medical Brigade. Speights has built extensive leadership experience through her roles as President and Service Executive Chair of Ryllies Women’s Organization, Fundraising Director of the Global Medical Brigade, Fish Camp Counselor, and as a mentor in Freshman Leaders Advancing in Service and Honor (FLASH). She has completed week-long mission trips to Haiti in 2013, 2014, and 2016, and has also been involved on campus as an Aggie Muster host, Conference on Student Government Association host, and as a participant in flag football intramurals.

Kendal Ezell is a biomedical engineering major with a minor in neuroscience. Ezell has conducted research Dr. Mark Packard in Institute of Neuroscience on the relationship between emotions and learning-memory, with Dr. Jeremy Wasser in the Germany Biosciences Study Abroad Program on biotech device design, and with Dr. Duncan Maitland in the Biomedical Device Lab on shape memory polymers. Her extensive research has produced three publication, one of which she is first author, and numerous abstract presentations. Ezell is an Undergraduate Research Scholar, completing a thesis with Dr. Maitland on shape memory polymer foams for clinical treatment of brain aneurysms. She is incredibly active in campus organizations such as Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Student Engineers’ Council, and Biomedical Engineering Student Ambassadors. Ezell is a member of both the Engineering Honors program and the University Honors Program. Among her long list of awards and recognition, Ezell has received Honorable Mention in the Goldwater Scholarship competition, and has been nominated for an Astronaut Scholarship Award.

Rachel Keathley is a business honors and management double-major with minors in Spanish and economics. Keathley has extensive international experience, having completed Study Abroad experiences in Italy, Costa Rica, Panama, South Africa & Swaziland, and Nicaragua. She has built significant professional experience as an Event Coordinator for the Mays Business Honors Program and as an intern for U.S. Congressman Bill Flores (TX-17). Keathley has also been highly involved on campus, taking on progressively more responsibility within Student Government Association, Philadelphia Sisters, Memorial Student Center (MSC) Wiley Lecture Series and MSC Freshman Leadership International. Keathley has previously been recognized with a Gathright Award.

Samuel Rieta is a maritime studies major and a member of the TAMU Galveston Honors Program. He has extensive volunteer experience working on the Tall Ship Elissa at the Texas Seaport Museum. He has established leadership skills in his work as a senior lifeguard and Assistant Manager at the Blue Water Swim School and as a Peer Educator at the Counseling and Career Services office at TAMU Galveston. Rieta served as a Sophomore Class Representative and continues to be an active member in Lambda Kappa Alpha Honor Society.

Shaikha Al-Qahtani is an electrical engineering major. Al-Qahtani is fluent in Arabic and English, and is building proficiency in Korean and Japanese. She has conducted undergraduate research on the importance of measuring density and medications that offer protection from harmful gas emissions, as well as worked on concrete structures as part of the Al-Bariq program with Qatar University. Al-Qahtani worked as a summer intern with RasGas, winning recognition as Summer Intern Star. Al-Qahtani is active in the Voice of Qataris organization, serves as President for Women in Egineering – IEEE, and has organized events such as the “Bright Thoughts” book fair event for Al-Khor Independent Secondary School for Girls and a summer art workshop for girls through the Al-Khor Cultural Center. She is also an accomplished artist and author, earning multiple recognitions for the National Day art event. Al-Qahtani produced illustrations for the book “A Sky Without Stars,” and published a childrens’ book, “Exploring Engineering,” through TAMU Qatar which is now used in schools throughout the country. Among her long list of accolades, Al-Qahtani earned a place on the Dean’s Honor Roll in 2016 and has been selected to Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu.

More About The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi
Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Baton Rouge, La., The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines and annually inducts approximately 32,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni. The Society has chapters on more than 300 select colleges and universities in North America and the Philippines. Membership is by invitation only to the top 10 percent of seniors and graduate students and 7.5 percent of juniors. Faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction also qualify.

Since its founding, more than 1 million members have been initiated. Some of the organization’s more notable members include former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, NASA astronaut Wendy Lawrence, author Ernest Gaines and broadcast journalist Deborah Norville. Nearly $1 million is awarded each biennium to qualifying students and members through graduate fellowships, undergraduate study abroad scholarships, member and chapter awards and grants for local and national literacy initiatives. The Society’s mission is “To recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others.”

For more information on The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, please call 800/804-9880 or visit http://www.PhiKappaPhi.org.

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Robert Hunt ’16 Awarded $5K Graduate Fellowship

College Station, TX – Robert Hunt ’16, of Austin, Texas, has been awarded a Graduate Fellowship worth $5,000 by The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi–the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Hunt also received a $500 scholarship as the nominee from the local chapter.

Robert, a biomedical engineering major and Engineering Honors student, graduated in May 2016 and has begun studies toward an M.S. in bioengineering at Stanford University. As part of his studies, Robert is participating in the Stanford Biodesign program, an initiative to improve healthcare through the innovation of new medical technology. Robert is specifically interested in improving the diagnostic capabilities of our doctors, especially those in developing countries, by developing novel medical imaging systems and techniques. His future plans include transitioning to the medtech industry and perhaps becoming a clinical engineer, working directly with both medical professionals and design engineers.

robert-hunt

2016 Phi Kappa Phi Graduate Fellowship awardee, Robert Hunt ’16

Asked to offer advice to future applicants, Robert said:

Firstly, start building strong relationships with your professors, employers, and roll-models early on, and do not let those relationships fade away. The benefits of such relationships are enormous, and are reaped by both parties. These mentors can provide you with great advice as you transition into the next phase of your life, whether that be graduate school, full-time employment, or any other pursuit. In regard to the Phi Kappa Phi application, letters of recommendation play a big role, and you will get the best letters from mentors that know you beyond what they see in the classroom/workplace.

My second piece of advice is to find a way to apply your intellectual strengths to some sort of service activity. Showing brilliance in the classroom is one thing, but your application will really shine if you can talk about how you utilize your skills to make society a better place. To go one step further, talk about how you plan to continue (and perhaps expand on) this service in your future career. And, of course, do your best to follow through with that plan!

Hunt is among 51 students nationwide to receive a Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship. He is the twenty-first Aggie to receive the honor since 1980. To see a full listing of award winners from Texas A&M, visit http://pkptamu053.tamu.edu/History/Graduate-Fellowship-Awards.

Since its creation in 1932, the Fellowship Program has become one of the Society’s most visible and financially well-supported endeavors, allocating $345,000 annually to deserving students for first-year graduate or professional study. Currently, 51 Fellowships of $5,000 and six of $15,000 are awarded each year.

The selection process for the Phi Kappa Phi Fellowships is based on the applicants’ evidence of graduate potential, undergraduate academic achievement, service and leadership experience, letters of recommendation, personal statement of educational perspective and career goals, and acceptance at an approved graduate or professional program.

More About The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi
Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Baton Rouge, La., The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines and annually inducts approximately 32,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni. The Society has chapters on more than 300 select colleges and universities in North America and the Philippines. Membership is by invitation only to the top 10 percent of seniors and graduate students and 7.5 percent of juniors. Faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction also qualify.

 Since its founding, more than 1.25 million members have been initiated. Some of the organization’s more notable members include former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, U.S. Representative Morris Udall, author Rita Dove and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Nearly $1 million is awarded each biennium to qualifying students and members through graduate fellowships, undergraduate study abroad scholarships, member and chapter awards and grants for local and national literacy initiatives. The Society’s mission is “To recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others.”

 For more information on The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, please call 800/804-9880 or visit http://www.PhiKappaPhi.org.

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