2018 Outstanding Juniors Announced

On April 15, 2018, The Texas A&M Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi will host its annual induction ceremony in Rudder Theatre, inducting a new cohort of members into our prestigious organization and growing the community of people committed to “letting the love of learning rule humanity.”

The induction ceremony is also our opportunity to recognize the superior accomplishments of a few of this already excellent group. Each year, 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 2018 Outstanding Juniors are:

Name                                     College

Karissa Yamaguchi                College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Nicholas Houser                     College of Architecture
Ryan Zepeda                          Mays Business School
Rachel Koerner                      College of Education and Human Development
William Newman                  College of Engineering
Jacob Escobedo                     College of Geosciences
Nathan Howard                    College of Liberal Arts
Tristan Pace                           College of Science
Menaka Tandon                    College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Karthik Ramaswamy             Texas A&M at Galveston
Syeda Akhter                         Texas A&M at Qatar

Please keep reading for short bio-sketches of each Outstanding Junior:

Karissa Yamaguchi – 2018 Outstanding Junior for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Karissa Yamaguchi is a genetics major with a minor in public health from Phoenix, AZ. She was recruited to Texas A&M to continue to pursue competitive Archery for the Texas A&M Archery Team. An Honors Student, Yamaguchi also enjoys mentoring students as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador, promoting research as a member of the Academy of Undergraduate Researchers Across Texas, serving her peers as a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Council Department Representative and serving underserved and impoverished areas through Global Medical Missions Alliance and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Maroon & White leadership Fellows has been instrumental in her development as a servant leader and initiator of new student organizations. Her interests are in Public/Global Health, cultural exchange, missions and justice. In school, she hopes to encourage and build up future leaders conscientious of their local and global communities and their role in using their privileges in advocacy on behalf of other groups. After Texas A&M she hopes to continue serving underserved communities through her role as a physician, going beyond typical healthcare management and addressing systemic needs in the communities she serves.

Nicholas Houser – 2018 Outstanding Junior for the College of Architecture

Nicholas Houser is an environmental design major with a minor in architectural fabrication and product design from Round Rock, TX. He has pursued broad interests throughout his life including  Boy Scouts (in which he attained the rank of Eagle Scout), Dance, Marching band, STEM,  as well as two- and three-dimensional media. Houser has been able to work for some of the top Contemporary Architects Including Kivi Sotamaa in Helsinki, Finland, and Mark Foster Gage, in New York City. He is the Design Lead for Freedom By Design, a community service program of the American Institute of Architecture Students. Houser Has plans earn his master’s in architecture at Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), or The Bartlett after graduation.

Ryan Zepeda – 2018 Outstanding Junior for Mays Business School

Ryan Zepeda is a Business Honors and finance double major with minors in economics and sociology from Cypress, TX. Throughout his time at A&M, Zepeda has been broadly involved, including being a member of Mays Business Fellows Group XXXV, working in the Business Honors department as the Academics Coordinator, teaching a course titled Middle Ground, representing A&M in a case competition in Norway, and writing grants worth $100,000 to local nonprofits in the Strategic Philanthropy initiative. He also spent the summer of 2017 studying abroad in South Africa, learning about entrepreneurship and consulting for small businesses in historically disadvantaged communities. This upcoming summer Zepeda will be interning for Bain & Company Consulting in Houston, Texas. In addition to his academic pursuits, he enjoys watching and playing sports, trying new foods, and reading. He is a second generation Aggie who bleeds maroon and deeply believes in the traditions and core values of Texas A&M.

Rachel Koerner – 2018 Outstanding Junior for the College of Education and Human Development

Rachel Koerner is majoring in kinesiology with a focus on dance science supplemented with a business minor. She is from Houston, TX, where she attended Clear Brook High School. In her time at Texas A&M Koerner has been involved in MSC Hospitality, MSC OPAS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, Delta Eta Pi Honor Society, and Dance Arts Society. Koerner is actively involved in the TAMU Dance Program, through which she has had opportunities to work closely with guest artists, participate in undergraduate research, and attend conferences across the nation. In fall 2017 she worked as an intern at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and in summer 2018 she will be interning with the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina. She is very grateful for the support and education she has received from the faculty within the College of Education and Human Development, and gives special thanks to that faculty within the Dance Program.

Bill Newman – 2018 Outstanding Junior for the College of Engineering

Bill Newman is a computer engineering major with minors in mathematics and cybersecurity from Murphy, TX. He is also pursuing a certificate in engineering leadership. Newman is the incoming Treasurer for Century Men’s Society and is a member of the Zachry Leadership Program, expanding his views on leadership in a global society. He will be interning with Deloitte Consulting this summer and is excited to apply his engineering background to a business role. In his free time, Newman enjoys playing racquetball, trying new restaurants, and spending time with friends.

Jacob Escobedo is a meteorology major from Austin, TX. He is a member of the Texas A&M Student Chapter of the American Meteorological Society, plays trumpet in the Hullaballoo Band, and serves as President of the Texas A&M Tennis Club. Escobedo has been involved with undergraduate research in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and received the Albert R. Ochoa Scholarship from the Austin Community Foundation and the Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He is also certified in SKYWARN basic and advanced storm spotting for the National Weather Service. Escobedo volunteers as a youth tennis coach and practice partner for Texas A&M Women’s tennis, and hopes to become a high school teacher.

Nathan Howard – 2018 Outstanding Junior for the College of Liberal Arts

Nathan Howard is an economics major and philosophy and business double minor from Austin, TX. Coming from a small school (his graduating class had 22 students), he described coming to Texas A&M as something of a culture shock, but has been softened by his experience in the Liberal Arts Cornerstone Honors program. He is a volunteer team leader with Breakaway, and hosts English conversation practice for international students. In his spare time, Howard spends time with friends or reads historical non-fiction, historical fiction, or Christian theology. His career plans include pursuing a master’s degree in finance, “hoping one day to serve others and glorify God through helping others steward their resources well.”

Tristan Pace – 2018 Outstanding Junior for the College of Science

Tristan Pace is pursuing a combined bachelor’s and master’s program in mathematics through the FastTrack program, as well as a minor in Physics. A native of San Antonio, TX describes having loved Math for as long as he can remember. He is part of the Honors in Mathematics program, and in his free time volunteers with the Baptist Student Ministry’s Children’s Ministry called “Sowers” in Bryan, Texas.

Menaka Tandon – 2018 Outstanding Junior for the College of Veterinary Medicine Biomedical Sciences

Menaka Tandon is a biomedical sciences major from San Ramon, CA. After extensive shadowing, she has decided to attend dental school to pursue a career as an oral maxillofacial surgeon. Eventually she hopes to join and become active in an organization like Dentists Without Borders to volunteer her time and skills to improve dental health internationally. She has previously conducted research in the Olgin Lab (part of the UCSF Division of Cardiology), investigating both the effect of a protein in mouse growth and the effect of alcohol on mouse atrium size. At Texas A&M, she joined the Wooley Research Group where she conducts research on the effectiveness of nanocarriers in treatment of lung metastases of osteosarcoma. She is also working on a project involving the use of a triblock brush polymer for imaging and therapy of metastatic colorectal cancer. Tandon is very passionate about integrating the principles of research into her future dental practice so that she can constantly improve herself and offer patients the best procedures and care possible. She loves to keep herself busy by regularly volunteering at her local senior center, taking part in a UCSF annual program providing yearly cardiac physicals to underprivileged high school athletes and staying physically active by running or dancing. She has even had the opportunity to compete and represent Texas A&M nationally in Garba & Raas Indian Dance as a part of Texas A&M’s Wreckin’ Raas.

Karthik Ramaswamy – 2018 Outstanding Junior for Texas AM at Galveston

Karthik Ramaswamy is a marine biology major with a double minor in chemistry and diving technology and methods from North Wales, PA. He has conducted research with Dr. Thomas Linton in the S.E.A.S. lab on the movements of Sargassum throughout the Gulf of Mexico using satellite images, under Dr. Yu Shin Kim in University of Texas Medical Branch on pain receptors in mice models, and is currently working with Dr. Randall Davis on leatherback sea turtle nesting ecology. He has presented multiple abstracts on these research projects and others on various topics resulting in the Sammy Ray Marine Science Award at the 120th Texas Academy of Science Research Symposium and first place presentation in the Chemistry section at the TAMU at Galveston Research Symposium. Ramaswamy is active on campus, volunteering extensively and serves as the president and founder of the “Orcastra,” the TAMUG orchestra club `and the TAMUG Symphony, the treasurer of the Pre-Allied Health Society, Junior President in the Lambda Kappa Alpha Honors society, Student Ambassador for TAMU at Galveston. Ramaswamy has been named to the Dean’s Honor Roll, speaks three languages, plays four instruments, and holds down three jobs.

Syeda Akhter – 2018 Outstanding Junior for Texas AM at Qatar

Syeda Manahil Akhter is a mechanical engineering student. She moved to Qatar over twelve years ago from Karachi, Pakistan. Syeda holds several leadership positions: she is the event coordinator in both the Society of Women Engineers and the Society of Automotive Engineers, she serves as an officer in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and as the Philanthropy chair in Student Engineering Council, in which role she was responsible for organizing an event for camp workers. Akhter has a passion for exploring new things, places, and cuisines. She plays several sports such as volleyball, rounders, and badminton, and lives by the motto, “The question isn’t who’s going to let me, it’s who’s gonna stop me.” After graduation, Akhter plans to pursue graduate study.

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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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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