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:
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.