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ASU Announces 2012 Top Graduates

April 25, 2012

Yolanda Fay Elias has been named recipient of Angelo State University’s 2012 Presidential Award as the top graduate in her class, while three other ASU undergraduate students have been selected for 2012 Distinguished Student Awards from their respective academic colleges.

A Canadian citizen who came to ASU from Seminole, Elias will be recognized at ASU’s May 12 commencement exercises along with the three Distinguished Student Award honorees.  The Distinguished Student Award recipients are: Laura E. Hardin, College of Education; Emily Hendryx, College of Arts and Sciences; and Cathryn Rittenberry, College of Business.  Other nominees were Kristin Bohannon and Katelynn J. Frei, both from the College of Arts and Sciences. 

ASU’s Academic Excellence Committee will host a public reception at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, April 30, in the C.J. Davidson Conference Center inside the Houston Harte University Center to honor the nominees and award recipients.  Each will be presented a plaque by ASU President Joseph C. Rallo. 

A dual degree recipient, Elias was nominated by the Department of English and Modern Languages.  She will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Spanish minor, and with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics with a computer science minor.  She has received numerous scholarships, including a Carr Academic Scholarship, Carr Honors Scholarship, Alvin and Patricia New Honors Enhancement Scholarship, and Special Academic Scholarship in Mathematics.  She will graduate with Highest University Honors, and is the first Honors Program student to complete the Honors Thesis option.  Her academic accomplishments led to induction into the Alpha Chi national honor society, Sigma Tau Delta international English honor society and Pi Mu Epsilon national mathematics honor society. 

Also a leader on campus, Elias served as president of the ASU Sigma Tau Delta chapter and the Honors Student Association.  She also founded the Big Brothers Big Sisters student organization and served a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the San Angelo Big Brothers Big Sisters organization through the Honors Program Community Leadership Initiative. 

Also excelling in undergraduate research, Elias earned ASU Student Research Fellowship Awards for projects in both English and mathematics, and presented her findings at Regional and National Collegiate Honors Council conferences as well as the Texas Undergraduate Research Day Symposium in Austin.  She won the 2011 National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) Poster Competition for mathematics and computer science, and was twice nominated for the NCHC Student of the Year Award.  She twice won ASU’s Holland Symposium Essay Contest and represented ASU at the U.S. Air Force Academy Assembly and the NCHC Partners in the Park experiential learning program.

Elias’ combination of academic success, extracurricular leadership and community service resulted in her selection to Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities, and her receipt of the ASU Honors Program Director’s Award.  She plans to pursue a doctoral degree in English with an emphasis in Victorian studies. 

A Bulverde native, Hardin was nominated by the Department of Teacher Education.  She is majoring in the Early Childhood through Grade 6 Generalist program.  Her academic accomplishments earned her induction into the Kappa Delta Pi international honor society for education.  She served as secretary of the ASU Kappa Delta Pi chapter, and was the chapter’s delegate to the Fall 2011 Biennial Convocation.  She is also a member of the Texas State Teachers Association, tutors reading and math through the STARS program, and volunteers for a variety of women’s and children’s causes in the San Angelo community.  She plans to begin a teaching career at the elementary school level and pursue a Master of Education in school administration in hopes of fulfilling her dream of becoming a principal. 

A mathematics major and physics minor from Alpine, Hendryx was nominated by the Department of Physics and the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.  She received numerous scholarships, including a Carr Academic Scholarship, Chase Sciences Scholarship and Texas Space Grant STEM Scholarship, among others.  Her academic performance led to her inductions into the Alpha Chi national honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma physics national honor society and Pi Mu Epsilon mathematics national honor society.  She served as president of the ASU Mathematical Association, traveled with the Society of Physics Students Peer Pressure Team to perform physics demonstrations at schools across Texas, participated in mission trips and related ministries through Rams for Christ and the Baptist Student Ministry, and earned inclusion in Who’s Who Among Students at American Colleges and Universities.  She also excelled in undergraduate research, earning an ASU Student Research Fellowship and selection to Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) programs at Arizona State University and Virginia Tech University.  She presented her findings at multiple venues, including the Mathematical Association of America Texas Section Meeting, National Alpha Chi Conference, Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the Undergraduate Research Conference at the Interface of Biology and Mathematics.  She plans to pursue a doctorate in mathematics at Rice University in preparation for a career in research and university teaching. 

An accounting major from Carthage, Rittenberry was nominated by the Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance.  She is a true student-athlete who completed the five-year Bachelor of Business Administration/Master of Public Accountancy (B.B.A./M.P.Ac.) program in only four years while also competing as a member of the ASU Rambelles track and field team.  Along the way, she received a Carr Academic Scholarship, Athletic Scholarship for Track and Field, and the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants’ Accounting Education Foundation Scholarship.  Her academic accomplishments earned her induction into the Alpha Chi national honor society and selection to Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.  Through the ASU Center for International Studies, she traveled to Europe on a study abroad trip, and she also served as a member of the ASU Student Athlete Advisory Committee and as captain of the women’s track and field team.  On the track, she excelled in the demanding heptathlon, qualifying for the NCAA Division II National Championships in 2012.  She was named Lone Star Conference Academic Athlete of the Year and achieved Academic All-America status by being selected for the Capital One Academic All-America third team.  She also won the ASU Athletics Academic Excellence Award and the ASU Holland’s Award for women’s track and field.  She has already accepted a position as a staff accountant with the auditing branch of the McGladrey Accounting Firm, and is preparing to take the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) exam. 

Bohannon was nominated by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.  A native of Marble Falls, she is a member of the ASU Honors Program majoring in biochemistry with a double minor in biology and mathematics.  She will attend the Texas Tech University School of Pharmacy in Abilene. 

A native of Wellman, Frei was nominated by the Department of Biology.  She is an ecology and evolutionary biology major.  She will attend Antioch University to pursue a master’s degree in environmental studies.

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Dr. Shirley Eoff
325-942-2722