ASU 2014 Top Graduates
April 22, 2014
A San Angelo native who graduated from Wall High School, Motl will be recognized at ASU’s May 10 commencement exercises along with the five Distinguished Student Award honorees. The Distinguished Student Award recipients are: Adrienna Bingham and Ashley Tanner, College of Arts and Sciences; Maxwell Kennady, College of Business; Nelson Thomas, College of Education; and Marisa Henderson, College of Health and Human Services. Other nominees were Cody Brooks, Cayla Clinkenbeard, Lisa Dees, Mary Jones, Binhong Lin and Phylicia Ulibarri from the College of Arts and Sciences and Viraj Amin from the College of Business.
ASU’s Academic Excellence Committee will host a public awards ceremony and reception at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, April 28, 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 Dr. Nancy Allen, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs.
A psychology major with chemistry minor, Motl was nominated by the Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work. He will graduate with Highest University Honors after completing the Honors Program curriculum with thesis option. He received numerous prestigious scholarships, including a Carr Academic Scholarship, an Alvin and Patricia New Honors Enhancement Scholarship and a Verizon Foundation Scholarship. His academic accomplishments merited induction into the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies, as well as the Psi Chi national psychology honor society.
A leader both on and off campus, Motl served as president of the Psych Club, webmaster for the Honors Student Association and vice president of the French Club. He also worked as a mentor to first-year students for both the psychology program and the Honors Program, and participated in multiple recruiting events for the university. He served as a full member of the Board of Directors for the San Angelo Early Childhood Center and as a student member of the ICD Bridges and Sonrisas Therapeutic Riding boards while also volunteering for numerous agencies throughout the San Angelo community.
Also excelling in undergraduate research, Motl earned an ASU Undergraduate Faculty Mentored Research grant, won a Dennis Boe Award for outstanding undergraduate research from the Great Plains Honors Council, served as a research assistant with ASU’s Community Development Initiatives and completed an honors thesis. He has presented his research findings at both the Great Plains Honors Council Conference and the National Collegiate Honors Council. He also participated in a global human rights delegation to Rwanda.
Motl’s combination of academic success, extracurricular leadership and community outreach earned him the Director’s Award from the Honors Program and merited selection to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. In 2013, he became the first ASU student to be selected for the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship program. He will attend the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in preparation for a career in global health and human rights in Francophone, Africa.
Ashley Tanner calls San Angelo home after a five-year stint in the U.S. Navy as a cryptologic technician. Nominated by the Department of Security Studies and Criminal Justice, she is an intelligence, security studies and analysis major with a minor in cultural competency and security studies. She earned induction into the Tau Sigma national honor society for transfer students, and in 2012 she received ASU’s award as the top undergraduate student in intelligence and security studies. She completed an internship at Goodfellow Air Force Base, worked as a research assistant and served as lead designer, co-executive editor and inaugural contributor for the student-led, peer-reviewed electronic Journal of Homeland and National Security Perspectives. She worked as a New Student Orientation leader and served as a speaker for the Gender in the Military Roundtable Discussion hosted by the ASU Gender Studies Program. Upon graduation, she will be an instructor for the Signals Intelligence Course at Goodfellow AFB while enrolling in ASU’s Master of Intelligence, Security Studies and Analysis program. She eventually plans to pursue a Ph.D. and return to the operational intelligence arena.
A native of Lenorah, Maxwell Kennady was nominated by the Department of Management and Marketing. He is a double major in management information systems and international business and will graduate with Highest University Honors after completing the Honors Program curriculum with thesis option. He received a Carr Academic Scholarship, G. Richards Scholarship, and Alvin and Patricia New Honors Enhancement Scholarship. He earned membership in the Phi Kappa Phi national honor society and selection to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. He served as an emissary and mentor for the ASU Honors Program, was treasurer of the Honors Student Association, presented research at the Great Plains Honors Council Conference and completed an honors thesis. In the summer of 2012, he attended the Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service in Washington, D.C., interning with the North American Association for Environmental Education. That program led to his selection as one of 13 TFAS Freedom Scholars for 2012. He is currently serving as one of 12 members of the Pearson Student Advisory Board, and was recently selected as one of only six recipients of the prestigious Eben Tisdale Fellowship for students interested in high-tech public policy careers. He studied abroad in Verona, Italy, for academic year 2012–13, gaining extensive knowledge of international business strategies, studying the Italian language, volunteering as an English teacher at an elementary school and expanding his cultural horizons. His interest in nonprofit work led him to serve as a member of the Board of Directors for Concho Valley PAWS and to perform extensive community service with multiple San Angelo agencies. He plans to work in Washington, D.C., and pursue a Master of Public Administration degree en route to a career in information technology and public policy.
Nominated by the Department of Teacher Education, Nelson Thomas is a native of Sugarland. He graduates with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with 4-8 generalist teaching credentials after previously earning an associate degree in nursing from ASU. A Carr Scholar, he earned induction into the Kappa Delta Pi international education honor society and the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies, as well as selection to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. He served as president of Kappa Delta Pi, leading them to one of only 20 Achieving Chapter Excellence Awards in 2013, and also represented education students in the ASU Student Government Association. His service in the community includes appointments as a young adult pastor and as a court appointed special advocate for children for Tom Green County. He plans to teach in the public school system for a few years before pursuing graduate studies in education leadership.
A graduate of Aviano High School in Aviano, Italy, Marisa Henderson was nominated by the Department of Nursing and Rehabilitation Sciences. She will graduate with her generic Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. She received a Carr Academic Scholarship, Dr. Henry N. Ricci Scholarship and R/T Mathison Scholarship. She also earned induction into the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies. Through her membership in the Student Nurses Association and the Baptist Student Ministries, she helped organize community and campus health fairs and engaged in service projects for a number of organizations and causes. She volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, did mission work in Poland and served as a member of the Red Cross Disaster Action and Health Services Response Team. She plans to enter a one-year graduate nurse residency program for pediatric nursing and later become a pediatric nurse practitioner.
A geosciences major with chemistry minor from San Angelo, Cody Brooks was nominated by the Department of Physics and Geosciences. He will be employed as the general manager for the Kickapoo Water Conservation District after graduation.
A Vernon native, Cayla Clinkenbeard was nominated by the Department of Political Science and Philosophy. She is a philosophy major with English minor and will attend graduate school to pursue a degree in philosophy.
Nominated by the Department of Communication and Mass Media, Lisa Dees graduated summa cum laude in December of 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in mass media with an English minor, and with Highest University Honors through the ASU Honors Program. She hails from Talpa and will spend four months in Tanzania with Village Schools International before returning to business opportunities in Coleman.
A Wall native, Mary Jones was nominated by the Department of Biology. She is a biology major with chemistry minor and will enter the graduate program in biology at ASU in the fall.
A chemistry major with physics minor from Foshan, China, Binhong Lin was nominated by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduates with Highest University Honors through the ASU Honors Program and will pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry at Stanford University.
Nominated by the Department of English and Modern Languages, Phylicia Ulibarri is an English major with history minor from Cleburne. She plans to pursue graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Viraj Amin was nominated by the Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance. A San Angelo native majoring in finance with a personal financial planning specialization, he will pursue business opportunities upon graduation.