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Students earn recognition for academic achievement

May 06, 2009

Eleven outstanding undergraduate students are recipients of ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences spring student awards and honors. The annual selection recognizes student achievement, leadership, and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Among this year's honorees, students were chosen for their research on medieval literature, work with autistic children, and installation of water purification systems in southern Mexico.

Whitney Meshay and Steven Tran - Convocation Speakers

Whitney Meshay is a senior majoring in German, religious studies and political science. She is a member of College Ambassador where she aids students with their academics and helps make their life at ASU "as easy and painless as possible." During her sophomore year, she was a student orientation leader. Meshay, who also will earn a certificate in international studies, plans to attend graduate school to study national security policy, focusing on intelligence analysis.

Steven Tran is a senior majoring in political science with minors in Japanese and women and gender studies. He will also earn a certificate in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) studies. He is a member of Sigma Phi Beta and has held diverse positions such as community relations chair, president and pledge educator. Tran also spent two years at Equality Arizona, the state's only statewide advocacy organization for the LGBT community.

As the Convocation Speakers, Meshay and Tran exemplify the goals and achievements of a liberal arts and sciences education, at the moment and for the future. They represent the college's graduating class and will address their peers at the May 15 convocation ceremonies, one at 8 a.m. and the other at 11:30 a.m.

Kendall Gerdes - Leadership Award

Kendall Gerdes is a senior majoring in English with a certificate in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) studies. She is the co-director of the LGBT Coalition where she provides support for LGBT students and connects them with resources needed to succeed. She helped organize the National Coming Out Day, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and World AIDS Day at ASU. Gerdes presented a paper at the Federation Rhetoric Symposium where she was the only undergraduate student presenting. She also has been a peer tutor at the Writing Center.

The college's Leadership Award is given to a student who performs well academically while taking on leadership roles outside of the classroom to make significant social contributions.

Crystal Allison - ASU Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate

Crystal Allison is a senior majoring in global studies. In 2006, she participated in the ASU Alternative Spring Break project, traveling to Louisiana to help rebuild communities after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Allison has also worked with autistic children for three year as an autism habilitator with Arizona Autism United. She has been accepted to George Washington University's physician assistant program that is designed to lead to a master's degree in public health and health sciences.

The ASU Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate award recipient is nominated by individual colleges and is presented at the honors convocation.

James Randall - Student Achievement Award

James Randall is a senior majoring in anthropology. Randall has served the ASU community in many ways, including facilitating an ASU 101 class, as a community assistant in Residential Life, and as an ambassador in the ASU Multicultural Student Center. He was also on the board of directors of the Programming and Activities Board and president of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity.

The Student Achievement Award is presented to a student whose life and academic accomplishments are exemplary.

Kristina Manymules - Jean Chaudhuri Memorial Scholarship Award

Kristina Manymules is a senior majoring in American Indian studies and justice studies. After taking an introductory class in justice studies, Manymules was inspired to work toward equality, justice and unity in the world. The class also offered her the opportunity to relate American Indian issues to global justice issues and view the world beyond the Navajo reservation. She aspires to continue her education at the Indigenous People's Law and Policy Program at the University of Arizona and earn a juris doctorate focusing on civil and property law. She hopes to represent the Navajo Nation and help end the cycle of poverty.

The Jean Chaudhuri Memorial Scholarship, established in Chaurhuri's memory by her husband, a former associate dean of academic programs, recognizes the achievements of an American Indian student who has succeeded in the world outside of his or her culture.

David Duran - Adult Re-entry Award

David Duran is a senior majoring in justice studies and Spanish. Duran encourages his children to stay in school by telling them, "If I can do it, you can do it." He plans to continue his education at ASU with a master's degree in Spanish literature.

The Adult Re-entry Award is bestowed on students who have had their education interrupted or postponed by events in their lives, yet successfully conquered complex challenges upon returning to college.

Louis Maizy - Scholarship Award

Louis Maizy is a senior majoring in physics. He is the vice president of the Society of Physics Students and an undergraduate researcher in an ASU nanoscience lab. Maizy helped organize and design educational and interactive physics displays for ASU Homecoming events. He has been accepted to graduate school to obtain a doctorate in physics.

The Scholarship Award recognizes that good scholarship is an inferred goal of a liberal arts and sciences education. It signifies that good research is one of the best humanistic achievements of our society.

Charles Armstrong - Transfer Student Award

Charles Armstrong is a senior majoring in biology. He has an associate's degree of science from Mesa Community College. Armstrong studied the effects of chronic stress on the brain and behavior as an undergraduate researcher working with Associate Professor Cheryl Conrad in her neuroscience lab. The experience was part of the School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research program.

Armstrong is dedicated to helping the homeless and volunteers his time to Maggie's Place, Andre House, and Health Care for the Homeless. He plans to attend medical school and become a physician serving the less fortunate.

The Transfer Student Award is bestowed on students who have transferred from other institutions and have been successful in completing their degrees in an exemplary way.

Brandy Gibson - Len and Rena Gordon "Spunky" Award

Brandy Gibson is a senior majoring in English literature. After leaving high school in the ninth grade, Gibson went to the public library and immersed herself in literature and poetry. She earned an associate degree from Mesa Community College and though she had some initial apprehension about university-level classes, she has attended ASU with great success. Gibson presented a paper at the inaugural Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Undergraduate Conference with guidance from Professor Robert Bjork, director of the center. "She did an excellent job in presenting her work and especially in fielding some very tough questions after her presentation," Bjork wrote in his nomination of Gibson for the award. Gibson plans to continue her medieval scholarship by attending graduate school.

The Len and Rena Gordon "Spunky" Award, established by a former associate dean of academic programs and his wife, recognizes a student who has shown "spunk" in overcoming obstacles to succeed as an undergraduate.

Anne Marie Norgren - Sun Angel Funk Award

Anne Marie Norgren is a junior majoring in mathematics with a minor in nonprofit leadership and management. Norgren served as chair of Camp Sparky, a student-run nonprofit organization that works with at-risk youth in the Phoenix metropolitan area. She also spent a summer in southern Mexico installing water purification systems, teaching people how to use clean water and working with orphaned children.

The Sun Angel Funk Award is funded by the Funk and the Sun Angel endowments and is given to students who achieve academic prominence and demonstrate community focused awareness with their actions.