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Class of 2017 Top Graduates

April 25, 2017

Christian Garcia has been selected to receive Angelo State University’s 2017 Presidential Award as the top graduate in his class, while five other ASU graduating seniors have been selected for 2017 Distinguished Student Awards from their respective academic colleges.

A native of San Angelo, Garcia will be recognized at ASU’s May 13 commencement exercises, along with the five Distinguished Student Award honorees. The Distinguished Student Award recipients are: Brandi Washington, Archer College of Health and Human Services; Miah Wagnon, College of Arts and Humanities; Abby Glass, College of Business; Jessica Gambrell, College of Education; and Sean Czarnecki, College of Science and Engineering. Other nominees were Brooke Estes, Blake Holle, Brett Lane, Erin Noonan and Ryan Reid. 

ASU’s Academic Excellence Committee will host a public awards ceremony and reception on Monday, May 1, at 1:30 p.m. 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 Brian J. May. The event is open free to the public. 

<strong>Christian Garcia</strong>Christian GarciaNominated by the Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Christian Garcia is a double-major in finance and accounting, and he graduates with High University Honors after completing the Honors Program curriculum. He received numerous scholarships to support his studies, including a Carr Academic Scholarship, Up & Coming Scholars Scholarship, Honors Program Scholarship, San Angelo Area Foundation Scholarship and Pevehouse Foundation Scholarship. His academic accomplishments merited induction into the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies and selection to “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.” 

Beyond the classroom, Garcia excelled in undergraduate research, earning a Faculty-Mentored Undergraduate Research Grant and selection to the Presidential Fellows program of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. He presented research posters at Great Plains Honors Council and National Collegiate Honors Council conferences and a National Conference on Undergraduate Research, and he earned a Dennis Boe Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research from the Great Plains Honors Council. In addition, he interned with Goldman Sachs Covenant Risk Group in Dallas and received a 2017 Venture for America Entrepreneurial Fellowship. 

Garcia also excelled in campus and community leadership, serving as founder and president of the Financial Investments Organization, treasurer of the Honors Student Association, parliamentarian of the Student Government Association, and vice president and chair of the Multicultural Advisory Council. He was a student representative to the Board of Directors of the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce and the Galilee Community Development Corporation, as well as to the City of San Angelo’s Economic Development Council. After graduation, he will begin a two-year entrepreneurial fellowship through Venture for America. Upon completion of the fellowship, he plans to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree and begin a career in investment finance and economic revitalization. 

<strong>Brandi Washington</strong>Brandi WashingtonBrandi Washington, who came to ASU from Universal City, is a social work major who was nominated by the Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work. She graduates with Highest University Honors upon completion of the Honors Program curriculum with thesis option. She received a Carr Academic Scholarship, Honors Program Scholarship, Alvin New Family Scholarship and Student Endowment Scholarship. She earned induction into Phi Alpha national social work honor society and Psi Chi national psychology honor society and was named to “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.” She also received an Undergraduate Faculty-Mentored Research Grant and presented her research findings at a National Collegiate Honors Council Conference and a Southwestern Psychological Association Conference. 

Outside the classroom, Washington served as vice president and president of the Student Social Work Association, community service chair of the Sigma Phi Lambda sorority, and senator and committee chair in the Student Government Association. She was a charter member of the ASU campus Lion’s Club and originated and coordinated the Honors Program SAT Prep Program. She also served the university as a RAMbassador, a First-Generation RAMS mentor, and a student panelist for Office of Admissions recruiting events. 

Throughout her time at ASU, Washington has been very involved in the San Angelo community. She served as a student member of the Healthy Families of San Angelo Board of Directors, developed and coordinated the first Concho Valley Rape Crisis Center Leadership, Equity, Acceptance, and Diversity Conference, and participated in the local NAACP chapter and the San Angelo Lion’s Club. She also worked as leader for Goodfellow Air Force Base’s Youth Mentor Program and Smart Girls Club. Upon graduation, she will enter a dual Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health program, focusing on mental health issues, through the University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work and the University of Texas School of Public Health. She plans to become a licensed clinical social worker specializing in working with military service members, veterans and their families. 

<strong>Miah Wagnon</strong>Miah WagnonSan Angelo native Miah Wagnon was nominated by the Department of Political Science and Philosophy. A political science major with technical writing minor, she received a Carr Academic Scholarship and an Up & Coming Scholars Scholarship. Her academic performance merited induction into the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies, as well as the Pi Sigma Alpha political science honor society. She twice received recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Modern Languages and was selected for inclusion in “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.” She served as president of ASU’s Pi Sigma Alpha chapter, secretary of the Technical Communications Club, senate clerk in the Student Government Association, and team secretary of the Mock Organization of American States organization. 

Also dedicated to campus and community service, Wagnon served the university as a Ram Round-Up leader, a member of the University Center Board, and a student member of the Core Curriculum Committee. She completed internships with the community director at La Esperanza Clinic and in the San Angelo City Manager’s Office, and she is currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer at the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health. She will attend Texas State University to pursue a graduate degree in public administration with a specialization in nonprofit organizations.

<strong>Abby Glass</strong>Abby GlassWater Valley native Abby Glass was nominated by the Department of Management and Marketing. A marketing major, her academic performance at ASU earned her induction into both the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies and selection to enroll in the Housley Leadership Course. Outside the classroom, she participated in the Block & Bridle Club and played intramural volleyball. 

Additionally, Glass volunteered with Promises for Families, tutoring students and serving as a counselor at the organization’s summer camps. She also interned with a local business, worked as a bookkeeper for two local small businesses, and entered the rental property business. Upon graduation, she will pursue full-time employment with the company she currently serves as an intern while continuing to manage and expand her rental properties as she works toward her goal of eventually starting her own business. 

<strong>Jessica Gambrell</strong>Jessica GambrellSan Angelo native Jessica Gambrell was nominated by the Department of Teacher Education. She is an interdisciplinary studies major with specialization in early childhood through grade 6. Her academic achievement earned her induction into the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies and Kappa Delta Pi international education honor society, as well as selection to “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.” She served as historian of ASU’s Kappa Delta Pi chapter, vice president of ASU’s Phi Kappa Phi chapter, and secretary-treasurer of the Texas Classroom Teachers Association student organization. She also served as a RAMbassador, Ram Transition Leader for Ram Round-Up, and senator in the Student Government Association. 

After graduation, Gambrell plans to teach at an elementary school in San Angelo while pursuing a Master of Education degree in curriculum and instruction at ASU in preparation to become an instructional coach. She also plans to complete English as a Second Language (ESL) certification. 

<strong>Sean Czarnecki</strong>Sean CzarneckiSean Czarnecki of Meridian, Idaho, was nominated by the Department of Mathematics. He is a triple-major in physics, mathematics and geosciences. He received multiple scholarships during his time at ASU, including a Carr Earn-in Fellow Scholarship, Dr. Merrill W. Everhart Memorial Scholarship, James Varnadore and Elwood F. Nanheim Memorial Scholarship, the Mathewson Scholarship from the Association of Environmental Engineering Geologists, and a National Leadership Scholarship from the Society of Physics Students. His academic performance earned him induction into the Pi Mu Epsilon national mathematics honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma national physics honor society, and Sigma Gamma Epsilon national geology honor society. 

Czarnecki also excelled at undergraduate research, receiving a First-Year Research Experience Grant from ASU, a L. Austin Weeks Grant from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and a second research grant from the Southwest Section of AAPG. He has presented his research at multiple scientific conferences, and he won the 2015 Hyer Undergraduate Award from the American Physical Society and a 2016 Outstanding Student Paper Award from the American Geophysical Union. His research has also been published in two peer-reviewed physics journals. 

Outside the classroom, Czarnecki was a member of ASU’s Mathematical Association of America chapter and served as treasurer for the Society of Physics Students and president of the Geologic Exhibition Organization. He also participated in the Society of Physics Students Road Tour. He was a co-leader of the 2016 Southwest Section of AAPG field trip hosted by ASU, and he co-authored a guidebook for the event. Upon graduation, he will pursue a Ph.D. in geological sciences at Arizona State University, where he will study applications of nuclear physics to planetary geology and also work with NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory. 

Sylvester native Brook Estes was nominated by the Department of Biology. A biology major with chemistry minor, she will enter the medical sciences graduate program at the University of North Texas Health Science Center this fall and hopes to attend medical school at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in the future. 

Ballinger native Blake Holle was nominated by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. A chemistry major with biology minor, he will enter the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy in Abilene to pursue a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. 

Houston native Brett Lane was nominated by the Department of Security Studies and Criminal Justice. An intelligence, security studies and analysis major with border and homeland security minor, he will continue his studies at ASU as he pursues a Master of Security Studies degree in intelligence, security studies and analysis. 

Castroville native Erin Noonan was nominated by the Department of Physics and Geosciences. A geoscience major with mathematics minor, she will attend Baylor University to pursue a master’s degree in geology. 

Aspermont native Ryan Reid was nominated by the Department of Kinesiology. A December 2016 graduate with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science, he will enter ASU’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program in June.