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Class of 2018 Top Graduates

April 24, 2018

Brenna Hudson of Pflugerville has been selected to receive Angelo State University’s 2018 Presidential Award as the top graduate in her class, while five other ASU graduating seniors have been selected for 2017-18 Distinguished Student Awards from their respective academic colleges.

Hudson will be recognized at ASU’s May 12 commencement exercises, along with the five Distinguished Student Award honorees. The Distinguished Student Award recipients are: Courtney Shields, Archer College of Health and Human Services; Jessica Tharp, College of Arts and Humanities; Bryan Harris, College of Business; Megan Yourgalite, College of Education; and Tristan Fielder, College of Science and Engineering. 

ASU’s Academic Excellence Committee will host an awards ceremony and reception on Monday, April 30, at 1:30 p.m. in the Houston Harte University Center to honor all the nominees and award recipients. Each will be presented a plaque by ASU President Brian J. May. The event will be in the University Center’s C.J. Davidson Conference Center and is open free to the public. 

Brenna HudsonBrenna HudsonNominated by the Department of Kinesiology, Brenna Hudson is an exercise science major. She graduates with Highest University Honors after completing the Honors Program curriculum with thesis option. She received numerous scholarships to support her studies, including the Carr Scholarship, Honors Program Scholarship and Alvin New Family Honors Scholarship. Her 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.” 

Outside the classroom, Hudson was one of only 16 students from around the world selected for the prestigious Research Experience for Undergraduates Program at the University of Pittsburg Human Engineering Research Laboratory. She has presented research posters at the Great Plains Honors Council Conference, went on a National Collegiate Honors Council Partners in the Park excursion, and participated in the Dance Masterclass at the NCHC National Conference. 

Hudson also excelled in campus and community leadership. She served as a mentor for the Honors Program and earned the Director’s Award for her outstanding contributions. She also served as co-captain of the ASU Angelettes dance team, a founding member and president of the Angelo Campus Lions Club, historian for the Honors Student Association, and treasurer of the Kappa Mu Omega student organization. She was a student member of the ASU Alumni Association, Meals for the Elderly and Angelo Civic Theatre boards of directors and volunteered with the West Texas Rehabilitation Center. 

After graduation, Hudson will enter the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Texas Woman’s University. She plans to earn a D.P.T. with advanced neurologic physical therapy certification, as well as a Ph.D. in physical therapy, in preparation for a career as a pediatric physical therapist and university research professor. 

Courtney ShieldsCourtney ShieldsAbilene native Courtney Shields is a psychology major and was nominated by the Department of Psychology and Sociology. She graduates with Highest University Honors after completing the Honors Program curriculum with thesis option. She received a Carr Fellow Scholarship and the Honors Program Scholarship to support her studies, and she earned induction into the Psi Chi national psychology honor society. She also received an Undergraduate Faculty Mentored Research Grant and presented her research at the Southwestern Psychological Association Conference. 

Outside the classroom, Shields served as president of the Psychology Ambassadors Club, vice president of the Active Minds student organization, intramural liaison for the Honors Student Association, and a First-Generation RAMS mentor. She was also an ambassador for the Give More HUGS nonprofit organization and a student member of the Open Arms Rape Crisis Center, and she served on the LGBT+ Services Board of Directors and interned at the Tom Green County Juvenile Justice Center. 

After graduation, Shields will enter the Doctor of Psychology program with a forensics concentration at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in preparation for a career with the FBI or CIA before beginning a private practice. 

Jessica TharpJessica TharpVeribest native Jessica Tharp was nominated by the Department of History. She is a double major in history and communication with a minor in Spanish. She received multiple scholarships to support her studies, including the Carr Scholarship, Honors Program Scholarship, T.J. Lehman Scholarship, Susan Miles Scholarship and Texas State Genealogical Society Scholarship. She will graduate with Highest University Honors after completing the Honors Program curriculum with thesis option. Her academic performance merited induction into the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies, as well as the Phi Alpha Theta national history honor society and Lambda Pi Eta national communication honor society. She also received recognition for Exceptional Performance as a Language Learner and was selected for inclusion in “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.” 

In addition to her academics, Tharp attended the National Collegiate Honors Council Summer Institute for Holocaust Remembrance in the Netherlands with support of an Alvin New Family Honors Program Enhancement Grant, and she presented her research at the West Texas Historical Association Conference and the Phi Alpha Theta Biennial National Convention. She also published a paper in the West Texas Historical Association Review that won the 2018 Percy Jones Award for Best Article. 

Tharp’s extracurricular activities included serving as president of both Phi Alpha Theta and Lambda Pi Eta, secretary of the Student Film Club and managing editor of the Ram Page campus newspaper. She was active in the Honors Student Association, served on the Fort Concho Museum and Galilee Community Development Corporation boards of directors, and worked as a student assistant in the ASU West Texas Collection.

After graduation, Tharp will pursue a Master of Arts in history at Texas Tech University in preparation for doctoral studies and a career as a professional historian and archivist. 

Bryan HarrisBryan HarrisRoby native Bryan Harris is a management major and was nominated by the Department of Management and Marketing. He was the recipient of multiple scholarships, including the Carr Scholarship, FM Connaly Scholarship and LeGrand Scholarship, to support his studies. 

Outside the classroom, Harris served as president of the Delta Sigma Pi professional business fraternity and secretary of the Financial Investments Organization student group. He also participated in ASU’s study abroad program in Europe, completed the Housley Principled Leadership Course, and served on the student support team for the San Angelo Business Plan Competition. He also interned at the ASU Small Business Development Center. 

Upon graduation, Harris plans to join a consulting firm as a management consultant, and then return to ASU to continue his studies in the Master of Business Administration program in preparation for a career as a certified management consultant. 

Megan YourgaliteMegan YourgaliteSonora native Megan Yourgalite was nominated by the Department of Teacher Education. She is an interdisciplinary studies major with grades 4-8 teacher certification. Her academic excellence earned her induction into the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies and the Kappa Delta Pi international honor society for education. She also received several scholarships, including the Sandra Deal Memorial Scholarship, J/M Cauthorn Scholarship and Kappa Delta Pi Mu Gamma Chapter Student Scholarship. 

Outside the classroom, Yourgalite served as hospitality officer for Kappa Delta Pi, as well as vice president of the ASU chapter of the Texas Classroom Teachers Association. After graduation, she plans to teach while pursuing a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction at ASU, with the ultimate goal of gaining certification as an athletic academic advisor. 

Tristan FielderTristan FielderFort Stockton native Tristan Fielder was nominated by the Department of Biology. He graduated summa cum laude with his Bachelor of Science in biology and earned High University Honors after completing the Honors Program curriculum with the non-thesis option in December 2017. He received multiple scholarships to support his studies, including the Carr Academic Scholarship, Honors Program Scholarship and Piñon Foundation Scholarship. His academic performance earned his induction into the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies, as well as the Beta Beta Beta national biological honor society. He also received an ASU Undergraduate Faculty Mentored Research Grant and was selected to “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.” 

In addition to his academics, Fielder served as president of the Student Government Association and was active in the Honors Student Association and Kappa Delta Rho fraternity. He also received a Texas Medical Association “Be Wise, Immunize” Event Grant to facilitate a university-wide vaccination and education program. He will begin studies this fall at the University of Texas School of Medicine in San Antonio in preparation for a career as a physician. 

Leander native Darren Allen was nominated by the Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance. An accounting major, he will continue his studies in the Master of Public Accountancy program at ASU. 

Rockford, Mich., native Carrie Caldwell was nominated by the Department of Health Science Professions. A health science professions major with a concentration in public health, she will pursue a Master of Public Health in health services organization at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston. 

Lubbock native Clarisa Ham was nominated by the Department of Nursing. A nursing major, she has accepted a position as an emergency room nurse at the Level 1 Trauma Center at University Medical Center in Lubbock. She hopes to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing and prepare for a career as an acute care nurse practitioner. 

Topeka, Kan., native Hope Long was nominated by the Department of English and Modern Languages. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English in December 2017 and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in teaching English to speaker of other languages (TESOL) at ASU. 

Cedar Park native Jenna Placzek was nominated by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. A chemistry major, she plans to pursue admission to a Doctor of Physical Therapy program in preparation for a career as a physical therapist. 

Round Rock native Ashton Short was nominated by the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Physics. A double major in mathematics and physics, he was an honorable mention selection for the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. He will enter the Ph.D. in mathematics program at Louisiana State University. 

San Angelo native Lane Sifuentes was nominated by the Department of Communication and Mass Media. A communication major, he will enter of the Master of Arts in communication program at ASU.