Class of 2019 Top Graduates
April 25, 2019
Evelyn Burch of Clinton, Md., has been selected to receive Angelo State University’s 2019 Presidential Award as the top graduate in her class, while five other ASU graduating seniors have been selected for 2018-19 Distinguished Student Awards from their respective academic colleges.
Burch will be recognized at ASU’s May 11 commencement ceremonies, along with the five Distinguished Student Award honorees. The Distinguished Student Award recipients are: Brianna Gabaldon, Archer College of Health and Human Services; Talon Shoemake, College of Arts and Humanities; Claire Benschoter, College of Education; Angela Chen, College of Science and Engineering; and Lacey Maurice, Norris-Vincent College of Business.
ASU’s Academic Excellence Committee will host an awards ceremony and reception on Monday, April 29, 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.
Nominated by the Department of Political Science and Philosophy, Evelyn Burch is a political science major. She will graduate with Highest University Honors after completing the Honors Program curriculum with thesis option. She received numerous scholarships to support her studies, including the Carr Excellence Scholarship, Honors Program Scholarship, Alvin New Family Honors Scholarship and Dr. E. James Holland Scholarship. Her academic accomplishments merited induction into the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies, as well as the Pi Sigma Alpha national political science honor society and Alpha Mu Gamma national foreign language honor society.
In addition to her academic achievements, Burch earned the Honors Program Director’s Award after representing the program at several prestigious national conferences, including the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference, U.S. Military Academy Student Conference on U.S. Affairs, and Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress Presidential Fellows Program. She also actively participated in multiple ASU organizations, serving as vice president of the Political Science Association, secretary of both the Modern Language Association and HeforShe, and a member of the Model Organization of American States Team. She interned in U.S. Congressman Mike Conaway’s Office in Washington, D.C., through the ASU Government and Public Service Internship Program, and also in St. Louis, Mo., with a U.S. Department of Defense agency.
Burch particularly excelled in undergraduate research, presenting multiple posters and papers at Great Plains Honors Council and National Collegiate Honors Council conferences. Of particular note, her paper was one of only 17 out of a national pool of applicants selected for presentation in the prestigious Student Independent Research Panel session at the 2018 NCHC Conference. Another of her projects was selected in the poster presentation category. She is also the only student to have been awarded the GPHC Conference’s Dennis Boe Research Award on two separate occasions. Additionally, her paper for the CSPC Presidential Fellows Program received the Robert A. Kilmarx Award for the Best Military, Intelligence or National Security Strategic Analysis. After graduation, Burch will continue to work for the Department of Defense while pursuing graduate studies in the geospatial intelligence field.
Brianna Gabaldon of Lubbock is a nursing major and was nominated by the Department of Nursing. She received the Carr Academic Scholarship and the Rick May Nursing Scholarship, as well as the University Medical Center 30-Minute Club Scholarship. Her academic achievements earned her induction into the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies, as well as the Sigma Theta Tau national honor society for nursing. She served as a mentor through the Student Nurses Association and as treasurer of the Pro-Life Rams student organization.
After graduation, Gabaldon will work in an Intensive Care Unit at University Medical Center in Lubbock before enrolling in a Master of Science in Nursing Education program.
Talon Shoemake of Deweyville is an English major and was nominated by the Department of English and Modern Languages. He will graduate with Highest University Honors upon completion of the Honors Program curriculum with thesis option. He received the Carr Excellence Academic Scholarship, Honors Program Scholarship, Alvin New Family Honors Scholarship, and the ASU English and Modern Languages Department’s B.T. Carvill and L.P. Gragg Memorial Scholarships. His academic performance merited induction into the Alpha Chi national honor society and the Sigma Tau Delta international English honor society. He served as an Honors Program mentor and as a student member on the boards of the Adult Literacy Council, ASU Alumni Association and Friends of Fairmount Cemetery.
Shoemake also excelled in undergraduate research, which he presented at Great Plains Honors Council and National Collegiate Honors Council conferences. He was one of only 17 students chosen from a national pool to participate in the prestigious Student Independent Research Panel at the 2018 NCHC Conference. His work has also been published in the Oasis literary and art magazine. Upon graduation, he will pursue a Ph.D. in English at Louisiana State University.
Claire Benschoter of Austin is an interdisciplinary studies major and was nominated by the Department of Teacher Education. She will graduate with Grade 4-8 and Early Childhood through Grade 12 Special Education teacher certifications. Her academic achievements earned her induction into the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies and the Kappa Delta Pi international education honor society. She also received several scholarships, including the Carr Gold Academic Scholarship, Spencer Special Education Scholarship and Dr. Verna Mae Crutchfield Special Education Scholarship. She served as vice president of Kappa Delta Pi, secretary/treasurer of the ASU chapter of the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, and president pro-tem of the ASU Student Government Association. She also studied abroad at the EWAH Women’s University in South Korea.
After graduation, Benschoter will pursue a Master of Science in Education in educational psychology with a concentration in applied behavior analysis at Baylor University.
Angela Chen of San Antonio is a biology major and was nominated by the Department of Biology. She will graduate with Highest University Honors after completing the Honors Program curriculum with thesis option. She received the Carr Distinguished Academic Scholarship, Honors Program Scholarship, Alvin New Family Honors Scholarship and Ruth Dempsey-Ballinger Memorial Scholarship. She also earned the Freddye T. Davy Diversity Scholarship from the National Collegiate Honors Council. Her academic achievements merited induction into the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies and the Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta) biological honor society.
Chen also excelled in undergraduate research. She earned an ASU Undergraduate Faculty-Mentored Research Grant and selection as a student research associate at UT Health San Antonio. She was also one of only 14 students selected nationwide for the CPRIT Summer Undergraduate Cancer Research Scholar Program. She presented her research in multiple venues, including Great Plains Honor Council and National Collegiate Honors Council conferences, the Alpha Chi National Convention and the Tri-Beta Regional Convention. She served as president of the Angelo State Culture Exchange student organization and a member of the Honors Student Association and HeForShe. She also represented all ASU honor societies on the Student Organization Advisory Council.
After graduation, Chen will begin studies at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine this fall in preparation for a career as a primary care physician.
Lacey Maurice of Bulverde is an accounting major and was nominated by the Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance. She graduated summa cum laude (highest distinction) in December with a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting. As an undergraduate student, she received the Carr Academic Scholarship and Student Endowment Scholarship to support her studies. She also earned induction to the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies and the Order of Omega national leadership society.
Maurice was particularly active in ASU’s Delta Zeta sorority, serving as vice president of membership, public relations chair and vice president of philanthropy. She also served as the Delta Zeta representative on the ASU Greek Council and earned recognition as Greek New Member Scholar, Greek Scholar of the Year and Greek Officer of the Year. She currently works at Ryan LLC, a tax consulting firm in Dallas. Her long-term plan is to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and CPA licensure before pursuing a Juris Doctorate degree specializing in business law.
Additional Award Nominees
Janessa Dunbar of Glendale, Ariz., is a kinesiology major and was nominated by the Department of Kinesiology. She plans to pursue a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) degree.
Kalynn Hardegree of Colorado City is an agricultural science and leadership major and was nominated by the Department of Agriculture. She plans to seek a Master of Science degree through Angelo State University’s Department of Agriculture.
Bailey Harvey of San Angelo is a biochemistry/mathematics double major and was nominated by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He will begin studies at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine this fall.
Emily Maddox of Abilene is a management major and was nominated by the Department of Management and Marketing. She plans to pursue a MBA in market research.
Jaimee Morris of Kerrville is a psychology major and was nominated by the Department of Psychology and Sociology. She plans to pursue graduate studies in psychology.
Kaylee Pruitt of San Angelo is a health science professions major and was nominated by the Department of Health Science Professions. She will pursue graduate studies in communication disorders at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Giovanna Scott of Robert Lee is a communication major and was nominated by the Department of Communication and Mass Media. She will enter the Master of Arts in communication program at Angelo State University.
Clay Wegner of San Angelo is a physics/mathematics double major and was nominated by both the Department of Physics and Geosciences and the Department of Mathematics. He will pursue a Ph. D. in physics at the University of North Carolina.
Kendell Wimberly of Whitney is a civil engineering major and was nominated by the David L. Hirschfeld Department of Engineering. He plans to work in the structural and geotechnical engineering field in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.