Top Undergraduate Awards Presented at Commencement

Top Undergraduate Awards Presented at Commencement

SOCORRO, N.M. – The 2017 Commencement Ceremony at New Mexico Tech featured about 300 graduates taking part in the ceremony on a sunny Saturday morning in Socorro.

Dr. Frank Etscorn, the inventor of the nicotine patch, presented the keynote address. Student Regents Myissa Weiss also gave an inspirational talk. Viewers can access the webcast at https://goo.gl/Pzouq3.

One highlight of the ceremony each year is the announcement and presentation of the top awards for students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

The Brown Award is given to the top undergraduate student. The Cramer Awards are given to the two top undergraduates (male and female) in engineering.

Myissa Weiss won the Brown Award. The Cramer awards went to Caralyn Coultas-McKinney and William Sullivan, both of the Chemical Engineering Department.

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Myissa Weiss, 2017 Brown Award winner, with President Dr. Stephen Wells.


Weiss is a native of Farmington, New Mexico. She graduated as the valedictorian from Piedra Vista High School. She is earning her bachelor's today and she did it in four years as a Tech scholar. In addition to her academic achievements and many campus activities, Myissa served as the student representative on the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents for two years in 2016 to 2017. 

Myissa Weiss

Wiess finished her bachelor’s in basic science with a 4.0 GPA. She is headed to medical school at the University of New Mexico.

Myissa’s nomination for the Brown Award was supported by professors in several departments. Originally a mechanical engineering major, Myissa switched to basic science after being accepted to med school as a junior. One of her biology professors said that it is very rare to be accepted to med school that early in one’s undergraduate career.

Myissa was the top student in the Chemistry Department as a freshman – even though she was not majoring in chemistry. She consistently impressed her professors in every department with her academic abilities, her modesty, her devotion to excellence, her willingness to learn from criticism, and her willingness to help others.

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Caralyn Coultas-McKinney, 2017 Cramer Award winner, with President Dr. Stephen Wells.


Caralyn Coultas-McKinney

Caralyn Coultas-McKinney’s career at New Mexico Tech has been marked by scholastic achievement, research prowess, leadership, and volunteerism.

Caralyn maintained a 3.98 GPA and graduated with a bachelor’s in chemical engineering. A native of Colorado, Caralyn quickly made a name for herself with her professors with her hard work, attention to detail and ability to learn quickly.  She completed an internship with Chevron and turned down a second internship to stay on campus and manage a $100,000 Department of Homeland Security research project.

Caralyn was named a Macey Scholar for this year, which is Tech’s top academic scholarship. She also served as a Senator with the Student Government Association, and volunteered in the Shock and Dynamics Lab.

Caralyn has been accepted to graduate school at Purdue University.

William Sullivan

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William Sullivan, 2017 Cramer Award winner, with President Dr. Stephen Wells.


A native of Portales, New Mexico, William Sullivan graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA and a bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering. He was selected as a Macey Scholar for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Sullivan completed an internship with Southwest Cheese, which wanted him to return for a second internship. However, he landed a Research Experience for Undergraduates position at the University of Pittsburgh.

In addition to his stellar academic performance, William has been active in the student chapter of the AIChE, the Saint Patrick’s Newman Center, and Tau Beta Pi.

Sullivan has proctored events at the N.M. Science Olympiad and volunteered during Club Fair and the Research@Tech Day, a recruitment event that he attended while in high school and convinced him to come to Tech.

William also has volunteered for community events, including the San Miguel Fiestas and tutoring at the Socorro Youth Center. In Portales, he regularly helped with the Beautify America campaign.

William completed an internship with Southwest Cheese, and he landed a Research Experience for Undergraduates position at the University of Pittsburgh. He is now headed to the University of Texas at Austin to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering.

Other awards announced at graduation included the Langmuir Award and Founder’s Award, which are the top two awards for graduate students. Stipo Sentic won the Founder’s Award. Two Langmuir Awards were presented – to Shangwen Zha of the Materials Engineering Department and Samuel Collopy of the Physics Department. See separate article for profiles of the winners.

– NMT –