by Thomas Guengerich
Right: Members of the Dean's list: Kaoutar Abbou Oucherif, Assiya Bekniyazova, Shelby Carlson, Thomas Carlson, Joseph Fernandez, Matthew Grieco, John Korbin, Isis Lyman-Dobberstein, Alexandria Marchi, Clayton Merz, Juston Moore, Jasmine Olivas, and Sarah Snider.
[These students signed release forms and successfully completed at least 13 credit hours with a grade-point average of 3.75 or better. At least 6 of those credit hours must have received letter grades.]
SOCORRO, N.M., May 1, 2008 – New Mexico Tech vice president Ricardo Maestas honored 149 students with academic honors, a first for the university.
Maestas is the vice president of student and university relations and the dean of students. He held an awards reception and banquet Sunday, April 27, to honor those Tech students who earned a GPA of 3.75 or greater during their careers at New Mexico Tech.
The 149 student honorees represent about 8 percent of the student body, including 60 students who earned a perfect 4.0 GPA.
“When I came to New Mexico Tech in 2005, I noticed that the university does not recognize in a formal ceremony the students who excel in the classroom,” Dr. Maestas said. “Beginning this year, we are recognizing Tech students for their hard work and dedication in the pursuit of excellence with these academic awards at this formal reception.”
“We truly take pride in all of you here tonight – the cream of the crop – the best of the best. You are the future leaders of New Mexico, of the United States and the world,” Maestas told the honor students. “You are what makes New Mexico Tech a great university, a great place to study, a great place to learn and a great place to live.”
In addition to the academic honors, the university recognized the seven winners of the Student Appreciation Awards. These six students and one student club contributed to student life on campus during the past year.
The Student Appreciation Award winners are Joseph “Joey” Fernandez, Shari Houston, Jerome Limoge, Russell Maier, Madhuri Manpadi, Jon Smith and Miner’s Ink, the campus literary magazine.
Fernandez is a straight ‘A’ student studying electrical engineering. Joey maintains a hectic pace. In addition to his full course load, he is the president of the Tech Automotive Racing Club, and active in Tau Beta Pi, the Newman Center and the IEEE.
In his nomination, professor of electrical engineering Dr. Robert Bond said Joey is an outstanding student with great interpersonal skills.
“Joey was able to negotiate with the administration to hold sports car races on campus, which offers a good look at his interpersonal skills,” Dr. Bond wrote. “Very few students participate to such a degree in as many activities and are as successful in all of them as Joey is.”
Fernandez will graduate with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering in May – in four years. He graduated from St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque.
Shari Houston, a native of Houston, has been active in the Earth and Environmental Science Department for several years.
In his nomination, geology professor Bruce Harrison said Houston has been the main organizer of numerous presentations to prospective students, as well as assembling rock identification kits. She has also served as the undergraduate liaison to the faculty in regards to curriculum changes.
Houston is also the driving force behind the student Earth Science Club and serves on the Student Association.
“Simply put, Shari’s activities have helped the EES Department and New Mexico Tech in many ways,” Harrison wrote. “Her maturity and sense of fun have helped establish a good rapport between the undergraduate students and the faculty.”
A native of Colorado Springs, Jerome Limoge will graduate in May with two bachelor’s of science degrees – in mechanical engineering and electrical engineering.
Limoge has been active in academic societies, student clubs, campus groups and has extensive professional experience.
Jerome was nominated by seven faculty members for the award. The nomination by professor Sayavur Bakhtiyarov included a long list of Limoge’s academic accomplishments, from software design and data analysis to internships and tutoring.
Limoge has also worked as a machinist, heavy equipment operator, equipment maintenance and equipment fabricator.
Dr. Bakhtiyarov provided an extensive and detailed list of Limoge’s impressive undergraduate resumé.
Professor Andrei Zagrai wrote that, “He is one of the best students on campus. Jerome is very creative and truly exceptional in engineering applications.”
Professor A. Keith Miller wrote that Limoge has a knack for drawing young students into engineering. “His leadership in design competitions demonstrates to prospective students, newly arriving Tech students and to the world that engineering is not only an interesting endeavor, but can be a lot of fun as well. … He is an excellent ambassador for the engineering profession.”
Elaine DeBrine-Howell, director of the Advising Resource Center, nominated Limoge based on his unending efforts to improve the quality of student life on campus.
“His knowledge is so broad that he is able to offer assistance and always does no matter what his schedule,” DeBrine-Howell wrote. “He is kind, patient and very giving of his expertise and his rapier wit. … He will leave a gaping hole in the Advising Resource Center when he leaves in May.”
A senior materials engineering major, Maier has been active in student clubs, academic pursuits, athletics and community groups.
In his nomination, professor Paul Fuierer wrote, “In addition to his outstanding performance in the classroom, Russell has been extremely active in departmental activities and student life. Russell is very generous with his time.”
Maier has served as a tutor and led study groups for his fellow students, as well as offered tours to prospective students. He is active in the Materials Science Club and serves on the Student Association.
He has been a member of the Tech soccer team for four years and has volunteered as a coach with the local AYSO youth soccer organization.
Maier is a graduate of Manzano High School in Albuquerque.
A doctoral student from India, Manpadi has written several articles for scientific journals and will begin her post-doctoral work at Rutgers University in New Jersey in May.
In his nomination, professor Alexander Kornienko wrote that, “Madhuri will be pursuing a career as a university professor and I have no doubt that she will be very successful.”
She has trained more than a dozen undergraduate students in the chemistry lab, many of whom are now pursing doctorate degrees.
“My confidence is based on her complete dedication and love of working with undergraduate students,” Kornienko wrote. “She has a tremendous ability to not only train and teach students, but also to create that spark and love of science.”
Jon Smith of Albuquerque is a senior materials engineering student. Nominated by professor Paul Fuierer, Smith has been active with the Tech soccer team, the Materials Society Club and the Student Association.
He has also participated in Science and Engineering Weekend, the Rube Goldberg Competition and many other student activities. He also was recently selected to serve on the Wellness Center Committee as an advocate for students.
“He truly has the students’ best interests in mind,” Fuierer wrote. “He has a strong desire – along with the willingness to work – for New Mexico Tech to be an attractive place for young adults to study, work and play.”
Smith is a graduate of Cibola High School in Albuquerque.
The campus literary magazine, Miners' Ink, will receive the Student Appreciation Award as a university organization.
In her nomination, staff member and Tech graduate Karen Balch wrote that “After five year’s in publication, with a vast readership and an abundance of students participating in creative events, I feel the club should be recognized … as the driving force behind the creativity bursting on campus.”
The magazine and the club organized the 2007 Creative Writing Contest Celebration and the Visiting Poet Series in April 2007.
“The magazine is well-received by faculty, staff, students and alumni,” Balch wrote. “The club exerted great efforts in getting more than 120 students to submit over the past year. More of the Tech community is catching the ‘creative bug’ and the number of submissions every semester is increasing. … While Tech is a science and engineering school, students need to have a creative outlet and there is a large pool of creative students on campus.”