Announcing December 2021 LSU Distinguished Communicators
During December 2021 Commencement, 13 graduates across five colleges will receive the LSU Distinguished Communicator Medal. Recipients of this honor are outstanding writers and speakers, with a strong command of visual literacy and technological communication. They have earned high GPAs in their communication-intensive courses throughout their baccalaureate years, sought 1-1 mentorships with faculty, and have built websites that display their communication competencies and professional talents, both in and beyond the classroom. LSU Distinguished Communicators also graduate with the LSU Communicator Certificate, launched in Fall 2018.
This distinction is the first of its kind in the nation and is sponsored by LSU Communication across the Curriculum (CxC), a nationally-recognized program for its excellence in enhancing learning experiences and improving students’ communication skills across all disciplines. As of Fall 2021 Commencement, LSU has awarded 747 graduates with the Distinguished Communicator Medal.
College of Agriculture
Bobbi Laderer, Animal Science
Advisor: Mike Kaller
A nature lover who enjoys watching local wildlife and animals, Bobbi is graduating with a degree in Animal Science with a concentration in science and technology. As someone who had trouble reading and writing in their childhood, this award shows the incredible progress that Bobbi has made as a communicator. In their spare time, Bobbi owns a pet hospitality business. Their life goal is to become a veterinarian for Veterinarians without Borders, and they are currently teaching biology to enable them to pursue their dreams. Bobbi gained valuable experience working with animals as a Birds Intern at Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, and has worked with an incredible variety of animals. Their drive to support the conservation and well-being of exotic animals is inspiring to all of those surrounding them.
College of Engineering
Clinten Graham, Electrical Engineering & Mathematics
Advisor: Peter Wolenski
Clinten will be graduating from LSU with a degree in both Electrical Engineering and Mathematics. They were recognized with the Betti and Robert Giles Senior Mathematics Award and have gone on to represent the university in conferences and teaching positions. Outside of school, they enjoy watching films, hiking, and camping. Their research experience at LSU led them to their participation in their first conference as well as their first publication in IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Their knowledge and drive to learn more about their field is inspiring! After graduation, Clinten will be moving to Maryland to begin work with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab as well as pursuing a master’s degree in mathematics. Clinten has had the opportunity to truly hone their communication skills during their time in the distinguished communicatory program, and hopes to use these skills to further their success in the future.
Claire Pearson, Electrical Engineering
Advisor: Jian Xu
Claire will be graduating from LSU with a degree in Electrical Engineering and a minor in mathematics, and is “beyond honored to be recognized” as a Distinguished Communicator. The program has allowed them to better communicate with their students in the classroom and reinforced the importance of communication in the workplace. Outside of the classroom, Claire enjoys giving back to the community, researching mathematics and engineering problems, and cooking and running. They have also been recognized through Brookshire for both working and attending school full time, received the title of Gulf Coast Power Scholar, and completed their capstone project to build the Valkyrie hybrid rocket glider, “it being the first successful iteration of the project proving reliability and reusability.” After graduation, Claire plans to work as an electrical systems engineer on aviation vehicles in Maryland.
Brianna (Bri) Robertson, Computer Engineering & Physics*
Advisor: Jin-Woo Choi
Bri will be graduating with the Ogden Honors College with degrees in Computer Engineering and Physics, as well as a minor in computer science. They say that “this award is the cumulation of research and interpersonal skills that have allowed me to discuss my work with people across multiple curricula” and are proud of their accomplishments in the program. Bri spent time working at NASA, but their time as a NSF Research Intern left the biggest imprint on them and their preparation for their career field. In this program, Bri was involved with cancer research with artificially intelligent algorithms. Their passion for the field is inspiring. Outside of school, Bri enjoys running, fishing, and cooking (especially cuisine from Louisiana) and even ate a live octopus! After they graduate, Bri is planning to become a data scientist with SpaceX as well as attending graduate school down the line.
Noah Smith, Chemical Engineering*
Advisor: Adam Melvin
Dedication to research and communication has been a large part of Noah’s time at LSU. He will be graduating with a degree in Chemical Engineering and minors in History, Chemistry, and Environmental Engineering with the Ogden Honors College. They are proud to be a Stamps Scholar and a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity; both of which have impacted their lives in a positive way. After graduation, Noah plans to attend graduate school and pursue a master’s degree. Encouraged by his Pop, Noah placed in a poster presentation for a conference associated with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. His hard work and dedication to research and knowledge impresses all of Noah’s loved ones, especially his Pop. Noah worked with LSU’s ChemDemo program doing STEM outreach to local K-12 schools in order to foster an atmosphere of diversity at LSU. They hope to continue this outreach work during graduate school. Outside of the classroom, Noah enjoys hiking, working out, attending concerts, and playing instruments. Being a Distinguished Communicator has allowed them to grow in their communication skills, which they hope to use in their future career.
Katie Pilgrim, Biological Engineering
Advisor: Marybeth Lima
Graduating with their degree in Biological Engineering gave Katie the necessary technical skills for their field, but the Distinguished Communicator program allowed them to “stand out in a sea of technical gurus.” Katie has spent time while at LSU working with Volunteers in Public Schools and serving as a leader in their church. They enjoy playing music, creating art, and being an entrepreneur. Spending time with their friends and family is very important to Katie. After graduation, Katie will be working as an applications engineer. Their time in the DC program has allowed Katie to develop and improve their leadership skills and taught them great lessons in the importance of diversity, social awareness, and personal growth. Katie says “anyone, no matter their background, is capable of success.”
College of Humanities & Social Sciences
Faith Howard, Economics*
Advisor: Barton Willage
Faith will be graduating with the Ogden Honors College with a degree in Economics and a minor in Mathematics. They completed their Honors Thesis projects, proving to themself and those around them that their discipline and work ethic would carry them through the toughest challenges. Faith also spent time volunteering at a local animal shelter working to get animals adopted into new homes. Their caring spirit inspires and encourages those around them. Faith received both the 2020 Outstanding Microeconomics Student Award and their concentration in Empirical Economic Analysis during their time at the university. Outside of schoolwork, Faith enjoys cooking for those she loves, roller skating, and spending time in the fresh air. After graduation, Faith will be staying in Louisiana to work as an analyst.
Christina Ryan, Criminology*
Advisor: Danielle Thomas
Christina Ryan will be graduating early with the Ogden Honors College with a degree in Criminology and a minor in Spanish. They value their time in the Distinguished Communicatory program for the growth it has allowed throughout their undergraduate experience. They worked with their church to provide bags of supplies for local students and low-income families during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting their giving spirit and dedication to the community. Outside of their time in school, Christina enjoys working out, playing tennis with friends, and all things crime in the media. After graduation, Christina plans to apply to law school and eventually work in criminal justice, immigration, and/or social justice reform.
Manship School of Mass Communication
Catherine Carpenter, Mass Communication (Digital Advertising)
Advisor: Jun Heo
Catherine says that “taking the steps to achieving a goal is not always a straight path. There might be road closures, but you just have to find the detour.” An AAF BR Student Silver ADDY recipient, founding member of the student philanthropy council, a lead member for Tigercast 2021, a first-generation college student, and a proud dog mom, Catherine is incredibly driven and accomplished. After graduating from LSU with a degree in Mass Communication with a concentration in digital advertising and a minor in leadership development, they plan to pursue a career in account and client services in the advertising industry. They hope that in the future they are able to offer opportunities for learning to future students, just as they received during their time at the university.
Emily Gaffney, Mass Communication (Public Relations)
Advisor: Doug Draper
Earning the Distinguished Communicator recognition solidified the importance of hard work, ambition, and patience for Emily. They will be graduating with a degree in Mass Communication, with a concentration in public relations, and a minor in English with the hopes of finding work in a position that will allow them to exercise and improve their skill set in order to attend graduate school in the near future. Despite the inevitable struggles that come alongside the title of college student, Emily has persevered and will be graduating with an excellent GPA, intern experience, and invaluable knowledge gained. Their perseverance through tough times is admirable. Outside of the classroom, Emily enjoys relaxing with a good book and a cup of hot tea. Emily worked with PivotPath, a digital marketing program, during her time at LSU, and used this opportunity to produce incredible work as well as recognize their own talent and value.
Maggie Landry, Mass Communication (Public Relations)
Advisor: Doug Draper
Graduating from LSU with a degree in Mass Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Leadership Development, Maggie recognizes the contributions their mentors had in the accomplishments they are celebrating today. “I am proud of everything I have been able to accomplish at LSU,” they say. “I am thankful for every professor and staff member who has helped me along the way.” Outside of school, Maggie enjoys finding new projects and discovering new ways to create interesting content. Every month, they pick a new craft or project to complete to keep their creativity flowing. Maggie’s internship at BXS Insurance allowed them to grow professionally and expand their communication skills in the workplace, skills they plan to carry over as they plan to work in event planning and operations for the company in their future. They were the Director of Programming for the LSU Student Government (and named Most Oustanding Director), a board member of the PRSSA, and a Manship Ambassador during their time at the University. These roles have allowed Maggie to grow in the communication skills gained throughout the Distinguished Communicator program.
Kayla Wilkinson, Mass Communication (Public Relations)
Advisor: Doug Draper
As the digital media director for the Public Relations Student Society of America at LSU, Kayla had a unique opportunity to put their visual, oral, and written communication skills into practice beyond their degree in Mass Communication with a concentration in Public Relations. They spent time volunteering at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank with PRSSA and connected with other members to give back to their local community. Outside of the classroom, Kayla enjoys sewing and thrifting, which she combines to recycle clothes into newer and trendier items. Their dedication to making a difference in clothing waste drives them. During their time at LSU, Kayla also won a writing contest which put her piece of work into the university’s newspaper, The Daily Reveille. After graduation, they plan to move to Houston and pursue a career in communications in the energy sector.
College of Science
Clinten Graham, Mathematics & Electrical Engineering
Advisor: Peter Wolenski
(see bio under College of Engineering)
Brianna (Bri) Robertson, Physics & Computer Engineering*
Advisor: Jin-Woo Choi
(see bio under College of Engineering)
Alice Xie, Biological Sciences*
Advisor: David Vinyard
Entering into the Distinguished Communicator program was a step that allowed Alice to build their confidence and communication skills in a way that would help them to succeed in their career field. Graduating from the Ogden Honors College as a first-generation student with a degree in Biological Sciences and a minor in chemistry, Alice hopes to pursue a career in medicine with the goal to “heal, educate, and listen to those in need.” In their spare time, Alice enjoys watching K-dramas and K-pop, learning foreign languages, traveling, and baking. While at LSU, Alice has studied abroad twice. They believe that focusing on your passions will lead you to success. Seeing the culmination of their 4 1/2 years at LSU come together as an online portfolio was incredibly gratifying.
*Honors students are designated with an asterisk.