Announcing May 2021 LSU Distinguished Communicators
During May 2021 Commencement, 53 graduates across eight 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.
To celebrate the accomplishments of these exceptional students, CxC will be virtually honoring Distinguished Communicators through a series of video messages and digital posts on social media and cxc.lsu.edu.
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 May 2021 Commencement, LSU has awarded 734 graduates with the Distinguished Communicator Medal.
College of Agriculture
Layni LeBlanc, Animal Science*
Advisor: Jennifer Ritchie
Layni is graduating with the LSU Ogden Honors College, earning a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science and a minor in Communication Studies. Graduating with the Honors College is an award that Layni values the most, largely because of the mentorship and relationships she has formed in her lab. Layni says that she feels so connected, empowered, and valued in the Taylor lab, which made this award most meaningful to her. Additionally, Layni founded and serves as president of a student organization on campus. She credits CxC showing her the value of an interdisciplinary communication approach in science and in leadership roles. Layni says that she strives to uplift her team, and credits the DC coursework for elevating what she is able to do as a group communicator and team leader through the many modes of communication. Layni served as a National FFA Officer from 2018–2019, traveling thousands of miles to advocate for agriculture, create opportunities for community engagement, and promote personal growth in young students seeking careers in STEM and agriculture. Layni says that this experience gave her hands-on experiences that helped shape her DC coursework. Outside of school, Layni loves to read, run, work out with her brother, going out to eat with her close circle of friends, and hanging around on aerial silks! Layni says, “When you can communicate your experiences to other people, you create a meaningful connection and opportunity for change.” For Layni, being an LSU Distinguished Communicator means that she possesses the skills to be an effective communicator, and that she is constantly seeking to be more intentional about how she connects with others in science. Layni plans to apply to be a Fulbright Scholar next year and pursue her Masters in One Health at Royal Veterinary College.
College of Art & Design
Madeleine Juneau, Architecture*
Advisor: Kris Palagi
Madeleine is graduating with the Ogden Honors College, earning a Bachelor of Architecture with a minor in Architectural History. Of all of the honors and recognitions that Madeleine has received, the Distinguished Communicator is the award of which she is most proud. Through the DC program, Madeleine has developed confidence, which has led her to assisting classmates and giving presentations in her architecture studio. Madeleine has used her leadership skills through her position as LSU Art and Design College Council President. During her time at LSU, Madeleine hosted watercolor classes, which allowed her to meet students outside of her major. In her free time, Madeleine enjoys doing aerial silks, hammocking, lyra, cooking, sketching, and crafting. She is also getting certified to teach beginner silks at Circus Arts Institute in Atlanta. Currently, Madeleine is applying to jobs in New Orleans and Austin, Texas. She plans on taking a break this summer to travel and apply to graduate school in Spain.
Cecelia Li, Architecture
Advisor: Kristen Kelsch
Cece is graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture. “The path of being a Distinguished Communicator does not end after I graduate because the skills I learned will continue to change and mold as I experience more of what the world has to offer,” Cece shared. Cece explained that beyond the skills the DC imparted on her, she really values the connections with peers and faculty members that she was able to make. During her time at LSU, Cece started as a member for the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) and slowly moved her way up to Vice President (4th year) and President (5th year). As a Distinguished Communicator, she learned to speak clearly to my officers and club members, collaborate with local professionals for events, and facilitate portfolio and resume reviews for the School of Architecture student body. Cece shared that she enjoyed being a group representative at the All School Workshops each year. Outside of school, Cece enjoys reading, playing video games on her Nintendo Switch, and being outdoors with family and friends. In fact, Cece is currently reading the Harry Potter series, and she says, “Team Ravenclaw!” Cece plans to start working after graduating and is dedicated to loving the work that she does.
Naomi Mareschal, Architecture*
Advisor: Kris Palagi
Naomi is graduating today with the Ogden Honors College, earning a Bachelor of Architecture with minors in Construction Management, Interior Design, and Architecture History. Receiving College Honors is a recognition that Naomi is the most proud of. Naomi shared that she worked the hardest for this award: “I was able to apply all of what I've learned from my major-specific courses in conjunction with my developed communication skills from the Distinguished Communicator program.” Through the DC program, Naomi was able to gain confidence in taking on leadership roles in group settings. She shared that this program has given her the opportunity to build a public portfolio which is especially beneficial for her future. Naomi stated that her website is a concise collection of her work, carefully thought out, that she can directly apply in the process of finding a job. While at LSU, Naomi was able to study abroad in Paris during the Fall 2020 semester. Here, she was able to learn about new cultures and herself. In her free time, Naomi enjoys drawing and sketching. Naomi will be taking a gap semester after college to travel and decide what career she would like to pursue.
Mary Oliver, Interior Design*
Advisor: Andrew Baque
Mary Oliver is graduating with the Ogden Honors College, earning a Bachelor of Interior Design. The honor that Mary is most proud to receive is her Distinguished Communicator medal. “It was such a solo endeavor that I really felt like I owned everything I did. The final product is something I’m really so proud of and have used already to further my career and stand out among my peers,” Mary shared. Mary explained that the DC program has helped her to open up to her own blind spots and vulnerabilities, which has helped her improve herself and her leadership skills tremendously. During her time at LSU, Mary stepped into a leadership role that required her to lead by example. She shared that this experience allowed her to practice the skills she developed in the DC program in real-world scenarios: “Learning to lead different ages, backgrounds and personalities is something I truly find exciting and can’t wait to continue in the future.” Right before COVID-19 shut everything down, Mary was able to study abroad in Italy. Unfortunately, she was sent home due to the virus, but she shared that she had a wonderful time regardless! She explained that her study abroad trip taught her about independence and her privilege, saying that it was an eye-opening experience. In her free time, Mary enjoys riding bikes, hiking, going to dinner with her roommates, and spending time outside. Mary is stoked to have received a job offer right out of college and will be heading to a local architecture firm to continue her career in interior design as a full-time designer.
Mason Orantes, Architecture
Advisor: Kris Palagi
Mason is graduating today with a Bachelor of Architecture degree, which he disclosed is his proudest accomplishment. Mason shared that the Distinguished Communicator program has reminded him that solid communication skills are vital in his role as an architect. Mason had the opportunity to work in a steel fabrication factory during his time at LSU. He explained that he was able to witness first hand drafted projects come to life at the hands of “some tough, hardcore, and hardworking welders.” Mason explained that the aspect of his legacy that he is proudest of is all of the underclassmen that look up to him: “I hope they go beyond where I am today when they reach my level.” In his free time, Mason is a recreational gymnast and practices outdoor yoga, parkour, and calisthenics. Following graduation, Mason would like to move to Chicago to see what the greater architecture world is like.
Brooke Saltus, Interior Design
Advisor: Phillip Tebbutt
Brooke is graduating with a Bachelor of Interior Design. Of all her awards, Brooke values being student IIDA president the most because the title gave her the ability to impact fellow students. Being directly in charge of creating events to increase awareness for the IIDA organization and the interior design profession as a whole was the highlight of Brooke’s term. Brooke says that being a Distinguished Communicator has improved her leadership skills when it comes to text: “Written word is my least favorite way to communicate and this program has helped me grow and practice this skill.” Brooke says that the DC program has taught Brooke how to utilize all types of communication to prove a point. Brooke’s favorite internship opportunity during her time at LSU was with Tipton Architecture in Baton Rouge. She was able to reach out to representatives for materials and communicate ideas as a team for various projects outside of school and work. Her favorite hobby is hanging out with her family, traveling state-to-state and doing puzzles.. When designing her website portfolio, she learned how to use the correct ratio of words, images, and oral to best portray her skill set. She obtained her WELL AP professional accreditation this past October. Brooke hopes to get an entry level interior design position at a firm out-of-state.
Erin Steinkamp, Architecture
Advisor: Kristen Kelsch
Erin is graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture and minors in Architecture History and Construction Management. Erin is proud to keep her family legacy of becoming an LSU alum alive. She shared that the Distinguished Communicator program has given her the chance to connect with her professors and classmates in a group setting like a team would by working together. These skills came in handy as she served as a leader in multiple organizations. This practice has given her various methods of communicating successfully. Erin’s developed skill set has brought her several job opportunities, as well! Erin shared that she is thankful for her connection to the LSU School of Architecture because the staff and her peers pushed her to succeed in school and gave her the knowledge to earn various opportunities for future careers. She is also thankful for the chance she received to study abroad. She would also like to thank the community at Christ the King, Delta Gamma, and LSU as a whole. Through her sorority, Erin was able to volunteer through Service for Sight, which has made her more aware of what she takes for granted in her daily life. Additionally, she was fulfilled by partnering with Habitat for Humanity to build several homes in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. In her free time, Erin enjoys walking the LSU lakes, sailing, and doing yoga. Following graduation, Erin will be working as a Design Professional in New Orleans.
Jensen Williams, Interior Design
Advisor: Jeffrey Scanlan
Jensen is graduating today with a Bachelor of Interior Design. While at LSU, Jensen completed a professional residency with Signature Southern Accents. This internship allowed Jensen to see what it would be like in the real world once she graduated. “Before landing this internship, I was able to apply to places by showcasing my digital portfolio that was perfected through this program,” Jensen shared. Receiving the Distinguished Communicator medal is important to Jensen because it reflects all of the hard work she has put in throughout her college career. The program has helped Jensen to further develop her leadership skills further than she ever imagined. The tools that the DC program gave her led her to serve as a student representative for her class, as well as on multiple committees. These skills are also preparing Jensen to become a parent! The program has allowed Jensen to strengthen her communication skills, which is something that has been a priority for her since the beginning of her college career. In her free time, Jensen enjoys traveling, gardening, and cooking. After graduation, Jensen will be getting married and hopes to land a job working in residential design.
Victoria Wilson, Interior Design
Advisor: Jeffrey Scanlan
Victoria is graduating today with a Bachelor of Interior Design. Victoria is incredibly proud to be graduating from LSU with her degree, as LSU is the only CIDA accredited School of Interior Design in Louisiana. For Victoria, the Distinguished Communicator program has enabled her to become a leader who is confident in taking charge and helping those that she’s working with. Victoria shared that she is thankful for the things that the DC program has taught her about herself, especially about her determination and work ethic. While at LSU, Victoria interned off campus in fulfillment of LSU Interior Design’s program requirements. She was able to live and work on the Northshore for over seven months! Outside of school and work, Victoria enjoys spending time with friends and family, but mostly at home with her quarantine puppy. After graduation, Victoria hopes to work anywhere from Baton Rouge to the New Orleans area, under other licensed professionals as she begins the process of also becoming one.
E.J. Ourso College of Business
Angèle Fels, Accounting and Finance
Advisor: Stephanie Walton
Angèle is graduating with both a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and a Bachelor of Arts in Finance. For Angèle, the Distinguished Communicator medal is her most valuable award “because of the emphasis on transferable skills to my life after @LSU.” Pushing her to break out of her comfort zone, the DC program has allowed Angèle to refine her communication skills. As the Public Relations officer for @baplsu, a business fraternity on campus, Angèle put her communication skills to work. “By continuing to improve upon my verbal, written, visual, and technological communication skills, I know I am prepared for graduate school and beyond,” Angèle shared. Angèle explained that completing her ePortfolio, a requirement for the DC program, has been one of her proudest accomplishments. The portfolio has given her a place to lay out all of her accomplishments, which in turn gave her the chance to reflect on her time at LSU. While at LSU, Angèle completed both a tax and an audit internship, which immersed her in the world of business and gave her the space to apply what she has learned in the classroom. For fun, Angèle enjoys painting, baking, bicycling, and going on walks. She also enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and dog, Tucker! After graduation, Angèle will intern with @deloitte in their Risk and Financial Advisory Practice in the Government and Public Service sector during the Summer of 2021. In the Fall, she hopes to attend @tulaneu to study Homeland Security
Eric Forbes, Accounting and English*
Advisor: John Protevi
See College of Humanities & Social Sciences for Eric's bio.
Sydney Harris, Marketing
Advisor: Kris Lindsey Hall
Sydney is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and a minor in Mass Communication. When asked what award or recognition she was most proud to receive, Sydney shared that hers was the Distinguished Communication medal. “I believe it represents how far I have come from my start at LSU. This program has helped me gain the necessary skills and confidence to take on opportunities while preparing me for a successful career,” Sydney shared. She also shared that the program made her into a better leader by helping her to strengthen her ability to communicate with others. Sydney stated that her favorite internship opportunity was when she interned for the LSU Athletics Marketing Department. She remarked that there were many opportunities to apply her written, technological, verbal, and visual skills that she gained in her C-I courses. Sydney shared that during her internship, she got to run down Victory Hill with the LSU band and football team, as well as prepare and produce marketing promotions and fan engagement for the 2021 Softball Season. Outside of school and work, Sydney enjoys spending time with friends, attending sporting events, and taking her dogs out for walks. After graduation, Sydney plans to take a couple of months to travel and spend time with her family and friends. In August, she will begin looking for a job in digital marketing.
College of Engineering
Kothar Abdelghani, Biological Engineering
Advisor: Marybeth Lima
Kothar is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering. She says that the Distinguished Communicator medal is the award she is most proud of. As a graduating engineer, Kothar knows that being able to properly communicate with the consumer is important in ensuring the design is perfectly executed. For the last four years, through service learning projects and her involvement on the LSU Community Playground Project, Kothar has been working diligently to strengthen her communication skills. She shared that the DC program has improved her leadership skills, especially when she was a teaching assistant for one of her engineering labs. Kothar explained, “My acquired leadership skills allowed me to comfortably guide the students during their semester projects and create a relationship where students felt comfortable reaching out to me for help.” Kothar explained that she feels like she is leaving LSU with a new tool in her pocket because of the DC program. During her time at LSU, Kothar’s favorite volunteering opportunity was her time spent at the Baton Rouge Food Bank. During her time there, she would sort the food and then pack up the food into boxes, ready to be sent to those in need. Kothar explained that she is proud of the work she does with her team under Dr. Marybeth Lima with the LSU Community Playground Project. This upcoming May, Kothar’s team will be attending the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new installment of the playground that they designed. Another accomplishment Kothar is excited about is her first published work, where she conducted individual research, creating a "How to" guide on designing community playgrounds for people all over the nation to use. When Kothar isn’t busy with school, work, or volunteering, she enjoys painting, reading, and watching movies. Kothar is getting married on June 6th and moving to Los Angeles, California to live with her husband. She plans to apply and complete an Orthotist/Prosthetics program starting in January 2022.
Nathaly Ysaccis Betancourt, Biological Engineering
Advisor: Nick Totaro
Nathaly is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering. She shared that the Distinguished Communicator medal is the award that she cherishes the most because the program has shaped her into the person she is today. She credits the DC program for improving her confidence, as well as her public speaking and leadership skills. These skills helped Nathaly to obtain the LSU Center for Community Engagement, Learning, and Leadership Engaged Citizen Medal. As a Chevron Engineering Ambassador, Nathaly gives tours to prospective families and answers any questions they might have regarding the College. By using the tools she has obtained through the DC program, Nathaly has been able to be very confident in front of strangers and share her experiences with them. Because of this program, Nathaly is now able to confidently present and develop a set of skills that will help her for years to come in her professional and personal life. Through her leadership and volunteering opportunities, Nathaly was able to establish Engineering Days where SHPE and VIPS work together to raise STEM awareness in public schools. During her time at LSU, Nathaly had two internships with GE Healthcare where she was able to learn hands-on about data analytics and sales support. Outside of school and work, Nathaly enjoys being outside, working out, and trying new restaurants. She also likes taking walks with her dog and teaching him new tricks. After graduation, Nathaly will be working with GE Healthcare in their Commercial Leadership Program.
Timothy Dobroski, Biological Engineering
Advisor: Nick Totaro
Tim is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering. Tim shared that he especially values the Distinguished Communicator award because it demonstrates a marked increase in his ability to communicate across several mediums. “I think it was so important to me because coming into college I was not very outgoing/outspoken and completing this program helped me to come out of my shell and become a more effective communicator. This will help me for years to come,” Tim explained. Tim served as the president of BESO LSU, which he was able to successfully lead because of his polished communication skills. Tim also shared that he enjoyed working with Dr. Marybeth Lima on the #LSU Playground Project, which designs and builds playgrounds for schools in need all over the greater Baton Rouge area: “Seeing the kids' reactions to their new playground is an amazing thing.” In his free time, Tim enjoys reading and hanging out with friends. Following graduation, Tim will be pursuing a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering at Wake Forest University.
Abigail Ezell, Industrial Engineering*
Advisor: Paige Davis
Abigail is graduating with the Ogden Honors College, earning a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering. Abigail shared that of the awards she is receiving today, she values her Distinguished Communicator and Engaged Citizen awards the most. When asked why these awards were so important to her, Abigail responded, “Stepping out of my comfort zone to pursue foreign communication modes or introducing myself to community/campus leaders has helped me grow into a more well-rounded student.” She also explained that since everyone communicates differently, she has learned how to successfully utilize the four different modes of communication through the DC program. She shared that this has ultimately made her a better leader. Additionally, Abigail stated that the DC program has opened many doors for her and set her above the rest, which has led to her already getting a full-time job offer! Outside of school and the DC program, Abigail has volunteered with the Baranco-Clark YMCA here in Baton Rouge for the past four years. Outside of school and work, Abigail enjoys attending LSU football games, yoga, and baking. After graduation, Abigail will be moving to Pinellas Park, Florida to work for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics as a quality engineer. This will be her first role out of three with the Operations Leadership Development Program (OLDP).
Kerstyn Harper, Biological Engineering
Advisor: Nick Totaro
Kerstyn is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering. Despite being recognized by Kappa Kappa Psi - Beta Gamma Chapter, LSU Sigma Alpha Iota and Tiger Band, Kerstyn values her Distinguished Communicator medal the most: “It was earned based on my individual efforts and will carry on in my professional endeavors.” The DC program has fine-tuned Kerstyn’s communication, leadership, and public speaking skills, as well. During her time at LSU, Kerstyn volunteered with Volunteers in Public Schools. There, she worked with elementary school students in Baton Rouge, which was incredibly fulfilling for her. Kerstyn was also heavily involved with The Golden Band from Tigerland, participating on the LSU Color Guard team and even serving as their captain. In her free time, she enjoys spending her time by socializing foster animals and traveling with friends. Today, Kerstyn is also celebrating being a first generation college graduate! After graduation, Kerstyn will be moving to Champaign, IL, studying for and taking the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, and starting her professional journey of becoming a biomedical engineer.
John Howe, Biological Engineering*
Advisor: Marybeth Lima
John is graduating with the Ogden Honors College, earning a Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering and a minor in Environmental Toxicology. Out of all of the awards bestowed upon him, John is most proud of achieving College Honors: “It is the most important to me because it was the first project over which I had the majority control...I enjoyed the challenge of designing experiments that would yield relevant data and troubleshooting the processes used when issues arose.” In addition to receiving College Honors, he also completed the LSU Center for Community Engagement, Learning, and Leadership Engaged Citizen Program. Through the Distinguished Communicator program, John has refined his leadership skills. Prior to the DC program, his leadership style was leading by example, but he now places more value on explanation and demonstration. To John, being a Distinguished Communicator is all about being open to learning about and implementing new techniques to convey a message to a target audience in the most effective and efficient manner. Through his internship with Baton Roots Community Farm, John was able to transform part of an old golf course into a community garden and farming operation. In his free time, John enjoys hiking, fishing, and running. “My hobbies also include growing plants in gardens and landscapes, making acidified food products like sourdough and pickles, and fermenting beverages such as kombucha, ginger beer and cider,” John adds. Following graduation, John will pursue a Ph.D. in biological engineering from University of Florida.
Gabrielle Langlois, Environmental Engineering
Advisor: Samuel Snow
Gabrielle is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering and a minor in Disaster Science Management. Of all of her awards, Gabrielle values her scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation the most. Because of this, she was able to network with other scholars and says she was impressed by the work and goals that everyone pursued. This opportunity gave her the confidence in her abilities to strive for bigger accomplishments. Additionally, Gabrielle presented in five conference presentations and one publication! Through her C-I courses and DC ePortfolio workshops, Gabrielle was able to refine her communication skills which have, in turn, made her a better leader. Gabrielle also shared that the DC program has made her a better public speaker, as well! During her time at LSU, Gabrielle served as a student researcher, which gave her a multitude of technical exposure and enhanced her problem-solving skills. In her free time, Gabrielle enjoys spending time outside while running, swimming, reading, and hammocking. In August, Gabrielle will begin her role as an operations engineer for Johnson Matthey for a two year rotational program.
Elizabeth Marchand, Construction Management and Mass Communication
Advisor: Carol Friedland
Elizabeth is graduating today with a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication, with minors in Business Administration and Technical Sales. For Elizabeth, the Distinguished Communicator award is the most important honor to receive. The program has helped to shape her communication and leadership skills: “The skills I obtained from this program have improved my communication. I am able to communicate in numerous ways to diverse people.” While at LSU, Elizabeth worked at Kevin Harris Architect. Additionally, she served as the secretary and president of LSU Construction Student Association. Elizabeth is also celebrating being a first generation college student! In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys volunteering and spending time outside. Elizabeth will begin working promptly after graduation.
Grace Nguyen, Biological Engineering*
Advisor: Marybeth Lima
Grace is graduating with the Ogden Honors College, earning a Bachelor in Biological Engineering. Grace received a Tiger Twelve nomination from her department. While she didn’t make it past the first round of judging, she is honored to even be considered because of the implications: “I had enough impact in leadership, in academics, in cultural diversity, and in community service that my department heads recognized even if I wasn't trying to flaunt it. I am happy that all that effort over the last four years was recognized.” For Grace, the Distinguished Communicator program has helped her improve her leadership skills so much so that she served as secretary for two organizations and a president for one of them. She shared that being an organization leader made her value effective communication skills. She credits the DC program for helping her to step out of her comfort zone. Grace also shared that this program has shown her that she has the capability to improve when she puts her mind to it, citing her improved public speaking skills as an example. Grace’s favorite volunteer opportunity during her time at LSU was Geaux BIG Baton Rouge. Her organization was tasked with cleaning up and providing maintenance for an elderly woman’s backyard to become a future community garden for the youth in the area. Experiences like this are what inspire Grace to continue giving back to her community. Outside of work and school, Grace enjoys watching TV and movies, cooking and baking new recipes, and rock climbing. Grace shared that she thoroughly enjoys learning how to make traditional Vietnamese recipes so that she can make her favorite comfort foods. Following graduation, Grace will be attending the University of Georgia for graduate school to pursue her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering. There, she will be studying more in-depth about medical devices and how to make them more biocompatible with the human body. She also recently earned a research assistantship at the University of Georgia!
Sahana Padumane, Biological Engineering
Advisor: Yongchan Kwon
Sahana is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering and a minor in Biological Sciences. Sahana shared that being awarded with the Distinguished Communicator medal is the recognition she is most proud of. Sahana noted that she worked hard during her four years at LSU to achieve such an award! Because of the DC program, she says that her public speaking and presentation skills have improved significantly. When asked what being a Distinguished Communicator meant to her, Sahana remarked, “To me, the CxC program means self-development and striving to improve oneself. Communication is one of the soft skills that the importance of cannot be understated.” Sahana shared that her favorite volunteer opportunity while at LSU was EKAM LSU. As a volunteer, Sahana dropped off food to a local homeless women's shelter, St. Agnes, which she says has been very rewarding. Today, Sahana is celebrating an achievement she is most proud of: Founding the first Bollywood Fusion Indian dance team at LSU, Rudra Fusion, and attending a competition in their second year! She commented that dancing with Rudra Fusion is her favorite out-of-school activity. Sahana plans on attending a master’s program in Cell and Molecular Biology and then attending medical school.
Alicia Pastor, Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: Elizabeth Melvin
Alicia is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. During her time at LSU, Alicia was a Life Support Services intern at Audubon Institute Aquarium of the Americas (pictured here). Prior to Alicia’s work with Audubon, there was no engineering program: “My internship didn’t exist until I created it.” Being a Distinguished Communicator is something Alicia takes pride in because, “engineers who communicate are hard to find.” She credited the Distinguished Communicator program for turning her into a more effective leader as it has given her the tools to better communicate with a broader range of people. Alicia says, “Even though I do not have the highest grades in my class, I believe that my ability to write and communicate effectively makes me an extremely valuable job candidate. Above all else, this program has taught me the importance of being a well-rounded engineer. Grades are not everything, and the ability to communicate effectively with many different people is critical to this field.” Outside of school and work, Alicia enjoys bicycling, yoga, and epoxy resin casting.
Mia Reed, Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: Paige Davis
Mia is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. In 2020 Mia was honored to be named the LPLG Undergraduate Student Leader of the Year, recognizing the work she has done on campus and in the Baton Rouge community. Additionally, she served as the President of the Society of Peer Mentors and was a 2020 Undergraduate Student Leader of the Year. The Distinguished Communicator program has given Mia a multitude of communication skills that she has applied to her professional career, leadership positions, and academics. The program taught her that success comes with hard work. “At the beginning of my college career, I was very quiet and terrified at the idea of presenting in front of anyone. Through lots of practice and putting myself in situations outside of my comfort zone, I have grown leaps and bounds past where I started,” Mia shared. During her time at LSU, Mia was a Materials Intern at Lockheed Martin Space where she interned virtually during summer 2020. In her free time, Mia enjoys reading, singing, and playing board games. Following graduation, Mia will be working full-time as a Materials Engineer at Lockheed Martin Space and working on her Master's degree in Engineering Management.
Estelle Seghers, Chemical Engineering*
Advisor: Mike Benton
Estelle is graduating with the Ogden Honors College, earning a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and minors in French and Business Administration. Estelle is most proud of receiving the Distinguished Communicator medal because, “It is satisfying to have my hard work valued and recognized with CxC!” Estelle shared that while working toward the DC medal, she had to push herself to work very hard in her classes. Because of this program, she has produced projects and coursework that she is very proud of. She is also proud to have achieved this goal because she has been working toward it for a long time. Recently, Estelle stepped into a leadership role by serving as president for Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. This experience forced Estelle to quickly adapt because the pandemic had just shut everything down. She credits the DC program for giving her the tools to juggle this unforeseen added stress to her new position. While at LSU, Estelle interned with ExxonMobil in Baytown, Texas. This was Estelle’s first professional work experience in the energy industry. The experience also helped her to step out of her comfort zone. Estelle is also celebrating her successfully defended undergraduate honors thesis, titled “Plant-wide Control System Proposal of Ethylene Cracking Plant Simulation.” In her free time, she enjoys losing herself in a great mystery novel. Estelle will be continuing her education at LSU to get a Master’s in Chemical Engineering.
Molly Sides, Chemical Engineering
Advisor: Adam Melvin
Molly is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. The Distinguished Communicator award is particularly important to her because it recognizes the communication skills that she has gained, as they will be vital for her career path. As a chemical engineer, Molly will be required to work on teams, sometimes with people from different disciplines. Molly served in multiple leadership roles in the LSU American Institute of Chemical Engineers. In these roles, Molly often organized and planned events, which required her to coordinate with multiple people and organizations. “Being able to communicate and work on a team with the other officers was crucial to fulfilling my responsibilities. I have become more confident in my leadership abilities thanks to these roles and the DC program,” Molly shared. While at LSU, Molly’s favorite internship was a chemical engineering co-op on the production team at Olin Corporation where she got the chance to apply what she learned in school. This experience gave her a taste of full-time chemical engineer life. It also helped her to secure a full-time job with the company! Molly shared that she loves to travel, and she was able to study abroad in Rotterdam and London. She also enjoys cooking, going to LSU football games, and volunteering at Companion Animal Alliance. After graduation, Molly will work as a chemical engineer at Olin Corporation in Plaquemine, Louisiana.
Christine Wiley, Electrical Engineering
Advisor: Ramachandran Vaidyanathan
Christine is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. She shared that going through the Distinguished Communicator program has been particularly beneficial for her “since it is common for STEM majors to lack effective communication techniques." When asked about the DC program, Christine shared, “It allows students to earn an endorsement by allowing them to take necessary steps to get there. I am someone who appreciates the challenge in addition to already tedious course loads.” Additionally, Christine explained that the program helped her to be more patient when interpreting what others are communicating to her and taught her to ask more questions, even if she believes she already understands. In her free time, Christine enjoys fishing, cooking, and feeding her chickens. Recently, Christine accepted a federal job offer as an Electronics Engineer, and she is ecstatic to begin!
College of Human Sciences & Education
Karley Doyle, Early Childhood Education
Advisor: Jennifer Baumgartner
Karley is graduating with Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education. Last year at LSU Discover's Discover Day 2020, Karley scored first place in College and Human Sciences and Education and second place overall in the event. Karley values this recognition the most, and she remarked, “This award means a lot to me because I have always had a hard time presenting in front of others and this award showed my improvement in the spoken communication area.” Karley got hands-on education experience in her two teaching places with Mrs. Rachel Miles and Ms. Morgan Lahasky. She shared that they both served as great mentors to her and that they shared their expertise about teaching and guiding young children with her. As the secretary of the National Association for the Education of Young Children at LSU, Karley was able to improve her communication skills to send out event and meeting information. She shared that she improved her organization skills as well. The Distinguished Program taught Karley that speaking in front of people takes practice—and lots of it! She would like to thank her supervisor, Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, for her guidance while she completed the DC program. She would also like to thank my twin sister, Kaitlyn, who constantly encouraged her persevere. Outside of school and work, Karley enjoys playing beach volleyball, trying new restaurants, and spending time with her friends and family. Next for Karley is her new job as a first grade teacher at Magnolia Woods Elementary School!
Haley Fremin, Early Childhood Education
Advisor: Alica Benton
Haley is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education and is a proud Distinguished Communicator. From the jump, Haley was ecstatic to be a part of this program: “I am so proud of my portfolio and show it to my family and friends often.” She credits the DC program for pushing her to take over outreach at her church. Because of this experience, Haley has learned how to effectively communicate and work with people from many different backgrounds. During her time at LSU, Haley was a student teacher at four different schools and worked with four different grades. She says that because of this experience, she now knows what it takes to be a teacher and how to manage her classroom efficiently. Outside of the classroom, Haley enjoys spending time with her family and going to the beach. While graduating from LSU is a big accomplishment, Haley is also proud to be graduating with the Distinguished Communicator program and the Center for Community Engagement, Learning, and Leadership's Engaged Citizens. Haley plans on landing a teaching position either in East Baton Rouge or Ascension Parish.
Cassandra Harmon, Child and Family Studies
Advisor: Katherine Stamps Mitchell
Cassandra is graduating today with a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies. Cassandra’s Distinguished Communicator award is the recognition she is most honored to receive because it perfectly summarizes all of her hard work during her time at LSU. Cassandra disclosed that this program has made her into a better leader and communicator and gave her the confidence to step out of her comfort zone.She has served as the president of the Child and Family Studies Student Association, where she had to talk to many local groups, lead meetings, and plan different outreach events. During her time at LSU, Cassandra was able to run drives benefiting the Baton Rouge Child Advocacy Center and the Iris Domestic Violence Center. Additionally, she collects cards for Our Lake of the Lake Children's Hospital and the Magnolia Brook Assisted Living Center. Cassandra also interned at Brock & Palmintier and thoroughly enjoyed interacting with clients and helping her superiors. In her free time, Cassandra likes to go to the movies. Cassandra is keeping her plans and options open for the future!
Emily Paufler, Kinesiology
Advisor: Wanda Hargroder
Emily is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and a minor in Psychology. Emily is excitedly celebrating her President’s Honor Roll recognitions across four semesters and that she made the Dean’s List for two semesters. She is also celebrating that she is graduating today with a minor and a Distinguished Communicator medal after just three years of college! Emily shared that she is a more well-rounded person and communicator because of the Distinguished Communicator program. “I can relate to people from all walks of life and I am better able to efficiently communicate my ideas,” Emily disclosed. She also learned that she is capable of showcasing her efforts in a beautiful and accessible website (that she is proud to show off every chance she gets). While at LSU, Emily participated in an internship in Texas through KIN 4505 with her physical therapist mentor. She shared that she worked on a fantastic project during her time at the clinic and was able to impact the clinic through the class work. While in school, Emily held four part-time jobs as a personal trainer, fitness supervisor, and physical therapist technician at two clinics. In her free time, Emily loves to spend time with her friends and her cat, Phoebe. She also enjoys drawing animals and portraits, as well as playing basketball. Emily will be taking a gap year next year, and then she’s off to graduate school in order to become a physical therapist.
College of Humanities & Social Sciences
Kiersten Barnette, English and Sociology
Advisor: Irina Shport
Kiersten is graduating with both a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Kiersten shared that she is proudest of receiving her Distinguished Communicator medal today because she spent the majority of her college career working toward it. “It’s not just an award to hang on the wall, but I can use the projects and work completed as a part of the program in my professional future. Having a tangible representation of my work through the portfolio showcases how hard I worked for this and why it means so much,” Kiersten explained. Additionally, the DC program improved Kiersten’s communication and interpersonal skills which made her into a more effective leader in her student organizations. She was elected to be the President of the Student Linguistics Association and as a Linguistics Ambassador with HSS. Additionally, she was accepted into the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics in 2020 and 2021. Kiersten wants to use the skills she garnered through the DC program to help others communicate their stories, especially within the criminal justice system. During her time at LSU, Kiersten was an intern at the Baton Rouge DA’s office during the Spring of 2020. She recalled that it was the perfect place to combine her linguistics and sociology experiences and that she made great professional connections with the other students and full time staff in office. In her free time, Kiersten enjoys traveling, being in water, and cooking. After graduation, Kiersten is moving to New Orleans for a year to work in the non-profit or community outreach sector before applying to graduate school for Linguistics in Fall 2022.
Samantha Beekman, International Studies and Mass Communication*
Advisor: Camille Conaway
Samantha is graduating with the Ogden Honors College, earning both a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with minors in Arabic and French. Out of her many honors, Samantha shared that she is most proud of being designated as a member of the Tiger Twelve Class of 2021: “It's so incredibly humbling to be counted in the company of students who have truly worked to make life better at LSU and in our community over the past four years.” For Samantha, the Distinguished Communicator program has taught her how to market her background and experience and show her where she could improve. She shared that the program helped her to distinguish her application for graduate school. Being a Distinguished Communicator has also meant representing the best parts of herself and LSU to the world. During her time at LSU, Samantha volunteered with the Las Carmelas Migrant Assistance Program. There, she made a hands-on difference in the lives of refugees passing through Baton Rouge: “There hasn’t been an experience more humbling.” Today, Samantha is also celebrating her 70-page Honors Thesis on COVID-19 policy in Scandinavia and the American South to graduate with College Honors. Outside of work and school, Samantha really enjoys participating in book clubs and volunteering. Samantha will be pursuing her Master of Public Policy overseas at the Hertie School in Berlin, Germany.
Olivia DeVille, International Studies and Spanish
Advisor: Andrea Morris
Olivia is graduating with both a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, with minors in Linguistics and Political Science. Olivia shared that she is incredibly proud to be graduating as a Distinguished Communicator because the program “has helped me to effectively teach others new information with patience such as various dances when I served as an officer for the LSU Tiger Ballroom.” Olivia enjoys challenging herself and said that the DC program was the perfect challenge for her. The program has laid the groundwork for strong communication skills that will carry her to where she wants to go in both the near and distant future. Olivia shared that her favorite internship experience was when she interned in the U.S. Embassy El Salvador because of the foreign service experience she gained, as well as the opportunity she had to improve her Spanish while living in a different culture. Olivia proudly shared that she won 2nd place at the newcomer level at the Austin Open in 2019! In her free time, Olivia loves to dance, make origami, and cross stitch. Olivia hopes to teach English in Spain for a school year before exploring other career options with the Department of State.
Abigail Dorow, Spanish*
Advisor: Laura Martins
Abigail is graduating today with the Ogden Honors College, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. During her time at LSU, Abigail served as the leader of Project 225's ELL Tutoring program. She explained that this has been the most rewarding experience for her. She explained that this experience is why she launched Project Thrive, to help students even more! In addition to celebrating her degree, Abigail is celebrating her successful thesis defense. Her thesis was about the language barriers for Latinx immigrants in EBR, and she was named a semifinalist for the Fulbright grant. Abigail shared that being a Distinguished Communicator has taught her how to be more inclusive in her writing, how to address a wide variety of audiences, and to engage her audience. In her leadership positions, Abigail actively tries to employ those same strategies to lead in a way that makes volunteers the focus of any decisions. The DC program has given Abigail the opportunity to refine her presentation, writing, and video-editing skills: “I am so grateful that I've been given the tools to present better since both presenting and professional writing will be a big part of my career as a physician.” When asked what honor she was most proud to receive, Abigail said that being a LASAL Scholar has been her most profound experience while at LSU. She said that this experience has served her well throughout the DC program. Abigail shared that she loves to cook in her free time, and that she is launching a cooking blog to inspire more college students to get into the kitchen. She also loves running, cycling, and yoga, as well as spending time with her loved ones. Abigail will be taking a bridge year following graduation and getting involved in the community through healthcare outreach. During this time, she will apply to medical school, and she hopes to become a primary care physician. She aims to work closely with the Spanish-speaking patient population and to help reduce healthcare disparities.
Eric Forbes, English and Accounting*
Advisor: John Protevi
Eric is graduating with the Ogden Honors College, earning both a Bachelor of Arts in English (Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture concentration) and a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting. For Eric, graduating with the Honors College is his proudest accomplishment because it required the most effort. In order to earn Honors, Eric had to complete required coursework and successfully defend his Honors Thesis. Eric shared that the Distinguished Communicator program has strengthened his oral communication skills, which has been most apparent in his service within his church community: “Since joining CxC, I have learned how to better communicate to young people across the nation through sermons, podcasts, and lessons.” The DC program has also greatly improved his skills across the four different modes of communication in a way that will serve him well when he begins his career. During his time at LSU, Eric’s most cherished volunteer experience was with Community Bound, a service project through the Ogden Honors College. Eric was able to direct and lead as the VSLU Special Events Director during his sophomore year. Eric is very involved in his church and greatly enjoys volunteering through many ministries, including Bible Quizzing, his SERVE team, and youth ministry. In his free time, Eric loves reading, traveling, and being with people, “soaking in their energy.” Following graduation, Eric will begin working as a full-time auditor at a Baton Rouge CPA firm, Hannis T. Bourgeois, and begin studying to get his CPA license.
Haley Pettingill, Psychology*
Advisor: Matthew Calamia
Haley is graduating with the Odgen Honors College, earning a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, minors in Philosophy, History, and Sociology. The Distinguished Communicator program pushed Haley into taking leadership roles, like the president of the RHA community council. “The tips I have learned throughout this process allowed me to be more confident in my abilities to lead and create engaging activities, produce more efficient presentations, and communicate better with the other members and supervisors,” Haley shared. Taking communication-intensive classes and creating her e-portfolio has allowed Haley to connect with professionals in her future career, and earn internships that previously seemed unattainable. During her time at LSU, Haley enjoyed working in research labs on campus because she was able to connect with professors and graduate students and learn from them. Additionally, she is proud of her time with Volunteer LSU because it allowed her to see different parts of Baton Rouge and meet the people who make the city unique. Haley’s study abroad awards mean the most to her because they allowed her to have two of the most meaningful summers of her life. Haley is celebrating graduating on time with honors and three minors while working a full-time job, doing research work, and being an assistant event coordinator for Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. In her free time, Haley loves reading, roller skating, pottery, working out, and vlogging. Following graduation, Haley will intern with a clinical Neuropsychologist at Ochsner and will conduct research there. After, she plans to apply to graduate school for clinical psychology.
Manship School of Mass Communication
Ariel Baise, Mass Communication
Advisor: Lance Porter
Ariel shared that she is most proud of graduating as a Distinguished Communicator because the program took her out of her comfort zone. She is graduating today with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with a concentration in public relations and minors in English and Music. By pushing her out of her comfort zone, the DC program left Ariel with more confidence and improved communication and leadership skills. Outside of the DC program, Ariel interned at LSU Campus Life where she got to exercise her communication skills to promote various events on campus. Today, Ariel is celebrating that she just landed a Copywriter internship and that she found a Master’s program she is interested in! In her free time, Ariel enjoys playing guitar, singing, writing, and practicing yoga. Following graduation, Ariel will be interning with Red Six Media and moving to Dallas, Texas to job hunt.
Samantha Beekman, Mass Communication and International Studies*
Advisor: Camille Conaway
See College of Humanities and Social Sciences for Samantha's bio.
Avery Bracken, Mass Communication
Advisor: Roxanne Dill
Avery is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with a concentration in Political Communication and minors in Social Work and Leadership Development. Avery shared that today she is most proud of her Distinguished Communicator award because of the progress she has made, the confidence she has gained, and the lessons she has learned. She explained that the program improved her leadership skills by encouraging her to reflect on her involvement, coursework, and projects at LSU. Avery humbly remarked that this award reflects all of the advisors, mentors, and peers that have supported her journey. During her time at LSU, Avery worked as a communications intern with the @lsuchse. She shared, “This job set the foundation of my work ethic and basic communications skills. I was a valued, functioning member of the office with real projects and clients.” In her free time, Avery enjoys watching reality TV, cooking, baking, finding new coffee shops and restaurants in Baton Rouge, hanging out with her friends, and walking or playing with her dog, Fred! At the moment, Avery is applying for jobs in Communications and Community Relations.
Lauren Cheramie, Mass Communication
Advisor: Rebekah Duplechin
Lauren is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with a concentration in journalism and a minor in Business Administration. “I am beyond proud to graduate from the Manship School of Mass Communication at LSU,” Lauren shared. She explained that the School has set her up for success in the future. Lauren is also a member of the LSU Manship School Statehouse Bureau. Through this class, Lauren has been able to publish work for news outlets throughout the state. As the president of the student advertising federation, LSU AdFed, Lauren was able to hone in on the leadership skills that she developed in the Distinguished Communicator program. She also explained that the program has pushed her to take opportunities that she would have otherwise shied away from. During her time at LSU, Lauren served on the executive board of her sorority. Serving as the Panhellenic delegate included a year of resilience, confidence and leadership. In her free time, Lauren enjoys reading, writing, shopping, watching the sunset, trying new restaurants, and celebrating! After graduation, Lauren hopes to write for a magazine or newspaper. In the future, she would like to work in the world of publishing and editorials and become the editor-in-chief at a magazine.
Mary Coll, Mass Communication
Advisor: Freda Dunne
Mary is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Business Administration. To Mary, being awarded with the Distinguished Communicator medal has proven that all of her hard work has paid off. She shared that the program has given her more confidence in her public speaking skills. She also explained that the classes required for this program have given her a competitive advantage for going into the workforce. During her time at LSU, Mary worked at the Louisiana Lions Camp as the program director, which she is particularly proud of. In her free time, Mary likes to hang out with friends, cook, go out to eat, and watch TV. After graduation, Mary hopes to find a job in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Gabrielle deBruler, Mass Communication
Advisor: Doug Draper
Gabie is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with a concentration in public relations and minors in Political Science and Business Administration. During her time at LSU, Gabie has interned with the Manship School of Mass Communication for over a year. In this position, Gabie worked on social media, blogs, press releases, newsletters, and more. Earlier this year, Gabie was awarded LSU Campus Life’s Love Purple, Live Gold Unsung Hero award. This award is given to a member of a student organization who does not hold an executive role but persistently goes above and beyond the call of duty. Students selected for this award are role models who have made a positive impact on the entire organization. Gabie was honored to receive such an award: “As a student leader, a lot of the work that I do goes unnoticed. However, this was so special to me that my peers would nominate me as an unsung hero in my organizations. Gabie is proud to apply the leadership skills she has gained from the Distinguished Communicator program in her organizations. She was able to use her graphic design and writing skills by leading communication efforts for both the Panhellenic community and all of student government. She also credits her time working with Professor Doug Draper for helping her professionally and as a leader. Outside of school, Gabie enjoys hanging out with family and friends, going to the beach, sitting at her pool, and watching movies and Netflix documentaries. Gabie plans on attending the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication to get her Master's in Strategic Communication. One day she hopes to work for a Fortune 500 company practicing public relations.
Caylee Deshotel, Mass Communication
Advisor: Doug Draper
Caylee is graduating today with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with a concentration in public relations and a minor in Business Administration. Of all of her awards, Caylee is most proud of being the captain of the @prssalsu Bateman Case Study Competition team the most: “I got to lead LSU’s six-person team in creating and implementing a full public relations campaign about reversing the corrosion of civility in American life and fostering more constructive, inclusive public discourse in society.” The campaign was submitted in a national competition. Caylee also shared that she most enjoyed volunteering at the Louisiana Girls State every summer. At Girls State, she works to develop young women in Louisiana as future leaders grounded in patriotism. Caylee shared that being a Distinguished Communicator has improved her leadership skills, challenging her to seek more opportunities, participate in her community, and engage with as many people as possible. To Caylee, being a Distinguished Communicator means that she possesses the competitive skills and knowledge needed for 21st-century leadership. “I am confident that this distinction will help me stand out compared to other candidates in the job-searching process,” she shared. Outside of school and work, Caylee enjoys traveling to new places, spending quality time with her friends, laying on the beach, playing tennis, and trying new cocktail recipes. After graduation, Caylee plans to work as an Account Executive at a public relations firm or agency.
Jordan Klemm, Mass Communication
Advisor: Doug Draper
Jordan is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and minors in Business Administration and Art History. Jordan is most proud of receiving the Distinguished Communicator medal because it gives her a distinct advantage in her field. She is also proud of her ePortfolio because it puts all of her work in one accessible location. “This program gave me a tool to showcase my skills and work to other professionals and it has set me apart from other candidates in my field,” Jordan shared. During her time at LSU, Jordan interned through LSU Sports Marketing. This experience taught Jordan invaluable lessons about her field. In her free time, Jordan enjoys spending time in nature, expanding her pet photography portfolio, and spending time with her dog. After graduation, Jordan will be remaining in graduation in pursuit of job opportunities.
Emily Maranto, Mass Communication
Advisor: Hunter Territo
Emily is proud to graduate not only with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with a Digital Advertising concentration and a minor in Business Administration, but also with a Distinguished Communicator medal. Emily credits the Distinguished Communicator program for giving her the chance to distinguish herself as a student at a school as large as LSU. Through the DC program, Emily has leadership and collaborative skills. She has learned how to create a better quality of work with a team. Emily valued her internship with the LSU Center for Academic Success the most. There, she was able to work with people that she looked up to and honed in on her communication skills. In her free time, Emily spends her time reading, listening to podcasts, and baking. When asked what being a Distinguished Communicator means to her, Emily answered, “I’ve learned to go above and beyond in teachable moments. And I’ve learned that you should always pursue the paths that interest you. Stay curious!” She highly recommends the DC program because, “You have a wonderful portfolio in the end forever.” Emily hopes to move to a new city after graduation where she will earn her MBA and work full time as a marketer remotely.
Elizabeth Marchand, Mass Communication and Construction Management
Advisor: Carol Friedland
See College of Engineering for Elizabeth's bio.
College of Science
Alexis Booe, Biological Sciences
Advisor: Chelsea Duhon Graves
For Alexis, the biggest honor was being awarded the LSU President’s Alumni Scholarship. She is eternally grateful for this award: “Without it, none of the other recognitions would have been possible. I hope to someday pay back, in some small way, what has been given to me through this scholarship to another potential student.” Alexis is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Secondary Education and a minor in German. In addition to these accolades, Alexis is a Distinguished Communicator. She explains that this program has challenged her to step up in big ways, take charge of situations, delegate roles, and convey specific or complicated knowledge to others. Alexis credits the DC program for helping her step into the role of president of the German Club. As a Distinguished Communicator, Alexis has become more comfortable and confident public speaking. She shared that she chose the DC program specifically to help her overcome her fear. Alexis’ volunteer roles are extensive. She volunteered at several public schools in the Baton Rouge area, including being an ESL tutor at McKinley High and a reading buddy at Highland Elementary. She is also a volunteer alumna team leader to a government foreign exchange program known as Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange, where she is an interviewer, mentor, group leader, large group facilitator, and student supervisor. In her free time, Alexis volunteers at a local animal shelter and even fosters an animal of her own! She also enjoys painting, drawing, making candles, reading, and crocheting. One of Alexis’ victories from her time at LSU is skydiving not once but twice, despite her fear of heights. After graduation, Alexis plans to become a biology teacher either in Baton Rouge or Texas for several years. After, she plans on attending graduate school and eventually working in the healthcare field.
Rory Escobedo, Geology
Advisor: Amy Luther
Rory is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. Of all of her accomplishments, Rory is the most proud of completing her undergraduate thesis: “I have been working so hard on this project for the past year, and it has progressed me in my future endeavors at graduate school.” Her thesis is titled, “Sedimentation Regimes of Submarine Landslides in Proximal Mud Gullies off The South Pass of the Mississippi River.” She has also served as the Lead Ambassador at the College of Science. There, Rory was able to meet all of the deans at the College of Science and learn about the different areas of focus within the college. The Distinguished Communicator program has equipped Rory with leadership skills and values that she has utilized across multiple campus organizations. Rory has been able to apply her leadership skills as the president of the Geology Club for two terms. Because of her leadership training and hands-on experience, Rory has learned how to communicate more effectively as a leader. In addition, Rory is very involved in her sorority, Delta Gamma. She enjoys traveling and camping, and her latest endeavor has been learning Krav Maga. Today, Rory is celebrating getting into four different master's programs. Ultimately, Rory has decided to attend Tulane to obtain a Master's in Earth and Environmental Science.
Megan Guilbeau, Biochemistry*
Advisor: Johnna Roose
Megan is graduating with the Ogden Honors College, earning a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with a minor in Chemistry. Megan is most proud to be recognized as Outstanding Biochemistry Senior by the Department of Biological Science. Additionally, she is leaving LSU today as a Distinguished Communicator and a LSU Discover Distinguished Undergraduate Researcher. Through the DC program, Megan has learned how to communicate visually and technically, which she credits as helping her grow in email communications for her church internship. As an intern for Progression Church, Megan was able to make close friends and help her peers get connected in the College Ministry. As a Distinguished Communicator, she has learned how to communicate scientific concepts to anyone with any background in ways that become meaningful to them: “Research means very little if you cannot share it with the rest of the world!” Today, Megan is graduating with her B.S. after only three years! When she isn’t working, interning, or studying, Megan enjoys reading, drinking hot tea or cold coffee, journaling, and tending to her plants. Megan will be attending Tulane in the fall to get her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences.
Nicholas Jones, Biological Sciences*
Advisor: Chelsea Duhon Graves
Nick is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and a minor in Psychology. Nick shared that participating in the Distinguished Communicator program has taught him how to be a more creative and decisive leader. To Nick, being a DC is the recognition he is most proud of because “it shows proficiency in communication in my specific field, Biology,” and the program “sets me a cut above the rest in terms of job readiness because it shows I have the skills to be an effective communicator.” Nick also shared that his favorite internship experience was when he worked as an EKG technician during his time at LSU. In his free time, Nick enjoys jogging around the LSU lakes, watching Netflix, and reading books. Following graduation, Nick plans on attending LSU Health Sciences in Shreveport for an M.D. program.
Samantha Lee, Biological Sciences
Advisor: Chelsea Duhon Graves
Samantha is graduating with a Bachelor in Biological Sciences and a minor in Secondary Education. Samantha’s time at LSU and within the Distinguished Communicator program has given her the tools to be an effective and confident leader. More specifically, Samantha’s time in SCILead, Leadership Learning Laboratory, Geaux Teach Student Organization, and Leadership LSU has helped her to refine her leadership skills. The Communication Intensive courses required for the DC program has also helped Samantha to develop stronger communication skills, which she believes will be vital for her role as a leader. In addition to the numerous programs she has worked in, Samantha credits her time volunteering for Girls Day at the Museum as being her favorite volunteer/intern experience. This program inspires young women to pursue a career in STEM. When asked about her hobbies, Samantha simply responded, “Coffee!!!” Following graduation from LSU, Samantha will be an educator at Woodlawn High.
Lucica Mai, Mathematics
Advisor: Rebecca Nguyen
Lucica is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a minor in Applied Statistics. At the beginning of her college career, Lucica was awarded with the Mu Alpha Theta Andre Awards, which is an award she is most proud to have received. Lucica shared that she has wanted to be a math teacher ever since she was in elementary school, so gaining this recognition meant the world to her. Lucica used her math skills to help others as a tutor in the LSU Math Lab. This experience taught Lucica how to teach students in multiple ways. She shared the Distinguished Communicator program has improved her leadership, communication, and public speaking skills. For her, the DC program is all about stepping out of your comfort zone so that your words can be heard. In her free time, Lucica enjoys crafting, printmaking, making decals and paper crafts with her cutting machine, and painting. Following graduation, Lucica will be starting her dream job, which is teaching math at her alma mater.
Nhung Ngo, Biological Sciences*
Advisor: Khoa Nguyen
Nhung is graduating with the Ogden Honors College, earning a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences with minors in English and Sociology. To Nhung, becoming a Distinguished Communicator shows that she has made the effort to hone her communication skills, which she says have improved tremendously. “Being a Distinguished Communicator allowed me to be a better speaker and team player, which are important attributes of a leader,” Nhung shared. Nhung has been able to strengthen her skills across the four modes of communication. She has learned that she is a natural public speaker, despite getting shy. During her time at LSU, Nhung interned with SHPEP, Summer Health Profession Education Program, in Houston, Texas. This internship confirmed her passion for medicine. In addition to all of the recognition Nhung is receiving today, she is also celebrating being a first generation college graduate and an immigrant from Vietnam! She shared that college has been difficult because of her lack of connections to guide her through the process, but that it has made her a more independent person! In her free time, Nhung enjoys writing essays and poems, painting, drawing, and anything related to digital design. Following graduation, Nhung will be taking a gap year to work as a medical assistant at Pediatric Cardiology Associates at Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital. Later on, she wants to pursue an MD/MPH with the hope of decreasing health disparities in both the U.S. and Vietnam.
Victoria Rittell, Biochemistry*
Advisor: Jennifer Brum
Tori is graduating today with the Ogden Honors College, earning a Bachelor of Science
in Biochemistry. Victoria values her Distinguished Communicator award the most because
it challenged her the most: “I had never created a website or had to think about design
elements and marketing myself.” She also credits her Distinguished Communicator status
as giving her the confidence to help her lab peers with their communication goals,
from presenting a poster to even encouraging them to pursue a Distinguished Communicator
medal. Through the Distinguished Communicator program, Victoria has learned that she
has a good eye for artistic detail that will help her in career: “I really enjoyed
combining my love of science and creativity. I also am very proud of designing my
personal logo on my website.” During her time at LSU, Victoria fulfilled a student
worker position in her mentor’s lab where she gained wet lab skills. It was there
that Victoria learned how to prepare herself for a career in science. When she isn’t
at school or working in the lab, Victoria has been working on a novel. She also enjoys
painting nature, as well as abstract paintings. She hopes that she can return to singing
in choir and aiding in community outreaches. After graduation, Victoria plans to take
a gap year as she prepares to attend graduate school where she will earn her Ph.D.
*Honors students are designated with an asterisk.