Meet the Fall 2022 LSU Distinguished Communicators
During December 2022 Commencement, seven graduates across four 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 hosting a medal ceremony honoring Distinguished Communicators as well as celebrating them through a series of digital posts on social media and cxc.lsu.edu. The ceremony will be held on Thursday, December 15, from 1:30–2:30 p.m. in the LSU Bookstore Event Room.
This distinction is the first of its kind in the nation and is sponsored by LSU Communication across the Curriculum, or CxC, a nationally-recognized program for its excellence in enhancing learning experiences and improving students’ communication skills across all disciplines. As of December 2022 Commencement, LSU has awarded 824 graduates with the Distinguished Communicator Medal.
The following students are this fall’s recipients:
College of Engineering
Logan Brou, Biological Engineering
Hometown: Brusly, La.
Advisor: Nick Totaro
Whether serving in Student Government, leading a small group for STRIPES, or welcoming students to LSU as an ambassador, Logan Brou is a committed team member. CxC can speak to this first hand, as Logan has worked as a studio team member in the Chevron Center for Engineering Education since his freshman year. In his time at LSU, Logan has developed a passion for meeting and working with new people, something he has grown into from being shy as a child. He credits his experience with the Distinguished Communicator program for pushing him to break out of his shell and build his confidence as an effective communicator—a skill he already applies via his podcast performing analysis of Marvel movies, and which he will be able to fully embrace as he seeks a position in the biotech industry. In Logan’s downtime, you can find him coaching swimming at the YMCA, immersing himself in science fiction and fantasy novels, and honing his cooking skills.
Mason Phelps, Chemical Engineering
Hometown: Baton Rouge, La.
Advisor: Adam Melvin
Mason Phelps is prepared to do the work worthy of the title of chemical engineer. His internship with Slaughter & Brookshire (S&B) Engineers & Constructors allowed him to start his professional journey toward earning that title. About the experience, Mason shares, “S&B has shown me how to be a better team member and a better engineer.” There, he not only received mentoring from experienced engineers but also had the opportunity to train new interns rotating into their assignments.” For Mason, it’s critical that as an engineer, you are “showcasing not just your ideas but allowing others to contribute to the conversation.” Above and beyond his academic achievements, he has also successfully embraced work/life balance. Throughout his studies, he continued to pursue his musical talents—he composes and plays piano and clarinet—as well as his French-language interests. And he plays a video game or two. After graduation, Mason will be working as a full-time engineer and pursuing his professional certification.
Monica Sarmiento, Environmental Engineering
Hometown: San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Advisor: Samuel Snow
Inspired by the selflessness of her mother and grandmother, Monica Sarmiento is committed to carrying their service mindset forward in her work as an environmental engineer. She grew up in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where she saw first-hand how communities can be impacted by a lack of access to critical resources. And she’s already started on the path to change that. Through a pandemic-born entrepreneurial endeavor called Ecoterra Honduras, Monica developed an opportunity to sell ecological phone cases to help Hondurans with access issues get clean water. Through this project and several others, Monica has put her Distinguished Communicator skills to use in both Spanish, her first language, and English, her second language. Of this ability to effectively communicate in both languages and multiple settings, she is especially proud. She shared, “being able to do it in my second language is something I would have never dreamed of.”
College of Humanities & Social Sciences
Abigail Baumgartner, English*
Hometown: Baton Rouge, La.
Advisor: Susan Weinstein
Abigail Baumgartner loves a good story, whether it’s about classic literature, the show The West Wing, or focusing her energies on cultivating platforms for stories yet unheard. As a multi-hyphenate writer, researcher, teacher, and tutor, Abby has seized the opportunity to promote for others a space to learn and grow while celebrating them for who they are. In fact, her thesis—a component of her College Honors achievement—juxtaposes American novels celebrated as canon with contemporary pieces more reflective of a wide variety of identities to inform how educators can explore a fully representative human experience. In February 2022, she co-facilitated a workshop for the South Central Writing Center Association exploring these themes in practice. Abby’s own story is filled with a passion for being present in the world, whether hiking, coaching swimming, or inspiring youth as a Sunday school teacher. Following graduation, Abby will be nurturing young writers as a high school English teacher in Cypress, Texas with plans to pursue a Master’s in Education.
Manship School of Mass Communication
Christin Chachula, Mass Communication (Public Relations)
Minor: Business Administration
Hometown: Shreveport. La.
Advisor: Doug Draper
With a willingness to learn and embrace new challenges, Christin Chachula is ready to hit the ground running when she moves to New York to work in corporate communications. Throughout her time at LSU, she’s honed the skills that will help her succeed. Whether managing six-figure organizational budgets, successfully spearheading teams to get 22 bridal clients to the altar all in one year, or translating complex ideas into content ready for media distribution, her well-earned confidence gave her the push to pursue highly-coveted internships in New York, including a stint with Main Street America. There, she was able to fully explore and confirm the career she plans to pursue. In her free time, Christin plays tennis and spends time socializing with friends, hobbies that will serve her well as she embarks on a new challenge in a new city.
College of Science
Nicole Drachman, Biological Sciences*
Hometown: The Woodlands, Texas
Advisor: Chelsea Duhon Graves
Nicole Drachman is ready to start her healthcare career, so much so that she’s graduating, with College Honors, in three and a half years. In addition to her academic accomplishments, including making the Dean’s List four consecutive semesters, she’s achieving greatness with a commitment to impacting the lives of others as a hair donor with Locks of Love and volunteering with her sorority Zeta Tau Alpha. Nicole isn’t all business though. She makes sure to set aside time for her own passions, including rock climbing, cooking, and playing the violin. As she prepares to enter Physician Assistant school after graduation, finding that balance while serving others has been key. “I have learned that I can persist through the hard times and excel in the good times,” Nicole says, “and that my drive to learn and better myself will keep my future bright.”
Courtney Hall, Biological Sciences
Minor: Health Sciences
Hometown: Prairieville, La.
Advisor: Hollie Hale-Donze
Courtney Hall is the proud daughter of Clyde and Zeola Hall, and sister to fellow Distinguished Communicator Candidate Charitey Hall. Courtney is on a mission to become a doctor focused on compassionate care and advocating for the underserved community. Growing up, she heard relatives talk about healthcare providers dismissing their concerns, or not taking the time to listen, and she is committed to combating that through her own practice. Hearing those experiences shaped her path, and inspired her to research bias in medicine and disparities and inequalities for Black women. This passion for others extends into the community through service, from her time working with the LSU Food Pantry to earning the LSU Engaged Citizen Award. Her time program has helped underscore the importance of listening, something she takes very seriously as a future physician. She shares, “I vow to always listen to the patient and the community before making a decision.” Following graduation, Courtney will gain experience working at a hospital and studying for the MCAT before applying to medical school.
*Honors students are designated with an asterisk.