LSU Graduate Shelby Pursley Wins Prestigious Pi Beta Phi Award

08/15/2014 10:57 AM

BATON ROUGE – Shelby Pursley, a native of Winter Springs, Fla., who graduated in May, has received Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women’s prestigious Amy Burnham Onken Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Campus and Community Leadership. Pursley’s influence and leadership have gone far beyond her chapter, and her achievements reflect someone who will positively impact society in the future.  

Pursley received a bachelor’s degree in biological engineering from the College of Engineering in May, was a member of the LSU Honors College and is planning to attend graduate school at MIT this fall.

The Amy Burnham Onken Award honors a Pi Phi in her senior year of college who has best lived Pi Beta Phi’s qualities of excellent scholarship, outstanding campus participation and community service during her collegiate career. It is given annually to one collegiate member of Pi Beta Phi. The award honors past Pi Beta Phi President Amy Burnham Onken.

Pursley has been a leader in every aspect of her college career at LSU and is the first to volunteer if anyone needs help. She held leadership roles for the LSU College of Engineering College Council, the Biological Engineering Student Organization and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. At the same time, she graduated magna cum laude, worked as a research assistant for two LSU professors, authored various publications and presented at several academic conferences. She has received multiple awards, scholarships and research grants for her academic achievements, including the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship.

“To be recognized by Pi Beta Phi for my accomplishments gives me a greater confidence in my abilities and myself,” Pursley said. “Serving as president of the College of Engineering College Council was one of the most challenging things I’ve done, but also one of the most rewarding. As an out-of-state student in a college that is only 18 percent female, I would never have run for the position without the confidence I gained by feeling at home in, and being supported by, my LSU Pi Phi sisters.”  

About Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women
Founded in 1867 at Monmouth College in Illinois, Pi Beta Phi has installed 200 collegiate chapters and more than 300 alumnae organizations worldwide. Pi Beta Phi promotes friendship, develops women of intellect and integrity, cultivates leadership potential and enriches the lives of members and their communities. The fraternity believes in the power of reading and through its philanthropy, Read > Lead > Achieve, promotes a lifelong love of reading that can unlock true potential. For more information, visit

Ernie  Ballard 
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Friday, August 15, 2014