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UL Lafayette Names 2005 Outstanding Graduates

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette will honor nine Outstanding Graduates during spring commencement exercises May 14.

These nine students will be recognized during Graduate School commencement at 5 p.m. in the Cajundome. The UL Lafayette Alumni Association will name one of the students as its Spring 2005 Outstanding Graduate during the ceremonies.

Deans of the university’s nine academic colleges nominate the honorees. They include Janie Elizabeth Eldridge of Lafayette, Applied Life Sciences; Lauren Elizabeth Abshire, Lafayette, Arts; Sarah Elizabeth James, New Iberia, B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration; Kelly Johnson, Lafayette, Education; Ashley Jade Albarado, Scott, Engineering; Carol S. Polito, Lafayette, General Studies; Katie Elizabeth Ortego, Lafayette, Liberal Arts; Lauren Elise Barry, Lafayette, Nursing and Allied Health Professions; and Seth B. Hayes, Lafayette, Sciences.

Janie EldridgeJanie Elizabeth Eldridge, daughter of Judy and Danny Eldridge of Lafayette, will graduate summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in child and family studies. She earned a 3.922 grade point average and was named to the Dean’s List for the past seven semesters.

Eldridge is the recipient of the President’s Student Service Scholarship, given for community service; the UL Lafayette Valedictorian Scholarship; the Unocal Foundation Scholarship; the UL Lafayette Centennial Scholarship; and the Junior League of Lafayette Scholarship, given for scholastic achievement in Applied Life Sciences.

She is a member of the Alpha Lambda National Honor Society, the Phi Etta Sigma National Honor Society and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Eldridge’s community service includes volunteering with Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Life Teen Program, performing missionary work in Mexico and regularly acting as a counselor during religious youth retreats.

After graduation, Eldridge will pursue a master of theological study degree in marriage and family at the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She plans to become a family life educator.

Lauren AbshireLauren Elizabeth Abshire earned a 4.0 grade point average while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in visual arts. The daughter of Faye and Danny Abshire of Lafayette, she will graduate with summa cum laude honors.

Abshire is the recipient of several scholarships, including UL Lafayette Centennial Scholarship, the Oran Robert Perry Burke Memorial Scholarship, the Marathon Oil Scholars Award and the Shelter Insurance Scholarship. She also received the Fanny Edith Winn Grant.

She is a member of Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi and Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society.

A professional artist, Abshire regularly donates her pieces as auction items for nonprofit organizations, including the UL Lafayette Alumni Association and the Birmingham (Ala.) Museum of Fine Arts. She designed the commemorative poster for the National Association for Humanities Education conference and her work in the permanent collection of Marais Press.

Abshire is a volunteer at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, is a member of the Lafayette Art Association and teaches with the Acadiana Arts Council and at Lafayette High School.

After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school and hopes to teach art-related courses at the university level.

Sarah JamesSarah Elizabeth James earned summa cum laude honors while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business marketing and legal studies. She is the daughter of Madeline Vuillemot James and A. Gordon James III of New Iberia and maintained a 4.0 grade point average.

James is a member of Mu Kappa Tau, a national marketing honor society; Gamma Beta Phi, an honors and service society; Phi Kappa Phi, an honor society for seniors with superior academic credentials; and Phi Beta Delta, an honor society for international scholars. The university recognized her at numerous Honors Convocations and named her to the Dean’s List each semester.

Her university affiliations include study with the Honors Program, the Student Government Association’s College of Business president, Ragin’ Peppers spirit group and the International Student Association.

James is the recipient of the UL Lafayette Academic Excellence Scholarship, the UL France Study Abroad Program Scholarship, the UL Lafayette Alumni Association Scholarship and the university’s Centennial Valedictorian Scholarship.

She was one of 300 students selected to attend the National Diversity Leadership Training Program in Washington, D.C., in 2003. She is an award-winning pianist and regularly volunteers with fundraisers for the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society.

After graduation, James plans to attend graduate school and pursue a master of business administration degree.

Kelly JohnsonKelly Johnson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ashton Johnson of Youngsville, will receive a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She earned a 4.0 grade point average and will graduate summa cum laude.

Johnson is recipient of the UL Lafayette Distinguished Freshman Scholarship, the university’s Academic Excellence Scholarship and the Hollingsworth Endowed Scholarship. She studied with the UL Lafayette Honors Program and is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and Rho Lambda Honor Society.

She served as senator for the College of Education and was named the 2004 Student Government Association Senator of the Year. She is a member of Kappa Delta Sorority, the College of Education’s diversity committee, St. Jude’s Up ‘til Dawn executive committee and the Union Program Council’s traditions committee.

Johnson performs volunteer work with organizations such as Prevent Child Abuse America, the Girl Scouts, the American Heart Association and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

A student teacher at Ascension Day School in Lafayette, she plans to seek employment with an area school system after graduation. Johnson hopes to pursue a postgraduate degree.

Ashley AlbaradoAshley Jade Albarado earned a 4.0 grade point average and will graduate summa cum laude. The daughter of Ellen and Ronald Albarado of Scott, she will receive a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.

Albarado served as vice president of Omega Chi Epsilon, the chemical engineering honor society, and of the campus chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; was treasurer of Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society, and of the Louisiana Engineering Society; and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Student Affiliates of American Chemical Society, and of the Society of Women Engineers.

A student in the Honors Program, Albarado is recipient of the UL Lafayette Academic Scholarship, the Jefferson Caffery Scholarship, the Department of Chemical Engineering Scholarship, the UL Lafayette Study Abroad Program Scholarship and the Domengeaux, Wright, Roy and Edwards Scholarship.

She regularly volunteers at the Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic, the Bible Missionary Church Nursing Home and with the Bible Missionary Church Youth Group.

After graduation, Albarado plans to attend the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans.

Carol PolitoCarol S. Polito will receive a bachelor’s degree in general studies with a concentration in the sciences. She maintained a 3.78 grade point average and consistently appeared on the Dean’s List. A native of Franklin, she is the mother of Elizabeth and Jason Core, Rebecca Scroggins and Breanna Scroggins.

While pursuing her degree, Polito worked full-time at Vermilion Hospital for Psychiatric and Addictive Medicine; at times, she held two additional jobs, as well. Despite her hectic schedule, she found time to volunteer with the Family Tree, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Bayou Girl Scout Council and Festivale International de Louisiane.

Polito is the recipient of the Rotary Club South Academic Scholarship and the Bayou Girl Scout’s Green Angel and Juliette Lowe awards. She is a member of Psi Chi, the psychology national honor society, and was invited to become a member of Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.

After graduation, Polito hopes to attend graduate school at UL Lafayette and pursue a master’s degree in psychology. She aspires to earn a doctorate in cognitive science and work with children with learning disabilities.

Katie OrtegoKatie Elizabeth Ortego earned a 3.97 grade point average while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in public relations. She is the daughter of Mickey Ortego of Lafayette and Ron Ortego of Opelousas.

As president of the UL Lafayette Student Government Association, Ortego served a member of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. The board appointed her as a member of its athletics and student affairs committees. Ortego is a member of the Council of Student Body Presidents executive board and maintained membership in the following organizations: Phi Kappa Phi Honor Fraternity; Sigma Gamma Mu Communications Honor Society; the Blue Key Honor Society, which she served as community service chairperson; Public Relations Student Society of America; and Pi Sigma Epsilon marketing fraternity, among others.

Ortego is the recipient of the Robert C. Byrd Scholarship, the UL Lafayette Centennial Scholarship and the Student Government Association Scholarship.

She was a 2003 member of the UL Lafayette Homecoming Court. Earlier this year, as a delegate from the University of Louisiana System, Ortego attended the inauguration of President George W. Bush.

She volunteers with numerous charitable organizations, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Games of Acadiana, the American Heart Association and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

After graduation, Ortego plans to pursue a master of public administration degree and hopes to enter public service.

Lauren BarryLauren Elise Barry will complete requirements for a bachelor’s degree in nursing with a grade point average of 3.342. Consistently named to the Dean’s List, she is the daughter of Cindy and Dr. David Barry of Lafayette.

In 2004, Barry was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honors Society. She served as president and treasurer of the Student Nurse’s Association campus chapter. She was a delegate to the 2003 Louisiana State Nurses Convention and the 2004 National Student Nurses Association Convention. She is the student representative on UL Lafayette’s Nursing Curriculum Committee, a body of faculty and administrators that determines courses of study for the College of Nursing. Barry also served as president and treasurer of the Blue Key Honor Society.

She is the recipient of UL Lafayette Distinguished Freshman Scholarship, Health Care Systems Scholarship and the Domengeaux, Wright and Roy Scholarship, among others.

In 2002, Barry was crowned queen of the International Rice Festival in Crowley and served for a year as one of the state’s leading ambassadors for the rice industry.

She regularly volunteers her time at public CPR training, the Lafayette Community Health Clinic, the Miles Perret Cancer Center and for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Barry is also a Vacation Bible School teacher at her church.

After graduation, she plans to seek employment as a labor and delivery nurse at a local hospital and hopes to pursue a postgraduate degree.

Seth HayesSeth B. Hayes will receive a bachelor’s degree in biology. The son of Cindy and Alan Hayes of New Iberia, he earned a 3.929 grade point average.

Hayes served as vice president of the Pre-Professional Society and president of Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society. He is also an active member in Students Affiliates of the American Chemical Society and Kappa Alpha Fraternity.

Hayes spends several hours a week tutoring students in math, chemistry, biology and physics at UL Lafayette’s Learning Center. In addition, he volunteers with organizations and events such as the American Cancer Society; Paws for a Cause, which benefits local animal shelters; and the Games of Acadiana, a benefit for the Miles Perret Cancer Center. In 2003, Hayes participated in a humanitarian mission to Rio Bravo, Mexico, and helped provide much-needed medical services to the impoverished area.

Hayes works at University Medical Center in Lafayette, where he formerly volunteered to assist doctors in evaluating and examining patients. In his current job, he is responsible for blood work done throughout the hospital. He has also worked as a phlebotomist with an area physician and as a surgical attendant at a local surgery center.

After graduation, he plans to attend Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans.