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Nine Outstanding Graduates Chosen

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette will honor nine Outstanding Graduates during fall commencement exercises Dec. 17.

These nine students will be recognized during Graduate School commencement at 7 p.m. in Blackham Coliseum. The UL Lafayette Alumni Association will name one of the students as its Fall 2005 Outstanding Graduate during the ceremony.

Deans of the university’s nine academic colleges nominate the honorees. They include James Cooke of Baton Rouge, Applied Life Sciences; Alicia Welch of Broussard, Arts; Kristen Lindsey of Lafayette, B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration; Aimee Duplantis of Lafayette, Education; Christopher Deballion of Lafayette, Engineering; Jiro Hatano of Japan, General Studies; Paul Guidry of Lafayette, Liberal Arts; Pamela Block of Lafayette, Nursing and Allied Health Professions; and Emily Landreneau of Lafayette, Sciences.

James Cooke is an Hospitality Management major with a grade point average of 3.73. He is the son of Lee Cooke and Shelda Reeves of Lafayette.

For eight semesters, he was named to the Dean's List and was the recipient of the Lance Corporal Daniel Lewis Scholarship as well as the National Restaurant Association Annual Scholarship. He was also named to Who's Who Among College Students.

Cooke has been involved in the Student Government Association as a senator for the College of Applied Life Sciences as well as a member of the Student Orientation Staff. He was a member of the Ragin' Cajun football team.

He is presently a Wesley Foundation student leader. Cooke is involved in Open Door Church as a small group leader, youth leader and mission volunteer to both South Africa and Mexico.

After graduation, Cooke plans to seek employment with an upscale restaurant in Lafayette, Baton Rouge or Atlanta.

Alicia Welch will graduate cum laude with a grade point average of 3.28. She will earn a Bachelor of Music degree with a concentration in music performance. She is the daughter of Kevin and Nancy Welch of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

A member of the Dean's List since Fall 2003, Welch was honored by the University Marching Band as an outstanding battery member. She was also selected as an outstanding percussionist for the Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps and principle percussionist for the University Wind Ensemble.

She is a member of the University Marching Band, University Wind Ensemble and the University Percussion Ensemble. She is also a member of the Percussive Arts Society and was elected by the students and served on the director of the School of Music's Student Advisory Council.

Welch was active in teaching percussion at Comeaux High School as well as teaching percussion lessons at the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra's Conservatory of Music and Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps. Welch has performed numerous children's concerts and pops concerts with the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra.

She also traveled to Interlochen, Michigan, to teach at the Interlochen Arts Camp. Welch has performed numerous concerts at local elementary and middle schools as well as a commercial for Lafayette's Recycling Program.

Based on her musical talent, Welch has received numerous scholarships based on competitive audition scores.

After graduation, Welch will spend the summer teaching at the Interlochen Arts Camp with plans to begin her graduate studies in the fall. Afterwards, she would like to work towards a Ph.D. to be able to teach at the collegiate level and eventually become head of a music department.

Kristen Lindsey, daughter of Kate Smith and Kerry Lindsey of Destrehan, will graduate with a degree in Professional Land and Resource Management and Marketing. Her grade point average is 3.95.

Lindsey has been on the National Dean's List and the university's Dean's List. She is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society and Mu Kappa Tau Honors Society. Lindsey has also received scholarships from the Louisiana Association of Professional Landmen as well as the American Association of Professional Landmen; she is a member of both organizations.

Within the university, Lindsey serves as the secretary for the Student Association of Professional Landmen as well as the vice-president for Phi Gamma Kappa Business Fraternity. Although she was not a member of a sorority, she was invited to join Kappa Sigma Fraternity's Sweet Heart Court and the following year was elected to be queen.

After graduation, Lindsey plans to relocate to Houston to begin her career as a Landman. She will continue her education with classes that are required to obtain her Certified Petroleum Landman in addition to beginning law school to earn a degree in mineral law.

Aimee Duplantis will graduate suma cum laude in elementary education. She has maintained a 3.823 grade point average during her college career and is the daughter of J. David and Mary Duplantis of New Iberia.

Duplantis has earned numerous scholarships including TOPS Honor Scholarship, the 2004 Clarence and Ezell Butaud Memorial Scholarship, the 2005 Iberia Bank Scholarship and a Student Government Association Scholarship.

She received the Educational Testing Service Recognition of Excellence for PRAXIS II Scores and for PRAXIS Content Knowledge Exam in Elementary Education. Duplantis was inducted into the Alpha Lambda Delta Freshman Honor Society and the Order of Omega Greek Scholarship Society.

Duplantis was honored as a nominee for Outstanding Greek Woman for 2003-2004 and as a nominee for Outstanding Senior in the College of Education. She has been included in the National Dean's List for 2001-2005.

Active in her university, Duplantis has been a member of Delta Delta Delta Sorority, serving as the 2004 Collegiate Chapter President, the 2002 Activities/Homecoming Chairman and a member of both the Standards Committee and Triple Play Fundraiser Committee. She is the current House Corporation Treasurer of Delta Delta Delta.

She is a member of the Union Program Council and serves as a Traditions Committee member and Spirit Committee member. She previously served as secretary in 2001-2002 for UPC. She was a member of the Up Til Dawn Executive Board, an annual fundraiser for St. Jude's Hospital, serving as the On-Locations Chairman in 2002. She has been active in the Newman Club and the A+PEL Student Organization.

Aside from her university involvement, Duplantis has also served the community as a participant in fundraisers for the Children's Ward at University Medical Center during 2001-2004 as well as St. Jude's Hospital. She is a catechism teacher for St. Mary's Catholic Church and a Core Team Member for Our Lady of Wisdom.

Last summer, she attended the French Immersion program. She also assisted with the Super Saturday's program run by graduate faculty for Gifted Education, helping local students to create and publish a television guide for kids.

After graduation, Duplantis plans to teach in the Lafayette area, and possibly take the PRAXIS for Middle School certification. This summer, she plans to become certified in Montessori Education, and eventually to return to UL Lafayette to work towards her masters degree in Gifted Education.

Chris Debaillon will graduate suma cum laude with a 3.919 grade point average in civil engineering. He is the son of Daniel and Loretta Debaillon of Houston and the husband of Jamie Debaillon.

In 1999, Debaillon earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, also receiving the distinction of suma cum laude at that time. While pursuing his second degree, he was named to the Dean's List every semester.

He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Tau Beta Pi Honor Society, Chi Epsilon Honor Society and Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society. He was selected as a recipient of the UL Lafayette Academic Scholarship.

Debaillon earned the position as an Undergraduate Research Fellow for the Summer of 2005 at the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University. He was awarded with the Houston Ragin' Cajun Club Scholarship as well as the Keith Landry Scholarship. He was also named a co-author in the Texas Transportation Institute Report to Federal Highway Administration Value Pricing Pilot Program and Texas Department of Transportation.

He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Institute of Transportation Engineers. He was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the University Honors Program.

Outside of his university involvement, Debaillon coordinated Catholic Engaged Encounter in the Lafayette Diocese with his wife in 2002-2004. They were also unit coordinators of Catholic Engaged Encounter in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas from 2004-2006. At St. Edmond's Catholic Church, he is a RCIA sponsor and a church choir member.

Debaillon donated his time in the designing of the ragincajun.com website as well as the execution of a clothing drive for Hurricane Katrina survivors. He also developed presentations for the Lafayette Metropolitan Planning Organization's Roundabout Committee.

He has five years of facility engineering experience with ChevronTexaco's Gulf of Mexico Shelf Business Unit. He was responsible for small-to-medium sized maintenance projects and served as operations first contact for operations area encompassing 30 platforms. He also managed an annual facility expense budget of more than $2 million. He also championed behavior-based safety process in Chevron's Lafayette office.

After graduation, Debaillon will pursue a Master of Science degree with a Texas Transportation Institute Research Assistantship at Texas A&M University.

Jiro Hatano will graduate with a 3.82 grade point average in general studies. His concentration of study is arts and humanities. Hatano is the son of Nobuaki Hatano and Kuniko Hatano of Nara, Japan.

Hatano was named to the Dean's List as well as the Spring Honor Convocation in 2004 and 2005. He is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

Interested in Zydeco and Cajun music, Hatano has worked on several projects including the documentary DVD “From La La to Zydeco,” which was produced from a grant for educational purposes. He also works on a private documentary project of South Louisiana including such musical performances as LeJeune Cove Mardi Gras, Hamilton Club and St. Joseph French Choir.

He is frequently published in Blues and Soul Records Magazine, a bi-monthly magazine in Japan. His articles are about South Louisiana music.

After graduation, Hatano plans to write and translate books of south Louisiana as well as promote south Louisiana musicians in Japan. He would like to improve business relations between Louisiana and Japan as well as make a comprehensive book of South Louisiana.

Paul Guidry will graduate suma cum laude in criminal justice with a 4.0 grade point average. He is the son of Louis and Nellie Guidry of Breaux Bridge and is the husband of Carollyn Guidry.

While attending South Louisiana Community College, he achieved the Chancellor's List each semester. Guidry was the President of SLCC's Gamma Beta Honor Society and received an award from the Louisiana Regional/State Gamma Beta Phi for charter president of the SLCC Gamma Beta Phi Society in 2001 and an award for “Best Chapter Attendance.” Upon graduation, Guidry was named as the SLCC Chancellor's Honor Grad for the Spring 2003 graduating class.

He was awarded UL Lafayette's Criminal Justice Society Honor Medal Award for 2005.

At UL Lafayette, he is a member of the College Republicans and a board member of UL Lafayette Criminal Justice Society. Guidry assisted in the coordination of the Spring 2005 Criminal Justice Society Career Fair and serves as treasurer of the society.

Guidry volunteered his time as a judge for the Regional Social Studies Fair in Spring 2005. He was a religion instructor and camp counselor for the St. Francis Regis Catholic Church of Arnaudville as well as a member of the American Legion.

He is currently employed as a reserve deputy for the St. Martin parish Sheriff's Office.

After graduation, Guidry plans to pursue a graduate degree and a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice as well as to seek employment with the Louisiana State Probation and Parole Office.

Pamela Block, the daughter of Jerry and Linda Block of Lafayette, will graduate in nursing with a 3.57 grade point average.

During her college career, Block has remained on the Dean's List, and is a TOPS Scholarship recipient. She has also been awarded the UL Lafayette Distinguished Freshman Scholarship, a Student Government Association Scholarship, a Nursing Pharmacology Endowed Scholarship, Lattie Pate Whitehead Scholarship and Sister Janet Falgout Leadership Management Award.

She was a member of the Honors Program and was recently inducted into the Honor Society of Nursing, the Delta Eta Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International.

As a member and former president of Kappa Delta Sorority, Block was voted by her fellow sisters as a White Rose Bud, an award given to a freshman member who shows high leadership potential. She has also been selected to appear in the 2005-2006 edition of Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.

Block currently serves as a senator for the College of Nursing on the Student Government Association and has been a member of that organization for four years. She was an active member of Ragin' Peppers, Campus Crusades for Christ, Union Program Council and the Committee on Academic Affairs and Standards.

Aside from her university involvement, Block has volunteered as a vacation bible school pre-K teacher for several years. She helps with Up Til Dawn, the fundraiser for St. Jude's Hospital Cancer Research as well as Prevent Child Abuse, Children's Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, and the Girl Scouts.

Currently the student representative for the UL Lafayette Nursing Curriculum Committee, she coordinates the graduation senior class composite picture, relays information regarding hospital recruitment functions and serves as the liaison for other pertinent information related to graduation and post-graduation.

After graduation, Block plans to work at a local hospital in an acute care setting. She is interested in becoming a travel nurse and in furthering her education to attain a Masters in Business Healthcare Administration.

Emily A. Landreneau will graduate with a degree in mathematics. She has maintained a 3.979 grade point average and is the daughter of Rick and Ginger Landreneau of Ville Platte.

She has been named to the Dean's List every semester. She has received the UL Lafayette Centennial Valedictorian Scholarship, the UL Lafayette Centennial Scholarship and a transfer student scholarship. She was also awarded a scholarship for the UL Lafayette France Program for the summer of 2005.

Landreneau is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Honor Society and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. She was also accepted into Pharmacy School at the University of Louisiana at Monroe in Fall 2004.

She is a member of the University Program Council's Traditions Committee and Spirit Committee. Landreneau also serves as a member of the UL Lafayette Preview Day staff as well as Up Til Dawn. She was a student affiliate of the American Chemical Society as well as a member of the Mathematics Association of America Conference/Team Competition.

Within the community, Landreneau is a member of the Cathedral Carmel CORE Team and Daughters of Wisdom. She is also a member of Our Lady of Wisdom Quest Group and Veritas Retreat Staff.

Landreneau volunteers her time with the Special Olympics, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Acadiana and as a math tutor. She is a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

After graduation, she will be student teaching/interning at a Lafayette Parish high school to complete her secondary education certification requirements. She will begin her studies for a master's in either mathematics or educational leadership.