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Eight students recognized as Spring 2018 Outstanding Graduate honorees

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Electrical engineering major Matthew Furka is the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Outstanding Graduate.

Furka will be among eight award finalists who will be recognized during the Spring 2018 Commencement General Assembly. The ceremony begins at 11 a.m. on Friday at the Cajundome.

Each spring and fall semester, deans from the UL Lafayette’s academic colleges nominate a student as an Outstanding Graduate. Nominations are based on leadership, scholarship and service. An Alumni Association committee interviews the candidates and selects one to receive the overall award.

Here’s a look at the Spring 2018 Outstanding Graduates.

Healy Carden is the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration’s Outstanding Graduate. She is an accounting major and has a 3.94 GPA.

She is a member of Sigma Alpha Pi, a national leadership society; the Moody College’s Student Advisory Council; the Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants; and Kappa Delta Sorority. 

She serves as the UL Lafayette Student Government Association’s College of Business Administration president and is the PanHellenic Council’s judiciary vice president and recruitment counselor.

Carden’s community service includes volunteering with the Girl Scouts of America; Faith House of Acadiana; and The Big Event, which encourages service projects among UL Lafayette’s student body. She also raised funds for the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah.

After graduation, Carden plans to pursue an MBA at UL Lafayette. She is the daughter of Chip and Kelly Carden of Wetumpka, Alabama.

The Ray P. Authement College of Sciences named Jaden Danos its Outstanding Graduate.

He is a biology major and has a 4.0 GPA.

Danos was among the College of Sciences’ top 50 scholars in his junior year and ranked in the top 10 as a sophomore.

He is a member of the University’s Honors Program; the Pre-Professional Society; the UL Lafayette National Society of Leadership and Success; Phi Kappa Phi honor society; and Sigma Alpha Lambda, a national leadership and honors organization.

Danos traveled to Florence, Italy, as part of the Study Abroad Program.

He provided after-school care to children affiliated with Mother Teresa Missionaries of Charity and volunteered with the organization’s summer camp.

Danos will attend LSU’s School of Dentistry after graduation. He is the son of Stacey and Emmett Danos of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.

The College of Engineering selected Matthew Furka as its Outstanding Graduate. He is also the overall Outstanding Graduate Award winner.

An electrical engineering major, Furka has a 4.0 GPA.

He is a member of the UL Lafayette Engineering Ambassadors and the Louisiana Engineering Society. He is vice president of the campus chapter of Eta Kappa Nu, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ international honor society.

Furka presented research during the College of Engineering’s yearly Engineering and Technology Week. One presentation explained communication between swarm robots, a collection of robots that work in tandem.

He is a parishioner at Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic Church and is a second-degree Knight of Columbus.

After graduation, he plans to work with Harris Corporation, a technology company where he is employed part time in its electronics warfare division. 

He is the son of Marie and Joseph Furka of High Bridge, New Jersey.

Mallory Landry is the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions’ Outstanding Graduate. She has a 3.56 GPA.

She is a member of Delta Eta Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society in Nursing and is president of the UL Lafayette Student Nurses’ Association. She previously served as the group’s marketing chair.

Landry is on the college’s Dean’s Advisory Board and its program evaluation committee.

Her community service includes work the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Walk for Childhood Diabetes. She’s also volunteered at area nursing homes and with charities that benefit teenagers with special needs.

Landry teaches swimming and water safety to children under the age of 12. The American Heart Association has certified her in basic life support and advanced cardiac life support.

Landry will join the oncology nursing staff at Lafayette General Medical Center following graduation. She is the daughter of Kim and Kevin Landry of New Iberia, Louisiana.

University College named Anne LeBlanc as its Outstanding Graduate.

Her major is general studies, with a concentration in behavioral science. LeBlanc has a 3.93 GPA.

She is a member of the UL Lafayette Honors Program, Collegiate 4-H and the Ragin’ Cajun Catholics student organization. She is a parishioner at Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic Church.

LeBlanc serves on the board of directors for the Abbey Players in Abbeville, Louisiana, and heads the community theater’s membership committee.

In 2014, she began volunteering with Faith Camp, a Catholic organization for junior high school students. She plans to work full time at the Abbeville nonprofit after graduation from UL Lafayette.

LeBlanc reigned as the 2014 Vermilion Parish Farm Bureau queen and placed in the Top 10 in the Louisiana Farm Bureau Pageant.

She is the daughter of Manique and Steven LeBlanc of Abbeville.

Mary McMahon is the College of Liberal Arts’ Outstanding Graduate.

Her major is speech pathology and audiology. She has a 4.0 GPA.

McMahon is Student Government Association president. She previously served as SGA vice president and as Liberal Arts and freshman senator.  She serves on the Louisiana Board of Regents’ Council of Student Body Presidents and is its parliamentarian.

McMahon was a member of the 2017 Homecoming Court.

She holds memberships in the Phi Nu chapter of Delta Delta Delta sorority; Rho Lambda Leadership Society; Phi Kappa Phi and Alpha Lambda Delta honor societies; and the University’s chapter of the National Student Speech, Language and Hearing Association.

McMahon participated in research at the UL Lafayette Speech, Language and Hearing Center and presented seminars on how people perceive stuttering.

After graduation, McMahon plans to pursue a master’s degree. She is the daughter of Lynn and Philip McMahon of Houma, Louisiana.

The College of Arts selected Samuel Riehl as its Outstanding Graduate.

He is an industrial design major. He has a 3.9 GPA.

Riehl received design awards from the School of Architecture and Design in 2016 and 2017.

He served as the Student Government Association’s freshman class president; the College of the Arts’ senator and president; and as SGA chair of community service and outreach.

The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Extramural Research awarded Riehl a lifetime certification to conduct studies involving multiple participants.

He and two other UL Lafayette students placed 15th among 200 teams that participated in the Red Bull Can You Make It? European Challenge earlier this year. The teams traveled from Rome to Amsterdam using only cans of the energy drink as currency. 

Riehl is an accomplished blacksmith. He is the son of Angela and William Riehl of Lafayette.

Elizabeth Ruehl is the College of Education’s Outstanding Graduate.

She is an exercise science major and has a 3.93 GPA.

At age 3, Ruehl lost her lower right leg in an accident. She later counseled pre-teen girls at the Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp. The nonprofit Amputee Coalition sponsors the summer camp for children and teens who have experienced limb loss.

Her explorations of the history and construction of prosthetic limbs were designated as the University’s Honors Program’s best seminars for two consecutive years.

She amassed more than 1,200 internship hours as a technician at the Alabama Artificial Limb and Orthopedic Service. She also tested prosthetic feet and mobility as a volunteer at Alabama State University in Montgomery.

Ruehl has been accepted into the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. She will pursue a master’s degree in the school’s prosthetic and orthotic program.

She is the daughter of Raquel and Lt. Col. William Ruehl of Prattville, Alabama.


Photo caption: The UL Lafayette Alumni Association recognized Outstanding Graduate and Outstanding Master’s Graduate award honorees during ceremonies Monday at the Alumni Center. Top row, from left, are Alumni Association President Kyle Bacon, Jordan Richardson, Jennifer van Alstyne, Jesse DelGizzi, Healy Carden, Jaden Danos, Elizabeth Larmann and University President Dr. Joseph Savoie. Bottom row, from left, are Matthew Furka, Samuel Riehl, Anne LeBlanc, Mallory Landry, Elizabeth Ruehl and Mary McMahon. Richardson, van Alstyne, DelGizzi and Larmann are the Outstanding Master’s Graduate Award honorees. Carden, Danos, Furka, Riehl, LeBlanc, Landry, Ruehl and McMahon were recognized as their respective colleges’ Outstanding Graduates. (Photo credit: Erica Falgout / UL Lafayette Alumni Association)