Annual presentation to faculty and staff members highlights R&D, philanthropy, athletics, and leadership in diversity and equity.
Kyle Zappi is the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Outstanding Graduate.
Zappi is among eight award finalists who will be recognized Friday and Saturday during Spring 2020 Commencement activities. Honorees will be applauded during virtual ceremonies held for their respective colleges on Friday; those ceremonies will be accessible on the Spring 2020 Commencement website starting at 10 a.m.
On Saturday, Lafayette’s four television network affiliates will air a commencement celebration resembling the traditional, in-person General Assembly. Broadcast times are 4:30 p.m. on KATC, and 6:30 p.m. on KADN, KLAF and KLFY.
Each spring and fall semester, deans from UL Lafayette’s academic colleges nominate a student as Outstanding Graduate. Nominations are based on leadership, scholarship and service. An Alumni Association committee interviews candidates and selects one to receive the overall award.
In addition to being the spring semester’s overall honoree, Zappi represents the College of Engineering as its Outstanding Graduate.
He is a chemical engineering major with a 3.95 GPA.
Zappi was a volunteer at the University’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics summer camp for underrepresented minority students. He founded and served as president of the LGBTQ+ Healthcare Inclusion Coalition.
Zappi also volunteered with Lafayette General Health’s Cancer Center of Acadiana.
He has co-authored two peer-reviewed journal articles.
In 2017, Zappi won the Association of Official Analytical Chemists’ student poster competition in Atlanta, and the University’s Engineering and Technology Week student poster competition.
His Medical College Admission Test score of 517 ranked in the 95th percentile nationally.
He will enroll at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York where he will study to become a physician. His focus will be biotechnological surgical research.
Zappi is the son of Mark and Melinda Zappi of Lafayette.
Here’s a look at the remaining Spring 2020 Outstanding Graduates.
Sarah Caswell is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions.
A nursing major, she earned a 3.92 GPA.
Caswell was selected for the Ochsner Health’s Nurse Technician Honors Program. She assisted researchers working on a simulation research project.
Caswell’s “JUUL – Not Cool!” research project helped to educate high school students about the dangers of e-cigarettes.
As part of an evidence-based practice project, she researched continuous labor support by registered nurses.
Caswell is a professional member of United States of America Gymnastics, and founded Ragin’ Cajuns Gymnastics.
She participated in the formation of a legal and ethics course for the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions.
Caswell performed clinical rotations at Lafayette Specialty Surgical Hospital, Lafayette General Medical Center and University Hospital and Clinics.
She plans to work as a registered nurse specializing in pediatrics.
Caswell is the daughter of Susan and Michael Caswell of Slidell, La.
Sarah Frey is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of Education.
An exercise science major, she has a 4.0 GPA.
She competed with the School of Kinesiology’s quiz bowl team at the Southeast American College of Sports Medicine Regional Chapter annual conference.
Frey participated in the University’s Study Abroad Program in Florence, Italy.
She is a figure skater who has coached others in the sport, led group classes and taught private lessons.
Frey obtained an emergency medical technician’s license taking night classes at LSU’s Carrol L. Herring Fire & Emergency Training Institute while earning her bachelor’s degree at UL Lafayette.
She works at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center as an ER technician.
Frey plans to enroll in the physician assistant program at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Ala.
She is the daughter of Daniel Frey and Patricia Farkas of Lafayette.
Rachel Lautigar is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of Liberal Arts.
She double-majored in political science and history. Her GPA is 3.97.
Lautigar was named a Bastiat Scholar by the Cato Institute of Law, and a summer fellow by the Hertog Foundation in Washington, D.C. She was a panelist at the University of Louisiana System’s “For Our Future Forum,” and a presenter at UL Lafayette’s Women’s Leadership Conference.
Lautigar was a featured speaker during Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s statewide gubernatorial debate that was broadcast from the University’s Angelle Hall in 2019.
She was elected to the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors for the 2019-20 term.
Lautigar was UL Lafayette’s Homecoming Queen in 2018.
She will enroll in the law and public affairs dual-degree program at Louisiana State University.
Lautigar is the daughter of Scott and Jana Lautigar of Bastrop, La., and Delene and Jamie Rawls of Tishomingo, Okla.
Loryn LeBlanc is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of the Arts.
She is a fine arts major with a concentration in graphic design. LeBlanc has a 3.82 GPA.
She served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps for nearly 10 years before returning to college to earn a degree. LeBlanc earned numerous commendations and accolades for military service.
She has presented her work in shows at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, the Fresh Pickin’s Exhibition, and the University’s juried student art show. Her work has earned gold and silver American Advertising Awards. LeBlanc designed annual reports and e-newsletters for the College of the Arts.
She will work for a design company, and earn a master’s degree in graphic design. Her plans are to eventually own a company.
LeBlanc is the daughter of Dr. Gerard and Candice Sigue of Broussard, La. She is married to Christian LeBlanc and has one child, Kyla Graham.
April Pruitt is the Outstanding Graduate for the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences.
She is a biology major with minors in chemistry and psychology. Pruitt has a 3.95 GPA.
During a nine-week summer research program, she worked with researchers at Stanford University to uncover possible causes of a condition that’s common in people with autism spectrum disorder. The California institution is among the world’s most prestigious universities.
Pruitt also received an undergraduate research fellowship from the University of California San Diego for medical scientists in training.
She was the University’s Homecoming Queen in 2019.
Pruitt was a representative on UL Lafayette’s Quality Enhancement Plan committee. The QEP is a campus-wide initiative that measures the University’s commitment to improving what and how students are learning.
She plans to pursue a doctoral degree in neuroscience at Yale University or Johns Hopkins University.
Pruitt is the daughter of Ronald and Corlette Pruitt of Opelousas, La.
Franziska Riepl is the Outstanding Graduate for the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration.
She is an economics major with a minor in political science. Riepl earned a 4.0 GPA.
A member of the University’s soccer team, she was named to the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s List, which recognizes student-athletes for academic achievement.
Riepl presented her honors baccalaureate undergraduate thesis “The Response of Labor Unions to Universal Basic Income” widely, including at the Politics, Philosophy and Economics Society Annual Meeting in New Orleans and the North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress in New York.
She served as both head of state and secretariat during Eugene Scassa Mock Organization of American States summits, where college students debate issues facing North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean.
Riepl plans to earn a doctorate degree, and work in economic research and public policy.
She is the daughter of Frank Riepl and Gabriele Englehardt of Bad Krozinger, Germany.
Maranda Wiltz is the Outstanding Graduate for University College.
She is a general studies major with a 3.92 GPA.
Her numerous scholarships include the Dr. Ray P. Authement Valedictorian Scholarship and the Ezell Butaud Coleman Endowed Education Scholarship.
She received the National Engaged Leader Award from the National Society of Leadership and Success, and was a networking team facilitator for the society.
Wiltz was a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society.
She performed service work for The Big Event, FoodNet Food for Families Food Drive, Special Olympics, Our Lady of Wisdom Church and Catholic Student Center, Preaux Life Club, St. Bernard Catholic Church, Freshman Move-In Day and St. Joseph Diner.
Wiltz plans to work as a library assistant while she pursues a master’s degree in library science.
She is the daughter of Troy and Mary Wiltz of Breaux Bridge, La.
Watch the presentation of Outstanding Graduates below.
Photo caption: The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Spring 2020 Outstanding Graduates are: Sarah Caswell, College of Nursing & Allied Health Professions; Sarah Frey, College of Education; Rachel Lautigar, College of Liberal Arts; Loryn LeBlanc, College of the Arts; April Pruitt, Ray P. Authement College of Sciences; Franziska Riepl, B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration; Maranda Wiltz, University College and Overall Outstanding Graduate Kyle Zappi, College of Engineering. (Photo credit: Rachel Keyes / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)