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NMSU students graduate with university honors, recognized for academic achievement

Francesca Ortega of Las Cruces was one of seven outstanding graduates recognized last week during a special ceremony hosted by the William Conroy Honors College at New Mexico State University.


Group photo of students with faculty
The William Conroy Honors College at New Mexico State University hosted a ceremony last week to recognize students graduating with University Honors and Honors with Distinction. Each student completed a senior capstone project that is an original work and appropriate for their discipline and their professional goals. (NMSU photo courtesy of Dean Miriam S. Chaiken)

The ceremony honored students graduating with University Honors (18 honors credits and a GPA of 3.5 and above) and Honors with Distinction (18 honors credits and a GPA of 3.75 and above). Each student completed a senior capstone project of original work and appropriate for their discipline and their professional goals.

Ortega earned her degree in Genetics and Biotechnology, and has been part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute team, and completed research through a National Science Foundation-supported REU at Washington State University. Ortega will pursue a master’s degree in Bioinformatics at the University of Maryland.

Six other students were recognized during last week’s ceremony.

Kirsten Clegg, who is originally from South Africa, completed a double major in anthropology and communication studies. Clegg’s capstone project was working with the Aggie Cupboard to examine how to increase donations and volunteerism, and how to connect with other social safety nets in the area.

Lauren Blumears of Phoenix, Arizona, graduated from New Mexico State University Saturday as the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Graduate. Blumears completed a double major in psychology and government. She was a collegiate athlete in golf and completed her senior thesis on changing immigration policies and practices in Germany. She hopes to enter law school and have a career in the foreign service.

Jessica Gonzalez-Corral of Carlsbad, New Mexico, graduated with degrees in International Business, Finance and Spanish. Her capstone project was an examination of the strategies of multinational corporations. She received several important scholarships from the College of Business including the Stephen Hardin Endowed International Travel Scholarship.

Stephanie Lloyd is an engineering major from Albuquerque who has received many accolades from the College of Engineering, and served as the chief engineer on NMSU’s Nanosatellite lab. Her capstone project examined the properties of the Ionospheric Neutron Content Analyzer Satellite. She has been earning graduate credits through the Masters Accelerated Program and will continue on at NMSU to earn her master’s in mechanical engineering, after completing an internship at Raytheon.

Tara Johnson of Plano, Texas, majored in accounting and was one of the Honors College’s youngest grads, having first completed high school then college in three years. She examined the field of forensic accounting for her senior capstone, and will pursue advanced training in this field when she matriculates to a graduate program at the University of Texas at Dallas in January.

Nubia Rivas of El Paso has been previously recognized as an outstanding graduating senior by the NMSU Hispanic Staff/Faculty Caucus, and she conducted original research on the effects of irradiation on Parkinson’s Disease using Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies) as her species. Rivas is a pre-med major and will have a gap year following graduation before she could pursue medical school. She has a pending application for a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Spain.

Sierra Strebe of Corrales, New Mexico, is also majoring in Genetics and Biotechnology and has been conducting research on two specific genes in Caulobacter cresentus. Strebe hopes to pursue a doctorate in genetics and work in researching the genetic foundations of human diseases, and her first step toward that process will hopefully be a Fulbright. She has applied for this prestigious award after making affiliation plans with the Max Planck Institute, one of the premier research organizations in the world, located in Germany.