Appreciation Awards Tap Five Students, One Club

SOCORRO, N.M. April 11, 2011– Five New Mexico Tech students and one student club are the 2011 winners of the Student Appreciation Awards.
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The 2011 Student Appreciation Award winners pose with their awards. Pictured are (from left), Ben Cooper, Tunde Adeyale, Elaine Fan, Mason Risley, Rachel Clements, Ryan Shea, Estella Magallanes, Nic Schafer, Shari Houston and George Egert.

Babatunde 'Tunde' Adeyale with Gym Director Melissa Begay.

Ben Cooper with Student Services Director Chelsea Buffington

George Egert with Dr. David Burleigh of the Materlals Engineering Department.

Shari Houston with Dr. Gary Axen of the Earth and Environmental Science Department.

Nic Schafer with Dr. Warren Ostergren of the Mechanical Engineering Department

The student members of the American Chemical Society (formerly known as the Chem Club) with Dr. Michael Heagy of the Chemistry Department. In front are Elaine Fan, Estella Magallanes and Rachel Clements. In back are Mason Risley, Dr. Heagy and Ryan Shea.

These outstanding contributors to campus life are Babatunde “Tunde” Fiyin Adeyale, Ben Cooper, George Egert, Shari Houston and Nic Shafer. The group winner is the student chapter of the American Chemical Society.

Nominated by faculty and staff members, the winners represent the most dedicated and involved students on campus. Not an academic award, these annual awards identify those students who contribute through volunteerism, community service, leadership and mentoring.

The five individual winners all share a common trait of being involved in many different organizations, clubs, teams and jobs. They all excel academically and were noted in their nominations for their positive attitudes.

The winners were officially recognized at a special dinner Sunday, April 10, at the Old Town Bistro.

Babatunde “Tunde” Fiyin Adeyale

Tunde Adeyale has made a significant contribution through several campus clubs, but was nominated for his work in athletics.

Gym Director Melissa Begay said in her nomination that Tunde is extremely outgoing and has great customer service skills.

“For pure attitude, Tunde is unbeatable,” she wrote. “He spreads happiness and good feelings in a way that rubs off on whomever he meets. He’s the kind of student you hate to see leave Tech.”

A sophomore petroleum engineering student from Maryland, Adeyale has worked at the gym for three semesters as an attendant and as a soccer referee. He has also been active in the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, the Rock Climbing Club and the Tennis Club.

Adeyale is an active member of several professional student organizations related to petroleum engineering. He was elected to serve as the vice president of the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

“In my opinion, Tunde is perfect for this award,” Begay wrote. “He is a model New Mexico Tech student.”

Ben Cooper

Cooper was nominated twice – by Dr. Scott Zeman and Bureau of Geology Librarian Maureen Wilks.

Cooper has impressed Zeman with his high caliber academic work and analytical abilities, but he focused his nomination letter on Cooper’s leadership in the Tech Volleyball Club. Cooper has been the president and has taken it upon himself to tutor several of his teammates.

“Ben is one of the kindest and most compassionate students I have had the pleasure of knowing,” Zeman wrote. “Ben is selfless with his time and genuinely committed to serving his fellow students, his department and the institution.”

Cooper impressed Wilks during his time working at the Bureau.

“His friendly manner and helpfulness have made my job that much easier,” she wrote. “He has taken the initiative in figuring out ways to streamline processes.”

Cooper has also been a leader of multiple SAE Aero Teams in the Mechanical Engineering Department.

George Egert

Materials engineering professor Dr. David Burleigh nominated George Egert for his enthusiasm, recruiting and creativity.

While Egert is an exceptional student, Burleigh highlighted his other contributions to the Materials Engineering Department.

This spring, Egert has championed the “Materials Department Cabinet of Curiosities,” which displays many research oddities of the department. Egert got the idea while helping clean out Dr. Osman Inal’s office in January. He is now working on a second cabinet to display more curiosities. He is also spearheading an effort to build a periodic table filled with samples of each element.

“I appreciate George’s enthusiasm and his ability to get things done and his ability to get everyone working together,” Burleigh wrote.

Egert also accompanied Burleigh to the School-to-World Convention in Albuquerque in 2010, where he showed his exuberance for engineering while talking to hundreds of middle schoolers.

He helped re-write the Materials 202 Lab Manual and helps other teaching assistants prepare for classes and labs, Burleigh wrote.

Shari Houston

The only graduate student honored this year, Shari Houston is active in many student clubs and is the “unofficial ambassador for the Earth and Environmental Science Department.”

In his recommendation letter, Dr. Jeff Johnson wrote that he nominated Houston on behalf of several other faculty members and as the chair of the Department’s Awards Committee.

“She is a vital and dynamic presence in our department and merits consideration thanks in large part to her extracurricular presence.”

Johnson presented a long list of Houston’s leadership positions and volunteer work. For nearly three years, she has been served with the Society of Economic Geologists, the Earth Science Club and the Graduate Student Association. She has volunteered for recruitment weekends, organized conference trips and field trips, tutored and mentored other students and worked at student events.

Houston won the award previously for her activities as an undergraduate student.

Nic Schafer

Mechanical Engineering Department Chairman Dr. Warren Ostergren praised Nic Schafer for his academic achievements and his extracurricular involvement.

As a Peer Facilitator, Schafer has taught a course that helps freshmen transition into campus life. As an officer in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Schafer has volunteered for student functions and led workshops, including one on welding. Also, as the student representative to the department, he gathers input from students on suggestions and improvements.

In 2010, Schafer completed a summer internship in Germany at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund.

“His initiative in doing so is characteristic of his willingness to tackle new challenges,” Ostergren wrote. “Nic always demonstrates a professional, cooperative attitude. He helps other students when the needs presents itself.”

American Chemical Society

Chemistry professor Dr. Michael Heagy nominated the student club for outreach efforts, Science Olympiad volunteerism and campus involvement.

Previously known as the Chem Club, the campus chapter is currently led by President Estela Magallanes, Treasurer Christina Pierce and Secretary Rachel Clements. Other leading contributors are Katrina Lepthien, Ryan Shea, Sean Henry and Elaine Fan. Graduate student Lili Bao has also participated.

The student group won a $1,000 Innovative Grant Award – jointly from the national and state chapters of the ACS – for a new educational outreach initiative. The club created “Five Simple and Fun Chemistry Experiments for the Socorro High School Chemistry Lab.”

“Having learned that the local high school was staging few, if any, laboratory experiments, the club deemed it a necessity to introduce these labs,” Heagy wrote. “After all, if chemistry is not a lab science, what is?”

The Tech students prepared lab kits, visited the teacher and helped conduct labs with the students, “to the delight of the high school administration,” Heagy wrote.

However, what impressed Heagy the most was the club members’ weeklong work to prepare for the annual State Science Olympiad event. The students helped the Chemistry Stockroom manager set up two events. They also served as judges for the N.M. Science and Engineering Fair in early April.

“I hope the awards committee will recognize these outstanding achievements along with all the other intangible efforts that went with a very successful year,” Heagy wrote.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech