Amador, Johnson, Mendez Named ATU’s Top Seniors

Andrea Amador_Ben Johnson_Lesly Mendez
Photographed (from left-to-right): Andrea Amador, Ben Johnson and Lesly Mendez.

Arkansas Tech University named the winners of the institution’s top three undergraduate senior awards for 2023 during an awards reception at the Hull Building Student Union on Tuesday, April 25.

Video interviews and feature stories relative to each award recipient are available by clicking on each student’s name below.

The honorees are:

Each honoree will be recognized at ATU undergraduate commencement on Saturday, May 6.

The Margaret Young Award is presented each year to the most outstanding senior female undergraduate student at ATU.

The award is part of a rich heritage for the Young family at ATU. The Young family’s contributions are remembered through William O. Young, Margaret’s husband, who oversaw the business affairs of Arkansas Tech from 1917-41 and for whom the W. O. Young Building was named. Their son — Robert A. Young — worked in administration and finance at Arkansas Tech from 1941-84 and was inducted into the Arkansas Tech Hall of Distinction in 1973. Their grandson — Dr. Robert A. Young Jr. — is past president of the ATU Foundation and an ardent supporter of ATU athletics.

The Young family also holds a special place in Arkansas Tech history as the owners of the original Jerry the Bulldog during the 1930s.

The Alfred J. Crabaugh Award is presented each year to the most outstanding senior male undergraduate student at ATU.

The award’s namesake served on the Arkansas Tech faculty from 1929-69. He is the only person in the history of the university to hold the title of academic dean, and he was a central figure in the transition of the institution to become a senior college. In May 1948, under Crabaugh’s guidance, the Arkansas Tech Board of Trustees approved a recommendation that the school should become a four-year, degree-granting institution. His efforts to build the academic reputation of Arkansas Tech truly came to fruition in March 1951 when the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools accredited the four-year program at Arkansas Tech.

Due to these and other efforts, Crabaugh is recognized as the father of the modern intellectual tradition at ATU.

The Jill Lestage Brown Service Leadership Award is presented each year to a senior undergraduate student at ATU who seeks to improve society through unselfish voluntary service to others as demonstrated by past and current leadership roles, service hours completed and participation in volunteer programs.

The award is named for the former first lady of ATU. Brown stepped down from her career as an elementary school teacher to act as a volunteer ambassador and hostess for Arkansas Tech during the presidency of her husband, Dr. Robert C. Brown, from 1993-2014.

Brown has also volunteered her time to benefit organizations such as the Russellville Area Chamber of Commerce, National Women in the Arts, the Arkansas Tech Wesley Foundation, Shelter of Sunshine, the River Valley United Way and Junior Auxiliary of Russellville.

The reception also featured recognition of ATU’s Who’s Who students for 2023.

Who’s Who selection is based upon academic achievement, service to the community while enrolled at ATU, leadership and involvement in co-curricular activities and the potential for continued success.

Listed below are the 2023 Who’s Who at ATU honorees:

Makenzie Addis
Hometown: Tulsa, Okla.
Major: Psychology
Parents: Sheri and Dallas Addis

Iris Alvarado
Hometown: Russellville
Major: Emergency Management
Parents: Iris and Miguel Alvarado

Andrea Amador
Hometown: Salado
Major: International Studies and Political Science
Parents: Juan Amador Villanueva and Irma Gonzalez de Amador

Rafael Andrade
Hometown: Dardanelle
Major: Agriculture Business-Animal Science
Parents: Laura and Eduardo Andrade

Blake Andrews
Hometown: Pottsville
Major: Electrical Engineering
Parents: Robbie Andrews and Lezley Andrews

Nihal Anwar
Hometown: Russellville
Major: Finance
Parents: Dr. Anwar Bhuiyan and Sabrina Anwar

Stephen Baker
Hometown: Russellville
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Parents: Genney and Jason Baker

McKenzie Blanchard
Hometown: Siloam Springs
Major: Communication-Speech Option
Parents: Allison and Justin Blanchard

Kaitlyn Bryant
Hometown: Hattieville
Major: Hospitality Administration
Parents: Kristin and Jason Bryant

Grace Carpenter
Hometown: Benton
Major: Elementary Education
Parents: Chevon and Don Carpenter

Alaini Carrington
Hometown: Fayetteville
Major: Agriculture Business and Management
Parents: Aubrey Carrington and Melissa Carrington

Theresa Fritschie
Hometown: Fort Smith
Major: Student Affairs Administration
Parents: Bethany Fritschie-Threlkeld and John Threlkeld

Kristin Hardy
Hometown: Benton
Major: Psychology
Parents: Tracy and Michael Fisher

Brock Jacobs
Hometown: Maumelle
Major: Digital Marketing and Business Management
Parents: Tanya Langley and Stephen Jacobs

Laurence Jacobs
Hometown: Maumelle
Major: Business Data Analytics
Parents: Tanya Langley and Stephen Jacobs

Faith Johnson
Hometown: Dover
Major: Recreation and Park Administration-Therapeutic Recreation
Parents: Monica and David Raney

Jordan Johnson
Hometown: Hot Springs
Major: Health and Physical Education
Parents: Will Johnson and Tosha Helms

Kennedi Kelley
Hometown: Royal
Major: Art Education
Parent: Gene Kelley and Carla J. Kelley

Amber King
Hometown: Strawberry
Major: Public Relations-Communications
Parents: Ginger and Jimmy King

Mark Kuykendall
Hometown: Fort Smith
Major: Finance
Parent: Devon Adamson

MeKinzie Kyle
Hometown: Mena
Major: Public Relations-Journalism and Communication
Parent: Sonya Kyle

Lindsay Lewis
Hometown: Paragould
Major: Criminal Justice
Parents: Malissa and Dwayne Lewis; Kathy and James Warren

Averi Massey
Hometown: Lincoln
Major: Elementary Education
Parents: Olivia and Kevin Barenber

Lesly Mendez
Hometown: Little Rock
Major: Political Science
Parents: Brendi and Rolando Mendez

Dylan Moore
Hometown: Baraboo, Wis.
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Parents: Deb and Scott Moore

Anna Neal
Hometown: Salem
Major: Agricultural Education
Parents: Denise and Wayne Neal
Spouse: Dawson Barnett

Erica Parsons
Hometown: Branch
Major: Agricultural Education
Parents: Taunya and Eric Parsons

Abby Phillips
Hometown: Altus
Major: Health Information Management
Parents: Amanda and Jon Pruitt; Todd Phillips

Terrance Reynolds
Hometown: Quitman
Major: Recreation and Park Administration-Sports Management
Parent: Missy Reynolds

Elizabeth Riney
Hometown: Blossom, Texas
Major: Electrical Engineering
Parents: Shanna and Kevin Riney

Teddy Robertson
Hometown: Conway
Major: Psychology
Parents: Brian Robertson and the late Melissa Robertson

Olivia Rowe
Hometown: Paragould
Major: English and English Education
Parents: Shellei and Shad Rowe

Abby Shelnut
Hometown: Benton
Major: Agriculture Business-Pre-Veterinary
Parents: Jason Shelnut and Julie Kniep

Allison Shelnut
Hometown: Benton
Major: Graphic Design
Parents: Jason Shelnut and Julie Kniep

Allee Southerland
Hometown: Benton
Major: Agriculture Business-Pre-Veterinary
Parent: Jana McDonald-Southerland

Brianna Sparks
Hometown: Russellville
Major: Rehabilitation Science
Parents: Karen and Rodney Sparks

Kariel Thornton
Hometown: Springdale
Major: Rehabilitation Science
Parents: Kysia and Chris Thornton

Courtney Webb
Hometown: Choctaw
Major: Graphic Design
Parents: D.L. Webb and Jennifer Webb

Mac Wheeler
Hometown: Springdale
Major: History
Parents: Monte Wheeler and Shelly Wheeler