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NMSU Alumni Association announces outstanding graduates for spring 2014

The New Mexico State University Alumni Association recently announced the university?s spring 2014 outstanding graduates. The award recognizes students who excel in overall academic performance, personal and academic ethics, professionalism and social responsibility during their stay at NMSU.


Las Cruces campus honorees will receive their awards at the Outstanding Graduate Luncheon at noon on May 9 at the 3rd Floor Bistro at the Danny Villanueva Victory Club, located inside the Stan Fulton Center.

The Outstanding Graduates are: Lyndi Owensby from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; Justine deGruyter from the College of Arts and Sciences; Michael John Hallock III from the College of Business; Leslie Maria Guzman from the College of Education; Sam Pedrotty from the College of Engineering; Darlene Ortiz from the College of Health and Social Services; and Diana Konchalski from the Office of International and Border Programs. This semester?s graduate students are Briana Bianco, who will receive her master?s, and Gholamali (Ali) Rahnavard, who will receive his Ph.D.

Owensby will graduate with a bachelor?s degree in animal science with a 4.0 GPA. During her time at NMSU, she has maintained her spot on the Dean?s List beginning fall 2010, won numerous awards and scholarships, including the NMSU Honors Excel Scholarship, and participated in research at the university. Her research focused on the correlation between greenness of the landscape and performance and reproduction of beef cattle and sheep.

Graduating with a bachelor?s degree in chemistry, deGruyter maintained a 4.0 GPA. She has worked in the research laboratory on multiple organic chemistry projects and was accepted into the Amgen Scholars Program, a highly competitive national program, for her hard work. She enjoys training new undergraduate and graduate students on basic laboratory procedures.

Hallock will receive his bachelor?s degree in information systems with a minor in mathematics. While at NMSU, he was a part of the NMSU Honors College and maintained his status as a Crimson Scholar and a spot on the Dean?s List. He held a NASA internship from 2011 to 2013.

Guzman will receive her bachelor?s degree in communication disorders. She has upheld her Crimson Scholar and Dean?s List status for seven consecutive semesters. Her academic performance is in the top 1 percent of all students nationally. Guzman currently holds the vice president position for fundraising in the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association local chapter.

Pedrotty will graduate with a bachelor?s degree in aerospace engineering. He is an NMSU President?s Associate Scholarship recipient actively involved in the engineering community, holding a College of Engineering ambassador position since fall 2011. In addition, he was a peer adviser for the Engineering Living and Learning Community for two years. He is a recipient of the Boeing FIRST Scholarship.

Ortiz will graduate with a bachelor?s degree in social work. She is currently a Crimson Scholar and a member of the Golden Key, Alpha Chi, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Phi Alpha, Phi Kappa Pi and Student Social Work Association. In addition, she is a court appointed special advocate at Mesilla Valley CASA, where she attends court to protect children?s interests.

Konchalski will receive a chemical engineering degree. A Mexico native, she has received the Honors Excel and Engineering Slide Rule scholarships. She has dedicated her time to tutoring Dona Ana Community College math students and serving as the vice president of Omega Chi Epsilon, the honors society for chemical engineers. She also serves as an ambassador for the College of Engineering.

Bianco will graduate with a master?s degree in anthropology. Since entering the program in 2011, she has held the department?s rare graduate assistantship. She earned her bachelor?s degree at Penn State University, where she graduated with a 3.9 GPA. Bianco served as a graduate assistant for classes in anthropology, honors and Native American studies.

Rahnavard earned his Ph.D. in computer science, with minors in applied statistics and bioinformatics. He helped organize several research workshops in the computer science department and the Graduate School. In addition, Rahnavard held leadership positions with the Graduate School Council, the Administration and Finance Strategic Plan Team and the Computer Science Graduate Student Organization. He earned a bachelor?s degree in computer engineering, and two master?s degrees, in computer engineering and computer science.

The ceremony cost of attendance is $20 and dress code is business attire. RSVP by Friday, May 2. For additional information about the outstanding graduates program, contact NMSU Alumni Relations at 575-646-3616 or email alumni@nmsu.edu.