A total of 1,786 degrees were awarded during the UL Lafayette’s 161st Commencement ceremonies Friday at the Cajundome and Convention Center.
Ada Tusa is the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Outstanding Graduate.
Tusa was among eight award finalists who will be recognized during the Spring 2019 Commencement General Assembly. The ceremony begins at 11 a.m. on Friday at the Cajundome.
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, Tusa represents the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences as its Outstanding Graduate.
A biology major with a minor in chemistry, Tusa has a 4.0 GPA.
She presented research about the model sea anemone – a stinging creature that clings to underwater rocks or coral – at University conferences and symposiums.
Tusa co-authored an article about anti-cancer compounds with Dr. Salah Massoud, a chemistry professor. It was published in the New Journal of Chemistry.
She was one of five students selected to attend the Tulane National Primate Research Center Summer Fellowship Program for Undergraduate Students.
Tusa is a licensed pharmacy technician.
She will enroll at the LSU Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in New Orleans to become a physician.
Tusa is the daughter of Dr. Joseph E. and Ms. Maria Tusa of Mandeville, Louisiana.
Here’s a look at the remaining Spring 2019 Outstanding Graduates.
Haley Brooke Campbell is the Outstanding Graduate for University College.
She is a general studies major with a concentration in behavioral sciences. Campbell has a 3.8 GPA.
She received the TOPS Opportunity Scholarship, UL Lafayette Alumni Scholarship, College of Education Scholarship and UL Lafayette Centennial Scholarship.
Campbell was a member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, and served as its president and vice president.
She traveled to Puerto Rico in February 2018 as part of an Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic Church and Student Center mission trip.
Campbell has volunteered for Ronald McDonald House, and tutored middle- and high-school students.
She will enroll in UL Lafayette's Alternative Certification Program this fall to fulfill her goal of becoming a math teacher.
Her parents are Timothy and Paulette Campbell of Sulphur, Louisiana.
Sarah DiLeo is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of the Arts.
She is a performing arts major with a concentration in dance. DiLeo has a 4.0 GPA.
She was a resident assistant for the Milwaukee Ballet in Wisconsin. It provides classes and training for young, accomplished ballet dancers.
DiLeo performed for School of Music and Performing Arts shows such as “An Evening of Dance” and “State of LA Danse.”
She served as the co-president of Chi Tau Epsilon, the University’s dance honor society, for two years.
DiLeo volunteered with ArtWalk and Festival International. She participated in dance performances at local nursing homes.
DiLeo received numerous scholarships, is a member of the National Society for Leadership and Success and a member of the University Honors Program.
She is the daughter of Charles and Helen DiLeo of Metairie, Louisiana.
Hallie Dodge is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of Education.
She is a kinesiology/exercise science major with a 3.93 GPA.
Dodge belonged to several organizations, including the UL Lafayette Kinesiology Professional Association, National Society of Leadership and Success and the Beacon Club. She was a member of the Student Orientation staff.
Dodge has performed community service work with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Maddie's Footprints, UL Preview Day and Lafayette General’s Zydeco Marathon.
She earned numerous scholarships including the President's Top Scholar Award, which is awarded to high school valedictorians.
Dodge plans to enroll at the LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, to pursue a degree in occupational therapy.
She is the daughter of Jill and Tony Stelly of Church Point, Louisiana.
Kyle Farmer is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of Engineering.
He is a chemical engineering major with a 4.0 GPA.
As part of his research at the University, Farmer helped invent an infrared-based gas flowmeter that received a provisional patent. Flowmeters measure the rate at which gasses flow through pipes.
The invention is designed to replace existing flowmeters that are more expensive and less user-friendly. The infrared-based gas flowmeter can be tailored to fit specific applications.
It was tested at the University and as a pilot project at a wastewater treatment plant.
Farmer collaborated with Lafayette Consolidated Government on a case study to research the potential of organic wastes as sources of bioenergy.
He will work as a process engineer for Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies.
His parents are Scott and Jackie Farmer of Odessa, Texas.
Abigail Gatzy Morton is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of Liberal Arts.
She is a political science/international relations major with a dual minor in psychology and visual arts. Morton has a 4.0 GPA.
She played flute and piccolo for the Pride of Acadiana marching band.
Morton studied the works of Michelangelo, Raphael and Da Vinci during a Study Abroad trip to Florence, Italy.
As president of the student chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society, she led campus beautification projects.
Morton earned the AmeriCorps Overachiever Award for completing over 600 hours of community service.
She will complete an internship in Washington, D.C., to learn about environmental legislation. Following her internship, Morton plans to pursue a master’s degree and a doctoral degree in environmental policy and economics.
She is the daughter Paul Morton and Susan Morton of Lafayette, Louisiana.
Theresa Sapera is the Outstanding Graduate from the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions. Her GPA is 3.56.
Sapera was secretary of the UL Lafayette Student Nurses' Association.
She has volunteered as a counselor at Camp Bon Coeur, and with Miles Perret Cancer Services and Special Olympics. Sapera cared for patients at Slidell Memorial Hospital.
She served as a committee member on the Dean's Advisory Board. Sapera was student representative for the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions’ alumni committee.
She will join the Surgical Intensive Care unit at Oschner Medical Center in New Orleans.
Sapera also will pursue certification as a critical care registered nurse.
She intends to remain active in community service, working with the homeless, veterans and people who are receiving hospice care.
Her parents are Lyle and Rebecca Sapera of Slidell, Louisiana.
Zach Wells is the Outstanding Graduate for the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration. An accounting major, he has a 3.97 GPA.
Wells was selected the Outstanding Member of the Kappa Theta Chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, an accounting honor society.
He tutored other students in subjects such as tax accounting and business law.
Wells was a member of the Association of Future Alumni and the UL Ragin' Cajuns Esports team.
He interned at the Lafayette office of the accounting firm Postlewaithe & Netterville.
Wells has been admitted to Columbia Law School in New York. The Ivy League school is generally regarded as one of the best in the nation.
Wells is the son of Frank and Mamie Wells of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.
Photo caption: Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president (far left) stands with the Spring Outstanding Graduates. The honorees are, from left: Hallie Dodge, College of Education; Zach Wells, B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration; Ada F. Tusa, Ray P. Authement College of Sciences; Sarah DiLeo, College of the Arts; Abigail Gatzy Morton, College of Liberal Arts; Theresa Sapera, College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions; Kyle Farmer, College of Engineering; and Haley Brooke Campbell, University College. (Photo credit: Rachel Keyes / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)