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University honors eight students as its Fall 2019 Outstanding Graduates

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Victoria Furka is the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Outstanding Graduate.

Furka is among eight award finalists who will be recognized during the Fall 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, Furka represents the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences as its Outstanding Graduate. Furka is a biology major minoring in chemistry. She has a 4.0 GPA.

She participated in the STEM2 project, which fosters interdisciplinary collaboration between STEM students and students from the College of Education who create lesson plans for elementary and middle school students.

Furka has logged over 1,120 hours of research, focusing on energy flow, biogeochemical cycles and trophic interactions in coastal ecosystems. She has presented research at the University’s Biology Undergraduate Research Symposium. She recently coauthored a manuscript titled “Food Web Response to Foundation Species Change in a Coastal Ecosystem” that will be published in the scientific journal “Food Webs.”

She has taken mission trips to India, Cambodia and Tanzania. Furka plans to attend medical school and become a medical missionary.

Her parents are Marie and Joseph Furka of High Bridge, N.J.

McKenzie Baumgartner is the Outstanding Graduate from the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions. Baumgartner, a nursing major, has a 3.28 GPA.

She attended National Student Nurses Association conventions in Dallas and Nashville. Baumgartner also attended the NSNA Summer Leadership Conference in New York.

An honors student, she established and organized an Honors Week on campus to recognize other UL Lafayette Honors students. She was invited to attend the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference in Atlanta.

Baumgartner wants to work with psychiatric patients or on a medical/surgical unit following graduation. She also plans to pursue a master’s degree and become a nurse educator.

She is the daughter of Mary Revels of Berwick, La.

Claire Carriere is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of Liberal Arts. She is a strategic communication major with a concentration in organizational communication. Her GPA is 3.87.

Carriere was Lafayette Consolidated Government’s Council for Disabilities Volunteer of the Year, president of the Lafayette Beacon Club for Disabilities, and events coordinator for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Up ’til Dawn program. Carriere was a mentor for UL Lafayette’s SOUL Camp and the University’s Learning Is For Everyone (LIFE) program.

She plans to pursue a master’s degree in mental health counseling after graduation.

Her parents are Wendy and Josh Reaux, and Chad and Rochelle Carriere, all of Lafayette.

John Champagne is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of Engineering. An electrical and computer engineering major, he has a 3.97 GPA.

Champagne interned 30 hours a week at BlackHawk Datacom in Lafayette since Spring 2018, while being involved with many campus organizations and performing community service.

After graduation, Champagne will work as a hardware reverse engineer for Dynetics, a company in Huntsville, Ala. He will also pursue a master’s degree in applied electromagnetics and digital signal processing at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Champagne is the son of Mickey Champagne and Elizabeth Champagne of Breaux Bridge, La.

Katelyn Clay is the Outstanding Graduate for the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration. She is a marketing major with a 4.0 GPA.

Clay has held several leadership positions with the University’s chapter of the American Marketing Association, including president and vice president.

She earned Habitat for Humanity’s Bronze Presidential Service Award for performing over 100 hours of service work in one year. She also volunteered at Habitat for Humanity construction sites in Elizabethtown, Ky., and Newburgh, N.Y. 

Clay plans to work at the McIlhenny Co. as a junior international brand manager. She also plans to earn a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications.

Her parents are David and Cindy Clay of Ragley, La.

Bethany LeJeune is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of the Arts. She is a visual arts major with a concentration in painting. Lejeune has a 3.87 GPA.

She has presented her work at several juried art shows. LeJeune presented a paper at the UL Lafayette Undergraduate Art History Paper Forum at the Hilliard University Art Museum, and at the UL Lafayette Undergraduate Research Forum. It was titled “Robert Rauschenberg: An Examination of Coexistence.”

LeJeune is a gallery preparator at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette.

She plans to attend graduate school following graduation.

LeJeune is the daughter of Steve and Tricia Wright of Breaux Bridge, La. She is married to Fletcher LeJeune.

Katelynn Schonekas is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of Education. She is an early childhood education major with a 3.75 GPA.

Schonekas has volunteered with Girl Scouts of Acadiana and Faith House of Acadiana. She also tutored kindergarten students in mathematics, and first-graders in reading.

Schonekas completed an undergraduate research project titled “Diary of a Young Child: How Childhood Experiences Frame Career Pathways.”

Schonekas is an early childhood education resident at Woodvale Elementary School in Lafayette in a second-grade gifted classroom.

She plans to pursue a master’s degree in education. Her parents are Shelly Schonekas and Gerald Schonekas III of Luling, La.

Anita Woolwine is the Outstanding Graduate for University College. She is a majoring in general studies with a concentration in behavioral science. Woolwine has a 3.84 GPA.

She lives in Hermosa Beach, California. Woolwine earned her degree by taking online courses.

Woolwine, a first-generation student, returned to school to complete her degree so she can advance in her career. She is an operations manager in the construction industry. 

Woolwine also plans to continue her education to better help others who have survived traumatic experiences.

She is the daughter of Helen Foster of New Iberia, La. Woolwine is married to Peter Hoppie.

Photo caption: The Fall 2019 Outstanding Graduate honorees are, from left: Katelynn Schonekas, College of Education; McKenzie Baumgartner, College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions; Katelyn Clay, B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration; John Champagne, College of Engineering; Bethany LeJeune, College of the Arts; Victoria Furka, Ray P. Authement College of Sciences; and Claire Carriere, College of Liberal Arts. Anita Woolwine, University College, is not pictured. (Photo credit: Rachel Keyes / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)