Eight students recognized as Fall 2021 Outstanding Graduates


Tyler Francis is the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Outstanding Graduate.

Francis is among eight award finalists who will be recognized Friday and Saturday during Fall 2021 Commencement ceremonies.

Individual ceremonies for the University’s eight academic colleges and Graduate School will be at the Cajundome and the Cajundome Convention Center.

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 fall semester’s overall honoree, Francis represents the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration as its Outstanding Graduate. He is an accounting major. Francis has a 3.96 GPA.

While a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, Francis received a Good Conduct Medal; while in the military, he earned an associate degree in Mandarin Chinese from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, a U.S. Department of Defense educational and research institution. Francis also holds an associate degree in general studies from LSUE.

He was a Beta Alpha Psi executive committee member, the Ragin Cajun’ Quiz Bowl Team vice president, and a Student Veterans Organization member.

Francis’ community service includes speaking to Chinese immersion elementary students and volunteering with the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Acadiana. He helped to coordinate drill practices for burial service ceremonies that are conducted for veterans.

Francis will pursue a master’s degree in accounting, then become a certified public accountant. He is the grandson of Barbara Ann Francis of Arnaudville, La.

Here’s a look at the remaining Fall 2021 Outstanding Graduates.

Bailey Austin is an Outstanding Graduate Finalist for the College of Education. She is a kinesiology major with a concentration in pre-professional studies. Her GPA is 3.97.

Austin has served as captain and vice-captain on the Ragin’ Cajuns Water Ski Team. She has had many strong performances in national and international competition. Austin represented the team on the National Water Ski Association' s Athletic Advisory Committee.

She has been a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success and the Kinesiology Professional Association. Her community service includes volunteering for the water ski team’s “Stuff the Boat” Veteran’s Drive, the University’s Get on Board Day, and during hurricane clean-up efforts.

Austin works as a medical scribe at Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center. She also was an intern at Texas Physical Therapy Specialists. She is applying to schools across the country with plans to pursue a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree.

Her parents are Kim and Marc Austin of Buda, Texas.

Sydney Boudreaux is an Outstanding Graduate Finalist for the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences. She is a biology major with a 4.0 GPA.

Boudreaux examines trace and heavy metal samples collected from water sources to assist with research she conducts on plants.

She was a math mentor as part of a National Science Foundation research initiative to enhance Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM education. Boudreaux was a biology and chemistry tutor for Academic Mentoring Matters. She also served in vice president and treasurer roles for the mentoring program.

Boudreaux assisted with the University’s LIFE, or Learning is for Everyone, program. It provides students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities an academic foundation, work experience and social opportunities.

She worked as an emergency room technician at the Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center, helping physicians and nurses treat patients. She plans to attend medical school.

Her parents are Jude and Josepha Boudreaux of Lafayette, La.

Noe Fernandez is an Outstanding Graduate Finalist for University College. He is a general studies major with a concentration in natural sciences. Fernandez has a 3.76 GPA.

A clarinetist, Fernandez has been a member of the School of Music and Performing Arts’ Wind Ensemble. He has performed with the Lafayette Concert Community Band. Fernandez has been recognized for his acting during his time at UL Lafayette.

He has earned several scholarships, including the Dr. Ben and Clare Roy Thibodeaux Endowed Scholarship.

Fernandez intends to earn a private pilot’s license following graduation, with an eventual goal of becoming a commercial airline pilot.

He is the son of Antonio Fernandez and Gloria E. Fernandez of Lafayette, La.

Wade Johnson is an Outstanding Graduate Finalist for the College of Liberal Arts. He is a psychology major with a 3.97 GPA.

He worked as a researcher in the Department of Psychology’s Developmental Science Lab. Johnson earned the Hait-Lewis Award for Academic Excellence in Psychology and is a member of Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology.

His research has examined a range of topics. They include the role of stress in shaping behavior and how autism is perceived in society. Johnson has made numerous research presentations, including at the Louisiana Psychological Association meeting. His research was nominated for the UL System Academic Summit.

He has mentored fellow undergraduate researchers and students enrolled in the University’s LIFE program. He is a member of the Disability Awareness Committee of Lafayette Consolidated Government, and has volunteered as a reading and writing tutor at the Pediatric Therapy and Learning Center.

His parents are Nicole LaFleur of Many, La., and Charlie Johnson of Richmond, Texas.

Grace Marks is an Outstanding Graduate Finalist for the College of the Arts. She is a performing arts major with a 3.97 GPA.

Her contributions to mainstage productions of the University’s theater program include working as a props master, stage manager, costume designer and wardrobe supervisor.

She was vice president of Canterbury House, the Episcopal campus ministry, and a member of Alpha Psi Omega, the national theater honor society. She belonged to Alpha Lambda Delta, a national honor society that recognizes academic excellence in first-year students.

Her community service includes volunteering with Epiphany Opelousas Church, Camp Hardtner Episcopal ministry, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church and the Autism Speaks Walk.

Marks will apply for costume design internships this summer, then attend graduate school to study costume design and technology this fall. Her eventual goal is to work as a costume designer in theater and film.

She is the daughter of Julie Marks of Opelousas, La.

Jase Mayorga is an Outstanding Graduate Finalist for the College of Engineering. He is an electrical engineering major with a 3.72 GPA.

As a student researcher for the University’s Cajun Advanced Picosatellite Experiment program, or CAPE, Mayorga helped to develop a radio board capable of transmitting and receiving signals in space. It will be launched inside a solar-powered “CubeSat” created by the CAPE Satellite Team, which designs and builds satellites that orbit Earth.

He was a member of a many campus organizations, and active with service. Mayorga was a resident assistant for three years and, as an engineering ambassador, guided incoming freshmen.

During his time at UL Lafayette, he secured two internships with Bechtel Corp., one of the largest construction companies in the world. Mayorga, a small business owner, is considering graduate school, working in industry, and opening a larger business.

His parents are Julio Mayorga of Breaux Bridge, La., and Lisa Daniels of Henderson, La.

Taylor Montoucet is an Outstanding Graduate Finalist for the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions. She is a nursing major with a 3.41 GPA.

Montoucet was part of a research team of faculty members and students that studied the effects of integrating different types of simulation activities and the impact on nursing education. 

Her more than 1,200 hours of community service includes 640 hours at Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital, Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center, Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and Vermilion Behavioral Health Systems.

Montoucet, who minored in piano performance-music, assisted with piano master classes. She was a lead staff member for the office of Orientation’s Soul Camp, and studied in Florence, Italy.

Montoucet plans to work as a critical care nurse following graduation. Her eventual goals are to earn master’s and doctorate degrees in nursing to become an advanced practice registered nurse.

Her parents are Kristie Montoucet and Travis Guidry of Lafayette. 

Learn more about Fall 2021 Commencement.

Photo caption: The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Fall 2021 Outstanding Graduates are, from left: Wade Johnson, College of Liberal Arts; Jase Mayorga, College of Engineering; Noe Fernandez, University College; Overall Outstanding Graduate Tyler Francis, B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration; Grace Marks, College of the Arts; Taylor Montoucet, College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions; Bailey Austin, College of Education; and Sydney Boudreaux, Ray P. Authement College of Sciences. (Photo credit: Rachel Rafati / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)