Eight UL Lafayette students recognized as Fall 2023 Outstanding Graduates


Camryn Adamson is the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s overall Outstanding Graduate.

Adamson is among eight award finalists who will be recognized Friday and Saturday during Fall 2023 Commencement ceremonies. Individual ceremonies for UL Lafayette’s eight academic colleges will be held at the Cajundome and the Cajundome Convention Center.

Each spring and fall semester, deans from the University’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, Adamson is the Outstanding Graduate Finalist for the College of Engineering. A chemical engineering major, her GPA is 3.74.

She worked as a student researcher at the University’s New Iberia Research Center, researching the LAIR1 gene and infectious diseases such as HIV.

Those efforts, coupled with Adamson’s research on cell culture, earned her a summer internship at the University of Arkansas Department of Biomedical Engineering. She researched the aortic valve of the human heart. Adamson presented her findings during the national Biomedical Engineering Society’s annual meeting in Seattle.

Adamson has volunteered extensively and been a member of many student organizations. Her leadership roles include serving as president of Delta Delta Delta Sorority and vice president of the Society for Women Engineers.

Adamson plans to attend medical school to become an infectious disease physician. She is the daughter of Lance Adamson and Vanessa La Sala of Lafayette.

Here’s a look at the remaining Fall 2023 Outstanding Graduates.

Vivian Barrilleaux is the Outstanding Graduate Finalist for University College. She is a general studies major. Barrilleaux has a 4.0. GPA.

She researched and implemented a campaign for the recruitment of potential students to the Department of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts. The campaign earned Barrilleaux a Leaf Award for undergraduate students. The University’s Student Center for Research, Creativity and Scholarship coordinates the awards.

As part of her graphic design work for the University Program Center, Barrilleaux designed promotional materials and social media content. She has earned many local, state and national awards in areas such as advertising, desktop publishing, graphic design and integrated marketing.

Barrilleaux is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Theta Kappa honor societies. She is also a member of Phi Beta Lambda, the University chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America.

Hailey Frank is the Outstanding Graduate Finalist for the College of Nursing & Health Sciences. A nursing major, her GPA is 3.5.

Frank has earned recognition for academic excellence from the Black Faculty and Staff Association multiple times. She has been a member of the Black Student Union and the Black Women Leadership Association.

Frank served as a representative on the Dean’s Advisory Council and as a student mentor for the Student Government Association. She is a member of the Acadiana Black Nurses Association and serves on its publicity committee.

Her widespread community service includes with St. Joseph Diner and Second Harvest Food Bank. Frank has also assisted with hurricane disaster relief efforts.

She plans to work as a pediatric nurse and envisions continuing her studies with the intent of becoming a nurse practitioner. Frank is the daughter of Sharonda and Frederick Frank of McKinney, Texas.

Kelli Frith is the Outstanding Graduate Finalist for the College of Education & Human Development. She is majoring in kinesiology. Frith has a 4.0 GPA.

Frith’s presentation for the college’s research symposium focused on obesity and diabetes.

She served as president of the campus organization Students for the Autism Society, which supports the Autism Society of Acadiana. The student organization helps to coordinate volunteer opportunities and promotes autism awareness on campus, including with life skills classes that Frith was instrumental in developing.

She has worked as an intern at Abbeville General Hospital. Frith assisted patients in many ways, including by facilitating electrocardiograms, working with patients who have mobility restrictions and monitoring psychiatric patients.

Frith will attend medical school at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. Her eventual goal is to work as a physician in rural communities. She is the daughter of Clint and Trisha Frith of Kaplan, La.

Oriol Fillat Gimenez is the Outstanding Graduate Finalist for the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration. A double major in marketing and in finance, he completed his degree requirements in three and a half years. His GPA is 3.75.

Gimenez is a member of the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns men’s tennis team. He earned spots on both the All-Sun Belt Conference and the All-Louisiana tennis teams. Gimenez was named to Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s List, which recognizes student-athletes for academic achievement.

His widespread community service includes contributing to hurricane recovery efforts, volunteering for tennis clinics and assisting with campus clean-up efforts. He completed an internship as a financial representative for Northwestern Mutual.

Gimenez will pursue an MBA from the University and continue as a player on the tennis team. He is the son of Marta Gimenez of Villasar de Mar, Spain.

Heidi Gracy is the Outstanding Graduate Finalist for the College of Liberal Arts. She is a speech pathology and audiology major. Gracy has a 3.94 GPA.

She is a non-traditional, first-generation student. Gracy’s course of study was influenced by working alongside a speech-language pathologist who provided therapy for her daughter.

Gracy performs community service with the National Student Speech and Language Hearing Association, the Autism Society of Acadiana and Animal Aid Vermilion Area.

She will attend graduate school in the University’s Department of Communicative Disorders. Her eventual goal is to work with children as a speech-language pathologist in the medical field, specializing in neurological disorders.

Gracy is the daughter of Steven Broussard and the late Joan Cormier and is married to Brock Gracy.

Annabeth Mejia is the Outstanding Graduate Finalist for the College of the Arts. A visual arts major, her GPA is 3.94.

Mejia, whose minor is photography, has photographed events for the University’s Office of Communications and Marketing and The Hilliard Art Museum - University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

She served as president of the UL Photographic Arts Association. Her images have been exhibited in local galleries and juried shows, and were included in the Texas Photographic Society’s “#NewVisions 2023: A Student Exhibition.”

Mejia’s work has been published in The Southwestern Review, the University’s literary journal. She volunteered for the 2022 Halloween Art and Nature Festival in Arnaudville, La., teaching children how to create pinhole cameras and developing their images.

Mejia will move to a large metropolitan area, where attending graduate school and pursuing commercial artistic photography are among her plans.

Zachary Beau Phillips is the Outstanding Graduate Finalist for the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences. A biology major, he has a 4.0 GPA.

Phillips presented research at the college’s Biology Undergraduate Research Symposium.

He co-authored a peer-reviewed academic paper titled “Flood-driven increases in phytoplankton biomass and cyanobacteria abundance in the western Atchafalaya-Vermilion Bay System, Louisiana.” The paper examines the impact of the 2019 Mississippi River flood on coastal communities and estuaries.

Phillips served as president of the University’s Chess Club. He has distinguished himself as a player, too. Phillips placed first at the Houston Chess Festival and at the Lone Star Open Chess Championships. He was also the Lafayette Chess Club’s city champion.  

Phillips, whose interests include neurology and oncology, has interned at LSU Health Shreveport’s pathology laboratory.

He plans to attend medical school. His parents are Gina Marie Phillips and Richie Duchamp Phillips of Stonewall, La.

Learn more about Fall 2023 Commencement.

Photo caption: UL Lafayette’s Fall 2023 Outstanding Graduates are, top row from left: Overall Outstanding Graduate Camryn Adamson, College of Engineering; Vivian Barrilleaux, University College; Hailey Frank, College of Nursing & Health Sciences; and Kelli Frith, College of Education & Human Development. Bottom row, from left, are Oriol Fillat Gimenez, B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration; Heidi Gracy, College of Liberal Arts; and Zachary Beau Phillips, Ray P. Authement College of Sciences. Not pictured is Annabeth Mejia, College of the Arts. Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette