UL Lafayette recognizes top scholars as Spring 2024 Outstanding Master’s Graduates


Thomas Poché is the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s overall Outstanding Master’s Graduate. Poché is among four award finalists who will be recognized Friday and Saturday during Spring 2024 Commencement ceremonies. Individual ceremonies for UL Lafayette’s eight academic colleges will be held at the Cajundome and the Cajundome Convention Center.

Graduate programs nominate one student as their Outstanding Master’s Graduate. Criteria include leadership, scholarship, service and research. The dean of the University’s Graduate School leads a panel that selects the top candidates. An Alumni Association committee interviews the finalists and chooses an overall Outstanding Master’s Graduate.

In addition to being the spring semester’s overall honoree, Poché is the Outstanding Master’s Graduate Finalist for the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering. He is pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Poché has conducted research projects supported by the National Science Foundation. He is first author on a paper being reviewed by the journal Materials Chemistry and Physics. His research expertise includes in areas such as materials engineering, particularly related to the synthesis and characterization of thin film materials utilized in manufacturing semiconductor devices.

Another research interest focuses on the utilization of reinforcement learning and computer vision towards vibration control and autonomous navigation. As a graduate research assistant in the multifunctional materials and devices lab, Poché conducted research related to various materials and techniques in the semiconductor industry. He plans to work at a major semiconductor manufacturing company, developing future generations of electronic devices. 

Le Hui Ch’ng is the Outstanding Master’s Graduate Finalist for the School of Music and Performing Arts in the College of the Arts. She is pursuing a master’s degree in music. 

Ch’ng conducted an in-depth analysis of the pedagogical values inherent in the original edition of Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi’s Ghibli Best Stories. She researched and curated content to raise awareness about 20th and 21st century American female composers and their contributions to music.

Ch’ng won the University’s Frank Hanley Solo Piano Competition and the UL Lafayette Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. She served as president of the Music Teachers National Association campus chapter. Ch’ng represented the state in the association’s Regional Piano Competition.

She will enroll in a doctoral of music arts program to study piano performance and pedagogy. Ch’ng plans to establish a conservatory or music studio in Malaysia. 

Madisen Fontenot is the Outstanding Master’s Graduate Finalist for the School of Kinesiology in the College of Education & Human Development. She is pursuing a master’s degree in athletic training.

For her capstone project, Fontenot examined the importance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation training, and the most efficient ways to educate and train the general public about CPR. She has presented research on the topic to the Louisiana Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. At the association’s state conference, she has made presentations on subjects that include automated external defibrillators, adolescent obesity, and injury and emergency preparedness.

As part of her clinical experiences, Fontenot performed injury evaluations and minor wound care for athletes. She plans to work in a clinical setting following graduation. Her goal is to own a business that is focused on treating members of the military and first responders.

Jon-Patric Veal is the Outstanding Master’s Graduate Finalist for the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts. He is pursuing a master’s degree in psychology.

Veal was a graduate assistant in the University’s Louisiana Contextual Science Research Group. He has conducted research related to a contextual behavioral conceptualization of intimacy that was published in Frontiers in Psychology, a peer-reviewed academic journal.

Veal’s master’s thesis was titled “How Variations in Perspective Taking Can Moderate the Effects of Interventions on Implicit Racial Bias.” He has made presentations on subjects such as depressive symptoms and trauma in young people who have been involved in juvenile delinquency programs, and on predicting treatment seeking intent in Black and White Americans. 

He will enroll in a doctoral program to study clinical psychology. Veal also plans to provide mental health services to underrepresented youth.

Learn more about Spring 2024 Commencement.
Photo caption: The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Spring 2024 Outstanding Master’s Graduates, shown from left, are Le Hui Ch’ng, School of Music and Performing Arts; Madisen Fontenot, School of Kinesiology; Outstanding Master’s Graduate Thomas Poché, Department of Mechanical Engineering; and Jon-Patric Veal, Department of Psychology. Photo credit: Paul Kieu / University of Louisiana at Lafayette