University recognizes outstanding members of Fall '17 graduating class


Peace Eze is the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s 2017 Outstanding Graduate. Annie B. Briley is the Outstanding Master’s Graduate.

Eze and Briley received their awards Monday during ceremonies at the UL Lafayette Alumni Center. They will also be recognized Friday during Fall 2017 Commencement at the Cajundome.

Eze is a geology major. Briley is pursuing an MBA. Both will receive degrees Friday during Fall 2017 Commencement at the Cajundome. Ceremonies begin at 11 a.m.

Eze was nominated by the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences. She joined seven other Outstanding Graduate nominees, including: Lauren Lawson, College of the Arts; Andrew Albritton, B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration; Julia Ross, College of Engineering; Brandy K. Milliman, College of Education; Ashley Bernard, College of Liberal Arts; Patrick Williamson, College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions; and Sarah Martin, University College.

Briley is the Outstanding Master’s Graduate for the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration. Other nominees included: Donald J. Arceneaux, Department of Industrial Technology; Dylan Harrell, College of Liberal Arts; Yi He, Department of Civil Engineering; and Bin Wang, Department of Petroleum Engineering.

Outstanding Graduates

Each spring and fall semester, deans from the University’s eight academic colleges nominate a student as an Outstanding Graduate. Nominations are based on leadership, scholarship and service.

A selection committee of the Alumni Association interviews the candidates and selects one to receive the overall award. This year, it is Peace Eze.

Here’s a look at this semester’s Outstanding Graduates.

Lauren Lawson is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of the Arts.

She is a music major with a concentration in music business and has a 3.9 GPA.

She was a member of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and the National Society for Leadership and Success.

Lawson earned several scholarships, including the UL Centennial Scholarship, Jefferson Dollars for Scholars, the Goodrich Music Business Scholarship, the Burger King McLamore Foundation Scholarship and the Loyola Dean’s Scholarship.

She is a founding member of the Ragin’ Cajuns Women’s Choir.

Lawson is a member of UL Lafayette Chorale. She was a student worker for the Pride of Acadiana Marching Band and for the University’s School of Music and Performing Arts.

Lawson belonged to Young Life UL and Lead UL.

She volunteered for United Way of Acadiana, Festival Acadiens et Créoles, Festival Internationale de Louisiane and the Louisiana International Music Exchange. She has also volunteered for the Big Event, a daylong community service project. Thousands of UL Lafayette students spruce up area communities by picking up litter, planting trees, and painting schools and public parks.

Lawson plans to relocate to a large city to pursue work at a music venue or with a music festival.

Her parents are Roger and Theresa Lawson of Avondale, La.

Andrew Albritton is the Outstanding Graduate for the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration.

He is an economics major and has a 3.84 GPA. He was on the President’s List and the Dean’s List.

Albritton received the President’s Leadership Award and the Greek Fraternity Member of the Year Award.

A member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, he served as the chapter vice president and as historian.

He attended the University’s first Emerging Leader Summit in 2014 and helped plan the event in subsequent years. He also attended the Sigma Chi Horizons Huntsman Leadership Training Workshop in Salt Lake City; the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute in Bloomington, Ind.; and the Balfour Leadership Training Workshop in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Albritton’s scholarships include the UL Lafayette Outstanding Student Scholarship, the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration John G. Torian II Memorial Endowed Scholarship and the Student Government Association Scholarship. 

His community service includes working with United Way of Acadiana, Habitat for Humanity and the Children’s Miracle Network. He assisted with relief efforts during flooding in the region in 2016. 

Albritton’s plans include applying to law school or pursuing an MBA at UL Lafayette.

He is the son of Herman and Tammy Albritton of Morgan City, La.

Brandy K. Milliman is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of Education.

She is an art education major with a 3.7 GPA and a member of several honor societies.

Milliman earned numerous scholarships, including the UL Lafayette Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship for the College of Education. Others included the George Rodrigue Endowed Scholarship, the University’s Education Scholarship and the Study Abroad Scholarship.

She belongs to the University chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success.

Milliman is a founding member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, and served as its historian and pride leader.

A member of the National Art Education Association, she traveled to New York City for the organization’s national conference. Milliman is also a member of the National Education Association and attended its convention in Boston.

Her extensive community service work includes volunteering for Ronald McDonald House Charities and Paul Breaux Middle School. She also teaches art classes to elementary students and works with children participating in Special Olympics. 

Milliman plans to teach visual arts at a local school and coach a swimming team.

Her parents are Lloyd and Wanda Milliman of New Iberia, La.

Julia Ross is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of Engineering.

The civil engineering major has a 3.64 GPA.

She belongs to the Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honors Society, University Honors Program and the Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society.

Ross received numerous scholarships, including the Southeastern Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Scholarship administered by the Department of Transportation and Development, the Charles and Linda Fuselier Scholarship, the Dr. Ben and Clare Roy Thibodeaux Scholarship, Youngsville Chamber of Commerce Scholarship, and the James Devin Moncus Scholarship.

She also earned the WTS Molitri Leadership Scholarship awarded by the Women’s Transportation Seminar Foundation. The international organization helps to strengthen the transportation industry by helping to advance the careers of women.

Ross is a member of the Louisiana Engineering Society, Ragin’ Cajun Catholics, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the National Society of Leadership and Success.

She participated in the Undergraduate Research Experience Program.

Ross has volunteered for St. Joseph Diner, Healing House, Faith Camp and Vacation Bible School. She also cares for Alzheimer’s patients in a local nursing home.

Her plans include working at the Department of Transportation and Development to help solve traffic issues in the region.

Ross is the daughter of Marie Ducote of Youngsville, La.

Ashley Bernard is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of Liberal Arts.

A speech pathology and audiology major, she has a 3.92 GPA.

She was secretary of the Order of Omega honor society for two years. She was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Alpha Lambda Delta honor societies, and the National Society of Leadership and Success.

Bernard was a two-time nominee for the Homecoming Court. She served as academic excellence chair and as vice president of Kappa Delta Sorority. Bernard was also vice president of the campus chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association.

She received the UL Lafayette Centennial Scholarship.

Bernard served as a counselor for the American Legion Auxiliary Louisiana Girls State for four years.

She was a member of the Student Government Association.

Her community service work includes tutoring children with disabilities and with communication disorders. Bernard organized a prom for children with Down syndrome and with special needs.

After graduation, she will return to the University to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees. She then plans to work in the region as a speech pathologist. 

She is the daughter of Joey and Christy Bernard of Opelousas, La.

Patrick Williamson is the Outstanding Graduate for the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions.

He is a nursing major with a 3.26 GPA.

His scholarships include the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps Nursing Scholarship, the Lucie and Yvonne Webb Scholarship, and the Chateau Girardeau Foundation Scholarship.

Williamson received the Knights of Columbus Military Leadership Award and the USAA Spirit Award. The national award recognizes ROTC cadets for their academic success, leadership potential and future service to the United States.

While pursuing his undergraduate degree, he has been actively involved with Army ROTC training, including participation in field exercises, and a month-long Cadet Leadership Course at Fort Knox, Ky.

Williamson was a Student Government Association senator and was Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity’s community service chairman and philanthropy chairman.

He served as a drive coordinator for United Blood Services. Williamson also performed community service with Habitat for Humanity, Festival Internationale de Louisiane, the Patrick Williamson Memorial Skeet Shoot, the Taylor Trudeau Cycle for Life, and the Big Event.

Williamson will join the U.S. Army as an active duty officer the day following graduation. He will work in a medical center on an Army base.

Williamson is the son of Stephanie Williamson of Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Peace Eze is the Outstanding Graduate for the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences.

She is a geology major with a concentration in petroleum geology and a minor in mathematics. Eze has a 3.82 GPA.

She was vice president of the University Honors Council, multicultural officer for the University Program Council, and secretary for the African Students Association.

She was named Outstanding Senior at Ragin’ Recognition and Miss Umoja Scholarship Queen.

Eze collaborated with faculty members from Stanford University on a research project called “Seismic Characterization of the Terrebone Mini Basin: A hydrate rich depositional system in the Gulf of Mexico.” At the University, she conducted research in paleoclimate studies.

Her scholarships include the Fleur des Lis International Scholarship and a National Association of Black Geoscientists Scholarship.

She is a member of the UL Honors Program, Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society and the National Collegiate Honors Council.

Eze is vice president of the UL Lafayette National Society of Black Engineers.

She developed a tutoring program in math, science and English for underprivileged students, and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, the Big Event and New Hope Community Development of Acadiana.

Eze plans to pursue a master’s degree in geology from the University.

She is the daughter of Peter and Lillian Eze of Lafayette, La.

Sarah Martin is the Outstanding Graduate for University College.

She is a general studies major with a 3.47 GPA.

Martin was on the President’s and Dean’s lists. Her scholarships included a Rural Carrier Scholarship and a UL Lafayette Distinguished Freshman Scholarship.

She was a member of the Association of Future Alumni and Kappa Delta Sorority. She also belonged to the campus chapter of the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana, an organization focused on advocacy for teachers and excellence in education.

She performed community service for CASA of Southwest Louisiana, the Girl Scouts of America, and Faith House.

She plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work and to earn teacher certification.

She is the daughter of Dwayne and Melanie Martin of Scott, La.

Outstanding Master’s Graduates

Five graduate students were finalists for the Outstanding Master’s Graduate designation.

Each graduate program can nominate a student for the award. Nominations are based on leadership, scholarship, service and research. A committee, led by the dean of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Graduate School, selects the top candidates.

An Alumni Association committee interviews candidates and chooses one as the overall Outstanding Master’s Graduate. Annie Briley is this year’s receipient.

Here are the nominees.

Donald J. Arceneaux is the Outstanding Master’s Graduate for the Department of Industrial Technology. The department is within the College of Engineering.

He has a 4.0 GPA, and is pursuing a master’s degree in systems technology.

Arceneaux’s research in the University’s Laboratory of Composite Materials focused on the design of “smart” materials, which can be changed through stress, temperature, moisture, magnetic fields and other external forces.

As a graduate teaching assistant, Arceneaux conducted tutoring sessions in analog and digital electronics, and advanced data acquisition. He also contributed to recruitment of students interested in STEM-related fields through his participation in UL Lafayette Engineering and Technology Day.

He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2010-2016. During his infantry training at Camp Geiger, North Carolina, Arceneaux was selected as Honors Graduate from among 130 members of Delta Company. He earned the rank of sergeant and served a combat tour in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

He regularly volunteers for fundraising events with the Marine Corps League, which assists Marines and veterans.

Arceneaux earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology in 2014 from UL Lafayette. He is the son of Scott and Rebecca Arceneaux, and is married to Katherine Arceneaux. 

Annie B. Briley is the Outstanding Master’s Graduate for the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration, and the overall 2017 Outstanding Master’s Graduate.

She is pursuing an MBA, and has a 4.0 GPA.

Briley is a graduate research assistant in the Moody College and has analyzed website content for nonprofit organizations. Under the supervision of the college’s dean, she wrote a five-year plan for a proposed $15 million hospitality management center. 

She’s also worked as a consultant for Innov8 Acadiana’s business accelerator program.

Briley served as graduate school senator and as vice president of UL Lafayette’s Student Government Association. She is recruitment chair of the MBA Association.

As a project management intern with BBR Creative advertising firm in Lafayette, she led a $10,000 rebranding project for the Outreach Center for Women and Children, a shelter for homeless Acadiana residents. She serves on the organization’s leadership council.

Briley’s community service activities include support for the Walk to Defeat ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

She has received the Alpha Lambda Fellowship’s Dorothy Anderson Fellowship; the Student Government Association Scholarship; and Greek Woman of the Year designation. An alumna of the Gamma Kappa chapter of Kappa Delta sorority, she was a 2016 inductee into the Greek Hall of Fame.

Briley is the daughter of Mark and Stacey Briley. She earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from UL Lafayette.

Dylan Harrell is Outstanding Master’s Graduate for the College of Liberal Arts.

Harrell graduated with a master’s degree in psychology at the end of the Summer 2017 semester. He maintained a 4.0 GPA. The Outstanding Master’s Graduate Award is not presented during Summer Commencement.

He is pursuing a doctorate in counseling psychology at Louisiana Tech University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UL Lafayette in 2015.

While pursuing his master’s degree, Harrell worked as a research assistant on projects that investigated drug rehabilitation programs; individuals’ perceptions of death and dying; and empathy among preschool-age children.

He also worked as a graduate assistant in the University’s Office of Community Service, and helped coordinate activities for SOUL Camp and The Big Event. Both programs encourage community service projects among the student body.

Off campus, Harrell was a rape crisis advocate at Hearts of Hope, a sexual violence center. He volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Acadiana and at Camp Braveheart, a grief camp for children sponsored by Hospice of Acadiana.

He was group director for Healing House in Lafayette, and the clinical point person for Camp Erin in Baton Rouge, La. Both organizations provide support for children who have experienced tragedy or the death of a loved one.

Harrell is the son of Gene and Charlene Harrell. He lives in Minden, La.

Yi He is Outstanding Master’s Graduate for the Department of Civil Engineering. The department is within the University’s College of Engineering.

His GPA is 3.88.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in transportation science and engineering from Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin, China.

At UL Lafayette, his computer programming and data mining skills have contributed to the Civil Engineering department’s ongoing examinations of highway safety. 

He was a 2016 participant in the College of Engineering’s Designing Leaders Program. It encourages leadership skill development that future engineers can take with them into the job market.

His other honors include an Institute of Transportation Engineers Scholarship, and numerous grants and scholarships awarded while he was a student in China.

He has authored articles in numerous refereed journals, including “Mathematical Problems in Engineering” and “Promet: Traffic and Transportation,” and presented research on intersection safety at the 2017 Road Safety and Intersection Conference in The Hague, Netherlands. 

He is one of the youngest members of the Chinese Overseas Transportation Association, a nonprofit that encourages international collaborations among professionals in the transportation industry.

After graduation, he plans to pursue a doctorate from UL Lafayette’s School of Computing and Informatics.

He is the son of Dongxiang He and Yan Wang, and the husband of Wenjun Cai.

Bin Wang is the Department of Petroleum Engineering’s Outstanding Master’s Graduate. The department is within the College of Engineering.

His GPA is 3.87.

Wang’s research has focused on nanoparticle simulations, and on creating algorithms to improve fluid flow in fracture networks. Fracture networks contribute to storage and movement of fluids such as petroleum.

His articles have appeared in several refereed journals, including the “Journal of Energy Resources Technology” and the Society of Petroleum Engineer’s “Drilling & Completion.”

Wang also presented his findings at the 2017 SPE Reservoir Simulation Conference.

He holds a master’s degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering from China University of Petroleum in Beijing. He previously earned a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from Yangtze University, also in Beijing.

While pursuing his degrees in China, Wang worked as a hydraulic fracturing field assistant engineer and as a radial drilling field experiment assistant for two oil companies.

He was also a team leader in the 2013 National Petroleum Engineering Design Competition. The team placed third.

He is the son of Yangang Wang and Meizhu Qian.


Top photo: Kyle Bacon, Alumni Association president, far left, and Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president, far right, flank the University’s Fall 2017 overall Outstanding Graduates. Peace Eze, second from left, is a senior who will earn a bachelor’s degree from the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences during Commencement ceremonies on Friday. Annie Briley, third from left, will earn an MBA from the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration. (Photo credit: Courtney Bergeron / UL Lafayette Alumni Association)

Second photo: Eight UL Lafayette seniors and five master’s students have been recognized as Outstanding Graduates. Seated from left are Patrick Williamson, Yi He, Bin Wang, Brandi Milliman, Ashley Bernard and Lauren Lawson. Standing, from left, are: Kyle Bacon, Alumni Association president, Julia Ross, Dylan Harrell, Andrew Albritton, Peace Eze, Sarah Martin, Donald Arceneaux, Annie Briley and Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president. (Photo credit: Courtney Bergeron / UL Lafayette Alumni Association)