Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) celebrated 10 of its brightest student leaders during their sixth annual ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 12. Established in 2009, the Top Ten Freshmen program is sponsored by NEO’s Center for Academic Success and Advisement and President’s Partners. The keynote speaker was sponsored by the American Indian Center for Excellence this year. NEO College President, Dr. Jeff Hale started the program during his inaugural year at NEO. During the ceremony, artist-philosopher, Dr. Lisa Esposito, discussed the importance of creative expression to one’s sense of self and leadership capacity during her keynote address. Nearly forty students, faculty, staff and community members also participated in a special Art Challenge facilitated by art student, Sam Ervin, earlier in the day and a reception followed the award ceremony.
The Top Ten Freshmen honored at the ceremony, who are now sophomores, were selected by a committee comprised of faculty, a president’s partner representative and a student activities representative to receive the distinction. The Top Ten Freshmen receive scholarships, special privileges, participate in leadership development activities and have opportunities to practice leadership skills together. “These are students who understand that earning a college degree requires dedication, sacrifice and a desire to make the most of their future,” said NEO A&M College President Dr. Jeffery Hale. “These students have proven their leadership abilities, and they exemplify the type of students which NEO prides itself upon.” The Top Ten Freshmen is an annual program headed by the Center for Academic Success and Advisement.
This year’s Honorees included: Laura Ashlock, from Kansas City, MO is majoring in general studies. She is the daughter of Ed Ashlock and Jeannie Salmon and sister of Steven Ashlock. Last year, she earned a 4.0 GPA and was recognized on the Dean’s and President’s Honor Rolls. Additionally, she was a starter for the softball team and an active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization. Laura is currently serving as president of the Student Ambassadors and was recently inducted into the PTK Honor Society.
Jesus Covarrubias is from Commerce, OK, and his major is pre-engineering. Last year, he was recognized on the Dean’s Honor Roll and served as a member of the engineering club, tutored math, physics and spanish in the tutoring center, coached youth soccer at Commerce High School and served as a proctor for math competitions. In addition, Jesus worked full-time to pay for his tuition and overcame the challenges associated with learning English as a second language. He currently serves as the Engineering Club vice president and lead tutor.
Brody Cridlebaugh is majoring in agriculture and hails from Princeton, MO. He is the son of Cinthia and Travis Cridlebaugh. Brody was placed on the President’s Honor Roll both semesters of his freshman year, served as a member of the PTK honor Society, Aggie Society, and the Agriculture Ambassadors. Brody was also a member of the livestock judging team and recognized as a top 10 individual at the Kiamichi Link Contest. In addition, he serves as a counselor at a Christian summer camp for sheep and goat exhibitors.
Jessica Cryan is from Skiatook, OK and her major is musical theatre. She is the daughter of Judith Bruton and Scott Cryan. During her freshman year, she was recognized on the Dean’s Honor Roll, and she was involved in the Broadway Cabaret, Choir, Masquer’s and Forestry clubs. She currently serves as president of the Masquer’s Club. Jessica recently competed as a homecoming queen candidate and was nominated to compete in the Kennedy Center American Theatre Festival for her role in the Call of the River production.
Taylor Gee is majoring in business accounting, and her hometown is Coweta, OK. She is the daughter of Julie and Shawn Gee and sister of Korrie, Kyllee and Brody. During her freshman year, she was placed on the President’s Honor Roll, initiated into the PTK Honor Society and actively participated as a member of the NEO Cheer Team. In addition, Taylor taught a cheer clinic, volunteered at an animal shelter, coordinated a wrestling tournament for children, assisted with Operation College Bound and mentored 2nd-6th grade cheerleaders.
Hanna Minson is from Vinita, OK. She is the daughter of David and Kelli Minson and sister of Trenton. She is majoring in agriculture with an agriculture education option. Last year, she was recognized on the President’s Honor Roll and was a member of the Norse Star Dance Team. She served as Student Body Government vice president and held officer positions in the Ag Ed club, Aggie Society and Catholics in Action. Hanna also participated in Norse campus ministry meetings, served as an Agriculture Ambassador, assisted with the Big Event, church clean up days and volunteered at The Harbor. Recently, she was named First Runner-Up in the homecoming royalty competition.
Mattie Moore is the daughter of Steve and Lisa Moore and sister of Charlie and Josie. She is from Harrisonville, MO. During her freshman year, she received the Cream of the Crop award and was recognized on the Dean’s and President’s Honor Rolls. She was a member of the Rodeo Team and finished 7th in the Central Plains Region in barrel racing. As a member of the team, she helped run barrel racing, calf-roping, and team-roping jackpots at the school farm. In addition, she served as a Student Ambassador and an Orientation Leader. As part of her Leadership Class, she had the opportunity to promote, advertise, and obtain necessities for Peggy’s Closet. She currently serves as Student Body Government secretary.
Sydney Reynolds is from Pullman, WA and is the daughter of Dennis and Julia Reynolds. She is majoring in agriculture and business administration. She is a member of the horse judging and equestrian teams. Sydney served as an Agriculture Ambassador, Student Body Government sophomore representative, president of the Ag Ed and Equine Clubs and reporter for Phi Beta Lambda. She was also a member of the PTK Honor Society and Aggie Society. Sydney was awarded the Cream of the Crop Award and named to the President’s Honor Roll. In addition, she worked with students at Washington Elementary and coordinated student volunteers at Horses of Hope in Baxter Springs, KS.
Tim Taylor is from Vinita, OK and is majoring in agriculture with the agriculture education option. He is the son of Barbara and Leonard Taylor Jr. and the youngest of their four children. Last year, he was inducted into the PTK Honor Society, started the NEO Catholics in Action club and served as its first president. Tim earned a 4.0 GPA and was placed on the President’s Honor Roll. He played the clarinet and alto saxophone in The Norwegian Legion and was a member of the Ag-Ed club and Aggie Society. Tim assisted with the Big Event, Norwegian Legion can food drive, and served dinner at the The Harbor. He is currently Student Body Government president and NEO’s homecoming king.
Madison Vaughan is from Coweta, OK and her major is pre-nursing. Last year, she was named to the Dean’s and President’s Honor Rolls and elected to serve as the freshman representative for the Student Body Government. She played catcher for the NEO softball team. In addition, she was involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization, assisted in leading an assembly for Nichols Elementary School and volunteered her time to help with many on-campus events and participated in a campus beautification project. This year, Madison was inducted into PTK Honor Society.