Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) celebrated accomplished student leaders during the eighth annual Top Ten Freshmen ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. “The students selected for NEO’s most prestigious award are fully engaged inside and outside of the classroom,” said NEO A&M College President Dr. Jeffery Hale. “They contribute to a positive campus environment for all students and it is our hope that this honor will lead to networking and scholarship opportunities in their futures.” (Dr. and Mrs. Hale join with President’s Partners to honor this year’s Top Ten Freshmen winners. From left, Donna Hale, Rachel Loyd, President’s Partner Lou Berry, Jordan Volkman, President’s Partner Dr. Bethene Fahnestock, Krista Rodney, Whitney Kinder, President’s Partner Mark Rasor, Anna Grace Parnell, Morgan Smith, Billie House, Jacee Morgan, Zeke Daniels, Brittany Abernathy, Ryan McLaughlin, Mr. Ryan Melton, Dr. Jeff Hale, President’s Partner Carmen Couch)
First celebrated in 2009, the Top Ten Freshmen ceremony is co-sponsored by NEO’s President’s Partners and the Center for Academic Success and Advising (CASA). The keynote speaker was Mr. Ryan Melton, the director of service excellence at Freemen Health Systems, who was recently recognized as a Joplin Area Business Journal Regional Man of Distinction. All honorees are now sophomores and were selected by a committee of faculty, President’s Partners representatives, and student activities representatives. Students will receive scholarships as well as the opportunity to participate in leadership development activities.
This year’s honorees include: Brittany Abernathy, Indianola, Iowa. Brittany Abernathy is an Agriculture Business major, member of Phi Theta Kappa, and has been recognized on the Dean’s Honor Roll. She received the Cream of the Crop award at the 2016 Aggie Banquet for her exceptional academic performance. Abernathy is very active on campus and serves as the NEO wrestling team manager, a member of the Aggie Society and Equestrian Academy, and is a student and agricultural ambassador.
Donald “Zeke” Daniels, Grove, Okla. Zeke Daniels is a Music Performance major, member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and has been recognized on the President’s Honor Roll. Last semester, Zeke received the Solfeggietto Piano award. Zeke devotes his time to helping those in his community who are less fortunate. Together with his family, Zeke participates in the backpack program; filling backpacks with food for children who may not have enough at home. He has also worked to improve the homes of individuals through the weeklong community project Youth Force.
Billie House, Purdy, Mo. Billie House is studying Agriculture Business and is a member of the Livestock Judging Team, Aggie Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and serves on the Student Body Government officer team. House has been recognized on the President’s Honor Roll and received the Presidential Scholarship. She has volunteered her time helping with NEO’s Recruitment Rodeo, Rodeo Miami, and Lance Porterfield roping in addition to helping coordinate livestock judging contests for her high school and 4H.
Whitney Kinder, Miami, Okla. Whitney Kinder is an Enterprise Development and Natural Science major. She has been recognized on the Dean’s and President’s Honor Roll and is an active member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, which helped earn the chapter the recognition of Outstanding Chapter for the Oklahoma/Arkansas Region. Kinder has taken several leadership opportunities on campus and serves as a mentor to other NEO students. She headed the Honors in Action Project and serves NEO Student Support Services in multiple capacities, including math and science tutoring and fundraising. Kinder has also participated in several Fine Arts productions.
Ryan McLaughlin, Perth, Western Australia. Ryan McLaughlin is studying Pre-Engineering at NEO as a transfer student from Australia. He is an active member of NEO’s STEM Club and Phi Theta Kappa. He plays on the NEO Golden Norse Soccer Team and has been recognized as an All-American, Region 2 Player of the Year, and Region 2 Tournament MVP. McLaughlin is dedicated to his studies and received the Dobson Presidential Scholarship for his academic achievements.
Jacee Morgan, Commerce, Okla. Jacee Morgan is a General Studies major, member of Phi Theta Kappa, and has been recognized on the President’s Honor Roll. During her freshman year, Morgan was an NEO cheerleader who helped host a spirit camp for young girls in the community. She has volunteered for the Salvation Army and participated in the Commerce city-wide cleanup. She was also camp leader for NEO Kid’s Day on campus. Anna Grace Parnell, Stanton, Ala.
Anna Grace Parnell is studying Pre-Veterinary Science, has been recognized on the Dean’s and President’s Honor Rolls, and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She is an active member of NEO’s Livestock Judging Team, Aggie Society, Student Body Government, and serves as an Agriculture Ambassador. Parnell has volunteered her time to help with FFA speech contests, livestock judging contests, Aggie Week, Ottawa County Fair and Rodeo, and Rodeo Miami.
Krista Rodney, Bentonville, Ark. Krista Rodney is studying Animal Science, a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and has been recognized on the Dean’s and President’s Honor Rolls. This spring, Rodney received the Freshman Cream of the Crop award at the Aggie Banquet. She is a member of the Equestrian Team and Horse Judging Team, the Equine Club, Aggie Society, and participated in the Equestrian Academy for community leaders. She currently serves as an Agriculture Ambassador and is a student representative for NEO’s partnership with the GRDA. Morgan Smith, Welch, Okla.
Morgan Smith is double majoring in Graphic Design and Natural Sciences. She has been recognized on the President’s Honor Roll and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She is active on campus as a member of the Norse Stars and enjoys the leadership opportunities that come with this position. Smith shares her love for dance by teaching classes at a studio in Miami.
Jordan Volkmann, Bourbon, Mo. Jordan Volkmann is an Agriculture major, member of Phi Theta Kappa, and has been recognized on the Dean’s and President’s Honor Rolls. She received the Cream of the Crop award at the Aggie Banquet for her success in academics and exceptional leadership qualities. Volkman is also a member of the Livestock Judging Team and Agriculture Education Club. She played a major role in the Aggie Day’s contests by giving student tours, judging speeches, monitoring contests, and working the tabulation room.