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Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College celebrated accomplished student leaders during the 14th annual Top Ten Freshmen ceremony on Wednesday, February 22, 2023.

The Top Ten Freshmen ceremony is co-sponsored by NEO Presidential Partners and the Success Center. All honorees are now sophomores, selected by a committee of faculty, Presidential Partners representatives, and NEO staff. Students received scholarships and the opportunity to participate in leadership development activities.

“It is exciting to have so many students apply for the Top Ten Freshmen honor,” said academic advisor Teresa Thompson. “The selected students excel academically and have a heart for service, which is evident in their active participation in both the NEO community and through engagement in their communities outside of NEO.”

Troy Howerton, an alumnus of NEO and Oklahoma State University, was the keynote speaker at the event. He was honored as a Top Ten Freshman in 2010. He began his professional career as a safety engineer in the oil and gas industry in Artesia, New Mexico. After six years, he transitioned to serving as a production and safety manager for roofing companies. He oversees a team that ensures all state and local guidelines are followed.

The Top Ten Freshmen 2023:

Elijah Atkins is an English and social sciences major from Kotzebue, Alaska. Moving to Miami and attending NEO was a significant transition for Elijah, having lived in a remote village in Alaska. He excels academically and is involved on campus with classmates, faculty, and staff. He is a member of the NEO Honors Program, American Indian Center for Excellence, and the Baptist Collegiate Ministry. He has a heart for serving others and demonstrates this by helping first-year students transition to college life as a NEO Gold Mentor program mentor. He worked with the Honors Program’s initiative to provide care packages to the homeless. He volunteered to water plants and took out the trash daily for a semester for the Baptist Collegiate Ministry. Elijah plans to teach in the future, hoping to better the world through education.

Kailee Davis is a business administration major from Wyandotte, Oklahoma. She graduated high school at 16 and is a first-generation college student. During her freshman year at NEO, she became a member of Student Support Services. Kailee made the Dean’s Honor Roll and received several academic scholarships. She was chosen as a member of the Love’s Cup Entrepreneurship Team, generally reserved for sophomores. She took partial ownership of a mock business, which won the Small Business award at the Phi Beta Lamba national competition. In her free time, Kailee volunteers at her church and assists the elderly in her community by doing yard work, house projects, and cleaning. Kailee has always encouraged others to be the best they can be and to chase their dreams.

Lorri Green is a psychology, sociology, and criminal justice major from Miami, Oklahoma. She is known for her positive attitude and smile. Lorri’s desire to lead and serve those around her is apparent on or off campus. Through her work with the Behavioral Science Club, Mu Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, and Student Support Services, she continually challenges herself to make a positive impact. As the Phi Theta Kappa vice president of service, she presented a proposal to the Miami Tribal Council to purchase and install playground equipment for low-income apartment complexes. In the Behavioral Science Club, she worked with other members to raise funds and donations to fill 27 backpacks to be donated to the Tribes and the Department of Health Services. She values teamwork and finds it rewarding to serve her community.

Natalee Hicks is a physical therapy assistant & general studies major from Vinita, Oklahoma. Natalee completed her freshmen year as a concurrent student at Ketchum High School. She is dedicated to serving her community by ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, helping deliver supplies with the disaster relief program, and serving junior deaconess duties through her church. According to Natalee, “Some may think you must have money or time to give back, but I believe you can give back just by having a kind, positive attitude. To build others up and make them feel comfortable and confident is just as important.” She works as a physical therapy technician and considers herself blessed to be able to help others. Her goal is to help people improve, not just physically but mentally as well.

Blake Hopkins is an agricultural business major from LaSalle, Colorado. He is an active member of the NEO Livestock Judging team, Mu Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Ag Ambassadors, and Aggie Society. He competed at the Arizona National Stock Show and placed 3rd high individual. Blake believes in leading by example and strives to do his best in everything he does. His goal is to become an agriculture attorney so he can represent an underrepresented and often misunderstood industry.

Nancy Jaime is an English major from Miami, Oklahoma. She is a first-generation college student and recipient of the Dobson Presidential Freshman Scholarship. She demonstrates leadership abilities by being an Honors Program member, Vice President of Scholarship for the Mu Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, Student Body Government treasurer, and working at the NEO Bookstore. Nancy attended the Honors Program 2022 Study Abroad trip, where she traveled to Italy and Greece and saw many culturally and historically significant places and monuments.

Mattia Loioli is a business administration major from Ladispoli, Italy. As an international student, he had to adjust to a new culture while learning English. He not only made the transition but also mastered the language. He made the Men’s Soccer team as a goalkeeper while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. He is a member of the Mu Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa and a lifeguard for the campus swimming pool. He hopes to improve daily as a man, student, and player. He wants to live his life in respect of those values of having serenity through positive dialogue and tolerance that made him the person he is today.

Allison Loomis is an agricultural marketing and sales major from La Cygne, Kansas. She is involved in the Agriculture Education Club, Aggie Society, Ag Ambassadors, and Collegiate Farm Bureau. She competed in a discussion meet contest at the Oklahoma State Farm Bureau Convention and attended a Collegiate Farm Bureau Day at the Capital, where she participated in a food packaging program through the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. She also mentors students in NEO’s Upward Bound program.

Kayla Sharbutt is a nursing major from Picher and Quapaw, Oklahoma. She is on the President’s Honor Roll and demonstrates excellent leadership abilities and substantial academic achievement. She has the great responsibility of being a single mother with a full-time job while volunteering her time with several institutions. She is admired by her peers and was elected as class president of the 2024 nursing class. She is a member of the Mu Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa and a board member of the Fire Ball Foundation, which raises money to support the Ottawa County volunteer fire departments. Kayla is also a founding member of the Quapaw Fire Auxiliary, which raises money for the local fire department and surrounding communities in need.

Goldie Snow is a vocal performance major from Miami, Oklahoma. Her desire to serve and inspire those around her is evident on and off campus. She holds the highest student position in the NEO Theatre Experience program, where she leads fellow students in the work they do to crew events, improve the Fine Arts Center, and produce live theatre. Goldie volunteers with the local LEAD agency and in local elementary schools, collects food and clothing for Peggy’s Closet, has been involved in several campus-wide clean-ups, and tutors other students in various academic courses. She serves as the coach and choreographer for Miami High School Wardog Color Guard, the president of Masquers Theatre United and Choir Club, and the Student Body Government secretary. She is an active member of the Honors Program and Mu Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. Goldie believes in utilizing her talents and leadership abilities to help others feel safe, create art, and to realize their fullest potential.

For more information, contact academic advisor Teresa Thompson at 918-540-6314 or tt@neo.edu.

Group photo (left to right, back row): Natalee Hicks, Allison Loomis, Elijah Atkins, Blake Hopkins, Mattia Loioli, (front Row) Goldie Snow, Nancy Jaime, Kailee Davis, Kayla Sharbutt, Lorri Green.

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