Texas A&M University has presented its top three student awards — recognizing outstanding accomplishments in academics, leadership and service by graduating seniors – to Amanda Hatheway of Austin, Akanksha Sharma of Longview and Mollie Lastovica of Houston.
Their identities were kept confidential until the spring commencement ceremonies at which they received their diplomas. The two days of graduation exercises, in which a record 7,269 degrees were awarded, concluded late Saturday night.
Brown Foundation-Earl Rudder Memorial Outstanding Student Awards, which include cash gifts of $5,000 each, were presented to Hatheway and Lastovica. The award honors top students who exemplify the leadership and related traits of the late Gen. Earl Rudder, a World War II hero who served as president of Texas A&M from 1959 until his death in 1970.
The Robert Gates-Muller Family Outstanding Student Award, which also includes a $5,000 gift, was presented to Sharma.
The award was established through a gift from the Muller family of Galveston to provide public recognition to the outstanding seniors graduating from Texas A&M who have demonstrated those qualities of leadership, patriotism and courage exemplified by Robert M. Gates. He served as president of the university from 2002 until 2006, when he was named U.S. Secretary of Defense.
Hatheway graduated with University Honors Distinction with a 3.85 grade -point average as a management major in Mays Business School. She was a member of the Business Honors program, as well as the University Honors program. She also served as an undergraduate lecturer after developing a one-hour undergraduate course on current events and critical conversation skills.
As a student leader, Hatheway served in several positions on the Student Government Executive Cabinet and in the Student Senate, including executive vice president and speaker pro tempore. In addition, she was a business and communications tutor for other students and maintained a blog about life as a student. She also was principal piccolo player in the Texas A&M Wind Symphony.
In addition, she is considered an outstanding ambassador for Texas A&M. She was a delegate to the Big 12 Student Government Leadership Conference — back when Texas A&M was still a member of the Big 12 — and to the international Conference of Student Government Associations.
As one person noted in her letter in support of this award, “Amanda has been a leader in title and by example and truly upholds the character traits set forth by James Earl Rudder.”
Lastovica, who graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average, was a double major in agricultural communications and journalism in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
She maintained a perfect grade point average while financing her entire education through scholarships and part-time employment. She is a member of numerous honor and professional societies, including the Golden Key Honor Society, Gamma Sigma Delta International Honor Society, and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, for which she served on the executive board.
As a student leader, she served in numerous and diverse organizations, including as president of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences student council, and as a member of the Buck Weirus Spirit Award Selection Committee, the Scholarships and Financial Aid advisory board, and the Farmers Fight Agricultural Advocacy Organization.
In addition, she is considered an outstanding ambassador for Texas A&M, serving as a member of the Muster Committee, a participant in the Texas Student Leadership Forum and delegate to the MSC Fall Leadership Conference, among others.
As one person noted in his letter in support of her award, “Without a doubt, Mollie represents the best of the best in our university.”
Sharma graduated with a 3.9 grade point average as a biomedical sciences major in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences with a minor in psychology from the College of Liberal Arts.
Sharma participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, where she studied Alzheimer’s disease, and conducted clinical research at the Longview Cancer Center.
As a student leader, she served as vice president of the Texas A&M Pre-Medical Society, as well as on its philanthropy committee, and was a member of several other organizations.
Sharma gave back to the community by creating a volunteer organization called Mind with Music to provide music to residents of nursing homes, assisted with charitable work for the Alzheimer’s Association, and did volunteer work at the Good Samaritan Nursing Home in Denton, Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas and St. Joseph’s Nursing Home in Bryan.
As one person noted in his letter in support of this award, “Akanksha is dedicated, precise, sincere, honest, polite and well-spoken. She combines impressive intelligence with a strong work ethic and steady, almost calming, personality. She demonstrates the qualities of leadership, courage and patriotism exemplified in this award.”
Doherty Awards were also presented to Matthew Koestner ’13, Squadron 8 being commissioned into the Air Force; Netan Pruthi ’14, company E-2, being commissioned into the Navy; and Lee Alexander ’14, Company B-2, being commissioned into the Army. The award honors the memory of the late W.T. Doherty, a prominent Texas A&M graduate. They are presented each May to the most outstanding graduating cadets commissioned into military service through each of the university’s ROTC programs.