Brooks, Bouffard, Strauch named outstanding graduating seniors

Ashley Strauch
Ashley Strauch

Marmian Grimes

Dozens of students were honored at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ annual student awards breakfast on Saturday. Each spring, UAF honors students who have distinguished themselves throughout their academic careers.

Among those honored were the winners of the Marion Frances Boswell Memorial Award, the Gray S. Tilly Memorial Award and the Joel Wiegert Award. The awards recognize the accomplishments of three top graduating seniors each year.

Ashley Strauch is the recipient of the 2014 Marion Frances Boswell Memorial Award for outstanding graduating senior woman. She will receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in secondary education. Strauch is also this year’s student commencement speaker.

Strauch began attending UAF in the fall of 2010, after graduating from Dimond High School in Anchorage. Throughout her college career, she has focused on public health and health psychology, including work as a research assistant for the Center for Alaska Native Health Research. Her research focused primarily on improving quality of life for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their caregivers. She has received several scholarships and numerous travel awards, including the prestigious Richard G. Possenti Scholarship. By the time Strauch graduates, she will have presented her research more than eight times, twice at large professional conferences, and will be preparing three journal articles for publication.

In addition to her academic and research work, Strauch has been active in a wide variety of student organizations. She served as a new student orientation leader, an Associated Students of UAF senator and a student ambassador, and is a member of the Honors Program, where she served as the vice president of the Honors Student Advisory Council.

“Most of my experiences with Ashley’s character can be described in three words: bold, focused, and dedicated,” wrote one of her fellow students. “Ashley has been incredibly bold and courageous in her beliefs and advocacy for student issues.”

After graduating, Strauch plans to stay in Fairbanks for up to two years to gain work experience. She plans to continue her education by pursuing a master’s degree in public health.

Troy Bouffard
Troy Bouffard

Troy Bouffard is the recipient of the 2014 Joel Wiegert Award, which is given to the outstanding graduating senior man. In December, he received a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Bouffard enlisted in the Army in 1988. He retired in 2010 as a master sergeant after several combat tours and numerous assignments around the world. He enrolled at UAF in the spring of 2011 while at the same time working as an aide in the Alaska Legislature. Many of those who nominated him described Bouffard as one of the brightest and most disciplined students they had worked with. His academic career has been marked with multiple awards and scholarships, including the Jay Hammond Memorial Scholarship for Civic Leadership, Ed Earnhart Political Science Scholarship and Younker Family Scholarship. He is an inducted member of the oldest national honor society, Phi Kappa Phi.

“He’s the best undergrad I’ve seen at UAF in years,” wrote one faculty member. “He’s the best-informed student on Alaska politics I’ve ever had and has essentially taught the unit on Alaska Legislature to students more effectively than I have. I cannot recall knowing another UAF student who has accomplished so much, in such a short period of time, as Troy Bouffard.”

Bouffard has maintained an active civic life outside his demanding academic schedule. He continues to stay involved in community service work with the Fairbanks Food Bank, Kiwanis, KUAC and UAF Alumni Association. He recently volunteered as a photographer for the 2014 Arctic Winter Games.

After graduating in December, Bouffard began pursuit of a master’s degree in arctic policy through the Northern Studies program, where he continues to pursue academic and real-world arctic development. Bouffard currently works as a research assistant for the UAF Arctic Domain Security Orientation.

Raymond "Ramy" Brooks
Raymond “Ramy” Brooks

Raymond “Ramy” Brooks is the recipient of the 2014 Gray S. Tilly Memorial Award, which is given to an outstanding graduating nontraditional student. He will receive a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering and geology.

Brooks always thought that he would go to college when he graduated from high school. When that time came, it seemed like an unachievable goal. While he had been accepted to several colleges, neither of his parents were able to help him financially, so he decided to work and save enough money. In the spring of 1988, he started school on a student loan at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Colo. That lasted for one semester. He then joined the Navy’s nuclear power program. Two years later, he was selected to attend officer training, which allowed him to attend the University of Washington on a scholarship.

A year later, Brooks returned to Alaska to assist his mother, Roxy Wright, train a team of sled dog puppies. He quickly realized how much he missed Alaska and his boyhood dream of winning the Iditarod. He was faced with a decision — stay in school or go home and race the Iditarod. He chose to pursue his dream of racing across Alaska. For the next 15 years, he competed in sled dog races and, with his wife, Cathy, raised three children. In the spring of 2008, Brooks returned to college full time to get a degree in geological engineering.

Brooks has been active in numerous organizations throughout his studies, including the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists, Society of Exploration Geophysicists, Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, Geological Society of America, Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program and Golden Key International Honour Society. He has received several honors and awards and has written two publications in his discipline.

“Ramy has many great qualities that are the result of integrating family and the pursuit of education,” said one faculty member. “He has an incredible work ethic that has allowed him to balance his family and academic life. He is exactly the type of student that makes the university and the community a better place.”

Brooks hopes to work in the mining industry after graduation.

NOTE TO EDITORS: If a student or department is not listed, it may be that the outstanding student for that department has a confidential hold on his or her academic record.

2014 departmental student award winners

Specialty awards
Keri L. Knight, Scholar Athlete
Stefan Tica, Scholar Athlete
Cathy Brooks, ASUAF Award for Outstanding Faculty
Josh Hovis, ASUAF Award for Outstanding Staff

School and college awards
School of Management
Emma Zeisel, Accounting
Keri L. Knight, Business Administration
Mats Eriksson, Economics
Sheila Teal, Emergency Management
Laramie Yancey, Military Science and Leadership

School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences
Iris Fletcher, Fisheries

School of Education
Chasity J. Perez, Elementary Education, Rural Elementary Education

College of Rural and Community Development
Sarah Walker, Alaska Native Studies
Katlyn Ross, Child Development and Family Studies
Moe Cheshire, Developmental Education
Leilani Luhrs, Environmental Studies
Kristina Ramirez, Rural Development
Rhonda Pitka, Tribal Management

College of Natural Science and Mathematics
Jonathan Nations, Biological Sciences
Julia Duncan, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Chris Ballek, General Science
Jessica Eicher, Geology and Geophysics
Justin Cannon, Mathematics
Michael Saccone, Physics
David Leonard, Statistics
Jessica McLaughlin, Wildlife Biology and Conservation

College of Engineering and Mines
Elliot Smith, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Micheal Moss, Computer Science
Jacob Monagle, Electrical Engineering
Raymond Brooks, Geological Engineering
Devon Fitzpatrick, Mechanical Engineering
Simon Ortega, Mining Engineering
John Cheshire, Petroleum Engineering

College of Liberal Arts
Katelyn Sanders, Art
Troy Poulsen, Communication
Nicole Chambers, English
Nannette Pierson, Film
Samai Munoz, Foreign Languages
Sarah Carstensen, History
JR Ancheta, Journalism
Maria Sutherland, Justice
Jay Million, Music
Ted Roach, Philosophy
Troy Bouffard, Political Science
Ashley Strauch, Psychology
Magdalena Eras-Sawyer, Social Work
Megan Rudoll, Sociology
Marley Horner, Theatre
Leah Hill, Women’s and Gender Studies

Community and Technical College
Edith Kelly, Airframe and Powerplant
Jennifer Morgan, Applied Accounting
Benjamin Person, Applied Business
Debra L. Wright, Associate of Arts
Atigun Papp, Automotive Technology
Gracelyn Johnson, Construction Management
Lumpoo Wongjumpa, Cullinary Arts
Billie J. Burk, Dental Hygiene
Christopher Moses, Diesel/Heavy Equipment
Molly McGuire, Drafting Technology
Melany Abigania-Chun, Early Childhood Education
Anthony Naber, Fire Science
Douglas V. Weaver, Human Services
Charles Cain, Information Technology Specialist
Heidi Heiland, Instrumentation Technology
Nicolai Tykalsky, Law Enforcement
Kelly Shover, Medical Assisting
Keith Swift, Paralegal Studies
Samuel Sanders, Paramedic Academy
Adam Fender, Process Technology
Darlene Odgaard, Safety, Health and Environmental Awareness

School of Natural Resources and Extension
Michael Sybert, Forest Sciences
Michael Quinn, Geography
Katie Shink, High Latitude Agriculture
Nicole Warner, Humans and the Environment