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UW College of Arts and Sciences Names its 2011 Outstanding Graduates

April 27, 2011

Each year, the University of Wyoming College of Arts and Sciences Scholarship Committee, which includes faculty members from each of the college's divisions, selects outstanding graduates from among top A&S students. This year's A&S Outstanding Graduates are:

Buffalo -- Courtney O. Carlisle (English).

Casper -- Jenna E. Buffington (chemistry), Abbie E. Patik (psychology).

Cheyenne -- Lindsey M. Hanlon (gender and women's studies and English).

Elkhart, Ind. -- Timothy Arthur Terlep (mathematics).

Evanston -- Kaleb P. Skog (philosophy and French), Shannon F. Smith (journalism).

Gillette -- Alyssa C. Sorenson (international studies and anthropology).

Imperial, Neb. -- Brandon T. Bishop (geology).

Laramie -- Lauren N. Harrison (geology), Christopher J. Holmes (sociology), Gwendolyn Van Baalen (music performance), Robert D. Weatherford (Spanish and English).

La Vista, Neb. -- Jacklynn T. Pham (English).

Olathe, Kan. -- Robert K. Shriver (biology).

Powell -- Braxton D. Beemer (history).

Riverton -- Seth A. Mathern (physiology and Spanish).

Rochester, Minn. -- Meghan R. Lockhart (international studies).

Rock Springs -- Cameron W. Geeting (criminal justice).

Saratoga -- Melissa E. Owen (political science).

The College of Arts and Sciences hosts a private breakfast to honor the outstanding students on graduation Saturday, May 7. Geeting will give the college's commencement speech. In addition, Buffington and Holmes will present the College of Arts and Sciences Top Ten Teachers for 2011, who are selected by members of the graduating class.

Listed are individual biographies submitted by the students themselves:


Braxton Beemer majored in history and has a minor in philosophy. He graduated December 2010 and is a member of the UW Honors Program. Before attending UW, he earned an associate's degree in mathematics at Northwest College. Beemer's hobbies include hunting, reading and playing chess. He is considering working toward a master's degree in history. Beemer says that he has no specific career goals, but what is most important to him is his relationship with Jesus Christ and glorifying Him in everything he does.

Brandon Bishop majored in geology and has minors in creative writing and Chinese. He is a member of the UW Honors Program, Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. He had the opportunity to study abroad in Harbin, China, first at Normal University and then at the Harbin Institute of Technology. He enjoys hiking, fencing and writing. After graduation, he plans to attend graduate school to begin working toward a Ph.D. Bishop hopes to have a career in research.

Jenna Buffington majored in chemistry (ACS approved). She spent the summer of 2010 at the University of Minnesota studying diphosphine transition metal complexes, and that same year, received the Superior Student Award in Chemistry. Buffington is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She was a supplemental instructor for general chemistry and a teaching assistant for organic chemistry. She also researched in Professor John Hoberg's organometallic laboratory. Buffington's hobbies include swing dancing, quilting, hiking, camping, skiing and playing piano.

Courtney Carlisle majored in English and has a minor in classical civilizations. She is a member of the UW Honors Program and Phi Kappa Phi. While attending UW, Carlisle was active in Upstart Crows and the Jane Austin Society. She also served on the Department of English Curriculum Committee. Carlisle had the opportunity to participate in the London Semester in spring 2009, as well as the Shakespeare in England and Italy class during the summer of 2010. She plans to attend graduate school and eventually become an English professor.

Cameron Geeting majored in criminal justice, with a concentration on pre-law. He is a member of the UW Honors Program and his senior honors program focused on serial killer classification. He spent his early years living in Wamsutter and moved to Rock Springs where he graduated from high school. Geeting describes himself as an avid shooter and reader, as well as a huge Denver Broncos fan. He will attend the UW College of Law in the fall. Geeting also wants to earn a master's degree in environment and natural resources so that he may specialize in energy resource law.

Lindsey Hanlon majored in gender and women's studies and English. She is a member of the UW Honors Program, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key National Honor Society. Her main area of interest is contemporary literature and graphic novels with an emphasis on feminist theory. An avid reader and writer, Hanlon most enjoys fantasy and graphic novels. While attending UW, she participated in the Women's Action Network, Upstart Crows and the Jane Austin Society. Hanlon will begin graduate studies in English at Boston College in the fall. She hopes to one day become a professor of literature.

Lauren Harrison majored in geology and has a minor in chemistry. She is a member of the UW Honors Program, Phi Kappa Phi, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Since she was young, Harrison has been fascinated with rocks, picking them up and carrying them home. The past two years of her undergraduate career were defined by work on her honors research project, in which she studied the Albany granite pluton in the Medicine Bow Mountains of southeastern Wyoming. She describes this experience as invaluable. Harrison will begin graduate school in the fall and plans a career in geosciences.

Christopher Holmes majored in sociology and has minors in statistics and creative writing. He is a member of the UW Honors Program, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Golden Key National Honor Society and Alpha Kappa Delta. In 2008, Holmes participated in the Wyoming Conservation Corps, allowing him to enjoy the great outdoors, which he always has loved. Holmes enjoys writing nonfiction and fiction, and he also has interests in music and film. He is particularly interested in biological and evolutionary explanations for human behavior. Eventually, Holmes intends to go to graduate school.

Meghan Lockhart majored in international studies and has minors in creative writing and anthropology. She is a member of the UW Honors Program and Phi Beta Kappa. She has a passion for traveling abroad and went on a short service-learning study in Cambodia when she was a senior in high school. The experience taught Lockhart to be a responsible global citizen. Eventually, she wishes to enter an MFA program and make a lifestyle of writing poetry. She also aspires to work for a non-governmental organization she respects and to give voice to those burdened by economic depression.

Seth Mathern majored in physiology and Spanish. He is a member of the UW Honors Program, Mortar Board, Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Epsilon Delta and Sigma Delta Pi. Mathern was named a finalist for the Tobin Memorial award. He describes soccer as the passion that ignites his soul and invigorates his will to pursue more in life. Mathern plans to attend medical school and is open to what the future has to offer. He says that no matter what he does he hopes to be a passionate and vibrant individual who refuses to take life for granted and see anything but the beautiful human component in each person.

Melissa Owen majored in political science and is particularly interested in political theory and international relations. Among her achievements as an undergraduate, Owen received the Milward L. Simpson Outstanding Undergraduate Paper award and the Department of Political Science Outstanding Undergraduate award. She has been accepted into the University of Chicago's master's program in international relations. She is the eldest of three children and is a first-generation college graduate.

Abbie Patik majored in psychology and became involved with social psychology research during her sophomore year at which time she decided a career in health care was what she wanted. She is a member of Cardinal Key, Phi Beta Kappa and National Scholars Honor Society. Patik has been an active member of the UW Swing Club and a competitive swing dancing team, Saddle Swingers. After graduation, she will stay in Laramie to complete prerequisites for physician's assistant programs and apply to such programs around the country. Her lifelong goal is to help people.

Jacklynn Pham majored in English with minors in professional writing and graphic design. She is a member of the UW Honors Program and Mortar Board. During summer 2009, Pham was accepted to the McNair Scholars program and conducted a research project on the visual rhetoric and new media surrounding the PostSecret project, an ongoing community mail art project. She presented her work at the Southwest/Texas Popular and American Culture Association conference. She plans to earn a degree in graphic design and/or visual communication and work at a design firm.

Robert Shriver majored in biology and has a minor in environment and natural resources. He decided to attend UW because it would give him an opportunity to receive an education while pursuing his passion for fly fishing and the great outdoors. After spending a summer working for the Wyoming Conservation Corps, Shriver became fascinated with biology and natural history. His two main areas of interest are demography and population ecology and paleoecology. After graduation, Shriver will begin work toward a Ph.D. in ecology at Duke University.

Kaleb Skog majored in philosophy and French. He notes that of his wide and eclectic body of interests, the three oldest are music, soccer and card playing. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key National Honor Society. Skog hopes to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy and become a professor or a wandering philosopher. He also hopes to spend a significant amount of time in France at some point. Skog plans to take a break from academia after graduation before continuing with his education.

Shannon Smith majored in journalism and has a minor in marketing communication. She is a member of Spurs, Iron Skull, Phi Kappa Phi and Lambda Pi Eta. She also holds memberships in Kappa Kappa Gamma and Phi Alpha Delta. While attending UW, she wrote for several publications, including UWyo Magazine, Connect Magazine, Ag News and Frontiers. Smith plans to attend law school after graduation. Her interests in law are broad and include intellectual property, media and entertainment and civil law. After law school, she hopes to live and work in the Rocky Mountain region.

Alyssa Sorenson majored in international studies and anthropology. She has a minor in Chinese and is a member of the UW Honors Program, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Iota Rho. Concentrating on cultural anthropology and Asian studies led to an opportunity to live in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, the summer of 2009. While at UW, Sorenson served as president of the International Studies club and coordinator of the Conversational Partnership program and was a member of the community gamelan group. Her two senior research projects focused on the family planning policy in Indonesia and an ethnographic study of the influence of the One-Child policy on UW Chinese students.

Timothy Terlep majored in mathematics and is a member of the UW Honors Program. While attending UW, he developed interests in graph theory and game theory. Terlep's hobbies and interests are teaching, gaming and traveling. After graduation, Terlep plans to attend Notre Dame and work toward a Ph.D. in mathematics.

Gwendolyn Van Baalen majored in music performance and is a member of the UW Honors Program, Phi Kappa Phi, Mortar Board and Pi Kappa Lamba. She was named a finalist for the Rosemarie Martha Spitaleri award for UW's outstanding graduating senior woman. Pursuing a degree in music allowed Van Baalen to spend the past several years exploring her passion for music and singing. Among her many goals for the next several years are to live abroad, to be immersed in another culture, and to move toward fluency in another language. Van Baalen plans to study music therapy and explore the impact of musical dialogues on the human spirit and as a tool to foster communication.

Robert Weatherford majored in Spanish and English. He was a speaker for the 2010 Keith and Thyra Thomson Honors Convocation and is a member of the UW Honors Program and Phi Beta Kappa. Always a serious student, Weatherford began to identify his passion for literature and language in junior high school. Among his many academic interests are Shakespearean tragedy, an interest in nineteenth century American literature and the Book of Mormon specifically, and a nascent fascination in diachronic linguistics and the evolution of language. Weatherford hopes to become a professor of English or comparative literature and be an inspirational teacher and erudite scholar.

For more information, call Diana Waggener at (307) 766-2756 or email

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