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Lamar honors 5 as top graduates in class of December 2011

Five Lamar University students attained perfect 4.0 grade-point averages to share Plummer Award honors as the top academic graduates in Lamar’s class of December 2011.

Earning Plummer Awards as top female graduates are Marianne Cowl of Liberty, who earned a bachelor of arts in French; Jami Sanders of Woodville, a bachelor of applied arts and sciences; and Katherine White of Orange, a bachelor of business in accounting. The male Plummer Award recipients are Ernesto Alvarez Jr. of Cotijo, Mexico, who earned a bachelor of arts in political science, and Ryan Grandusky of Temple, a bachelor of applied arts and sciences. Alvarez is a graduate of Port Arthur Memorial High School.

President James Simmons announced the Plummer recipients at the conclusion of the morning commencement ceremony, where state Sen. Brian Birdwell, a decorated military veteran and Lamar graduate, addressed graduates and guests. The Plummer Awards honor the late Otho Plummer, who was chairman emeritus of the Lamar board of regents and a board member for several decades.

Marianne Cowl and her husband, Jeff, have three children: Jeff, Josh and Lucas. The daughter of Julia and Walter Ludka, she graduated from St. Frances High School in Traverse City, Mich. Cowl is a member of the International Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and of Pi Delta Phi national French honor society, which she served as president. Other organizations include the French Circle and Lamar Student Education Association. Cowl was a recipient of the
Charles and Susan Gordon and Julia Gordon Gray Memorial Scholarship, the Dr. M. LeRoy Ellis Memorial Scholarship in French and the Stine-Zellner Scholarship. Cowl lists her hobbies as reading, travel and “anything Francophone.” She plans to teach French in high school and pursue a master’s degree in French.

Jami Sanders is married to Michael Sanders and has one daughter, Jessi. The daughter of the late Betty and James Duke, she is a graduate of Groom High School in Groom, Texas. Sanders is a member of Phi Kappa Phi. She lists her hobbies as reading, writing, painting, crafting, learning to play guitar, enjoying the outdoors and spending time with family. Sanders plans to pursue secondary teacher certification through Lamar.

Katherine White, a graduate of Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School, is the daughter of Tim and Sherry White and Lywana and Dale Bourland. She and her fiancé, Philip Popp, plan a Dec. 30 wedding. Memberships include the Lamar Honors Program; the Accounting Society; Beta Alpha Psi, an honorary organization for financial information students and professionals; and Beta Gamma Sigma, international honor society serving business students accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. White also worked as a news anchor on LUTV and as a student assistant in the office of athletic media relations.

She was a recipient of the M.L. Lefler Sr. and Bessie Lefler Memorial Scholarship, Carlton Mahlmann Memorial Scholarship in Accounting and the Charles and Susan Gordon and Julia Gordon Gray Memorial Scholarship. White lists her hobbies as spending time with family and friends and listening to music. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in accounting at the University of Texas-San Antonio starting in spring 2012.

Ernesto Alvarez, the son of Norma and Ernesto Alvarez, is a graduate of Memorial High School in Port Arthur. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Sigma Alpha national political science honor Society, Sigma Delta Pi national collegiate Hispanic honor society and Phi Eta Sigma-Alpha Lambda Beta honor society. Alvarez served as president of the Education Initiative Association and was a member of the Lamar Pre-Law Society and Spanish Circle. He was a recipient of the H.C. and Willie Mae Galloway Endowed Scholarship in Business, Dr. Irving Dawson Scholarship in Political Science, Phillip E. and Cheryl S. Fuller Scholarship in Business and the Marilyn and Gilbert Adams Jr. Scholarship. He lists his hobbies as playing guitar, soccer, travel, the outdoors and learning new languages. His plans include continuing his studies by attending law school in fall 2012 “in hopes of one day becoming a prominent attorney.”

Ryan Grandusky graduated from Temple High School and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi. He plans to pursue a master of business administration.