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Toast to Leadership Banquet honors campus leaders

Lamar University honored three students for exceptional service at the 2013 Toast to Leadership Banquet. The event welcomes newly elected student leaders and recognizes other campus leaders who devote their time and energies to the university throughout the year.

Candice Montgomery of Huffman earned this year’s Bess Gentry Award; Will Robbins of Beaumont received the C. Robert Kemble Award; and Patricie Stephens, a Port Neches resident, earned the Ann Shaw Award.

Montgomery, an industrial engineering and business administration major, served as president of Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity and the Order of Omega Greek Honor Society. She has worked as a peer advisor in the office of student affairs and participates in the Lamar University Honors Program. After graduation, she plans to begin work on her Master of Business Administration at Lamar. Montgomery said she is honored to receive an award named for Gentry and hopes to one day leave her own legacy at Lamar.

“My involvement here has really made me the person I am today,” she said. “To be recognized for everything I've worked so hard to become is something amazing that not everyone gets to experience. I can only hope to one day leave half of the legacy at Lamar University Ms. Gentry did.”

The award was established in 1985 to honor Gentry, the first dean of women at Lamar State College of Technology, and to recognize notable senior women based on leadership, character, and service to the university and community and above-average scholarship. During her tenure at Lamar, Gentry founded Alpha Lambda Delta, the Association of the Women Students, the Cap and Gown Senior Honor Society, the Pan-Hellenic Association and national sorority system and the Physical Education Professionals.

Robbins, a political science major, completed a nine-month internship with former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas. He has traveled to Europe through Lamar’s study-abroad program and has served as president pro tem of the Student Senate of Lamar University. He is a member of the Circle K International and one of the leaders of the Catholic Student Center and the Lamar Adoration Community Theology and Service (ACTS) retreats. After graduation, Robbins plans to return to work in Washington D.C. before attending law school. Robbins said his time at Lamar has been special to him and that he is honored to be the 2013 C. Robert Kemble Award recipient.

“It is humbling to know the university is thanking me for my service while, at the same time, recognizing my contributions to the campus,” he said. “I hope that those who come after me will continue to make LU a better, more engaging campus.”

The C. Robert Kemble award pays tribute to Kemble, the university’s eighth president and first chancellor, for his example and standards of excellence, as well as honor other outstanding senior men. The award is based on the recipient’s leadership, character and contribution to the community and above-average scholarship.

Stephens, a biology and a pre-medicine major, was born in Prague and spent most of her early years in Aruba. Stephens moved with her family to Southeast Texas, where she graduated from Port Neches-Groves High School. Stephens speaks five languages, including Spanish, Dutch, Papiamento and Czech. She has served as a Lamar University Ambassador, as student director of civic engagement and as president of the American Medical Student Association. After Stephens graduates from Lamar, she plans to attend medical school to become a doctor. Stephens said she was surprised and honored to receive this year’s Ann Shaw Award.

“It took me a second to realize that it was my name that they had announced as the Ann Shaw Leadership Award recipient,” she said. “I couldn't have felt more blessed. It was such an honor to receive the Ann Shaw Leadership Award, an award named after such an inspiring lady.”

Lamar alumni developed the Ann Shaw Award to honor Shaw for her leadership and contributions to the university and student life as well as to recognize student leadership. Shaw served as dean of student development, and assistant dean of women. During her 25 years at Lamar, Shaw coordinated many student life programs and events, many of which have become deeply rooted in Lamar tradition.

The Dr. Melvin F. Brust Advisor of the Year award went to Teresa Simpson, director of the Career and Testing Center and advisor for the Rotaract Club of Lamar University.

Freddie Titus, assistant professor of professional pedagogy, was honored as faculty member of the year.

Valarie Black, director of student organizations services, was honored as staff member of the year.

Student Advising and Retention Services (STARS) was awarded the Outstanding Community Service Departmental Award for the fourth consecutive year for their work with the 16th annual food drive during the fall 2012 semester.

Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity earned the Outstanding Community Service Award for student organizations for their work with the food drive.

Student Organization of the Year awards went to the Lamar Allies in the mutual interest category, The Rotaract Club of Lamar University in the service category and the Honors Student Association in the professional/departmental category.

The American Medical Student Association was named Most Improved Student Organization.

Charity Obeide of Missouri City was installed as Student Government Association president, Sabrina Lewis of Wichita Falls, as SGA vice-president; and Gerald Pope III of Houston, as vice president of operations and finance.