CSU–Pueblo honors Tyrell Smith with Threlkeld Prize as top senior

A Colorado State University - Pueblo senior whose entrepreneurial spirit began with the marketing of flavored pancake mix as a fourth grader has been named the 2008 recipient of the Threlkeld Prize for Excellence. Tyrell Smith, Pima, Ariz., will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in automotive industry management (AIM) with a minor in business administration on Saturday, May 3 with a 3.915 graduate point average.

Named for the late Budge Threlkeld, a former administrator and professor, the award is presented to a graduating senior who demonstrates excellence in academic and co-curricular activities as well as in service to the University and to the community. Four finalists were selected from 10 nominees for the Prize, and the winner was honored at the Achievement Day luncheon at CSU-Pueblo on Sunday, April 13 in the Occhiato University Center Ballroom.

To be considered for the Threlkeld Prize for Excellence, nominees must be a graduating senior (fall 2007, spring 2008, or summer 2008) who will have completed at least four semesters at CSU-Pueblo; have at least a 3.7 grade point average for the three full-time semesters prior to nomination; and relate, in writing, co-curricular activities as well as service to both the University and the community. A selection committee consisting of representatives from each college, the library, a retiree, and a classified employee review the applications, then select and interview the finalists.

The recipient receives a plaque and a substantial cash stipend upon graduation. Smith’s name also will appear on a permanent plaque located in the Occhiato University Center.

Three individuals nominated Tyrell Smith for the honor. A transfer from Eastern Arizona College, Smith spent two years on a service mission to Venezuela, where he trained eight young men in human relations and personal improvement and learned to read, write, and speak fluent Spanish. Although he was an AIM major, he inspired students to excel as president of the Student in Free Enterprise organization, which typically attracts business majors. SIFE earned the title of regional champion, and Smith competed at the SIFE National Exposition in Dallas last May. Last summer, he was a standout intern at Honda in Torrance, Calif., where he was assigned to work with business contacts in Central America because of his Spanish speaking skills. He since has been pursued by Honda, Toyota, MHC Kenworth, Ford Motor Company and Eastern Arizona to be an instructor. He also is a member of the Automotive Booster Club and performs with the vocal jazz ensemble in the music department.

“In the future, I plan to pursue my life-long goals while also devoting time to being an active part of my community,” Smith said.

After graduation, Smith will begin a full-time position in Michigan with Ford Motor Company with the intention of becoming a service training instructor because of his desire to enter the teaching field. After gaining experience in the automotive field, he hopes to become an educator because of the “positive impact my own college professors have had on me.”

“These life-long role models have inspired and mentored me, and I aspire to do the same for others,” Smith said.

Three other students were named finalists for the award:

Shanna Farmer, Pueblo, will graduate on May 3 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in leadership studies and mass communications with a 3.95. She seeks a career in political management, public relations, or public interest law, and also hopes to pursue a master’s or law degree. No matter the path, she aspires to help others and continue working for the government in some capacity.
She has logged more than 1,500 service hours both on campus and in the community. On campus, she has been a member of the President’s Leadership Program, El Pomar Scholar, Political Science Club, and a senator for the Associated Student’s Government. In the community, she is the student advisory for Pueblo Teen Council and has dedicated her time to the Human Relations Commission, Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Program as well as several political endeavors. She is particularly proud of establishing the Pueblo Soup Kitchen’s Hunger Banquet that raised $2000 the first year. Since 1996, she has been a field organizer and staff assistant in the Pueblo office of U.S. Representative John Salazar.

Kimberly Houser, Pueblo, will graduate on May 3 with a major in nursing and a 3.72 grade point average. Following graduation, she will be commissioned into the Army Nursing Corps and undergo nine weeks of training at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, where she will train to work at a military hospital as a medical-surgical nurse. Eventually, she will pursue a master’s degree in nursing with a specialization in neonatology with the ultimate goal of starting a home health care agency especially for special needs children.
In addition to her studies, this wife and mother of three children also gives time to campus and community activities, as a volunteer with various health and tobacco cessation programs with Pueblo and El Paso County school districts, soccer coach, and youth minister, who traveled on a mission to Mexico with 60 others over Spring Break to build three homes.

Jessica Viges will graduate this May with a bachelor’s degree in biology, a minor in chemistry with an environmental emphasis, and a 3.83 grade point average. She credits the water sampling research she was able to conduct here at CSU-Pueblo with influencing her dream of becoming a water scientist. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in environmental science with an emphasis in aquatic science. Following graduate school, she will seek a position in local government or utilities to ensure that local waterways are clean and healthy.
A transfer student from Portland Community College in Portland, Ore., Viges spearheaded numerous environmental projects and programs on the CSU-Pueblo campus as founder and former president of the Students for Environmental Awareness, including a campus-wide recycling program for plastics and a Focus the Nation event on global warming. She also is a member of the Sierra Club and the Tri-Beta Biology Honor Society.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.