Newly minted College of Science graduates Stephanie Florez-Malaver (left) and Robert Carpenter (right) -- pictured along with Gates-Muller Award recipient Justin Cardenas -- receive congratulations from Texas A&M President Dr. R. Bowen Loftin as the 2013 recipients of the prestigious Brown-Rudder Award honoring the top two Texas A&M seniors for 2012-13.


Texas A&M University seniors Robert Carpenter, an applied mathematics major, and Stephanie Florez-Malaver, a biomedical sciences/chemistry double major, each have been recognized with the Brown Foundation-Earl Rudder Memorial Outstanding Student Award, earning two of Texas A&M's three top student awards presented earlier today (Friday, May 10) during spring commencement ceremonies.

The prestigious award honors the top two students university-wide who exemplify the leadership and related traits of the late Gen. Earl Rudder, a World War II hero who served as president of Texas A&M from 1959 until his death in 1970. The award includes a cash gift of $5,000.

A third award -- the Robert Gates-Muller Family Outstanding Student Award, which also includes a $5,000 gift -- was presented to biomedical sciences major Justin Cardenas, who graduated with a 3.65 GPR while holding leadership positions in several student organizations.

The identities of all three winners were kept confidential until the 2 p.m. ceremony involving the College of Science, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, College of Geosciences, and College of Architecture at which they received their diplomas.

Carpenter and Florez-Malaver are the seventh and eighth overall Brown-Rudder Award recipients from the College of Science. Applied mathematics major Tanner B. Wilson claimed the award last year, becoming the first Texas A&M Science winner since 2000, when mathematics major Aaron Lee Bigbee was so honored. Previous college-affiliated winners of the award, established in 1971, are as follows: Barbara B. Sears (botany, 1974); Steven J. Eberhard (mathematics, 1975); Michelle S. Marti (mathematics/economics, 1979); Chi-Cheng Huang (biology, 1993); Bigbee (mathematics, 2000); and Wilson (mathematics, 2012).

Carpenter, who is from College Station and graduated with a GPR of 4.0, served as editor of the student newspaper, The Battalion, was a member of the Financial Aid Services Committee, New Student Conferences Committee, and he worked with Americorps in Dallas during the summer of 2009. He is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa honor societies.

Paulo Lima-Filho, a professor in the Department of Mathematics, says Carpenter was set apart from his other students by his remarkable ability to maintain balance between his academic performance and his extremely active extracurricular activities. "Furthermore, this absolute dedication to social responsibility exercised in a very selfless manner inspires great admiration from all who have the opportunity to work with him," Lima-Filho said.

He adds that Carpenter seems to be the very incarnation of President Earl Rudder's character and commitment to Texas A&M and is a natural leader, a selfless servant to his community and a perfect scholar.

Cheri Shipman, former Battalion news adviser, says Carpenter took over as editor of the newspaper under tumultuous circumstances and exemplified courage when he took it upon himself to actively build or rebuild relationships with administrators and student leaders.

"This required a significant investment of time and energy outside the newsroom," Shipman said. "Meeting with campus leaders, student organizations and generally providing a face for the organization."

She adds that Carpenter's great strength was in leading his staff. "He took time to connect with each member of his editing staff and was the first editor in my time at Texas A&M who spent significant time coaching reporters and editors," she said.

Robert Wenger, general manager of Student Media, agrees. "He manages to rise to the top without needing, or trying, to be the center of attention. I found him to be an exceptional individual who will live up to, if not beyond, any of our expectations for him."

Florez-Malaver, who was born in Colombia and now lives in College Station, boasts a minor in neuroscience in addition to her double major in biomedical sciences and chemistry, graduating with a GPR of 3.84. She is the founder and former president of the Latin dance group on campus called Salsa Fusion, former director of the American Medical Student Association, a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Eta Sigma honor societies and works with the Texas A&M Family Medical Clinic.

Holly Gaede, Florez-Malaver's academic adviser, says she can attest to the fact that Stephanie is not a student who seeks out the easiest academic route. "Stephanie added a second major in chemistry when her honors organic chemistry professor, David Bergbreiter, recommended that an undergraduate degree in chemistry was an essential prerequisite for a Ph.D. in chemistry, a route she was considering," Gaede said.

Gaede recounts that Florez-Malaver's parents were successful professionals in Colombia who immigrated to the U.S. and had to start over. "Stephanie, the most fluent in English, took on a leadership role and worked many hours while in high school to help support her family."

This experience, Gaede says, has given her a maturity and perspective that not many student her age possess. "While at Texas A&M, Stephanie pursued her special interests as an international student, taking on several leadership roles in student organizations. She is the president and founder of Salsa Fusion Latin Dance, was coordinator of International Week on campus and a member of the Colombia Student Organization."

Karen Wooley, W.T. Doherty-Welch Chair in Chemistry, says Florez-Malaver has extensive and diverse research experience and is an outstanding student. "She contributed significantly to the intellectual excellence of Texas A&M while gaining experiences that will be critical to her continued development. For the past two and a half years, she has been undertaking research in my laboratory through a position as a Fellow of the Honors Undergraduate Research Program. Former students who received this training in my laboratory are leading scientists in the chemical industry. I consider Stephanie to be one of the top few among them."

To learn more about the Brown-Rudder Award, go to http://graduation.tamu.edu/brownrudder.html.


Contact: Tura King, Division of Marketing & Communications, (979) 845-4670 or tura-king@tamu.edu

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