Spring ’23 Attebury Honors Graduates Celebrated at WT


Attebury Honors students honored at a May 2 reception include, from left, Kushal Lamsal, Aidan Tsichlis, Kara Villarreal, Madelyn Eatley, Andrew Horton, Joey Zimmerman, Elizabeth Ragan, Jayla Burgess and Jordan Smith.

CANYON, Texas — Nine of West Texas A&M University’s most accomplished spring graduates were recognized May 2 at a pre-commencement reception.

Students from the Attebury Honors Program celebrated their accomplishments and saluted their advisers during the reception in the Fairly Group Club at Bain-Schaeffer Buffalo Stadium on WT’s Canyon campus.

“College comes with many challenges including financial hardships, barriers for first generation and underrepresented groups, high expectations and, of course, sleep deprivation, but the students we honor today are here in spite of these challenges,” said Dr. Carolyn Baum, Attebury Honors director and assistant professor in the Department of Communication. “These graduates are not just excellent students, but are excellent people who have taken every opportunity to enhance their learning to prepare for a professional future and become contributing members of their communities.”

The program was established in 2001 to provide an enriched learning community for some of WT’s best and brightest students.

The students have taken specially designed courses under faculty from across the University, completed a capstone project unique to their skills and majors, and displayed leadership in their respective disciplines, Baum said.

Those honored included:

  • Jayla Burgess, a biology major from Tulsa;
  • Madelyn Eatley, a political science major from Amarillo;
  • Andrew Horton, a mechanical engineering major from Amarillo;
  • Kushal Lamsal, a biology major from Kathmandu, Nepal;
  • Elizabeth Ragan, a biology major from Missouri City;
  • Aidan Tsichlis, a musical theatre major from Plano;
  • Kara Villarreal, a digital communication and media major from El Paso;
  • Jordan Smith, a psychology major from Amarillo; and
  • Joey Zimmerman, a biochemistry major from Hutto

The graduating seniors will receive a special designation in the commencement program and a medallion at the May 13 commencement ceremonies in the First United Bank Center on the Canyon campus.

Attebury Honors students initially enroll in honors sections of core curriculum courses taught by honors faculty that encourage development of exceptional written and oral communication skills with expanded content.

After taking courses within their major, students enroll in upper-level interdisciplinary honors seminar courses, where they critically consider local and global issues both past and present. Students are mentored throughout their degree by honors faculty from across the institution and complete an honors capstone research project or experience that showcase their unique talents.

Honors students also receive peer mentoring, priority registration and support for engagement in research conferences, internships and study abroad, and live in an honors-only residence hall.

The Attebury Honors program currently includes 149 students.

Currently, 61 students come from the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, eight from the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business, 17 from the Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences, 25 from the College of Engineering, 24 from the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities, and 14 from the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

It was endowed in 2007 by William H. and Joyce Attebury.

The honors program is part of the rigorous educational environment laid out in the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $120 million.