Jaguar Senior Medallion Society Honored

Posted on May 4, 2022 by Joy Washington
Joy Washington

Kennedy Reese standing outside of  Jaguar Statue on campus. data-lightbox='featured'

The University of South Alabama’s Division of Student Affairs recently honored 17 graduating seniors with its inaugural Jaguar Senior Medallion Society Award for outstanding academic and leadership achievements and community engagement.

President Jo Bonner presented each student with one of South Alabama’s medallion awards.

“I was honored to celebrate the student honorees at the inaugural Jaguar Senior Medallion Society Induction Ceremony and to recognize our graduating seniors who have demonstrated excellence through achievement in scholarship and engagement in activities,” Bonner said. 

Part of the ceremony was reserved to recognize those students who worked to change perceptions of disability; who have been committed to furthering diversity, equity and inclusion; and who persevered to overcome adversity. “Their work reflects and supports what we know must be true – all are welcomed at the University of South Alabama,” Bonner said.

Students were nominated by a University committee to be considered for the award, a way to recognize graduating seniors who demonstrate Jaguar Pride. The idea for the new awards came from Vice-President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Dr. Michael Mitchell. 

“We honored our Jaguar Senior Medallion Society honorees for being excellent, and it signifies the highest level of achievement for student engagement, academics and leadership,” Mitchell said. “This year’s class of inductees represents the best and brightest of our students at South Alabama. We wanted to make sure that these awards were not just about academics, but recognized the impact students have made outside of the classroom as well. We are very proud of their achievements, and we wish them the best as they graduate from South Alabama.”

Parents, faculty, staff and students attended the event and applauded each of the student honorees as their names were called to receive their medallions, which inducted them into the first class of the Jaguar Senior Medallion Society.


Recognizing the Inaugural Jaguar Senior Medallion Society Honorees

William Bailey Jr., a USA anthropology major with a minor in Native American Studies, is from Atmore, Ala. He’s a graduate of Escambia High School. He’s a member of the Student Anthropological Society and the Native American Student Association. With a 3.9 grade-point average, Bailey is the recipient of the 2020-2021 USA Foundation Anthropology Scholarship; the Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work Paper Award; and the Outstanding Student Award in Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work.

Bailey is a member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. He enjoys fishing, drawing and exploring the outdoors. Bailey plans to work full-time with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Historic Preservation Department, and earn a master’s degree in public history in the near future. He is the son of William and Cheryl Bailey. 

Sierra Knight is majoring in biology and foreign languages (Spanish). She is from Seguin, Texas, where she graduated from Marion High School. At South, Knight has a 3.9 grade-point average. She is a member of the South Alabama Track and Field, the Honors College, Baptist Campus Ministries, Mortar Board Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Distinguished Young Woman of Texas, and is a student volunteer in the Borchert Laboratory. 

Knight is also on the President’s List and the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s List. She plans to spend the summer on mission trips to Mexico and Israel. After the summer mission trip, she will attend graduate school to pursue study either secondary education or as a pathologist’s assistant. Knight enjoys reading, outdoor activities, creative hobbies and music. She is the daughter of Brennen and Michele Knight.

Caleb Lambert is a USA marketing major from Oxford, Alabama, and is a graduate of Oxford High School. At South, Lambert is a member of Kappa Alpha Order fraternity, Mortar Board Senior Honor Society, Campus Outreach, the College Republicans and the American Marketing Association, and he served as an associate justice for the USA Student Government Association. Lambert, with a 3.4 grade-point average, was chosen as South Alabama Interfraternity Council 2020 Greek Man of the Year. 

He was on the President’s List in the fall of 2020 and the Dean’s List in spring 2021. After graduation, Lambert plans to work within the marketing field, hopefully in athletics to help build brand awareness across all platforms. He enjoys hanging out with his fraternity brothers, attending South Alabama athletic events, and being involved at Dauphin Way Baptist Church. He is the son of Jeffrey Allan Lambert and Georgia Compton Lambert.

Ginger Llivina is a USA visual arts major from Birmingham, where she graduated from Vestavia Hills High School. At South, Llivina is a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta, Phi Sigma Iota and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. She has a 3.98 grade-point average.

Llivina is the recipient of the Ann Greer Adams Scholarship and received an honorable mention at a campus sonata contest. Following graduation, she plans to attend South Alabama’s College of Medicine. Llivina enjoys cooking, painting, spending time with friends and outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. She is the daughter of Elena Llivina and Keith Harrigill. 

Catherine Lyons is majoring in biomedical sciences and modern and classical languages and literature. She is a native of Mobile, and is a graduate of UMS-Wright Preparatory School. Lyons has a 4.0 grade-point average. She is a member of the Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society, USA Southerners Student Ambassadors, Mega Musical Chairs Philanthropy Leadership, Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Honor Society, the Jag Pantry, and a First Year Council member. Lyons is also participating in Gynecologic Oncology Research at the Mitchell Cancer Institute as an undergraduate researcher. She is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, the Phi Sigma Iota Honor Society, Alpha Epsilon Delta Honor Society, and Sally Steadman Azalea Chapter of Mortar Board National Honor Society and the Alpha Eta Honor Society. 

Lyons is the recipient of the Coca-Cola STEM Internship Scholarship and numerous other research fellowships and scholarships. Following graduation, she plans to attend the University of Virginia School of Medicine and hopes to become a bilingual physician. She enjoys playing the piano, tennis, yoga and running. She is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Michael Bivens Lyons. 

Abbey Montgomery is a USA international studies major from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, where she graduated from Ocean Springs High School.  Montgomery has a 3.36 grade-point-average. She is a member of the International Studies Honor Society and Phi Sigma Iota Honor Society. Montgomery was also the Chinese Language Student of the year in 2020.

Following graduation, she plans to become employed as an assistant teacher for children learning a foreign Language. She is passionate about Chinese culture. Montgomery is the daughter of John and Heather Montgomery.

Melanie Myrick is a USA biology major from Dothan, Alabama, where she graduated from Dothan High School. She has a 2.84 grade-point average. She is vice president of Abeneefoo Kuo Honor Society and a member of the Black Student Union, NAACP and numerous other organizations. She is a charter member of the Theta Nu Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity. 

She is also a 2021-2022 senior USA Homecoming Maid. Myrick worked alongside Mitchell and Dr. John Friend, director of USA Counseling and Testing, to establish a virtual peer-to-peer clinically moderated mental health community that will launch soon at South Alabama. Following graduation, Myrick plans to earn her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Troy University. Her ultimate goal is to earn her Ph.D. in that field of study. She is the daughter of Reginald and Shenika Ford.

Kartik Patel is a USA biomedical sciences major from Hoover, Alabama, where he graduated from Hoover High School. At South, Patel is president of the USA Southerners and is a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Honor Society, the Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society and the USA Indian Students Association. 

Patel, with a 4.0 grade-point average, is a USA Freshman Leadership Scholar Award recipient and is a volunteer at Wilmar Hall. Following graduation, Patel plans to travel with his family and then move to Birmingham, where this summer he will begin pursuing his master’s in business administration at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business. In July, he will also pursue his medical degree at the UAB School of Medicine. Patel enjoys playing tennis and volleyball. He also enjoys playing intramural sports at the USA Recreation Center. He is the son of Rajiv Patel and Alpa Patel.

Keira Ross is a USA chemical engineering major from Jacksonville, Alabama, where she graduated from Alexandria High School. At South, Ross serves as president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, president of the National Society of Black Engineers, and as the USA College of Engineering Ambassador.

Ross, with a 3.23 grade-point average, is also a member of the Society of Women Engineers and Pi Mu Mathematics Honor Society. She is an Alabama Louis Stokes Alliance for minorities Outstanding Senior Award recipient. She enjoys reading and exploring local cuisines. Ross is the daughter of Chauncey and JoAnna Ross.

Grace Sekaya is a  USA international studies major from Gadsden, Alabama, where she graduated from Gadsden High School.  At USA, she served as president of the Student Government Association, is a USA Southerner, an Honors College student and a member of the Mortar Board Honors Society. With a 3.8 grade-point average, Sekaya is the recipient of the Honors College Whiddon Scholarship Award, the Freshman Leadership Scholar award, the Linley Hexlin Award and the USA College of Business Southmed Prep Scholar Award. 

She has served as a Resident Assistant, a Funggii Lab Research Assistant and a Light of the Village Volunteer. Sekaya plans to work as a Clinical Research Fellow at Duke’s Cancer Institute for one year with a cohort of three. Following her fellowship, Sekaya plans to either attend medical school or pursue a master’s degree in public health. She enjoys running, cross-fit, reading, traveling and trying out different foods with her best friends. Sekaya is the daughter of Mawuenam Sekaya and Akpene Dossou-Sekaya.

Grant Skinner is a USA broadcast meteorology major from Smyrna, Tennessee, where he graduated from Central Magnet School in Murfreesboro. At USA, Grant is a member of the Meteorology Club, Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, and USA Jaguar Marching Band as a section leader and drum major. He also participates in the USA Symphony Band, Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra and the Jag Band Basketball Pep Band, and he is a student Broadcast Meteorologist for South Alabama’s AtmosCenter. 

Skinner, with a 3.8 grade-point average, was elected 2021 USA Homecoming King. He is the recipient of the Dr. Bill Williams Endowment Scholarship, the Albert Schweitzer Scholarship, and the Scarlett Family Foundation Scholar, Service and Citizen Award for the Jaguar Marching Band. He also conducted the 2020-2021 Intercollegiate Marching Band. He is employed by WKRG-TV News 5 as a meteorologist/multimedia journalist. Skinner enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching college sports and producing music. Following graduation, he will continue working at WKRG-TV 5. He is the son of Kathryn Henderson Skinner and Jeffery Skinner.

KenAndre Smiley is a USA strategic communication major from Atlanta and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. At USA, he is a member of Jaguar Productions, and he’s the recipient of the Paula K. Duke President’s Award, the Christopher E. Thomas Board Member of the Year Award and the Outstanding Undergraduate Student iLeader Award. 

Following graduation, he plans to start a videography business. He plans to go back to earn a master’s degree in either marketing or public relations. Smiley enjoys filming and editing, biking, reading and gaming. He is the son of Tonya Smiley.

Jordan West is a USA broadcast meteorology major from Mobile, where he graduated from McGill-Toolen Catholic High School. At USA, he is a peer academic leader and success coach for the Student Academic Success Office. West is a student Broadcast Meteorologist for South Alabama’s AtmosCenter. He has a 3.3 grade-point average.

West is a meteorology technician for Mesonet, a lead instructor at the Math Learning Center Mathnasium, and a former tutor for Educational Talent Search. He is the recipient of the Power South Scholarship in meteorology. He previously interned at two local television stations, and after graduation, he will be employed at WMAZ-TV 13 in Macon, Georgia, where he will be a broadcast meteorologist. He will also do some remote work at Mathnasium. He is the son of Alleane West.


The following inductees in this year’s class will each receive a $500 award in recognition of their specific service and or challenges as they complete their degrees:


Disability and Accessibility Champion Award Recipient

Rohan Badve, is a modern & classical languages & literature major, from Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from W. P. Davidson High School. At USA, he serves as treasurer of the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society Executive Board, a member of the AED Medical Honor Society, AED Scholarship Committee, and serves as president of the Honors College Research, the Boeing Award for Scientific Achievement, the Kathryn Kelly Witter School Spirit Award, the PASSAGE USA Certificate of Achievement in Peer Mentorship, and is co-founder of “The Lamp-Post.” The official Journal of the USA Honors College. 

He is a United Cerebral Palsy Camp SMILE camp counselor, a PASSAGE USA peer mentor, a Singing River Hospital volunteer, and a USA Mitchell Cancer Institute volunteer researcher. Badve enjoys biking, playing basketball and swimming. Following graduation, he will attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine in the fall to become a physician. He is the son of Seema Badve and Anil Badve.


Excellence in Diversity Award Recipient

Kennedy Reese, is a secondary education major from Madison, Ala., where she graduated from James Clemens High School. At USA, Kennedy is a member of the NAACP, the BIG Club, the Epsilon Upsilon Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Abeneefoo Kuo Honor Society, Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education, Mortar Board National Honor Society, and National Society for Leadership and Success.

Reese is also on the President’s List, the Dean’s List, and is a recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Scholarship, the Social Justice and Perseverance Scholarship, and the Minnie Lee Stallworth Scholarship. Reese was chosen as the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs Member of the Year for 2020-2021. She enjoys swimming, cliff diving, gaming, and painting. She is the daughter of Ayana Reese.


Overcomer Award Recipients

Tiffany Howard, is a USA criminal justice major from Selma, Ala., where she graduated from Dallas County High School. At USA, she serves as treasurer of Jaguar Productions, Student Government Association Senator for the College of Arts and Sciences. She has a 3.4 grade-point average.

Howard is a Black Student Union Senator and is a member of the Women of Excellence and the Black Student Union Gospel Choir. She is also the recipient of the Paula K. Duke President’s Award for Jaguar Productions. Howard enjoys planning events with her job at Jaguar Productions, shopping, do-it-yourself crafts, and reading. Following graduation, Howard will join a branch of the military and later earn her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. She is the daughter of Rhonda Howard.

Kevin Culpepper, is a USA biology major from Jackson, Ala, where he graduated from Jackson High School. He has a 2.97 grade-point average.

At USA, he is co-vice president of the Black Student Union, a jag culture director for the Black Student Union, associate justice of the Student Government Association, a member of the Collegiate 100, and a member of the Abeneefoo kuo Honor Society. 

Culpepper was the 2021 NPHC Greek Man of The Year and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Scholarship Award Recipient. A member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated, following graduation, he plans to earn a master’s degree in public administration and to also work in his career field as a crime scene lab analyst. He is the son of Melvin Law and Erica Law.

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