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Graduate Community of Scholars Unsung Hero Awards

Each year, the Graduate and Professional School and the Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG) host Graduate Community of Scholars events during or around Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week to recognize and celebrate the invaluable contributions and impact graduate and professional students make at Texas A&M. At our feature event, Dinner & Dialogue, we honor three students who's service to the graduate and professional community best exemplifies the Graduate Community of Scholars theme for that year. 

Previous Winners

2023

Theme: Outspoken: Leading with Our Aggie Voices. Unsung Heroes were selected for using their voices to inspire, uplift and connect others in the graduate and professional community and beyond. 
 
Photo of Delaney Couri, Fabian Leon and Bryton Praslicka on stage with Dr. Jennifer Strong for the 2023 Dinner & Dialogue panel discussion
(From Left to Right) Delaney Couri, Fabian Leon, and Bryton Praslicka at Dinner & Dialogue 2023.

Delaney Couri is a second-year PhD student in the Department of Communication & Journalism, within the College of Arts and Sciences studying equity, social justice, religion, and the LGBTQ+ community. They also have an interest in interdisciplinary fields of study and the higher education system in the U.S. Delaney is co-advised by Dr. Kristan Poirot and Dr. Anna Wolfe and is expected to graduate in May 2025. 

In their time at Texas A&M, Delaney has been involved with numerous initiatives focused on improving campus climate. As a mentorship development facilitator with the Graduate and Professional School, an interfaith intern at A&M United Methodist, and a former Assistant Course Director for Public Speaking, Delaney works alongside others to develop and deliver training to faculty, staff and students on campus. Additionally, Delaney writes for the Aggie Voice Blog, sharing the ups and downs of life as a graduate student.

Fabian Leon is pursuing a PhD in Plant Breeding. He serves as a graduate research assistant in the Sorghum Breeding and Genetics group under Dr. Bill Rooney. In his research, Fabian works to develop higher-yielding grain sorghum hybrids for Texas farmers. His dissertation work involves genomic selection and statistical modeling to predict a plant’s performance from its parent’s genetic profiles.

Fabian is involved in the graduate community as the President of the Latinx Graduate Student Association. He also serves on the university’s Hispanic Serving Institution Guiding Committee and has been a member of various other Hispanic/ Latinx organizations. Fabian is also an officer in the Texas A&M Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) chapter and a dancer on the Ballet Folklorico Celestial dance team. Fabian is not in a rush to graduate but might finish around August 2024

Bryton Praslicka is a doctoral student majoring in Electrical Engineering. He is under the advisement -- and works on the research team -- of Professor Hamid A. Toliyat. His research focuses on advanced electric motor/generator design for emerging electrification transportation and renewable energy applications.

Bryton works to uplift other Aggie graduate students by sharing his experiences navigating the emotional and mental challenges of graduate school for various College of Engineering publications, including a YouTube video called “A Day in the Life of a Grad Student at Texas A&M.” He was also a guest on the engineering podcast Bonus Bytes. He has worked with student veterans and taught MBA student veterans how to start a business. He has purchased the URL “BrytonUp.com,” which he plans to use for his own blog.


Visit the Grad School YouTube channel to see a video profiling Delaney, Fabian and Bryton. 


2022

Theme: Building Community Through Respect. 2022's unsung heroes were celebrated for their inspiring stories that promoted a culture of respect at Texas A&M, local communities, and beyond.

 
Photo of Haley Burke, Sarea Recalde Phillips and Mariana Rodriguez on stage at the 2022 Dinner & Dialogue panel discussion
(From Left to Right)Haley Burke, Sarea Recalde Phillips and Mariana Rodriguez at Dinner & Dialogue 2022.


Haley Burke is a doctoral student in the Department of Philosophy and a master's student in the Department of English. Her research focuses on Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, Existential Philosophy, the Philosophy of Art, and Social and Political Philosophy.

In her dissertation, Haley will explore phenomenological evaluations of ontological pluralism. Her master’s thesis examines Nathaniel Hawthorne’s notion of divinity. She is advised by philosophy professor Dr. Theodore George. Haley serves as the Graduate Student in Philosophy’s (GSiP) Climate and Inclusion Representative. She has convened writing and reading groups in her department and mentors TAs and incoming graduate students.

Haley also enjoys teaching philosophy to non-college students. She worked with the 2020 and 2021 Ethics Bowl team at A&M Consolidated High School and worked as a facilitator for TAMU’s P4C (Philosophy for Children) Summer camp in 2020 and 2021. She hopes to finish her degrees in the Spring of 2025.

Mariana Rodriguez is a third year doctoral student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BMEN). She is advised by Dr. Daniel Alge and is a member of his bio-instructive materials lab. In her research, Sarea investigates the impact of click chemistries on hydrogel platform properties and plans to explore the use of tetrazine click annealing chemistry as a mechanism for peptide delivery. Since fall 2020, Sarea has served as a graduate student representative for BMEN's Respect, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (REDI) Committee. In this role, she coordinated a town hall event open to all members of her department and facilitated discussions related to departmental climate. Sarea continues to participate in meetings with REDI Committee leadership to develop REDI-based presentations for faculty meetings and interactive activities for introductory BMEN courses. She expects to graduate in 2023

Mariana currently serves as a peer mentor in the Department of Communication and as a research assistant for the Race and Ethnic Studies Institute. She is also on the committee for the Communication Diversity Conference and has been involved in the Difficult Dialogues on Campus Race Relations initiative. She is projected to graduate in the Summer of 2024.

Sarea Recalde Phillips is a fourth year doctoral student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BMEN). She is advised by Dr. Daniel Alge and is a member of his bio-instructive materials lab. In her research, Sarea investigates the impact of click chemistries on hydrogel platform properties and plans to explore the use of tetrazine click annealing chemistry as a mechanism for peptide delivery.

Since fall 2020, Sarea has served as a graduate student representative for BMEN's Respect, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (REDI) Committee. In this role, she coordinated a town hall event open to all members of her department and facilitated discussions related to departmental climate. Sarea continues to participate in meetings with REDI Committee leadership to develop REDI-based presentations for faculty meetings and interactive activities for introductory BMEN courses. She expects to graduate in 2023.
 


Visit the Grad School YouTube channel to see a video profiling Haley, Sarea and Mariana.

 



Any Questions?

For more information, please contact grad-award-admin@tamu.edu

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