NEO to induct fifth annual “Top 10” honorees - KOAM TV 7

NEO to induct fifth annual “Top 10” honorees



NEO to induct fifth annual "Top 10" honorees

Miami, Oklahoma – Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013 – Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) recently announced 10 of its most accomplished students through the fifth annual Top 10 Freshmen program. Nominations for this distinction were submitted by faculty and staff.  A selection committee examined criteria which included students' cumulative grade point average, campus involvement and academic leadership. These individuals will be honored Friday, Nov. 8 at 4 p.m. in the Fine Arts Auditorium.

For the fifth year anniversary celebration, previous Top Ten Freshmen recipients will be invited to attend the ceremony and a reunion dinner. Also, in honor of the anniversary, there will be a special keynote speaker, Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate. Askinosie was recognized by "O" (Oprah's) Magazine as one of the "14 Guys Who Are Saving the World" for operating a profit-sharing, single origin chocolate factory with worldwide partners. His chocolate has garnered numerous awards and led to an endless array of social good. The ceremony is open to the public at no charge.


The Freshman Top Ten honor is awarded to students early in their sophomore year to recognize their freshman year achievements. The students participate in leadership building activities, receive $200 scholarships, faculty parking passes and their names engraved on plaques that proudly hang in the academic success center. 

Established in 2009, the Top Ten Freshmen program is sponsored by NEO's Center for Academic Success and Advisement and President's Partners. NEO College President, Dr. Jeff Hale started the program during his inaugural year at NEO.

"These are students who understand that earning a college degree requires dedication, sacrifice and a desire to make the most of their future," said NEO A&M College President Dr. Jeffery Hale. "These students have proven their leadership abilities, and they exemplify the type of students which NEO prides itself upon." 

Their awards and the ceremony is funded by the President's Partners campaign. The President's Partners campaign was established by the NEO Development Foundation in the fall of 2009 to implement various campus projects.  Already, the group has provided monetary support for the creation of the Tribal Flag Plaza, which now graces the entrance to the new student housing complex, sent students to study abroad, supported Theatre NEO in their production expenses, supported the first NEO Fine Arts Hall of Fame, provided a free ACT Prep Class for local high school students, supported several campus beautification efforts and funded scholarships for NEO's Top 10 Freshmen.

In January 2010, the Presidential Partners funded the establishment of the NEO Textbook Bank, a collection of textbooks that are available at no cost to assist students who cannot afford to purchase their book.

To date, a total of 81 President's Partners have contributed $203,000 to the campaign.

"The Top Ten Freshmen competition has quickly become a cherished tradition and it is considered a top honor to be named among the elite group of 10 distinguished student scholars and leaders each year. It serves as a motivating force for incoming students to strive to achieve. We are thrilled to celebrate the successes of our former and current honorees with special additions to the event this year," said Rachel Lloyd, the director for the Center of Academic Success and Advisement. 

The following students represent the fifth class selected to the Top 10 Freshmen program:

  • Christopher Basden is from Okemah, Okla. He is the son of Larry and Janell Basden and is majoring in natural resource and ecology management. Basden is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) and served as the president of the Forestry Club. He received the Freshman Cream of the Crop award, the Forestry Special Recognition award, was placed on the President's Honor Roll and earned his Wild land Firefighting Certification. He served in the Big Event, as an orientation leader, competed as a homecoming candidate and was recently awarded the American FFA Degree. He was also active in planning for Aggie Days and the annual Aggie Banquet. According to agriculture instructor, Mike Neal, "Chris's ability to work collaboratively while guiding an assignment quickly and effectively is outstanding."


  • Lea Crump is majoring in agriculture and hails from Calhoun, Ga. She is the daughter of Lee Crump and sister of Crystal Whitfield. Crump serves as an officer for the PTK Honor Society, was placed on the Dean's Honor Roll and selected as an Agriculture Ambassador. She serves as a member of the livestock judging team and assisted with a livestock judging camp that benefitted children in Ga. over the summer. She also volunteered to help with Food for Finals and cleaning the stadium after football games. Agriculture instructor, Amanda Burrows, relayed in her recommendation letter that "Lea's time management, academics, great attendance record, people skills and commitment to her work truly show that she is a very well rounded, versatile young lady."


  • Clarissa Davis is an early childhood education major from Afton, Okla. She is wife of Shawn Davis and daughter of Edyth and the late Delmar Tincknell. Davis is a member of the Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) Business Club, and she is actively involved in her church's monthly business meetings and community programs. She worked in NEO's lab school and in a Miami public school classroom where she performed so well, she was asked by the principal to return in the spring to volunteer two days each week. She also served as the director of her church's vacation bible school program. According to her early childhood education instructor, Ashlee Jackson, "She is hard working, motivates and helps other students, and is extremely committed to her work at NEO."
  • Samantha DeGenero-Scheib is from Miami, Okla. and is the daughter of Bill and Jeanine Scheib. She is majoring in pre-engineering. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA and was recognized on the President's Honor Roll. DeGenero-Scheib was vice president of the Engineering Club, a student body government representative and a member of the Wesley Student Center. She also worked for the library, tutored for the Tutoring Center and played piano for a recital. In addition, she recently competed as a homecoming candidate and was inducted into the PTK Honor Society. In his recommendation letter, math instructor, Jeff Aldridge said "As a teacher in an area that demands the most from our students, I was able to observe first-hand how well Sam performed. Our institution is better for having Sam as a student."  
  • Michael Fusselman's hometown is Melissa, Texas and he is majoring in business administration. He is the son of Greg and Debbie Fusselman and brother of Stephen, Elizabeth, Matthew, and John. Fusselman was placed on the President's Honor Roll, is a member of the PTK Honor Society and earned the Sophomore Dobson Presidential Scholarship. He is a member of the baseball team and earned All Region Honors as the number two starter last year. He volunteered as a basketball referee for the Boys and Girls Club and as an alter server for the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. He also led a physical science study group, participated in PBL and the Business & Technology Club. Business chair, Pat Creech, wrote in her recommendation letter that "he comes to our advising appointments with pertinent questions and comments, anxious to take the necessary steps to achieve success."
  • Blane Gee's hometown is Colony, Okla. and he is majoring in pre-engineering. He is the son of James and Tori Gee and grandson of Gayle Harris. Gee is a member of the PTK Honor Society and secretary of the Engineering Club. He played intramural basketball, spent 10 hours each week tutoring in the Tutoring Center and finds time to clean the Columbia Memorial Presbyterian Church. In addition, he completed his first engineering internship with Circuit Engineering District number seven. According to English instructor, Andrew Olson, "Blane Gee is an exceptional example of the pedigree of elite students and community members at NEO, and is the epitome of what the Freshman Top Ten program represents."
  • Morgan Marley is a pre-nursing student from Elkins, Okla. She is the daughter of Jeff and Marsha Marley. She was elected officer of fellowship for the PTK Honor Society. She is involved in livestock judging, the Aggie Society and is the president of NEO 13 News, where she averages 4-6 hours of editing each week. She assisted with many livestock judging competitions, regularly donated blood during campus drives, volunteered for farm clean-up day and the Bras for a Cause fundraiser. She was also nominated for Miss Norse Spirit, served on the Welcome Week Board and volunteered as an orientation leader. According to NEO 13 club sponsor, Katie Dewey, "Morgan is a unique individual with a multifaceted personality, which is what makes her so successful with our campus news. I give her my highest recommendation."
  • Ethan Propp is from Adair, Okla. and is the son of Chell and Susan Propp. He is majoring in pre-veterinary science. Propp earned a 4.0 GPA, is a member of the PTK Honor Society and was placed on the President's Honor Roll. He was a member of the horse and livestock judging teams, where he earned the distinction of High Individual at two competitions. In addition, he started a weekly Bible study group, served as a sponsor at his church's Winter Youth Retreat and traveled to India for a mission trip. He also assisted with a livestock judging camp in Ga. over the summer. In her recommendation letter, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Agriculture Department Chair, Dr. Shannon Cunningham, wrote, "As a student, he is always dedicated and sets the standards for his peers to follow both in the classroom and in the community."
  • Lindsay Tasos is majoring in agriculture and hails from Madera, Calif. She is the daughter of Lori and Marty Tasos and considers Amy Ishmael, Katie Dewey and Tyler Dewey to be her mentors. She was placed on the President's Honor Roll, serves as the vice president of leadership for the PTK Honor Society, as secretary for the Student Body Government and as a member of the Aggie Society. She works in the public relations office, is a member of the livestock judging team and was selected to represent NEO at a bull sale last spring. She participated in the Amazing Race and walked in the Relay for Life fundraiser last year to honor her late grandparents. Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Amy Ishmael, wrote on her behalf, "Lindsay is very outgoing and does an outstanding job of connecting with other students."  
  • Kelsey Williams is from Commerce, Okla. and is the daughter of Kevin and Kim Williams. She is majoring in natural science. Williams has maintained a 4.0 GPA, serves as the officer of scholarship for the PTK Honor Society and is a member of the Sierra Student Coalition. She dances for the Norse Stars and assisted in the coordination of the tryouts last spring. She volunteered for the crafts booth during a Halloween event, assisted in planning and carrying out an event for children during the Miami Christmas Parade and volunteered her time for the Angel Tree program during winter break. Williams was also recently crowned Homecoming Queen. According to Math and Science Department Chair, Dr. Mark Grigsby, "She always expresses a positive attitude and just seems to enjoy learning, regardless of the topic."


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