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Outstanding graduates honored during Eastern’s 2017 Commencement Ceremony

5/16/2017

WILBURTON, OK (May 16, 2017) – Eastern Oklahoma State College recognized six Outstanding Graduates during the college’s Commencement Ceremony on May 5 in Wilburton. One graduate from each of the six college divisions is selected each year for the honor.

The 2017 Outstanding Graduates include Paul Shanks of Belle, Missouri, Agriculture Division; Ruth Lawson of McAlester, Behavioral and Social Science Division; Anastasia Herskind of Grand Prairie, Texas, Business Division; Zana Johnson of Kinta, Language, Humanities and Education Division; Michelle Boddy of Wilburton, Nursing Division; and Sam Simco of Quinton, Science and Mathematics Division.


Dean Eddie Woods recognized Shanks as the Outstanding Graduate of the Agriculture Division. Shanks graduated with a degree in animal science and an overall 3.58 grade point average. He was also named the Outstanding Animal Science student for 2016-17.

During his time at Eastern, Shanks was an active member of the Aggie Club, where he served as president. He was also a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Agriculture Ambassador Leadership Program.

While at Eastern, Shanks was an integral part of the Livestock Judging Team. His teams have placed in several contests and he won numerous individual honors including fourth high individual at the 2016 NACTA Judging Contest and fourth high individual at the Tulsa State Fair. He was also a member of the fourth place Meats Judging Team and was 10th high individual overall as a member of the Agribusiness Team at the 2017 NACTA Judging Contest.

Shanks is the son of Bruce and Sunshine Shanks of Belle, Missouri. He plans to attend the University of Arkansas this fall where he will be a member of the Collegiate Livestock Judging Team. He plans to pursue a career as an agriculture appraiser.


Dean Marilynn Duncan recognized Lawson as the Outstanding Graduate of the Behavioral and Social Science Division. Lawson graduated with an associate of arts degree in psychology and sociology and a 3.62 overall grade point average. She was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

Lawson has received an academic scholarship to continue her education at New Mexico State University this fall. Her career goal is to work with trauma victims who have post-traumatic stress disorder.


Dean Kay Langham recognized Herskind as the Outstanding Graduate of the Business Division. Herskind graduated with an associate of science degree in computer information systems and a 3.61 overall grade point average. At Eastern, she has been an active member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and Math and Science Club, while also serving as treasurer for the Multi-Cultural International Club. She has participated in numerous campus and community service activities including the PTK Toy Drive and Voter Registration Drive. A member of the women’s soccer team, Herskind was named the 2016-17 Outstanding Athlete for soccer and earned All-Conference Region II and Team MVP honors during the 2016-16 season.

Anastasia is the daughter of Carrie and Daniel Ore of Denver, Colorado. She plans to attend the University of Texas-Arlington this fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science.


Dean Dr. Billye Kay Givens recognized Johnson as the Outstanding Graduate of the Language, Humanities and Education Division. Johnson graduated in the top 10 percent of her class with a degree in music and a 3.82 overall grade point average. She is the recipient of several scholarships, including the James and Nancy Miller Foundation Scholarship, Music and Theatre Departmental Scholarships, the Salmon Foundation Scholarship, Latimer County Arts Council Scholarship and a Residence Assistant Scholarship.

During her time at Eastern, Johnson has been active in many student organizations. She has been a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Eastern Concert Choir, the Eastern Expressions, Characters Club, Criminal JOES and “Mountaineer” Yearbook staff. She has also served as the Eastern Student Government Association’s vice president and secretary, as well as a worship leader at the Baptist Center Ministry.

Zana is the daughter of Nathan and Heather Johnson of Kinta. A talented musician, Johnson plans to continue her singing career before pursuing her bachelor’s degree. She released her debut album “We Praise” in 2016.


Director Robin Nevling recognized Boddy as the Outstanding Graduate of the Nursing Division. Boddy graduated in the top 10 percent of her class with an associate of applied science degree in nursing and an overall 3.78 grade point average. She was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the recipient of the William P. Willis and Don C. Phelps Scholarships, the Nursing Faculty Scholarship and the Puterbaugh Foundation Scholarship.

Boddy plans to begin her career as a registered nurse in southeast Oklahoma and eventually work toward earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing.


Dean Margaret Sorrell recognized Simco as the Outstanding Graduate of the Mathematics and Science Division. Simco graduated in the top 10 percent of his class with an associate of science degree in physical science and a 4.0 overall grade point average. Upon graduating from Quinton High School, Simco was named one of three Regents Academic Scholars, Eastern’s top scholarship available. At Eastern, he has been an active member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, where he served as vice president of leadership.

Sam is the son of Jason and Vickie Simco of Quinton. He plans to attend the University of Oklahoma this fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering.

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