The college recently named its 2017 Outstanding Seniors who are recognized for their academic achievements, leadership, and experiences beyond traditional course work.
Christopher Eyestone of Blacksburg, Virginia, Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics
Christopher Eyestone is obtaining a degree in Agribusiness with a minor in Spanish. He has excelled academically with Dean’s List recognition, undergraduate research, and was named a COINS Excellence in Leadership Scholar. While at Virginia Tech he was involved in Commodity Investing by Students (COINS), the only student-run commodities trading group in the United States, where he became the group’s elected Chief Executive Officer. Eyestone has also volunteered over 5,000 hours with the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad. During this time, he wrote and received a grant that put solar panels on one of the squad’s ambulances. In addition to his accomplishments at Virginia Tech, Eyestone has participated in several competitive internships including the Monsanto Company Government Affairs Internship, and is currently a legislative intern for a local Congressman. After graduation, Eyestone will be moving to Washington, D.C. to work as a Legislative Aid.
Elizabeth Galbreath of Street, Maryland, Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education
Elizabeth Galbreath is obtaining a degree in Agricultural Sciences and a minor in Applied Economic Management. She is the recipient of the Agriculture Future of America Student Leader Scholarship and a Maryland 4-H Foundation Scholarship, in addition to numerous other scholarships. While at Virginia Tech, Galbreath has been involved in many extracurricular activities including Maryland 4-H, Dairy Club, and speaker at TEDx Virginia Tech. Her many service projects include Feeding America, The Big Event, and Relay for Life at Virginia Tech. She has served in leadership roles as president of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ambassadors Program, speaker at the Teen Excellence in Leadership Institute, and Chancellor of Alpha Zeta. In the future, Galbreath is interested in working in agricultural sales or youth development at the local or state level. No matter what she decides to do, Galbreath wants to promote and protect agriculture and create a strong sense of community.
Hunter Critzer of Keswick, Virginia, Department of Agricultural Technology
Hunter Critzer is obtaining his Applied Agricultural Management degree from the Agricultural Technology Program. Before coming to Virginia Tech, Hunter did not have any experience in the field of agriculture. He credits the Agricultural Technology program for the knowledge he’s gained on how to manage a farm, different livestock species, and crops. In addition to earning the highest GPA in his program with Dean’s List recognition each semester, Critzer has excelled outside the classroom as an Ag Tech Ambassador and member of the Virginia Tech Collegiate Young Farmers. He’s also the recipient of the Pratt Senior Research Scholarship, and has worked at the Giles County Lab to revitalize the pasture and develop hands-on learning opportunities for middle and high school students. After graduation, Critzer ultimately wants to restore his family’s property into an operational beef cattle farm.
Joanna Kania of Blacksburg, Virginia, Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences
Joanna Kania is obtaining her degree in Animal and Poultry Sciences with a minor in Chemistry. Through perseverance and dedication, Kania has accomplished a considerable amount during her time at Virginia Tech. She’s a University Honors College Member who received one of only 15 Fralin Undergraduate Research Fellowships for her research in the field of satellite cell research in both equine and bovine specimens. Beyond Virginia Tech, Kania has worked as a 911 dispatcher and police officer, and currently volunteers her time with the Merit Pit Bull Foundation. Due to her performance during her capstone experience at Amethyst Acres Equine Center, she continues to run the farm in the owners’ absence. After graduation, Kania plans on attending veterinary school and become an equine veterinarian.
Lauren Hughes of Williamsburg, Virginia, Department of Biochemistry
Lauren Hughes is obtaining a degree in Biochemistry, which was certified with distinction by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, along with a minor in Chemistry. Hughes has been praised by her professors in the Department of Biochemistry, where she has worked as a lab assistant for the past three semesters, and recently took on the role of undergraduate teaching assistant. She’s grown as a team member and leader throughout her time with The Contemporary Dance Ensemble, where she’s currently the Student Director. In her spare time she gives back to the Blacksburg community as a Food Bank volunteer and Little Leapers Dance Studio volunteer. Her experiences volunteering in physical therapy offices combined with her passion for human physiology and working with people, has led Hughes to pursue a career in physical therapy after graduation.
Lucas Rector of Meadowview, Virginia, Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
Lucas Rector is obtaining a degree in Crop and Soil Sciences, along with a minor in Agricultural and Applied Economics. Throughout his career at Virginia Tech, Rector has been heavily involved in extracurricular activities and service to the university to promote agriculture. As president of the Agronomy Club, he’s worked with extension agents to develop a 4-H Crops Judging program for high school and middle school students, and promoted Ag Day at an elementary school. He has represented Virginia Tech at the Australian Universities National Judging Contest, and provided networking opportunities for Crop and Soil Sciences students by inviting employers to campus. The experiences he had interning at BASF last summer strengthened his knowledge of pesticides and weed management. After graduation, Rector begin his masters in Weed Science at Virginia Tech.
Whitney Bowman of Mount Jackson, Virginia, Department of Dairy Science
Whitney Bowman is obtaining dual degrees in Dairy Science and Animal and Poultry Sciences. Throughout her career at Virginia Tech, Bowman has remained committed to sharing her passion for agriculture. During her internship at the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C., Bowman developed education programs for AFBF members across the country. As a state officer for the Virginia FFA Association, she presented education workshops and attended Farmers’, Women’s, and other state-wide conferences. These experiences beyond Virginia Tech strengthened Bowman’s leadership skills and enabled her to excel as a Resident Advisor, Dairy Science Student Ambassador, and Missions Team Leader in the Baptist Collegiate Ministries. After graduation, Bowman plans to continue her passion for teaching by working in agricultural education.
Meghan Ruppel of Damascus, Maryland, Department of Food Science and Technology
Meghan Ruppel is graduating with a degree in Food Science and Technology, as well as a minor in Biological Sciences. Ruppel has appreciated the hands-on experience she’s received at Virginia Tech through her research assistant positions. These research positions inspired her to develop her own undergraduate research project within the Food Microbiology Lab. In addition to her academic achievements, Ruppel’s service to the university and beyond includes Virginia Tech Relay for Life Team Captain, Virginia Tech Big Event Group Leader, and Hokie Health Club Volunteer, where she provides fun active activities for the students of Kipps Elementary School. Her internship at a vineyard led her to explore more courses about fermented foods and beverages, and ultimately she wants to pursue a career working with wine. After graduation, Ruppel plans on obtaining a master’s degree in food science.
Laura Yuhase of Midlothian, Virginia, Department of Horticulture
Laura Yuhase is receiving a degree in Environmental Horticulture and a minor in Viticulture. Since becoming a Plant Sale Protégé her first semester, Laura has become involved in the Horticulture department in several capacities, including her roles as teaching assistant, undergraduate research assistant, and President of the Horticulture Club. Yuhase’s professors praise her strong work ethic, which shows through in everything she’s become involved in at Virginia Tech. As President of the Horticulture Club, Yuhase organized the popular Plant Sale and facilitated service projects for the club. In addition to her extracurricular accomplishments and service to the university, Yuhase is a member of Pi Alpha Xi, the Horticulture Honors Society, and the recipient of the Virginia State Horticultural Society Women’s Auxiliary Scholarship. After graduation, Yuhase plans on gaining even more experience with horticulture by working in a nursery or garden, and ultimately wants to become an Extension Agent.