Stories by Julia Mazzuca, Staff writer
Rob Lewis, known by his friends as the “Bird Nerd,” was named the outstanding senior male for the May 2015 graduating class.
Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, explained the criteria for outstanding senior selection.
“In total, the committee chose these two (outstanding seniors) because they both excelled academically while maximizing their undergraduate experience by taking advantage of the many opportunities students have at this University,” Robertson said.
Lewis is the founding member for the Murray State National Wild Turkey Federation Chapter and is a member of the Murray State Wildlife and Fisheries Society, Murray State Ducks Unlimited Chapter and Captain of the Civil Air Patrol.
The Maryland native came to Murray State on a presidential scholarship to study wildlife and conservation biology and get on the wildlife biology track.
“I knew I couldn’t sit behind a desk for the rest of my life,” Lewis said. “I’ve always loved the outdoors and wanted something to combine my passion and my work.”
Academically, Lewis has achieved many honors such as the Larry D. Pharris Wildlifer of the Year: 2015 and the Who’s Who Among Students in the American Universities and Colleges 2015.
Alongside his academic success, Lewis has also taken his time to explore and map new paths in Mammoth Cave in Mammoth Cave, Ky.
He said his cave exploration was “a blast” and he hopes that he can go caving again in the summer.
After graduating in May, Lewis will go to Utah State for five to six years to do field research in order to get his doctorate.
Once at Utah State, Lewis will study the greater sage grouse, which is similar to small turkey.
He hopes to also study ravens and chicks to help sustain the greater sage grouse population.
Aida De La Fuente was named the outstanding senior female for the May 2015 graduating class.
Liz Markley, De La Fuente’s best friend, has been with De La Fuente since day one as her roommate freshman year.
“Aida is an outstanding senior woman not because of the numerous amounts of organizations she has been a part of, but because of the numerous lives she has influenced through her time here at Murray State,” Markley said.
De La Fuente is originally from Madrid but grew up in Louisville, Ky., with her family.
She came to Murray State as a freshman after receiving the presidential scholarship and double majored in economics and Spanish.
Upon receiving the email saying that she had received the award, De La Fuente was overwhelmed with emotion.
“I started crying, I was so excited,” De La Fuente said. “I called my mom. She was crying whenever I read the letter.”
Her family from Madrid and Louisville were excited and proud of De La Fuente as she accepted this honor.
“I always say that Murray State is Kentucky’s best kept secret,” De La Fuente said.
She is involved in multiple organizations at Murray State such as Alpha Omicron Pi and was the former sweetheart for Sigma Chi. Although she is involved in Greek Life, she said her favorite activity has been being a Summer Orientation counselor.
“I love talking about MSU and what separates this University from others,” she said. “You can be the reason that someone chooses to come here.”
Her passion for Murray State began with the people that she met her first day here.
“Aida dedicates her time, resources and herself to go above and beyond to ensure everyone else around her loves Murray State as much as she does,” Markley said.
After graduating, De La Fuente has an internship at Brown-Forman and will move to Miami for a sales and management position.