Five MSU seniors win Association of Retired Faculty honors

Contact: Zack Plair

Kylie A. DennisAaron “Ria” Bennett

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Five seniors at Mississippi State are 2015 honorees of the university’s Association of Retired Faculty.

Honored at the organization’s annual undergraduate banquet were Aaron “Ria” Bennett, an architecture major from Birmingham, Alabama; Kylie A. Dennis, an English major from Memphis, Tennessee; Reagan D. McNerney, a biochemistry major from Hebron; Harrison R. Warren, a mechanical engineering major from Starkville; and Laura E. Wilson, a civil engineering major from Diamondhead.

Founded in 1986, MSU’s Association of Retired Faculty presents awards that serve as tributes or memorials to campus colleagues and association members who made major contributions to student development over their careers at the 137-year-old land-grant institution.

Harrison R. WarrenReagan D. McNerney

Of this year’s honorees:

Bennett received the William L. Giles Award for Excellence in Architecture. She is a member of the Tau Sigma Delta Architecture Honor Society and the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students. She also has served as Giles Architecture Gallery coordinator on campus and was a member of the team that won the Design/Build Studio Choctaw Bus Shelter Competition in 2013. Bennett has interned for two summers with Christopher Architects and Interiors in Birmingham.

Dennis received the Peyton Ward Williams Jr. Distinguished Writing Award for the second straight year. She is a member of three honor societies at MSU, including the Society of Scholars, and holder of three English department scholarships. She was one of only seven students nationwide accepted to participate in the prestigious Institute for Transforming Social Justice this past summer, and she now is student director of the newly formed College of Arts and Sciences Social Justice Initiative. Dennis is in her second year as editor of MSU’s creative arts journal, “The Streetcar.”  She has presented her research at both student and professional conferences, and her work has been published two consecutive years in the Proceedings of the National Conference for Undergraduate Research.

Laura E. Wilson

McNerney received the Charles L. Lindley Leadership Award. She is a member of the Lambda Sigma Honor Society and a Mississippi Rural Dentistry Scholarship Program recipient. She has served as president of MSU’s Pre-Dental Society, president and recruitment chair for College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ambassadors and Residence Hall Association treasurer. She’s held two positions with the Student Association, including chair for the Senate Rules and Legislation Committee, and History and Traditions Committee member. McNerney has logged more than 200 shadowing/community service hours with eight different practices related to dentistry and oral-maxillofacial surgery.

Warren was selected for the Exemplary Service Award honoring Joseph Brown, a retired professor of mechanical engineering. A member of the Tau Beta Pi and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies, he began researching combined heat and power systems this summer. As an undergraduate, he has already been published in an academic journal. Also, he works for the MSU men’s tennis team.

Wilson received the Harry Charles F. Simrall Award for Engineering Excellence. She serves as project manager and past president of MSU’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders and president of the Soil and Water Conservation Society. She is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Women’s Advisory Committee for Civil and Environmental Engineers, and the Terpsichore Dance Theatre Company on campus.

The RFA awards are memorials to Giles, MSU’s 13th president; Lindley, dean of the then-College of Agriculture and Home Economics; Simrall, dean of the then-College of Engineering; and Williams, an English professor and editor of the campus-based Mississippi Quarterly.

Brown, a Starkville resident, began teaching at MSU in 1970 and was a faculty member for more than 20 years.

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