Each of the 2,000 UofL students who will attend this year’s Spring commencement ceremony have reason to be proud, but two will receive an extra honor: high achievers Jalyn Shontee of Louisville and Conrad Smart of Versailles have been selected to deliver speeches to their fellow students.
A recipient of the Woodford R. Porter and Brown Fellows scholarships, Shontee graduated last year from UofL in the top 1 percent of her class with a bachelor of mechanical engineering degree. This year, she will receive her master’s degree. The 2012 duPont Manual grad has served on numerous student organizations, including the UofL chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, Speed School’s Women in Engineering Leadership Conference and the Miss Black UofL Scholarship Pageant. As a Brown Fellows scholar, she created a summer camp for minority girls to help get them involved in STEM fields.
“My education and academics in general are very important to me, and that’s one thing I’ve always been very driven about. As far as activities and organizations I’m involved with, academics is important there too because I like to see other people succeed academically. So I try to tailor my extracurriculars and things I’m involved with to helping other people succeed.”
In her free time, Shontee volunteers at the West End School as a tutor and mentor and grades calculus homework for professors in the Engineering Fundamentals department. She has received numerous recognitions for her outstanding work, including the ASME Pi Tau Sigma Award, the NBSC Louisville Chapter Award, the KSPE Service Award and Speed School’s Alfred T. Chen Award.
Conrad Smart, a 2013 graduate of Woodford County High School, is graduating with his bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics, anticipating a perfect 4.0 GPA. During his undergrad, he participated in various research projects with applications including nanomaterials, plasma physics and particle accelerators. His work has taken him to the laboratories of UCLA and Cornell University as an undergraduate research assistant.
“The University Physics and Astronomy department has been pivotal in my development as a scientist. In the mentorships, the opportunities, the community as a whole, I have watched students, including myself, become independent and creative thinkers. My peers and my faculty in the department have constantly provided me new and interesting stimulation necessary to bring a young student into the scientific fields.”
Smart is a recipient of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, James Graham Brown Scholarship and the Dean’s Scholarship, and has participated twice in the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduate Programs. When he’s not trying to unravel the universe’s secrets, Smart enjoys playing saxophone, ballroom dancing and hiking.
Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 13 at the KFC Yum! Center beginning at 10 a.m.