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Top scholars recognized as UL Lafayette’s Outstanding Master’s Graduates

Posted at 2:04 PM, May 11, 2022

Crystal Smith is the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s overall Outstanding Master’s Graduate.

She is among four finalists for the award. Each will be recognized at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 13, during a Spring 2022 Commencement ceremony for the Graduate School at the Cajundome.

The ceremony is among nine ceremonies that will be held over two days beginning Friday. In addition to the Graduate School, ceremonies will be held for the UL Lafayette’s eight academic colleges at the Cajundome and Cajundome Convention Center.

Graduate programs nominate one student as their Outstanding Master’s Graduate. Criteria include leadership, scholarship, service and research. The dean of the University’s Graduate School leads a panel that selects the top candidates. An Alumni Association committee interviews the finalists and chooses an overall Outstanding Master’s Graduate.

In addition to being the spring semester’s overall honoree, Smith represents the LHC Group • Myers School of Nursing in the College of Nursing & Health Sciences as an Outstanding Master’s Graduate Finalist. She is pursuing a master’s degree in nursing in the family nurse practitioner concentration.

During her time at UL Lafayette, Smith has served as student representative for the Louisiana Association of Nurse Practitioners. She has been a member of LANP’s health policy committee, helping to advocate for state legislation to improve access to health care services.

Smith is a nursing supervisor at Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria, La.

As a mentor and teacher in the medical center’s Nurse Residency Program, Smith has focused on building competencies related to delegation, supervision and collaboration among the health care team. She also teaches courses in areas such as trauma and pediatric care to nursing staffs at emergency medical units throughout the state.

Jacob Comeaux is an Outstanding Master’s Graduate Finalist for the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering. He is pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Comeaux conducts research in the department’s Multifunctional Materials and Devices Lab. It focuses on synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials, growth and characterization of functional thin films, and the processing, fabrication and evaluation of electronic devices.

His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and conducted as part of the Louisiana Board of Regents’ Research Competitiveness Subprogram.

Comeaux has authored or co-authored several journal articles; he has also presented research at the International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition Conference and the American Vacuum Society International Symposium and Exhibition. Comeaux is a member of the society, which supports interdisciplinary research related to materials, interfaces and processing.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UL Lafayette. Following graduation, he will work in integrated circuit chip manufacturing at Samsung Austin Semiconductor.

Thu Nguyen is an Outstanding Master’s Graduate Finalist for the Department of Chemical Engineering in the College of Engineering. She is pursuing a master’s degree in chemical engineering.

Nguyen designed a toluene diisocyanate chemical plant. TDI is a chemical used to make consumer products, including furniture cushions, carpet padding, adhesives and sealants. She comprehensively researched hazards associated with the plant, and provided suggestions designed to improve safety.

Nguyen was captain for the Chem-E-Car project. Student teams design and build tiny cars that are powered by chemical reactions as part of international competition led by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

She was an ambassador for the College of Engineering, representing the college at recruiting events and working with engineers from a range of disciplines.

Nguyen plans to join the U.S. Air Force, where she will research nanomaterial coating that is used in the production of military aircraft.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from UL Lafayette.

Liang-Yi Peng is an Outstanding Master’s Graduate Finalist for the School of Music and Performing Arts in the College of the Arts. She is pursuing a master’s degree in piano performance.

A collaborative pianist, Peng has performed in many University and community recitals and concerts. Among them was a chamber concert at the Petroleum Club, where she was guest artist. Peng placed first in the University’s Frank Hanley Piano Competition; she also placed first in the University’s Concerto Competition.

As a graduate assistant, she has taught and coached students, and helped coordinate School of Music and Performing Arts concerts and events.

Peng has taught private lessons, given ukulele lessons to elementary school children, hosted music camps and contributed expertise to panel discussions.

She served as a piano judge for the Louisiana Federation of Music Clubs. Peng is a pianist at First Presbyterian Church in Crowley.

Learn more about Spring 2022 Commencement.