University of Arkansas graduating seniors Billy Fleming of Fort Smith and Kristin A. Watson of Benton were recognized with the 2011 Senior Honor Citation during the Arkansas Alumni Association Board of Directors luncheon on May 13.
Established 46 years ago by the Alumni Association, the award recognizes a senior man and woman who exhibit outstanding academic achievement, campus and community involvement and leadership. Students were required to be a member of the graduating class of 2011 (finishing degree requirements in August or December 2010 or May 2011.) The citation includes a personal memento, a $500 cash award, life membership in the Arkansas Alumni Association as well as permanent recognition on the student Honor Wall at the Janelle Y. Hembree Alumni House.
Kristin Watson is a Sturgis Fellow and Goldwater Scholar who majored in both chemistry and physics. These fields have provided myriad opportunities for studying different specialties such as biophysics, astronomy and condensed matter science. She especially enjoys being a role model who recruits future scientists and encourages students to explore the world of research.
Studying abroad in Scotland, Watson discovered the world of nuclear science but upon returning to Arkansas, she found a lack of nuclear courses available. With determination, she lobbied for and received a subatomic physics course.
Watson joined Kappa Delta sorority at the University of Arkansas. There, she enjoyed the opportunities to make a difference for women through the Stand Up! Stand Out! program, which is designed to provide a forum for women to discuss different types of negative peer pressure. Additionally, Watson was instrumental in creating programs within Kappa Delta to improve academic standards.
She believes that “now is the most exhilarating time to become involved with nuclear research because it has the potential to change the face of energy around the globe.”
Billy Fleming started his college education as a cadet at West Point but returned to Arkansas and enrolled in the five-year professional program in landscape architecture. While completing two distinct undergraduate theses at the same time he was engaged in humanitarian work in Arkansas and abroad. Fleming was also named to the Fay Jones School of Architecture dean’s list seven consecutive semesters.
Fleming’s work on his first thesis took him to Jerusalem. While conducting research there, circumstances took him to a Palestinian refugee camp where one planned night evolved into 10 days of altruistic efforts. This experience led Fleming to become more involved locally on a variety of issues, including becoming the first student from the Jones School of Architecture to serve as president of the Associated Student Government.
Fleming was a non-traditional student whose energy and enthusiasm guided university students during the past school year. As president of the Associated Student Government, Fleming supported the formulation and implementation of the new sustainability minor, which will be offered for the first time in the fall. Additionally, he developed and installed a pilot program for classrooms to reduce paper waste.
“I know that whatever I am able to give back to the Razorback family will never equal what has been given to me,” Fleming said.