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Loyola announces Ignatian award winners

May 7, 2010

Loyola University New Orleans has announced its 2009-10 Ignatian Awards for outstanding senior and graduate students. Awards for outstanding senior man and woman, and graduate student will be presented at the Baccalaureate Mass today at Holy Name of Jesus Church. The Spirit of Ignatius Award for Outstanding College of Law Graduate will be presented at the Law Graduation Mass on Tuesday, May 11, at 5 p.m. at Holy Name Church

Kayla M. August, who will receive a Bachelor of Arts degree will be presented the Ignatian Award for Outstanding Senior Woman.

Gordon Nicholas Courtney and Robert Curran Tonnies, graduating summa cum laude with university honors and receiving Bachelor of Arts degrees, will be presented the Ignatian Award for Outstanding Senior Man. Courtney graduates with honors in philosophy and Tonnies graduates with honors in English.

Jessica Elizabeth Cantrell and Michelle Comeaux Hernandez will be presented the Ignatian Award for Outstanding Graduate Student. Cantrell is receiving a Master of Criminal Justice degree, and Hernandez is receiving both a master of science in counseling and a master of pastoral studies.

Kathryn Michelle Zainey, who will receive a Juris Doctor degree, will be presented the Spirit of Ignatius Award for Outstanding College of Law Graduate. Zainey graduates Summa Cum Laude and is also a Crowe Scholar, designated for those students who finished in the top 10 percent of the class.

The Ignatian Awards for outstanding undergraduate and graduate students are the highest honors presented by the university to graduating students. Recipients are students who have distinguished themselves through involvement in the university and by representing Loyola with honor and distinction. Criteria for this award includes maintaining a high GPA, commitment to the integrity of life by providing service to others, and contributing to the advancement of religion and citizenship.

The selection committee for outstanding male and female seniors is composed of the vice presidents of the Offices of Student Affairs and Mission and Ministry; the deans of the Colleges of Business, Social Sciences, Humanities and Natural Sciences, Music and Fine Arts; the dean of Libraries; and the director of University Ministry. Recipients of the Ignatian Award are true examples of what it means to be women and men with and for others.

Outstanding undergraduate students:

Kayla August of Kenner, is a mass communications major with minors in both theater and English.

August has been involved in the life of the Loyola community since her first day on campus. She has worked in Residential Life as a resident assistant and desk assistant and has also been an orientation leader. She served as vice president and events coordinator for the COMPASS Catholic student group. As a member of Loyola Life, she travelled to Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life. August is a lector and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion for Ignatius Chapel. She is also a member of a Christian Life Community, Loyola University Community Action Program’s S.M.I.L.E. project, the Muslim Student Association, and a cast member for several senior one-act performances.

She has served the local community by working with Camp Challenge and Camp Pelican, summer camps for children with cancer and cystic fibrosis. As an Ignacio Volunteer, she travelled to Jamaica and served as a team leader in Belize to work with children and the elderly in economically deprived areas of those countries.

August is currently applying to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Peace Corps and AmeriCorps for volunteer opportunities after graduation.

Gordon “Nick” Courtney
is a philosophy and medieval studies double-major with a minor in English from Holden. He is an active member of the University Honors Program. Courtney was recently awarded the 2010 Davies-Jackson Scholarship for study at St. John’s College at the University of Cambridge in England. This is a prestigious, highly competitive scholarship awarded annually to up to two candidates from the United States. His graduate studies at Cambridge will commence in the fall.

Courtney has served as president of the Loyola chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu National Jesuit Honors Society, University Honors Association and Loyola Life. He has also held key leadership positions in the Mentors Program of the University Honors Association, Christian Life Communities, Philosophy Club, COMPASS, Awakening Retreat Community, Ignatius Chapel, and two student journals, Reader’s Response and ReVisions. Last May, Courtney travelled to Jamaica as an Ignacio Volunteer on the La Storta Retreat Experience.

Robert “Bobby” Tonnies,
a native of Missouri,is an English and pre-med major with a minor in classical studies. He is a member of the University Honors Program.

During his time at Loyola, he has risen to top leadership posts of the Awakening retreat community and COMPASS. He is the only Ignacio Volunteer chosen to participate in three separate immersion trips as an undergraduate. He has travelled twice to Jamaica and once to Belize. As an Ignacio Volunteer team leader, he supervised service work at various sites, led daily reflections and coordinated logistics of the program.

He has also served as a tutor in the Writing Across the Curriculum English program at Loyola and is a geometry tutor for high school students in Missouri. He is currently a confirmation teacher at Holy Name of Jesus Church, teaching 21 students every Sunday.

Jessica Cantrell is a cyber crimes detective with the Kenner Police Department, graduating with a master’s degree in criminal justice studies.

The focus of her graduate research has been creating a typology and understanding of online sex offenders. She presented her work at the 9th International Investigative Psychology Conference in London this year. Cantrell has also presented at and submitted papers to the annual conferences of the Southern Sociological Society and Southern Criminal Justice Association.

She is a member of the Kenner Police Association, Fraternal Order of Police, Legal Studies Association and Kappa Alpha Theta Alumni Association. She was president of the Kenner Police Department Police Academy, recruitment chair of Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority and vice president of Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity. Additionally, she volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, the Humane Society, Meals on Wheels, Special Olympics swimming training, and a local Hispanic resource center where she created a youth summer camp program.

After graduation, Cantrell plans to use her thesis research on internet predators to develop a program for teenagers and parents about the realities and dangers of the Internet.

Michelle Comeaux Hernandez received a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies and secondary education from Loyola University New Orleans in 1990. She graduates now with a Master of Science degree in counseling and a Master of Pastoral Studies degree in pastoral care and counseling from the Loyola Institute for Ministry. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA while pursuing her dual degree, working full-time as campus minister, holding the religion department chair at Holy Rosary High School, and raising three children at home.

While pursuing her counseling degree, Hernandez held an internship with Family Services of Greater New Orleans, co-facilitating a men’s domestic violence group and providing individual counseling for clients of various ages, backgrounds and needs. She also provided counseling for eighth-grade students at Ursuline Academy. She is the recipient of the Ruth McShane Award for Excellence in Secondary Education.

She assists with the Mission Education Office of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, establishing opportunities for all Catholic high school students to engage in community service, education, awareness and fundraising for the missionary activity of the Church.

Kathryn Michelle Zainey is a member of the Law Review editorial board and recently organized an environmental service project with Bayou Rebirth, a nonprofit organization associated with coastal restoration in Louisiana. From January 2009 to May 2010, she served as a research assistant to College of Law professor Monica Hof Wallace.

During her second year at Loyola, she served as a teaching assistant in Loyola’s legal research and writing program where she aided first-year law students with both their academic success and their transition into a new and unique environment.

Outside of her work at Loyola, Zainey has spent time with a group called God’s Special Children, which is a group formed in association with a monthly mass that was instituted for those with special needs and their families and friends to attend and participate in. She also co-founded the Young Friends of St Andrew’s Village. St. Andrew’s Village is a faith-based residential community where adults with developmental disabilities can live, work, worship and socialize throughout their lifelong journey. Earlier this year, she co-chaired a successful social fundraiser for this group which raised more than $55,000 for the village.

Following law school, Zainey will clerk for a judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana and then join the commercial litigation section of Liskow & Lewis.

For more information about the Ignatian Award winners, contact James Shields in Loyola’s Office of Public Affairs at jshields@loyno.edu or call 504-861-5888.

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