Janet Ragland
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LONGVIEW, Texas (May 28, 2019) – LeTourneau University recognized five students to receive the Distinguished Senior Award for the Class of 2019. Recognizing excellence, the award is based on academic achievement; servant leadership; generosity with time and resources; spiritual growth evidenced by a maturing faith in Jesus Christ and the potential to be an effective ambassador for Christ in every workplace and every nation.

“LeTourneau University is a community of builders, and these bright students represent a continuation of our builder legacy,” said LETU President Dr. Dale A. Lunsford. “For more than 70 years now, our graduates have changed lives through what they have built. I know that each of these fine men and women will integrate their Christian faith and professional work to build a better tomorrow for our world.”

The five 2019 LETU Distinguished Seniors are:

  • Thomas Janne Alley of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, who earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Professional Flight
  • Carissa Pitman of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, who earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
  • Charissa Nicole Puttbach of Charlotte, North Carolina, who earned her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
  • Joshua Lian Raies of Midland, Texas who earned his Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Exercise Science
  • Ian David Thompson of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, who earned his Bachelor of Science in Materials Joining Engineering.

LETU’s Distinguished Senior Award Program selection involves faculty, staff, deans, cabinet and the LETU board of trustee members. Candidates must have a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average at the end of the Spring 2018 semester, with no academic, social or chapel probation on their records; and must be scheduled to graduate with an undergraduate degree either in December 2018, May 2019 or Summer 2019. The top 20 students recommended for the award are invited to apply with a resume and answers to five essay questions. Student Life staff reviewed them and chose the top 10. The Board of Trustees and staff deliberated to choose the top five. Each of the distinguished seniors are presented with a trophy award. Their photos will be displayed on campus throughout the next year.

Charissa Puttbach has served in a variety of leadership roles as a student, including as team lead of the SAFEHOME senior design project that won 1st place in national competition for the design and construction of shelters for use after natural disasters. She served on campus as a resident assistant and assistant resident director to provide mentorship, guidance and supervision for 32 students. She also served as a supplemental instructor and tutor for struggling students. In her sophomore and junior years, she led a spring break mission trip to New Orleans and Corpus Christi working with ReachGlobal Crisis Response. The summer after her freshman year, she served in South Carolina after disastrous October flooding to rebuild damaged homes, working as a team lead and host to volunteer groups from around the country. Last summer she worked as a land development summer intern for Summit Design and Engineering in Raleigh, North Carolina. After graduating, she plans to attend graduate school to pursue her master’s degree in engineering.

“My education has prepared me to be a light and leader within my future community, caused me to grow grounded in my faith, and gave me the framework needed for following the career path God is calling me to,” Puttbach said. “These past four years have been a time of spiritual and intellectual growth as I have experienced the power and abundant grace of God in many aspects of life. My instructors have pushed me to pursue excellence in all aspects of life.” Charissa is the daughter of Ellen and David Puttbach.

LeTourneau University is the Christian polytechnic university in the nation where educators engage students to nurture Christian virtue, develop competency and ingenuity in their professional fields, integrate faith and work, and serve the local and global community. LETU offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs across a range of disciplines and delivery models at LETU’s residential campus in Longview, Texas, hybrid options at centers in the Dallas and Houston areas and fully online programs. For additional information, visit


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Charissa Puttbach