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.

Ian Thompson grew up in Japan and is a certified Fuji mountain guide. He tutored Longview-area elementary students in English and mathematics his freshman year and served as a supplemental instructor and tutor in physics for a semester. He served for three years as a university student ambassador, representing the university mission and vision as he gave tours, called prospective students and assisted with student preview events. He also served as a resident assistant for two years, planning and organizing floor events, mediating conflicts and enforcing residential policies and standards.

“I have had the opportunity to experience academics, residence life, and extracurricular opportunities down to the newest engineering innovations,” Thompson said. “All of this has been incredibly formational in who I am as an individual and what kind of an engineer, friend, and leader I will be. LETU’s Materials Joining Engineering department offers excellent opportunities for students to explore the ever-expanding world of joining methods and has a unique combination of the hands-on work of welding and the scientific and engineering breakthroughs being discovered.” He is the son of Bryan and Janet Thompson.

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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Ian Thompson

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