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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.

Josh Raies has served as Student Body President since 2017 and has provided oversight and coordination as a liaison between the university’s administration and the Student Body Executive Cabinet, the Yellowjacket Activities Council and the Student Senate. An LETU varsity baseball player, Raies served as the team captain since 2015. He was a freshman Peer Advisor counselor in 2016 and was named on the dean’s list and the president’s list while a student. He worked last summer doing strength and conditioning and observation in an internship with University of Texas Permian Basin football team, gaining experience as a coach and working one-on-one with athletes. He has served for three years as a high school basketball referee and has worked summers alongside professional baseball players with the Midland Rockhounds as an assistant groundskeeper.

“We honor God through working diligently in our studies, striving in athletic pursuits, and enjoying our leisure, but these moments are never simply for ourselves-they are meant to be platforms of service and care to those God surrounds us with,” Raies said. He is the son of Bill and Jan Rais.

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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Joshua Raies

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