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.

Thomas Alley has completed several of his pilot certificates including instrument rating, complex endorsement, tail wheel endorsement, high performance endorsement and commercial pilot airplane single and multi-engine landing and as a flight instructor airplane single and multi-engine landing and instrument rating.

Since September 2017, Alley worked as a flight instructor at LETU effectively working with students to finish flight course syllabi within a semester’s time frame. He serves as the university’s STING Precision Flight Team Safety Officer and has won several awards in national flight competition. In national competition in 2018, he was awarded 3rd place Top Pilot Award, 3rd Place IFR Simulated Flight event, 3rd Place SCAN event. In regional competition in 2017, he won 1st place in SCAN event and 1st place in Ground Trainer Event, 2nd Place in Power Off Landing Event and 3rd Place in Navigation Event. He has earned his aircraft dispatcher Letter of Aeronautical Competency. He has been awarded the LeTourneau University Dean’s Scholarship and was a volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club from 2015 to 2016.

“My time at LeTourneau University has been challenging and intense,” Alley said. “But I have grown a lot as a person because of it. The biggest thing I’ll take away is the connection between my Christian faith and my work.” He is the son of Julie and Daniel Alley.

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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Thomas Alley