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Gabriel Zolton and Vivie Tran
Gabriel Zolton and Vivie Tran are the recipients of the Craig C. Brown Outstanding Senior Engineer Award. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Thousands of students every year come to Texas A&M University specifically for the stellar reputation of the College of Engineering. Vivie Tran and Gabriel Zolton, students in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, came to Aggieland for that very reason but have earned far more than an engineering degree.

Tran and Zolton are recipients of the Craig C. Brown Outstanding Senior Engineer Award for their exemplary achievements in and outside the classroom. An award that is over 70 years old, it is the most prestigious honor that can be bestowed upon a graduating senior.

“I am honored to receive this award, and it feels amazing to have recognition for all the things I have done,” said Zolton. “In a larger sense, it spurred my reflection on my college experience as a whole. I am extremely thankful for everyone who has supported me along the way. I knew I would pursue chemical engineering when I first started here, but I would never have predicted the path I ended up taking. If I had a chance to do it all again, I’d hardly change a thing.”

Zolton is the son of two former students but made his final decision to attend Texas A&M when he explored the various research opportunities available through the chemical engineering department.

“Between a wonderful welcome from the Texas A&M National Scholar Ambassadors and a great presentation from Dr. Micah Green — a professor in the chemical engineering department who I later went on to conduct undergraduate research with — Texas A&M quickly rose to the top of my list of colleges,” he said.

Zolton has partaken in many research ventures during his time as a student. However, his interests lie beyond one subject, as he will also be receiving a bachelor’s degree in English.

“Completing an undergraduate creative research thesis as part of the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program and the Aggie Creative Collective is one of my greatest accomplishments,” said Zolton. “In the future, I plan to finish a novel that I worked on alongside my thesis.”

Like Zolton, Tran thrives academically, as they each hold a perfect grade point average. She is finishing her chemical engineering degree a semester early after getting a jumpstart on coursework through an early college program.  

Tran was first drawn to Texas A&M by the Aggie core values. She decided to pursue chemical engineering after hearing the variety of career opportunities the degree provides.

“There is a wide range of industries that I could specialize in, from chemical production to pharmaceuticals,” she said. “I can envision myself in a role that allows me to do something different every day, but the possibilities are endless.”

Tran works an on-campus job and holds a leadership role in Engineering Honors, which keeps her involved with various events. She has conducted research in both the biology and chemical engineering departments. In addition to this award, in fall 2020, she was awarded the Sophomore Gathright Dean’s Excellence Award, recognizing the top students in the College of Engineering. She is also the recipient of various honors such as the President’s Endowed Scholar, BP Scholar, Axalta Bright Futures Scholar, Transocean Scholar, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Scholar, and the Texas Society of Professional Engineers Scholarship and CHI St. Joseph’s Auxiliary Scholarship.

“I have been lucky to have made relationships with my professors and peers who have made an impact on my time here at Texas A&M,” said Tran. “I feel very honored to be the recipient of the outstanding senior award. A hard work ethic was instilled in me at a young age as I grew up seeing my parents work tirelessly to provide for our three-generation household. It means so much to me to make my parents proud.”

The students were presented the award at the Texas A&M University College of Engineering Student Awards banquet on Nov. 4.