April 27, 2018

The Texas A&M Foundation Board of Trustees named Amanda Cheek and Taryn Wenske as recipients of its sixth Outstanding Student Award during a dinner on April 26 at the Stella Hotel in Bryan. Both graduating seniors have excelled academically while distinguishing themselves as leaders at Texas A&M University and in the community.

Former Foundation trustee Melbern Glasscock and his wife Susanne created the endowed award in 2012 to annually honor an exceptional student at Texas A&M University. This year, Foundation Board Chairman Randy Cain personally funded another award to honor a second student from the competitive pool of applicants. Besides succeeding academically and as leaders, these recipients have overcome significant personal or family financial challenges to attend Texas A&M. The Outstanding Student Award includes a cash prize of $2,500.

Amanda Cheek is a mechanical engineering major and will work with Frito-Lay after graduating in May.

Amanda Cheek

Amanda Cheek had her heart set on Texas A&M after attending a football game in Kyle Field as a seventh-grader. “I didn’t even apply anywhere else,” she said. “I just knew that Texas A&M felt like home.”

Cheek is majoring in mechanical engineering and plans to move to Los Angeles and accept a position with Frito-Lay after graduating in May. As she is originally from Bulverde, Texas, a small town north of San Antonio, this move and new job will be huge for her.

“Amanda is the perfect example of the kind of graduates our College of Engineering produces,” said Cain. “She’s hardworking and bright and has been a wonderful peer leader to her fellow first-generation college students.”

Cheek has been very involved in several organizations, including intramural sports, the Zachry Leadership Program, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and the Society of Women Engineers, as well as co-founding the Engineering Mentorship Council. However, her most rewarding experiences have come through the First-Generation Engineering Student Mentoring Program (FGEn), where she builds relationships with and coaches other engineering majors who also face unique challenges as the first in their families to pursue higher education.

Professionally, she worked as a procurement intern with the Zachry Group during summer 2016 and then as an engineering intern last summer for Frito-Lay in Dallas. “My favorite part about working for Frito-Lay was the company culture,” Cheek said. “The people there really reminded me of Aggies: driven, personable and welcoming.”

She plans to use the cash prize from the award to help her move from Texas to California this summer. “Receiving the Trustees’ Outstanding Student Award is such an honor,” Cheek said. “I’ve worked very hard to earn scholarships that would fund my education at Texas A&M, and I feel so grateful for this acknowledgement.”

Taryn Wenske is majoring in supply chain management and will join Accenture as an analyst consultant following graduation.

Taryn Wenske

Taryn Wenske of La Grange, Texas, didn’t have a clear idea of where she wanted to go to college. But after a visit to campus as a high school student, she soon found herself drawn to the family-oriented and values-driven Texas A&M. “The first time I experienced the Aggie War Hymn and saw strangers wrap their arms around each other, it was incredibly powerful,” she said. “I was confident right then that anyone and everyone could find their place here.”

Wenske is majoring in supply chain management in the Mays Business School Honors Program. She has demonstrated leadership skills by serving in a variety of organizations: She is the assistant director for MSC Aggie Leaders of Tomorrow, a staff assistant for the Big Event and a Fish Camp co-chair.

“Taryn is just the type of student we seek to honor with this award,” Cain said. “She has worked very hard and demonstrates the Aggie core values, especially leadership, in every aspect of her life.”

In addition to the rigorous curriculum of the Mays Business Honors Program and her extracurriculars, Taryn held part-time jobs to help cover college expenses. During summer 2017, she worked with AT&T in Dallas as a global supply chain intern. She has also worked as a student worker in the Texas A&M accounting department for the past two years.

After graduation, Wenske will move to Austin and join Accenture as an analyst consultant. She will use the funds from her Outstanding Student Award to support herself over the summer before she starts her new position in September.

“My biggest takeaway from Texas A&M is that while it’s important to make good grades and stray outside your comfort zone, it’s more important to develop the values that you will hold for yourself for the rest of your life,” Wenske said. “Exemplify those values in all your relationships and experiences, and you will be an example for others to follow as well.”

Texas A&M Foundation

The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that unites generosity and vision to raise and manage major endowed gifts that support the future of Texas A&M University. For additional information and for photographs, please contact Molly Kulpa at mkulpa@txamfoundation.com or (979) 845-7463.