MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University has named George Bittel and Emma Cook as the Outstanding Seniors for fall 2018. Recipients of this award are high-achieving students who exemplify excellence in their academic and professional settings.

George Bittel is the son of Tony Bittel and Suzanne Shown from Owensboro. He will graduate this December with a degree in agricultural business.

“Murray State has given me the opportunity to further my education while growing as a person, leader and professional,” Bittel said.

Bittel is a presidential fellow, student in the Honors sequence and participant in undergraduate research. During his college career, he conducted research on the impact of short-term study abroad in agriculture.

As a member of the Student Government Association, Bittel served as a senator, judicial board associate justice and judicial board co-chair. He is also an active member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity, where he participated in various committees and held the roles of pledge class president and philanthropy chair.

His passion for agriculture is evident through his roles in the Murray State Agribusiness Club and the Kentucky Future Farmers of America (FFA) association. As the vice president and membership coordinator for the Murray State Agribusiness Club, he was able to participate in the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) National Agribusiness Competition. Bittel was also a Kentucky FFA state officer and helped lead the association in planning events, promoting agriculture education and developing students’ character.

After graduation, Bittel plans on becoming a self-employed farmer and small business owner.

“Although I have always wanted to return to my family’s farm, my experience at Murray State has equipped me with the ability to creatively solve problems and balance my career, personal life and role as a community leader,” Bittel said.

Emma Cook is the daughter of David and Amy Cook from Marble Hill, Missouri. She is graduating this fall with a degree in human resource management.

“The opportunities provided at Murray State are endless and I have truly enjoyed my time here,” Cook said. “From being involved in multiple student organizations, taking on leadership roles, working on campus and interacting with faculty members, everything about my time here has been so rewarding. I will forever be thankful for my time as a Racer.”

Cook’s active on-campus involvement has afforded her many opportunities to give back to the Murray State community. As a peer career advisor for Career Services, Cook helps plan career fairs and reviews students’ résumés and cover letters. She is also the secretary for the Murray State Society of Human Resources, where she networks with human resources leaders in the local community.

Her natural leadership abilities allowed Cook to be elected and re-elected to serve as the president of the Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority. It was through this leadership role that she received the awards of Greek Woman of the Year, Outstanding Chapter President and the Elizabeth Bird Small as well as several other scholarships.

Throughout her college career, Cook has also served as vice president for Order of Omega, as a Student Government Association senator for the business college, as a summer orientation counselor and as a student ambassador.

Cook’s future plans include becoming a human resources manager with a focus on talent development.

“Murray State University’s Career Services helped me tremendously when it came to an internship search and now a job search,” Cook said. “I feel prepared to enter the world of business thanks to the opportunities provided at Murray State.”

Commencement services at Murray State will take place Saturday, Dec. 8, at 10 a.m. in the CFSB Center. Additional information is available at

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