MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University has named Jeff Payne and Aspen Arnold as the Outstanding Seniors recipients for fall 2020. Students recognized with this honor are known for their academic excellence and professionalism.
Jeff Payne is a computer science and mathematics double major from Bernie, Missouri. He will graduate this semester with plans to pursue a career in data analysis/data engineering.
“I’m extremely honored to be selected as Murray State’s Outstanding Senior Man for the fall of 2020,” Payne said. “My past three years at Murray State have been amazing, and while I’m sad to see my time here come to an end, I’m very excited for what the future holds. Thanks to the time spent at Murray State, I’ve met so many amazing people and created important relationships. The opportunities I’ve been provided with as a result of my education have set me up to successfully pursue my career goals. I can’t thank Murray State enough for the wonderful time I’ve had here.”
Payne said through his current internship with Syngenta, a global agricultural technology company, he has developed significant skills that are directly applicable in the fields in which he is interested. Payne said he intends to continue his relationship with Syngenta post-graduation.
Not only has Payne interned at Syngenta since April 2020, he has also taken part in the Computational Science Research Experience for Undergraduates in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he was a researcher in the summer of 2019. He worked directly with CSC faculty exploring machine learning applications to nontraditional problems, such as analyzing data for patterns when evaluating protein folding models. Payne was also a resident advisor at Murray State for two years.
In his time with the Association for Computing Machinery, he served as the vice president and treasurer.
Aspen Arnold is a psychology major and sociology minor from Quality, Kentucky.
Arnold made the Dean’s List from fall 2017 to spring 2020. Her time at Murray State includes serving at the Baptist Campus Ministry as a small group leader and taking on other volunteer roles. She was voted by her peers to serve as a freshman representative in the Honors Student Council, where she helped plan a trash pick-up in Murray and helped plan and host Maneuver Murray that raised money for Need Line.
“I have enjoyed these years at Murray State so much,” Arnold said. “Being a Murray State Racer has given me many opportunities and cherished memories. I really appreciate all the support, encouragement, and guidance received from my professors, family, and friends. I am grateful God placed me at Murray State University and has been with me every step of the way to get me to where I am today.”
Arnold has been on mission trips to Haiti, where she helped teach English to children of all ages and to Panama City, Florida, where she provided van rides and breakfast for spring breakers.
Since her sophomore year, Arnold has served as a mentor in the Student Disability Services office and has enjoyed helping fellow students work toward meeting their academic goals. She has also conducted research with Dr. Dan Wann, her honors thesis advisor, which examined potential self-esteem differences between students who are in the Honors College or are part of a social fraternity or sorority, compared with individuals who are not.
She has been a member of the Psychology Club since August 2017. In her time with the Psychology Club, she helped set up an escape room that fundraised money for sending students to present their research.
Her future aspirations include a career as a school psychologist while working with children and students.
“I look forward to pursuing a career as a school psychologist and seeing what opportunities await,” Arnold said. “Murray State will always be a special place to me.”