Aug. 17 MTSU summer commencement will honor Distin...

Aug. 17 MTSU summer commencement will honor Distinguished Alumni

Deanna Meador (B.S. ’05), left, and Maria Salas (B.S. ’85) are recipients of the MTSU Young Alumni Achievement and Distinguished Alumni in Service to Community, respectively, for 2012-13. They will be recognized Aug. 17 during the summer 2013 commencement ceremony. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Three Middle Tennessee State University alumni will be recognized as respective Distinguished Alumni and Young Alumni Achievement Award recipients during summer commencement ceremonies Saturday, Aug. 17.

Maria Salas of Nashville and the late Dr. Larry Needham will be honored by the National Alumni Association as 2012-13 Distinguished Alumni, and Deanna Meador of Gallatin, Tenn., will be saluted as the 2012-13 Young Alumni Achievement honoree. The graduation ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. in Murphy Center.

The family of Needham, a member of the class of 1968 and who passed away in October 2010, will accept his Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement. His wife, Doris, and their son, Lance, are among the family members planning to attend.

Salas, a member of the class of 1985, will be bestowed the Distinguished Alumni Award for Service to Community.

Meador, who was a member of the class of 2004, will be presented the Young Alumni Achievement Award.

The three recipients also were recognized during Homecoming 2012 activities last October.

“We are delighted to have our Distinguished Alumni and families back on campus to be honored at graduation,” Alumni Relations Director Ginger Freeman said. “It is such an incredible time to allow the most recent graduates the opportunity to see what their predecessors have accomplished and give them an honor to strive for. Our Distinguished Alumni are such an amazing representation of what it means to be ‘True Blue.’”

Dr. Larry Needham

Needham, who was living in Lilburn, Ga., at the time of his death, was a renowned chemist who spent 34 years working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Needham received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the College of Basic and Applied Science and was considered one of the pre-eminent human exposure assessment experts in the field.

Salas, who owns her own bankruptcy law firm, is a former Lady Raider basketball player. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the College of Mass Communication.

A practicing attorney for more than 20 years, Salas devotes much of her time to public service. She has a daughter, Owen, 8.

Because of a prior commitment, Salas will not be able to attend the ceremonies.

Meador, a first-generation college student in her family, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. She coordinated two grant-funded multimillion-dollar research projects at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Research Institute and was promoted to program manager for the research institute on July 1.

She and her husband, Jason, have two children, Logan 11, and Hayden, 4. The Lafayette, Tenn., native volunteers with children in foster care in Tennessee.

— Randy Weiler (