Launa Castañeda

Launa Castañeda, Stephen F. Austin State University political science major from Garland, received a Best of SFA Award.

Julia Hobson

Julia Hobson, Stephen F. Austin State University general agriculture major from Richmond, received a Best of SFA Award.

Callie Lynn,

Callie Lynn, Stephen F. Austin State University biology major from Rusk, received a Best of SFA Award.

Brennen Leidy

Brennen Leidy, Stephen F. Austin State University biology and geology major from New Braunfels, received a Best of SFA Award.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas –– The Stephen F. Austin State University Division of Student Affairs named Launa Castañeda of Garland, Julia Hobson of Richmond, Callie Lynn of Rusk, and Brennen Leidy of New Braunfels as recipients of the 2024 Best of SFA Award.

“This is a difficult award to select as many of our student leaders deserve recognition for their contributions to the SFA community,” said Lacey Folsom, director of Student Engagement. “However, the committee found these four recipients as wonderful representatives of the passion, dedication and spirit that is rooted in the Best of SFA Award.”

The awards are given annually to recognize students who excel in the areas of scholarship, participation and leadership in academic and co-curricular activities as well as service and loyalty to the university. These exemplary students are honored during the Lumberjack Achievement Awards Banquet held each spring semester and go on to represent SFA throughout the following academic year.

Launa Castañeda

Castañeda is a political science major and an English minor. A graduate of Garland High School, she is the daughter of Astrid and Gilberto Castañeda.

She has served in various roles in the League of United Latin American Citizens; lead counselor for Generation Jacks; served on the OMA Presidents Council; was founder and representative of the Multicultural Leadership Coalition; president of Coffee Club; academics chair, historian and parliamentarian for Delta Zeta sorority; and outreach chair for Students for Biden.  

Castañeda also participated in community service projects such as the Big Event, MLK Day of Service, and highway clean ups. She has volunteered at the Nacogdoches County Animal Shelter and Harvest House, among many other initiatives

A first-generation student and slated to graduate in August, Castañeda plans to either take a gap year to study for the Law School Admission Test or stay at SFA to pursue a master’s degree. 

Julia Hobson

Hobson is a general agriculture major with a pre-veterinarian concentration and minors in biology and chemistry. A graduate of Foster High School, she is the daughter of Bernie and Pam Hobson. 

During her time at SFA, Hobson volunteered at the Nacogdoches County Animal Shelter and participated in initiatives such as Compassion Animal Project, blendVET, Mutts and Meows Animal Rescue, and Friends of North Rosenberg - Attack Poverty.

She served in a number of SFA leadership positions, including serving as a Jack Walker, co-founder of the Organization of Asian Excellence and as service committee chair and secretary for Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership and honor society. She’s also been a member of the Pre-Vet Club and the Honors Student Association. 

Slated to graduate summa cum laude and with the University Scholar designation in May, Hobson will continue her education at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Professional Program. Additionally, she will be joining their Masters of Veterinary Public Health and Epidemiology program as part of their MS VPHE/DVM dual-degree program. 

Callie Lynn

Lynn is a biology major with a minor in general business. She is a graduate of Rusk High School and the daughter of Chris and Kim Lynn. 

Lynn is a Jack Walker, Orientation leader, Jack Camp counselor and a research assistant in the Bruck Integrative Biology Lab. She is the president of the SFA Biology Club and on the Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership and honor society service committee.

As a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Lynn helped plan and host a Special Olympics for the East Texas community last year for local special needs children. She has also volunteered at the Nacogdoches County Animal Shelter, MLK Day of Service and the Big Event.

Slated to graduate in December, Lynn will stay at SFA and pursue a master's degree in biology, continuing the work she began during her undergraduate degree. Currently, she participates in research with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and beluga whales to learn more about each species and contribute to ongoing conservation efforts. She hopes to lead her own research projects focused on saving wildlife. 

Brennen Leidy

Leidy is a biology and geology double major. He is the son of Christopher and Michelle Leidy. 

Leidy is a field technician intern in the Montana Aquatic Ecology Lab, a tutor in the Academic Assistance and Resource Center and a commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay, Alaska. He also served as chief justice on the Interfraternal Council executive board and is a member of Order of Omega, president of Omicron Delta Kappa, a Jack Walker, and president of the Theta Chi Fraternity Epsilon Tau Chapter. 

While in Omicron Delta Kappa, he has helped organize a book drive, a Special Olympics event, supervised a canned food drive, organized a blanket donation and wrote letters to nursing homes and hospitalized children, among many other volunteering initiatives. 

Slated to graduate in May, Leidy intends to pursue a graduate degree in biology and research paleontology. Following a graduate degree, he hopes to work with the United States Department of the Interior, ideally the National Park Service.

Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at the SFA website.