ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Graduating women’s tennis player Zoe’ Hamel earned the school’s highest academic award at UNC Asheville’s commencement ceremonies Saturday morning.


Hamel received the 2014 Manly E. Wright Award by the Honors and Degree Programs Committee.  The award is presented to the student graduating first in scholarship.


The native of France was a four-letterwinner for the Bulldog tennis program, playing #1 seed as a sophomore, junior and senior.


She graduated with a 3.99 GPA, majoring in both mathematics and economics.


Her professors were lavish in praise for Hamel’s work in the classroom.


“Zoé provided invaluable help to me on a highly mathematical economics paper,” stated Dr. Robert Tatum, Associate Professor of Economics.  “She not only conducted amazing literature reviews, performed excellent analysis using Mathematica, a software program she had never used before, but she also offered immensely valuable suggestions as she sought to understand and master the complex models and analysis in the paper.  No other research assistant has ever provided so much help to me.”


“Zoé has been an active and stellar participant in the Talk at Tailgate Markets research with me and several other students,” commented Dr. Leah Matthews, Professor of Economics. “She has played a major role in the development of the manuscript based on our results, a manuscript that will be submitted for publication just about the time Zoé graduates.  Zoé is thus not only excellent with data and conducting research but also an impressive communicator.”


Dr. Patrick Bahls, Director of the Honors Program and Associate Professor of Mathematics, describes his Calculus III experience with Zoé: 


“In this course, the instructor plays a largely organizational role and the students take the lead in determining the pace and direction of conversation in class.  Students are given lists of problems to solve, and they take turns in presenting solutions to one another in class, critiquing one another’s solutions and challenging one another to make these solutions as clear as possible,” declared Bahls. “Many if not most students find this format a challenging one, at least at first.  Zoé dove right in, though.  Every time it was her turn to present, she did so unhesitatingly, offering unassailable solutions that were as clear and complete as they were correct.  Her mathematical acumen was matched only by her ability to convey her ideas to others.”


She will continue her education in September at the University of Vancouver as she has been granted a fellowship in math.