20 Chosen for Prestigious McDermott Scholarships

Students Hail from as Far Away as India and as Nearby as Plano, Texas

May 20, 2008

The Eugene McDermott Scholars Program at UT Dallas, one of the most comprehensive awards available to students beginning their college experiences, has selected the 10 men and 10 women who will make up its 2008 class.

The students come from such diverse locations as India, South Carolina, New Mexico and Texas. Among them are three valedictorians and one salutatorian, and the students collectively graduated in the top 2.3 percent of their high school class.

Three achieved a perfect score on the SAT or the ACT. The group averaged 2240 on the SAT overall.

Now in its eighth year, the McDermott Scholars Program attracts academically talented students who are also leaders in their high schools and communities. With an emphasis on four years of leadership and community service, the program is born of the belief that education should blend academics, culture, internship and travel.

As McDermott Scholars, the 20 students will have educational expenses — including tuition, fees and monthly stipends for living expenses, travel and books — covered for the next four years. They will also participate in a wide variety of cultural and educational enrichment experiences.

In fact, each year of the McDermott Scholars Program is carefully designed to incorporate various aspects of experiential learning:

  • Freshman year includes an orientation trip; a visit to Mexico for service and cultural exposure as well as examination of Texas/Mexico political influences; and a trip to Washington, D.C. for an immersion in national politics and business.
  • During their sophomore year, the scholars will experience campus leadership via such outlets as student government, and state and local political leadership opportunities through a trip to Austin.
  • Junior year is focused on study abroad opportunities and/or internships.
  • Senior year includes a class project in which the group is challenged to seek out an area where they can give back to society. Previous classes have chosen to reach out to local school districts, while other classes have focused on giving back to the University. During their senior year, the scholars also explore the next phase of their life, be it furthering their education, international travel or searching for a job.

The McDermott Scholars Program was made possible by a $32 million gift from Mrs. Margaret McDermott, wife of the late Eugene McDermott, one of the co-founders of Texas Instruments. McDermott and two of his TI co-founders, Cecil Green and Erik Jonsson, both of whom also are deceased, founded the research institution that in 1969 became UT Dallas.

“Eugene McDermott’s belief in coupling exceptional academic talent with exposure to the cultural arts and to other character building experiences is the heart and soul of this award,” said program director Molly Seeligson. “Indeed, his values have become a mission of this University, and his dream lives on with the selection of each new class. It’s truly awe-inspiring to see his idea come to fruition through the eyes of these scholars.”

Graduates of the program have been recipients of some of the most prestigious academic awards offered, including a Marshall Scholarship, a Truman Scholarship, Goldwater Scholarships, a Boren Fellowship and, most recently, UT Dallas’ first Fulbright Scholarship.

Another recent graduate will enter the Peace Corps later this year.

 

2008 McDermott Scholars
Those selected as McDermott Scholars for the 2008 entering class are:

INDIA

Saheli Nath


Bhavan’s G B Kanoria Vidy, Kolkata, West Bengal

Saheli is a talented chess player and serves as captain of her high school chess team. She has won awards at several competitions, including fourth place in the India National U-18 Chess Championship in 2007, first place in the State Women’s Chess Championship in 2006 and tenth place in the World U-16 Chess Championship in 2005. She also won the Government of India Award for sports in 2002. She was the editor of the writers club at her school and is a member of the debate team. She also is an active community volunteer. Saheli has a wide range of career interests and has not yet decided on a specific area of study, though her goals include becoming a chess Grandmaster.

NEW MEXICO

Caitlin Williamson
Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque

Caitlin performed with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and sang a solo in Carnegie Hall. She was a member of the audition choral group Academy Singers throughout high school and was also a member of the all-state chorus. She was involved with musical theater and was a co-founder of her school’s self defense club. She participated in the cross country team, basketball team and family bowling. She worked as a student library aide over summers and volunteered as an elementary school reading tutor. She is a recipient of the Bryn Mawr President’s Book Award, which is an annual award given to a student who shows an unusual love of learning and intellectual curiosity. Caitlin plans to major in biology and pursue a career in medicine.

SOUTH CAROLINA

David Huddlestun
Wando High School, Mount Pleasant

David has performed as the first chair cellist in the Charleston Symphony Youth Orchestra. He has extensive training in martial arts, earning the rank of first Gup. He placed first in the South Carolina Junior Academy of Science Quiz Bowl and first in the Science Quest Quiz Bowl. He placed second in his school-wide science fair and second in regional history day. He is a member of Mu Alpha Theta and tutors with the organization in his spare time. He has served as treasurer of the junior class for his school’s student council and attends teen Bible study weekly. He is an Advanced Placement (AP) scholar with distinction. David wants to major in biology and computer science and pursue a career in biology and information technology.

Christina May
Wando High School, Mount Pleasant

Christina is an accomplished piano and viola player. She participated in junior all-state orchestra and senior region orchestra and received the outstanding orchestra member of the year award. She served as president and treasurer of Mu Alpha Theta and has won awards in several competitions, including Columbia College Math Competition and Citadel Math Competition. She is involved in Girl Scouts, in which she has won the silver award, a 10-year pin and leadership award. She was co-captain of the Academic Quiz Bowl team at her high school and played on championship soccer and basketball teams through local recreational sport groups. She is valedictorian of her high school class, a National Merit finalist and an AP scholar. Christina wants to major in physics and earn a Ph.D. in cognitive science or quantum physics.

TEXAS
Austin Area

Emily Lichtenheld
McCallum High School

Emily has a long history of volunteering, working with students with disabilities and mentoring children through the group Peer Assistance and Leadership (PAL). She received several recognition awards for her service, including the PAL achievement award and sophomore certificate of achievement from the Kiwanis Foundation. She was accepted into Austin Independent School District’s Fine Arts Academy and, upon graduation, will have completed a double major in music and dance. She served as the McCallum marching band squad leader and librarian and was first chair of the McCallum band in saxophone. She is also a member of the McCallum Dance Company. She is involved in the McCallum Environmental Knights Club and the gardening club. She also participates in Students Against Destructive Decisions as well as National Honor Society. She received the Austin ISD Trustees’ Scholar Award as well as the AP scholar award. Emily has not yet decided on a specific area of study.

Prashant Raghavendran
Liberal Arts and Science Academy

Prashant is the president of Model United Nations at his high school and received the best delegate award in 2007. He is a member of the Quiz Bowl and Knowledge Masters teams at his high school, both of which won several competitions. He also has won medals in Science Olympiad competitions. He is the vice captain of the boys varsity tennis team and placed first in boys singles at the Pflugerville fall school invitational. He is also a section leader in the marching band and qualified for the UIL state solo and ensemble contest. He received the Austin ISD Trustees’ Scholar Award as well as the AP scholar award, and he placed fourth in the nation on the national French exam. Prashant plans to major in biology or political science.

Dallas/Fort Worth Area

Ali Saherwala
Allen High School, Allen

Ali is fluent in English, Spanish, Urdu, Hindi and Gujarati, partially fluent in Arabic and intends to add Hebrew and French to his repertoire. He was the chairman of public relations for the Sociedad Honoria Hispanica at his high school and the founder and president of the National Junior Art Honor Society. He was the team coordinator for both the science and math UIL teams and advanced to regional’s in both competitions. He is an advanced mentor and tutor for Allen Academic Mentoring Services as well as an organizer and participant in the weekly sports activities at his local recreation center. He was a member of the UT Dallas Nanotech Explorer summer program. He is his high school’s valedictorian, a National Merit Finalist and an AP scholar. Ali plans to major in either biochemistry or neuroscience and hopes for a career in medicine.

Bryan Thompson
Talented and Gifted Magnet, DeSoto

Bryan served on his high school’s student council as class president and event coordinator. He was the first chair baritone-saxophonist in the Dallas ISD All City Jazz Band and the head drum major for Townview Big D Marching Band. He was an actor, educator and project assistant in Planned Parenthood’s Teenage Communication Theater. He was awarded a certificate of leadership as well as a certificate of academic achievement in the National Youth Leadership Forum of Medicine. He was treasurer of the Pan American Student Forum of Texas and the co-founder and co-president of the Townview Magnet Center Swing Dance Club. He was the president of New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church’s Youth in Action and won the outstanding citizen award. Bryan was a model for Alpha Modeling Group and Future Fashion Leaders of America. He is a National Merit Commended scholar as well as an AP scholar. He is also a student observer and researcher at the Children’s Medical Center Neurology and Rheumatology practice. Bryan intends to major in neuroscience and pursue a career in pediatric neurology.

Martin Huynh
Trinity High School, Euless

Martin volunteers as a Taekwondo Advanced Youth Instructor, has achieved a second degree black belt and was featured in the international Taekwondo Union Newsletter. He is the president of his high school philosophy club as well as a member of National Honor Society. He is a member of Mu Alpha Theta and placed third in the Region 2 Alpha Competition. He has done rotational medical training at H-E-B Harris Methodist Hospital and served as a student volunteer at Southwest Surgical Hospital. He was also a student patient volunteer with Lion Hospice. He is salutatorian of his high school as well as an AP scholar with honors and a National Merit Finalist. Martin plans to major in biochemistry and hopes for a career in medicine.

Thomas Krenik
Texas Academy of Math and Science, Garland

Thomas is an accomplished piano player and, at young age, founded a business in which he taught beginning piano to children. He is the president, chief instructor and founder of the TAMS Martial Arts Club as well as a second Gup brown belt in Taekwondo. He won several awards in both Academic Octathlon and Academic Decathlon competitions. He was a semifinalist in the biology Olympiad and a regional finalist in the 2007 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. He received first prize in the poster session at the Texas-Korea Nanotechnology Conference in 2007 at UT Dallas as well as the California Institute of Technology Signature Award. He is a National Merit Finalist. Thomas plans to major in electrical engineering and work as a leader and innovator in the technology industry.

Clifford Hsieh
Plano West Senior High, Plano

Clifford won the bronze medal in the junior Olympics table tennis doubles competition and served as the school table tennis club president and vice president. He is the public relations officer for the young adult division of his Buddhist temple and is the co-founder and president of the Red Cross Club at his high school. He was the vice president of the students organizing community outreach and has volunteered at Plano Therapeutic Recreation, Baylor Regional Hospital and Medical Center of Plano. He placed sixth in the region in the Health Occupations Students of America Bowl. He is a National Honor Society member as well as a French National Honor Society member, placing sixth in state in drama at the Texas French Symposium. He also is an AP scholar with distinction and received the Plano ISD Board of Trustees Award. He was named Who’s Who Among American High School Students and is a National Merit Commended Scholar. Clifford wants to major in molecular biology and neuroscience and pursue a career in medicine.

Anastasia Konstans
Plano Senior High School, Plano

Anastasia moved from Russia at a young age and is now trilingual in English, Spanish and Russian. She is the public relations committee chair of the Spanish club at her high school. She is an avid tennis player and won several awards including most improved and a letter of commendation with the Vines High School tennis team. She was an advertisement design intern at a local ad agency and worked in design as an assistant for the Institute for Excellence in Corporate Governance at UT Dallas. She is an AP scholar and National Merit Finalist. Anastasia wants to major in business administration and plans to pursue a career in advertising.

Sammy Wyder
Lakeview Centennial High School, Rowlett

Sammy served as president of the thespians club at her high school and wrote several school plays. She was nominated for four Garland ISD Patty Granville awards and received one. She was also a Patty Granville judge. She was a member of her school’s Destination Imagination team throughout high school and her team advanced to state competition three years and placed twice. She is a council delegate in Girl Scouts and has won gold, silver and bronze awards in the group. She plays piano and soccer and tutors students at her high school. She is a National Merit Finalist, AP scholar and member of National Honor Society. Sammy plans to major in literary studies and is uncertain about her career plans.

Sherine Mathew
North Mesquite High School, Sunnyvale

Sherine is an accomplished vocalist, participating in both UIL all-region and all-state choirs. She served as the president, treasurer and section leader of her high school choir and received the outstanding choir member award. She was the team captain for Relay for Life as well as a board member on the renaissance sponsored volunteer program. She received the Dallas Public Library most valuable volunteer award. She was named Who’s Who Among American High School Students and is an Outstanding Student of America Scholar nominee. She was the president of National Honor Society and a finalist for homecoming queen at her high school. Sherine plans to pursue a double major in biology and business administration and hopes for a career in medicine.

Houston Area

Erich Bao
Cy-Fair High School, Cypress

Erich is the captain of his high school’s basketball team and his amateur athletic union team, and he has received several awards including most valuable player and most improved player. He is trilingual in English, Chinese and Spanish and has lived in several countries. He won the outstanding student award at Chinese school and volunteered in China during a recent summer visit. He gives at least 35 hours of volunteer service a year through his membership in Key Club. He is involved in National Honor Society as well as Spanish Club. He is also a National Merit Finalist and is an AP scholar. Erich plans to major in economics and mathematical sciences and hopes to use math and statistics for financial forecasting.

Bryan Harclerode
Friendswood High School, Friendswood

Bryan is part of the computer science and robotics teams at his high school and won the state championship in the Texas Computer Educational Association Robotics competition. He was also a regional and state qualifier for UIL computer applications and uses his computer skills to help teachers at his school with their computer problems. He served as captain of his varsity swimming team and was a regional finalist in the sport. He also served as the captain of his water polo team and received the most valuable player award. He is an Eagle Scout and has held several positions in Boy Scouts. He is a member of National Honor Society and German National Honor Society. He is also a National Merit Commended Student. Bryan plans to major in software engineering and pursue a career in application and database design.

Liz Organ
Duchesne Academy, Houston

Liz is the captain of her high school’s varsity soccer team and she received state recognition as well as most valuable player and most important player awards. She served as editor of the literary magazine at her school and participated in the Model UN conference for the past three years. She was president of campus ministry at her school and president of Disciples of Charity, a youth group associated with an organization that serves the needy in her archdiocese. She received the Wellesley Book Award for Academic Achievement and Community Service as well as the University of Rochester Douglass Anthony Award for Humanities and Social Sciences. She also received awards for highest achievement in advanced computer applications and the gold award in the national Spanish exam. She is a National Merit Finalist. Liz wants to double major in economics and political science and hopes to become a district attorney and federal judge.

Dionna Budd
Morton Ranch High School, Katy

Dionna is involved in several service organizations including Interact and Best Buddies and received the citizenship award at her high school. She also received the principal’s award for her academic achievements. She is a member of the honors academic decathlon team, serves as co-captain of Friends of Rachel and participates in cross country. She served in the positions of vice president and treasurer on her school’s student council, historian on the debate team and treasurer for National Honor Society. She worked as a Spanish, algebra and geometry tutor. Dionna plans to major in political science and psychology and wants to pursue a career in law.

Lye-Ching Wong
The John Cooper School, The Woodlands

Lye-Ching was the president and vice president of Interact, won the outstanding service award the past three years and organized the group’s first ever Putt-Putt for Polio fundraiser. She has studied both ballet and music since childhood and she is a soloist member of The Woodlands Ballet Theatre. She was a representative of her school’s international club and participated in the local Habitat for Humanity. She grew up in Malaysia and is fluent in five languages. Last year, she placed seventh nationally in the French Concours Competition. She won the top scholar award for highest GPA in her grade each year of high school. Lye-Ching wants to major in either biochemistry or molecular biology coupled with crime and justice studies for a career as a biochemist or molecular biologist.

San Antonio

Brian Van Eimeren
Health Careers High School, San Antonio

Brian is involved in his high school Latin club and has won many honors, including gold medals on the national Latin exam and summa cum laude pentathlon at Latin state competition. He was also the writer, director, producer and star of his Latin club’s play for Texas State Junior Classical League which won first place. He made a perfect score on the Texas Math League test and was the school winner twice. He is a member of National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta. He is the brass student director in the symphonic band and won first division solo in French horn. He tutors other students at his high school and is multilingual, with Spanish as his first language. Brian is valedictorian of his high school and is a National Merit Finalist. He plans to major in electrical engineering or computer science but is undecided about his career path.


Media contact: Jenni Huffenberger, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, jennib@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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2008 McDermott Scholars

( Not pictured: Dionna Budd and Saheli Nath)

Caitlin Williamson

Caitlin Williamson
Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque

David Huddlestun
Wando High School, Mount Pleasant

David Huddlestun
Christina May

Christina May
Wando High School, Mount Pleasant

Emily Lichtenheld
McCallum High School

Emily Lichtenheld
Prashant Raghavendran

Prashant Raghavendran
Liberal Arts and Science Academy

Ali Saherwala
Allen High School, Allen

Ali Saherwala
Bryan Thompson

Bryan Thompson
Talented and Gifted Magnet, DeSoto

Martin Huynh
Trinity High School, Euless

Martin Huynh
Thomas krenik

Thomas Krenik
Texas Academy of Math and Science, Garland

Clifford Hsieh
Plano West Senior High, Plano

Clifford Hsieh
Anastasia Konstans

Anastasia Konstans
Plano Senior High School, Plano

Sammy Wyder
Lakeview Centennial High School, Rowlett

Sammy Wyder
Sherine Mathew

Sherine Mathew
North Mesquite High School, Sunnyvale

Erich Bao
Cy-Fair High School, Cypress
Erich Bao
Bryan Harclerode

Bryan Harclerode
Friendswood High School, Friendswood

Liz Organ
Duchesne Academy, Houston

Liz Organ
Lye-Ching Wong

Lye-Ching Wong
The John Cooper School, The Woodlands

Brian Van Eimeren
Health Careers High School, San Antonio

Brian Van Eimeren

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