2013 McDermott Scholars Demonstrate Excellence, Diverse Interests
Aug. 12, 2013
The UT Dallas McDermott Scholars Program has selected 21 students to make up the 2013 incoming class.
The entering cohort was chosen from nearly 1,200 high school students in 30 states and five countries who had initially expressed interest in the program. Fifty-eight applicants were invited to the annual selection weekend, from which the final 21 students were chosen.
“I am so pleased that our institution and program will have the opportunity to benefit from the contributions of these remarkable young people while we help them to realize their potential.”
The incoming class of 2013 will include eight students from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Ten others are from out of state, and one is from Romania. Collectively, this group has an average two-part SAT score of 1520. Eighteen of the 21 have received recognition from the National Merit Scholar program, five were high school valedictorians, and two were Presidential Scholar nominees.
“UT Dallas and the McDermott Scholars Program have again proved their ability to attract some of the nation’s best and brightest students,” said Molly Seeligson, director of the McDermott Program. “I am so pleased that our institution and program will have the opportunity to benefit from the contributions of these remarkable young people while we help them to realize their potential.”
As McDermott Scholars, the students will have educational expenses covered for the next four years and will participate in a wide variety of cultural and educational enrichment experiences in the Dallas area and beyond.
The McDermott Scholars Program is carefully designed to incorporate various aspects of experiential learning:
• Freshman year includes an orientation trip to Santa Fe, N.M., weekly leadership development seminars and a trip to Washington, D.C., for an immersion in government operations.
• During their sophomore year, scholars take leading roles on campus, and experience state and local government during a trip to the Capitol in Austin.
• Junior year is focused on study abroad and/or internships.
• Senior year centers on final preparations for the next phase of scholars’ lives and includes traditions such as a class retreat, capstone service projects and the passing of the McDermott Scholars Program torch in the “Lighting the Legacy” ceremony.
The arrival of this year’s class will mark the program’s 13th class. The incoming group will join the 62 scholars already in attendance at UT Dallas. The program has 142 alumni.
The McDermott Scholars Program was made possible by a $32 million gift from Margaret McDermott, wife of the late Eugene McDermott, one of the co-founders of Texas Instruments (TI). McDermott and two TI co-founders, Cecil Green and Erik Jonsson, founded the research institution that in 1969 became UT Dallas.
For more information on the McDermott Scholars Program or the application process, visit the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program website.
Those selected as McDermott Scholars for the 2013 entering class are:
Altamont School, Homewood
Stephen McMahon is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with distinction. He was third in his class and received the J. Frank Rushton Cup, a top honor awarded at his school to recognize leadership, sportsmanship and scholarship. McMahon was captain of the track and cross country teams, as well as an Alabama-Mississippi all-star in lacrosse. He was president of his school’s National Honor Society, a member of Mu Alpha Theta and the National Latin Honor Society. McMahon won the Alabama Latin Convention Heptathlon, a Gold Medal in the Classical Literacy Exam and a Randolph College Classics award. McMahon will major in chemistry at UT Dallas.
Chugiak High School, Chugiak
Valedictorian Samantha Hartke is a National Merit Scholar, an AP Scholar with distinction, and a Presidential Scholar nominee. She was captain of the cross-country running and cross-country skiing teams, and former captain of her track and field team. She competed in the U.S. Junior Nationals, where her cross-country skiing team won the 2011 state championship. She also placed third in the 1,600 meter at the track and field state meet. Hartke was mentored by the Army Corps of Engineers. She speaks Spanish and is interested in aviation, plays piano and is a lifeguard. She will major in biomedical engineering at UT Dallas.
Haas Hall Academy, Fayetteville
Valedictorian Adam Mendonca is an AP Scholar with distinction who was selected to attend the Arkansas Governor’s School in Mathematics. Mendonca was the captain of his school’s state champion quiz bowl team (he was MVP of the bowl), as well as a member of National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America and the tennis team. He has volunteered in food pantries, is active in the Columbia Squires and the Green (environmental) Team. He also tutors in math, science and history. He speaks Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Mendonca will major in economics, mathematics, or mechanical engineering.
Glendora High School, Glendora
Kathleen Alva is a National Merit commended student, an AP Scholar with honor, and a National Hispanic Recognition Scholar. Alva was the president of Tams Girls Club and the Life Enthusiasts Club, vice president of the California Scholastic Federation at her high school, and a leader in Link Crew. Alva has organized and participated in numerous charity events, service projects, and volunteer posts. She was also a member of the National Honor Society, a delegate at Youth and Government, and a peer leader in her church. She will major in literary studies at UT Dallas.
Fossil Ridge High School, Fossil Ridge
Salutatorian Marisa Campain is a National Merit commended student and an AP Scholar with distinction. She studies Spanish, taking college language courses and volunteering through her bilingual story time program. She also won a National Scholastic Silver Key Art Award. As an equestrian, she competes in regional and national competitions. Campain was president of her school’s National Honor Society, a member of the National Art Honor Society and of Mu Alpha Theta. She was the vice president of Key Club and won the Outstanding Key Club Vice President at the Colorado convention. Campain will major in biochemistry at UT Dallas.
The Culver Academies, Culver
Caitlynn Fortner is a National Merit commended student, an AP Scholar with distinction, and an inductee of the Cum Laude Society. She attended the Indiana World Food Prize Youth Institute, where she won the right to attend the Global Youth Institute. Her research on hunger solutions employed in China, India, and the U.S. led to her graduation with honors in global studies. Fortner co-founded The Hunger Fighters Project, and volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club, the Community Service Council and her local church. Fortner was co-captain of her swim team and is a life guard. She will major in international political economy.
Olathe North High School, Overland Park
Valedictorian Andrew Johannesen is a National Merit Scholar, an AP Scholar with distinction and a winner of the President’s Education Award. Johannesen worked as a research assistant in three laboratories at the University of Kansas, where he has studied particle astrophysics, experimental nuclear physics, and molecular graphics and modeling. As a member of Olathe North’s team in the “Battle of the Brains” competition, he helped his school take home the first place prize and $50,000 for the science department. Johannesen worked with the homeless through a variety of volunteer organizations and considers the experience a privilege and a duty. Johannesen will study chemistry and physics at UT Dallas.
Central High School, Springfield
Nancy Fairbank is a National Merit commended student and an International Baccalaureate graduate. She was the president and team captain of her school’s chapter of the National Forensics League. At the League’s national tournament, she and her debate partner earned 13th place. She also competed in the national Ronald Reagan “Great Communicator” Speech Competition, where she earned second place. Fairbank is the founder of a peer mentoring program, Teen-to-Teen, and has authored a book compiling interviews with homeless teens. Fairbank also speaks Spanish. She will major in political science at UT Dallas.
New Explorations in Science, Technology, and Math, New York
Anupam Kumar is an AP Scholar with distinction and a winner of the Science Research Scholar Award. He interned at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He also studied Java and neuroscience at Columbia University’s science program. Kumar has been co-president of student government and president of the National Honor Society. He is an ambassador of the New York Road Runners and editor of the yearbook. He volunteers at New York's Tudor City Greens, the American Diabetes Association, the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, and the American Red Cross. Kumar will major in biomedical engineering at UT Dallas.
Colegiul National ‘Gheorghe Vrancceau’, Bacau, Romania
Andrei Rosu has excelled in schools in Romania and the United States. He participated in exchange programs in two foreign countries and earned an Excellency Diploma in Romania. He has has excelled in English and speaks French. He earned an A on the Cambridge Advanced Exam and won first prize in the M.A.T.E Spoken English Contest. He won Romania's English Olympiad, as well as honorable mention and Audience Choice Awards in the National Public Speaking Competition. Rosu has volunteered for the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and the Peace Corps. He founded his local Rotary’s Interact Club. He will major in psychology at UT Dallas.
Plano East Senior High School, Dallas
Vedika Agrawal is a National Merit Scholar, an AP Scholar with distinction, and was ranked fifth in her class. Agrawal is a dancer in the Indian classical style of Kathak, and has organized and emceed dance productions for her school. She was president of the Junior World Affairs Council, vice president of Math Club, and a member of Spanish Club, Health Occupation Students of America and the National Art Honor Society. Agrawal is also a painter. She has worked on her school’s mural and with school children through afterschool art classes. She speaks Hindi and is learning Spanish. Vedika will major in molecular biology at UT Dallas.
St. Mark’s School of Texas, Dallas
Pramukh Atluri is a National Merit commended student, an AP Scholar, and an Eagle Scout. He was vice president and co-founder of the Politics and Current Events Club and a prolific staff writer for his school’s science periodical, Scientific Marksman. Atluri was a member of the varsity crew team. Atluri has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, the Association of Retarded Citizens and as a mentor. He has also worked as athletic director of the Jubilee Center in Dallas’ Jubilee Park neighborhood. For these activities, Atluri received the Presidential Gold Award for community service. He will major in psychology at UT Dallas.
Plano Senior High School, Dallas
Eric Chen is a National Merit Scholar, an AP Scholar with distinction, and a Welch Summer Scholar. He spent much of this summer in an internship with MD Anderson conducting genetics research. A musician, Chen is the president of the Plano Senior High Orchestra and organizer of a tutoring program to help orchestra members. Chen is also the director of the Chapter Internal Affairs for Texas Junior State of America. He is the co-president of the American Go Honor Society, a group that conducts service projects and fosters stronger community ties. Chen will major in biomedical, electrical or mechanical engineering at UT Dallas.
McKinney North High School, McKinney
Tyler Criss is a National Merit commended student and an AP Scholar with distinction. He was captain of his swim team, as well as a school record holder in the 200m freestyle relay. He was a school leader involved in a wide range of organizations, including varsity choir, the National Honor Society, and the Guard Dawgs spirit squad. Criss has volunteered with Meals on Wheels, Relay for Life and the Special Olympics. He has received both Academic Excellence and Youth Leadership awards from the Rotary Club. He plans to major in biomedical engineering at UT Dallas.
St. Francis Academy, Conroe
Javier Fernandez-Han is a National Hispanic Recognition Scholar and was named one of Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30 Most Influential Persons” in the energy industry. He has competed in numerous innovation and design competitions, winning first place in the Conrad Foundation’s “Spirit of Innovation Challenge” in both 2010 and 2012. He also won the grand prize in the Lemelson Foundation’s “Invent Your World” competition. Fernandez-Han has twice been named among Popular Science Magazine’s “Top Ten High School Inventors,” in 2009 and in 2011. He holds a patent related to reclaiming water and another is pending on a desalinization device. He plans to major in computer science at UT Dallas.
Lone Star High School, Little Elm
Valedictorian Lindsey Ibarra is a National Merit commended student, a National Hispanic Recognition Scholar, and an AP Scholar with distinction. Ibarra was president of her school’s chapter of the National Honor Society and won numerous outstanding student awards for excellence in English, journalism, and social studies. She has volunteered with Frisco Family Services, Treats for Troops, and the International Thespians Society. Ibarra has also served on the city of Frisco’s Mayor’s youth council and performed in two school musicals, Damn Yankees and Steel Magnolias. She will major in business administration at UT Dallas.
Flower Mound High School, Flower Mound
Priya Mathew is a National Merit commended student and an AP Scholar with honor. Mathew was senior class president, vice president of the Spanish Honor Society and a member of National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, English National Honor Society, and Spanish National Honor Society. She is a musician, choir member, and a member of multiple pop singing groups. Additionally, she was honored with the Texas Music Educators Association Award for Outstanding Performance of Musicianship, Scholarship, and Citizenship in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Mathew speaks Spanish and Malayalam. She will major in biochemistry and minor in music at UT Dallas.
Lake Travis High School, Austin
Salutatorian Lauren O’Neal is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with distinction. O’Neal is a refugee mentor and works with refugees from Myanmar. She is a volunteer counselor with the Children’s Association for Maximum Potential, as well as for the Lakeway Regional Medical Center. O’Neal is also a Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Scholarship nominee. O’Neal was committee chair in the National Honor Society and a member of Students for Inclusive Social Opportunities. She participated in her school’s Academic UIL Science team. O’Neal will major in biomedical engineering at UT Dallas.
Garland High School, Garland
Robert Secheli is a National Merit commended student, a QuestBridge Scholar, and holder of an International Baccalaureate diploma. Secheli was a varsity swim captain, president of the Junior World Affairs Council, and a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, and Mu Alpha Theta. Secheli gives his time to the Dallas YMCA, the Garland Independent School District, and the city of Garland nursing homes. He is fluent in Spanish, Romanian and Hungarian. He plans to major in mathematics or physics at UT Dallas.
Plano East Senior High School, Allen
Andrew Wei is a National Merit Scholar, a National AP Scholar, and a Presidential Scholar semifinalist. He holds an International Baccalaureate diploma, is a NASA High School Aerospace Scholar and was ranked third in his class. Wei is a competitive pianist who studied at Southern Methodist University’s Institute for Young Pianists. He was also president of the Spanish Club, a director with Vanguard Productions (makers of locally-screened short films), and the senior officer of National Honor Society. Wei speaks Chinese and is learning Spanish. He will major in electrical engineering at UT Dallas.
Radford High School, Radford
Valedictorian Andrew Vaccaro is a National Merit Scholar and a member of National Honor Society. As a Virginia delegate to Boy’s State, Vaccaro was invited to the Southwest Virginia Governor’s School for Math, Science and Technology. As part of this program, Vaccaro took a geophysical research trip to Barrow, Alaska. He also attended the Summer Residential Governor’s School Mentorship for Engineering, where he worked at NASA’s Langley Research Center. He competes in tennis and cross country, Scholastic Bowl and the Mountain Academic Competition, where he was team captain. He will major in computer science or mathematics at UT Dallas.