McDermott Scholars Exhibit Array of Abilities
July 23, 2015
The UT Dallas Eugene McDermott Scholars Program has selected 25 students to make up the 2015 incoming class.
The entering cohort, the program’s 15th class, was selected from nearly 1,400 high school students from 47 states and five countries who had initially expressed interest in the program. Sixty applicants were invited to the annual finalists’ weekend from which the scholars were selected.
The incoming class includes 14 students from Texas high schools. Eleven others come from eight states, from California to New Hampshire. Collectively, this class has an average two-part SAT score of 1540. Five of them achieved perfect scores on the SAT or ACT. Nineteen have been recognized by the National Merit Scholarship program, three were high school valedictorians and one was a salutatorian.
“The newest class of McDermott Scholars was selected from some of the most competitive applications in the program’s history,” said Molly Seeligson, director of the program. “We are thrilled for each and every one of these exceptional individuals to pursue their goals at UT Dallas and to contribute their talents to the greater Dallas community.”
The McDermott Scholars will have their educational expenses — including tuition and fees, stipends for living expenses and books, travel and post-graduation preparation — covered for the next four years and will participate in a variety of cultural and educational enrichment experiences in the Dallas area and beyond.
The McDermott Scholars Program is designed to incorporate experiential learning:
- Freshman year includes an orientation trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, 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 incoming group will join the 68 scholars already at UT Dallas. The program has 180 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. McDermott and two TI co-founders, Cecil Green and J. Erik Jonsson, founded the research institution that in 1969 became UT Dallas.
Those selected as McDermott Scholars for the 2015 entering class are:
Floyd B. Buchanan High School, Clovis
Kiara Dandridge is a National Achievement finalist, an AP Scholar and a California Scholarship Federation Sealbearer. Dandridge is a lifetime member of People to People International, a program through which she raised funds for Operation International Children and the Global Landmine Initiative. She earned her school’s Bear Award, in recognition of her leadership, scholarship and athletic accomplishment, as part of the varsity water polo team. Dandridge was a four-year varsity swimmer, holding school records individually in the 50 freestyle and as a member of all three relays. She also swam year-round with Clovis Swim Club, where she was a Junior National Team member and captain. She will study biology.
Fossil Ridge High School, Windsor
Joseph Campain was ranked sixth in his class of 475 students at Fossil Ridge High School and is a National AP student. He volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, homeless shelters, and other community and school organizations. Campain was treasurer and vice president of Student Council, president of National Math Honor Society and vice president of National Honor Society. He was a member of the STEM Academy and developed a research project to determine the effects of sequestered carbon dioxide on greenhouse plants. Campain also excelled at athletics in high school, as a linebacker and kicker in football, and as a sprinter in track. He plans to major in biochemistry.
Eastside High School, Gainesville
Rachel Kyes is a National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar, a National Merit commended student, an AP Scholar with distinction and an International Baccalaureate graduate. She was the founder of the Eastside Hunger Project, which provided more than 60,000 meals for families in her community. Kyes was president of the Interact Club and treasurer of National Honor Society at her high school. She volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and Bread of the Mighty Food Bank, and was photographer for the varsity boys lacrosse team. Kyes was a four-year varsity starter and two-year captain of her lacrosse team, and earned Academic All-American honors in lacrosse. She will study neuroscience.
Seminole High School, Lake Mary
Justin Raman is a National Merit Scholar, a National AP Scholar and an International Baccalaureate graduate. He volunteered at South Seminole Hospital and Fish Memorial Hospital, and was lieutenant governor for Key Club. Raman was president of Mu Alpha Theta, where he tutored others in math, planned two annual regional competitions and won many awards at the state and national level. He also participated in Science Olympiad, his school’s Academic Team, Computer Programming Club and Science Fair. Raman has advanced to the World Finals of Odyssey of the Mind for three years. He is conversational in Spanish and will major in biochemistry.
St. Louis Catholic High School, Lake Charles
Valedictorian Zachary Boullt is a National Merit Scholar and a Presidential Scholar semifinalist. He led middle school groups in weeklong service programs, working in food kitchens and assisting the elderly. Boullt was president of the junior class, senior class, National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta, and vice president of Spanish Club. He also was editor-in-chief for his school newspaper and had a lead role in two Drama Club productions. Boullt was captain of the swim team and a state finalist and All-Academic team member. As part of the Core Team Executive Board, he organized and staffed rallies and retreats for area youths. Boullt will major in biomedical engineering.
Metairie Park Country Day School, St. Rose
Joanna Haug is a National Merit Scholar, an AP Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society and the Cum Laude Society. She volunteered with Boys Hope Girls Hope and Habitat for Humanity. Haug was active in church ministries and on-campus clubs, serving as chair of the Community Service Committee, People Against Xenophobia and Students Against Destructive Decisions. She also spearheaded drives and fundraisers for nonprofit organizations. Since 2009, Haug has organized card-making for Holiday Mail for Heroes. She performed in theater and chorus productions, and worked as a tutor and at the Country Day Early Childhood Center. Haug is conversational in Spanish and will major in psychology.
Rudolf Steiner High School of Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor
Quang Le is an AP Scholar with distinction. He spent half of his secondary education at the Hanoi-Amsterdam High School in Hanoi, Vietnam, before transferring to Rudolf Steiner High School. Without an AP or IB program at his school, Le took five AP courses independently in his junior year. He is a co-founder of LifeboatMED, a project to connect late-stage cancer patients in Vietnam to the U.S. medical system. Le also is a co-founder of his school’s Robotics Club and Science Club, and a member of the Model U.N. Club. He speaks Vietnamese, English and Chinese. Le plans to study biomedical engineering.
Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter
Bhargav Arimilli is a National Merit commended student. He volunteered weekly at a local nursing home in Exeter and with social-service organizations in his hometown in Saudi Arabia. Arimilli was the chief operating officer at Swyft, a student-run logistics business at Exeter. He was co-head of the Modern Medicine Club and Middle Eastern Society, a committee member of Model United Nations and a tour guide for the admissions office. Arimilli plays the clarinet, tenor saxophone and piano. He speaks French and is conversational in Arabic. Arimilli plans to study biochemistry.
Archbishop Wood High School, Wrightstown
Valedictorian Sydney Sherman is a National Merit Scholar, an AP Scholar with distinction, a Coca-Cola Scholar and a Nordstrom Cares Scholar. She was president of National Honor Society, a member of National Spanish Honor Society and state vice president for Health Occupations Students of America. A two-year recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award, Sherman was a volunteer EMT for a local ambulance squad, and for eight years raised puppies to be guides for The Seeing Eye. She played violin and piano in several school and community orchestras, was on varsity tennis and swim teams, and was a national 4-H competitor. She will study biomedical engineering.
Ronald Reagan High School, San Antonio
Salutatorian Morganne Blaylock is a National Merit commended student and a National AP Scholar. She was president of her class for three years, president of Chemistry Club, secretary of Mu Alpha Theta and a member of National Honor Society. Blaylock was founder and president of her school’s nationally recognized robotics team, and started programs to introduce children to computer science and engineering. She was a two-time state winner and national runner-up for a National Center for Women & IT Aspirations in Computing award, and a Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation awardee. Blaylock did research for three years at UT Health Science Center at San Antonio through the Voelcker Biomedical Research Academy, and will be a researcher this summer in the Locomotor Control Systems Lab at UT Dallas. She is conversational in Spanish and will study mechanical engineering.
Vandegrift High School, Austin
Matthew Carpenter is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar, and was president of National Honor Society. Carpenter volunteered at the local food bank and as a tutor for younger students. A trumpet player in his high school’s Wind Ensemble, he held multiple leadership positions in his school’s state champion marching band and was a two-time All-Area musician. Carpenter also competed on his high school’s UIL academic team, medaling in Ready Writing at the state competition. He was a founding member of his school’s Regional Champion World Affairs Council of America Academic WorldQuest team and was a member of his school’s Philosophy Club. Carpenter will study molecular biology.
Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Austin
John Chan is a National Merit Scholar and a National AP Scholar. He volunteered at Hill Country Bible Church, teaching a weekly class of fourth-graders. Chan worked as a research assistant for Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers, professor of integrative biology at UT Austin, creating statistical models for the spread of influenza in the U.S. He was president of the Latin Club, and was on the varsity swim team throughout high school. Chan was a member of Troop 399, where he earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He is fluent in Chinese and will study computer science.
Greenhill School, Plano
Harris Chowdhary is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with honor. He was senior troupe leader of TeenAge Communication Theater, a volunteer group that does peer-to-peer education, when the group won the Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Volunteer of the Year award. Chowdhary researched novel materials for ultrasonic gels and phantoms in Dr. Matthew Lewis’ Lab at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and also interned at Contact Crisis Hotline. He was president of his class and the Service Leadership Council, captain of the Science Bowl Team, secretary of the Political Action Club and a member of Mu Alpha Theta. Chowdhary acted in theatrical productions, played on the men’s lacrosse team and wrote for his school's newspaper. He will study emerging media and communication and sociology.
St Mark's School of Texas, Richardson
Christian Cortes is a Life Scout and member of the Order of the Arrow. He volunteered with Special Olympics and the Cathedral of Hope. Cortes is a caster and marketing manager for Perfect Alliance, a gaming organization sponsored by the company Razer. His YouTube channel has more than 135,000 views and 1,700 subscribers. Cortes was co-founder of the Esports Club, president of the A Cappella Choir and a member of the Fine Arts Board. He participated in his school’s performing arts programs and was a thrower for the track and field team. Cortes studied Latin and will major in mechanical engineering.
Plano Senior High School, Plano
Jacqueline Doan is a National Merit commended student and an AP Scholar with distinction. She won the National French Honor Society travel grant and placed fourth in the state French experienced speaking competition. As chapter president of the National French Honor Society and president of the French Club, Doan tutored students at all levels. She was a recognized competitor with the Speech/Debate team (Forensics) and vice president of the state champion debate team. Doan was a Children's Medical Center liaison, raising more than $1,000 through Children Helping Children. She also played on the varsity tennis team, seeding rank 2 in a Division 6A team. Doan is fluent in French and Vietnamese, and will study global business.
Greenhill School, Dallas
Emily Fine is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar. She volunteered as a tutor and teacher at local schools. A strong proponent of education, Fine founded the nonprofit summer camp IntroCoding, which taught basic coding skills to at-risk youths. She was president of Honor Council and the Social Justice Club. Fine also was captain of the field hockey and lacrosse teams, winning regional awards for both sports. She grew up playing the violin and piano. Fine is fluent in Spanish and plans to study biomedical engineering.
Flower Mound High School, Flower Mound
Ayesha Karnik is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with distinction. She is the founder of New Beginnings, a high school club that focuses on raising awareness of domestic abuse and helping victims. Karnik interned at the UT Dallas Center for Vital Longevity, researching the effects of aging on cognitive function. She was captain of her speech and debate team, and competed in national tournaments. Karnik plays the piano and also has completed her arangetram in the Indian classical art form Bharatanatyam. She is fluent in Marathi and speaks basic Hindi. Karnik will study neuroscience and healthcare studies.
Flower Mound High School, Flower Mound
Valedictorian Nidhish Lokesh is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar. He volunteered with Autumn Leaves assisted living community, Flower Mound Youth Action Council, the Boy Scouts of America and National Honor Society. Lokesh is an Eagle Scout and was senior patrol leader of his troop for two years. He was tenor section leader of the Varsity Mixed Choir and sang in the A Cappella Jazz Choir and Men's Chamber Choir. Lokesh was president of National Honor Society and treasurer of Youth Action Council. He is semi-fluent in French and Kannada, and plans to study biochemistry.
Plano West Senior High School, Plano
Monica Lou is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with distinction. She participated in building Hope Park, a playground for disabled children and the Children Helping Children tennis tournament, which helps fund pediatric cancer research. Lou was Marching Band drum major and a flute player in the Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra, as well as a member of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra’s Flute Choir, Philharmonic Orchestra and Wind Symphony. She spent two summers researching fear extinction and memory plasticity in a neuroscience lab. Lou speaks Chinese and basic French, and plans to study biology.
Coram Deo Academy, Plano
Rachel Meade is a National Merit Scholar and a National Hispanic Recognition Scholar. She volunteered with her church’s stage crew, hospitality team, children’s ministry and youth worship band. Meade organized her school’s participation in Feed the Hunger, an organization that packs meals for international and domestic children. She was the assistant director of her school’s choir, primary teacher aide and student mentor of the speech and debate team, president of Student Government for the academy’s House of Lewis and treasurer of the senior class. Meade also has played classical piano for 13 years. She will study molecular biology.
St. Mark's School of Texas, Plano
Umer Nadir is a National AP Scholar. He has been a research assistant at the Liver Institute at Methodist Hospital in Dallas and head volunteer at Baylor Medical Center at Carrollton. Nadir managed projects in his school’s performing arts program, serving as president of the band and chair of the Fine Arts Board. He was vice president of his class and also played for his school’s varsity basketball team. Nadir founded Endemic Entertainment LLC, a business that provides DJ services. He is classically trained in tabla, a traditional South Asian percussion instrument. Nadir is fluent in English, Spanish and Urdu. He will major in healthcare management.
Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, Murphy
Neel Reddy was on the valedictorian track at Destrehan High School before transferring to LSMSA, where he conducted research for the school’s history and interned with the director of finance and operations. Reddy was a point guard on the varsity basketball team for three years, winning Offensive Player of the Year twice and MVP his senior year. He was active in Student Government for three years and was president his senior year. Reddy participated in Quiz Bowl, Science Quiz Bowl and Science Olympiad, with all three teams placing at least third in the state. He also was the council chair for his school’s Future Scientist Program. Reddy will major in mechanical engineering.
South Grand Prairie High School, Grand Prairie
Andrew Swanson earned recognition as a National Achievement finalist, National Hispanic Scholar, National Merit commended scholar and AP Scholar with distinction. He played clarinet in the band, which advanced to state competition each year, and was drum major his junior and senior years. Swanson was active on the UIL math team, competing in number sense and mathematics, and advancing to the regional UIL math three years. He was a member of National Honor Society and president of Mu Alpha Theta. Swanson volunteered throughout high school at Charlton Methodist Hospital. He plans to major in business.
Clear Lake High School, Houston
Richard Wu is a National Merit Scholar, National AP Scholar and four-year district Superintendent’s Scholar. An avid artist, composer and writer, Wu won awards for National PTA Reflections, Scholastic, Congressional Art Competition, Read3Zero’s “I Write” Short Story Contest, International Humans in Space Art Contest, and Business Professionals of America competitions. Wu also won national second place in the MIT INSPIRE research competition and multiple awards for Academic Decathlon and UIL competitions. He was president of his Music Composition Club, vice president for Business Professionals of America and Quiz Bowl, general counsel for National Art Honor Society, and secretary for Math Club. Wu plans to study biomedical engineering.
Union High School, Camas
Daniel Rodricks is a National AP Scholar, National Merit commended scholar and a Washington Scholar. He volunteered with PeaceHealth Southwest and Legacy Salmon Creek medical centers, and interned in the genetics lab at Oregon Health & Science University. Rodricks volunteered internationally at Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity and the Akanksha Foundation, an organization for underprivileged children. He has played the piano since age 7 and performed as a Young Artist, soloing with members of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra and Oregon Ballet Theatre. Rodricks competed nationally at Science Bowl and Science Olympiad, and was captain of the Knowledge Bowl team. He also was president of his school’s Key Club. Rodricks will major in biochemistry.