RICHARDSON, Texas (March 3, 2005) — The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) has selected 17 academically gifted and community-service-driven students who will make up the latest class of Eugene McDermott Scholars. Now in its fifth year, the highly selective scholars program enrolls top high school students from the United States and other parts of the world and provides them with “full-ride” academic scholarships as well as a host of cultural, educational and civic opportunities.
This year’s class of nine men and eight women includes four valedictorians and two salutatorians and has an average SAT score of 1480. Collectively, the students are in the top 1.5 percent of their high school classes and come from five states, including Texas. One international student is among the ranks this year, as are two students who will graduate from high school at the age of 16.
Many members of the new class are athletes and participate in such sports as basketball, track and field, cross country, volleyball, soccer, tennis, baseball and karate. Also included are musicians, an Eagle Scout and a chess grandmaster — who happens to be the only grandmaster ever from Central America and is also a motivational speaker. Some of the students are writers for their school newspapers; several are National Merit finalists; and a number of the students are multi-lingual. Among the languages they speak in addition to English are German, Russian, Spanish and French. One student even has dual citizenship — in France and the United States.
As McDermott Scholars, the students will have all of their educational expenses — including travel, room and board and books — covered for the next four years and will participate in a wide variety of rewarding cultural and educational experiences. During their tenure at UTD, they will go on an orientation trip to Santa Fe, N. M., visit the nation’s capital and have an opportunity to study abroad as well as a chance to apply for internships at prominent corporations, government offices and research institutions.
Dr. Charles Leonard, director of the McDermott Scholars Program, observed that in the program’s five years of existence, its reputation has grown well beyond Texas.
“We’re delighted to add Colorado to the list of states from which McDermott Scholars come, and we’re happy to have attracted outstanding students from Louisiana, Missouri and South Carolina,” Leonard said. “I’m also proud to point out that UTD typically ends up enrolling half of the exceptional finalists who do not receive the McDermott award. That speaks to the quality of our university and our scholarship programs overall.”
Most of the inaugural class of McDermott Scholars — admitted in the fall semester of 2001 — will graduate in May, and many will continue their studies at the graduate level at UTD or elsewhere. One student has been accepted to Harvard Medical School, another is considering law school at New York University or Tulane University in Louisiana, and still another will continue his studies in a prestigious M.D./Ph. D. program at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas.
“We’re enormously proud of the first class. We’re confident in their collective ability to contribute to their schools, jobs, communities and society at large,” Leonard said. “For some, the problem — if you can call it a problem — might be that the program exposed them to so many possibilities that they are graduating without knowing just which course to pursue.”
The McDermott Scholars program was made possible by a $32-million gift — the largest in UTD’s history — 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 UTD.
Those selected as McDermott Scholars for the 2005 entering class are:
Alejandro Ramirez, who was home-schooled, at 16 is the third-youngest chess grandmaster in the world and the only grandmaster from Central America. He has traveled extensively, reads widely in English and Spanish and is a well-known public speaker in his native Costa Rica. Alejandro plans to major in physics or electrical engineering.
Steven Horne, The Classical Academy. During his freshman year of high school, Steven worked at an orphanage for special-needs children in China. He has backpacked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and is a four-year member of his school’s basketball and track and field teams. Steven plans to major in software engineering.
Austin Edmiston, Fontainebleau High School. Austin is president of his school’s National Honor Society and is a four-year member of the Quiz Bowl. He participates in numerous school sports, including tennis and cross-country. Austin was awarded a scholarship to attend a “Democracy in Action” seminar in Washington, D.C., and plans to major in software engineering.
Sara Clingan, Central High School. Sara is president of her school’s speech and debate team and has won numerous awards in that capacity. She teaches HIV/AIDS peer education classes, is a member of her school’s dance team and has volunteered at St. John’s Hospital for the past four years. Sara plans to major in government and politics, as well as in economics and finance.
Felicity Lenes, Wando High School. Felicity is associate editor of her school’s top-ranked newspaper, Tribal Tribune, and has lettered in varsity swimming, quiz bowl and ocean science bowl. She plays first violin in the Charleston Symphony Youth Orchestra and participates in the Canterbury Choir, where she performed a solo in the International Children’s Choir Festival in London in 2003. Felicity plans to major in molecular biology and hopes to become a physician.
Juliann Peterson, Westwood High School. Juliann is the treasurer of her school’s varsity cheerleading squad, as well as the vice president of the Science Club. Her poetry has been published in Frontage Roads, her school’s award-winning literary magazine, and she studied at Oxford University’s St. Hugh’s College for a summer. Juliann plans to double-major in neuroscience and speech-language pathology/audiology.
Paul Ingram, A.C. Jones High School. Paul entered high school at the age of 12 and will be 16 when he graduates. He is a long-time member of the Beeville Science Club, volunteers as a tutor and is an accomplished pianist. Paul plans to major in biochemistry and hopes to become a neurosurgeon.
Kathryn Enderle, Frisco High School. Katie attended the Military Order of the World Wars Youth Leadership Conference, where she received an Outstanding Student Award. She is the euphonium section leader in her school’s concert band and has won numerous music awards. Katie plans to major in electrical engineering.
Logan Acton, Frisco High School. Logan is historian of his school’s National Art Honor Society and has had artwork displayed at a Dallas gallery. He also is vice president of the Key Club and has organized numerous service activities. Logan is undecided on a major.
Yormynnelly Grajales, Cypress Creek High School. Yormynnelly is president of her school’s National Honor Society and is fluent in Spanish. She received first place for team marketing at the McCombs Future Executive Academy at The University of Texas at Austin. Yormynnelly plans to major in neuroscience.
Molly Wurzer, Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart. Molly is president, founder and coordinator of her school’s Spelling Club and has volunteered at her local library for the past four years. She also is president of Campus Ministry. Molly intends to major in government and politics.
Bradley Wallace, Bellaire High School. During his freshman year, Bradley won a scholarship that sent him to France for three weeks. He is an Eagle Scout, an avid soccer and baseball player and is an editor of his school’s award-winning yearbook. Bradley’s intended major is mathematics and computer science.
Benjamin Yelverton, Orangefield High School. Ben is a UIL state qualifier in policy debate and has placed in many statewide computer science tournaments. He has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and has volunteered for the Adopt-a-Highway program and for the March of Dimes. Ben plans to major in electrical engineering and computer science.
Holly Roelse, Sam Rayburn High School. Holly helped charter her school’s Ecology Club. Fluent in German, she was chosen to represent the foreign language department of her school at the Houston World Affairs Council meeting. Holly plans to major in applied mathematics.
Jessica Harpham, Richardson High School. Jessica has been playing competitive volleyball for the past seven years, and she qualified for the National Junior Olympics and was elected captain of her varsity volleyball team. She tutors students of all ages in math, is captain of her school’s speech team and plays the violin. Jessica’s intended major is mathematical sciences.
Roman Starsky, Richardson High School. Roman represented Texas at the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2004 and won the National Youth Leadership Award. He is the managing editor of his high school newspaper and has won numerous writing awards. Roman intends to major in business administration.
David Bindel, San Marcos High School. David is an accomplished musician, playing the clarinet, bassoon, baritone saxophone and tuba in his school’s marching and concert bands. He holds offices in the debate club, student council and Business Professionals of America. David intends to major in electrical engineering.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.