News Release

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Jon Senderling, UTD
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First Group of Eugene McDermott Scholars
Named by The University of Texas At Dallas  

Program Expected To Enhance UTD’s Burgeoning National Reputation

RICHARDSON, Texas (April 30, 2001) ­ Formally launching a program made possible by a $32-million gift by the widow of one the co-founders of Texas Instruments and modeled after the prestigious Morehead Scholars program at the University of North Carolina, The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) today announced its first class of Eugene McDermott Scholars ­ 20 young men and women with exceptional records of accomplishment, dramatically diverse interests and significant leadership potential.

As McDermott Scholars, the 12 men and eight women selected will have all of their educational expenses ­ including travel, participation in innovative special programs and room, board and supplies ­ covered for the next four years.  The students, 17 of whom are from Texas, will enroll at UTD, one of the fastest-growing public universities in the country, for the fall semester.

Mrs. Margaret McDermott, whose gift last September making the scholars program possible was by far the largest gift in UTD’s history , said after reviewing the selection process and the group of students chosen that she was "delighted with the first class picked by the university."

"I said last fall, when I announced the gift in memory of my husband, that I expected the McDermott Scholars to be well-rounded, ethical, smart and eager to learn," she said.  "I think this group of young men and women exemplifies those standards."

Eugene McDermott, who died in 1973, was a life-long supporter of excellence in education.  He and his TI co-founders, Cecil Green and the late Erik Jonsson, a former mayor of Dallas, founded the research institution that more than three decades ago became The University of Texas at Dallas.

"The McDermott Scholars program each year will bring some of the best and brightest young students in the country to UTD, and that inevitably will enhance the prestige of the university," said University President Dr. Franklyn G. Jenifer.  "UTD already has a national reputation in such areas as computer science, engineering and audiology, and the McDermott program can only raise UTD’s stature even higher."

UTD Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, who played a major role in overseeing the evolution of the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program from a concept to a reality, praised Mrs. McDermott for making the program possible and said he had "no doubt that the program would produce many future leaders."

"This is a great opportunity for the student-scholars selected, to be sure," Wildenthal said.  "But I think they will pay us back many times over with the contributions they make to society.  We will expect them to be leaders from the first day they set foot on campus."

Because all of their expenses will be paid, the McDermott Scholars will be free from the need to work outside of school and will be able to participate in a wide range of artistic, cultural and educational enrichment activities the program directors will arrange for them.  The McDermott experience also will include travel opportunities, beginning with a two-week orientation and leadership-training exercise in Santa Fe, New Mexico, before classes begin this fall.  At the end of their freshman year, the students will spend two weeks as a group in Washington, D.C.  The program also will pay for international study and travel.

The director of the McDermott Scholars Program, Dr. Charles Leonard, said, "We’re extremely pleased and proud to have been able to recruit such a stellar group of young people to be the pioneers in the program.   Of course, their SAT scores are above the 95th percentile; of course, their grades are exemplary. But what sets the McDermott Scholars apart from other very bright high school students are their demonstrated leadership skills in their high schools and their records of commitment and voluntarism in their communities."

Leonard pointed out that the members of the first class of McDermott Scholars had chosen UTD and the McDermott program over offers from such schools as Yale University, Carnegie Mellon University, Rice University, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Washington University in St. Louis, The University of Texas at Austin, The California Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley and many others.   The group includes class presidents and valedictorians, captains of school robotics and debate teams, volunteer tutors, church youth-group leaders, musicians, athletes, Junior ROTC commanders, competitive chess players, concert pianists, artists, and fluent speakers of French, Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin Chinese. 

Beginning with this class, each year The Eugene McDermott Scholars Program will recruit 20 students from throughout Texas and from selected schools in other states.   For additional information on the program, please call 972-883-4610 or visit the McDermott Scholars Program web site at

The first McDermott Scholars are listed below, alphabetically by Texas city for Texas residents and alphabetically by state for those from outside Texas.



  • Timothy James Hise of LBJ High School in Austin, son of Hazel and Lewis Hise.  Timothy is an active member of his high school's Student Senate, National Honor Society, Campus Advisory Council, and Principal Advisory Board.  He plans to major in education and become a teacher.


  •  Ms. Jennifer JeanJean Fu of Bellaire High School in Bellaire, daughter of Mrs. Rae Chou.  Jennifer is an active member of Student Government, Model United Nations, and Mu Alpha Theta Math Club and does numerous hours of volunteer work at Memorial-Hermann Hospital.   She plans to study in the sciences or engineering.


  • Robert George Sterie of Colleyville Heritage High School in Colleyville, son of Sally and George Sterie.  Robert is an athlete, participating on his high school's football, track, power lifting and cross-country teams.  He plans to study in the sciences or mathematics.


  • William Justin Appleby of The School of Science & Engineering at Townview in Dallas, son of Mary Ann and Robert Appleby.  Justin has participated in his high school’s Computer and Science Teams, National Honor Society, and Student Government, holding numerous leadership positions within these organizations.  He plans to study physics or electrical engineering. 

  • Daniel Quinn Erwin of Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas, son of Theresa and Hugh Erwin.  He participates in Boy Scouts of America and the National Art Honor Society.  Daniel wants to study art and mathematics.


  • Ryan Denver Davidson of Deer Park High School in Deer Park, son of Mrs. Joanne Eanes.  In high school, Ryan has been active in the Mu Alpha Theta Math Club, Academic Decathlon and Interact.  He volunteers and is very active in his community.  Ryan plans to major in political science.


  • Brian Wesley McMenamy of Denison High School in Denison, son of Vicki and Stanley McMenamy.  Brian is a member of the Peer Assistance and Leadership Program, National Honor Society and the United Service Club.  Brian is well traveled and plans on studying in the social sciences or business administration.


  • Eric James Kildebeck of Frisco High School, son of Diann and Jim Kildebeck.  He has played in both his high school’s marching and wind symphony band; he also has been active in the National Honor Society.  Eric plans to study electrical engineering. 


  • Nicolas Charles Dempsey of Garland High School, son of Mrs. Judy Dempsey.  Nicolas is member of his high school band and theatre department, National Honor Society, and the International Baccalaureate Program.  Nicolas plans to study in the School of Human Development. 


  • John Lin Hwang of Memorial Senior High School, son of Kyong and Seung Hwang.  During high school, John has been active in the Student Council and the volunteer organization, Memorial Mustang Outreach Bunch.   He plans to study telecommunication. 


  • Laura Azar Rashedi of James E. Taylor High School, daughter of Sandra and Dr. Reza Rashedi.  Laura is a member of the National Forensic League - Speech and Debate Team, Girl Scouts of America, the high school yearbook staff, National Honor Society and Odyssey of the Mind.  Laura also volunteers at Katy Christian Ministries.  She plans to study biology.

  • Aidan Skoyles of James E. Taylor High School in Katy, son of Roberta and Derek Skoyles.  Aidan has participated in Odyssey of the Mind, Destination Imagination, Boy Scouts of America, and his high school golf team.  He plans to study electrical engineering. 


  • DeLisa Lynn Lay of Kingwood High School, daughter of Kathy and Michael Lay.  DeLisa enjoys music and sings in both her church and school choirs.  She also is active in the National Honor Society and a book club.  DeLisa plans to study either in the Humanities or Interdisciplinary Studies.


  • Emily Anne Hinz of Plano Senior High School, daughter of Bonnie and Lorne Hinz.  Emily is a member of the National Honor Society and the Environmental Club.  She is an active participant in both her school and church musical programs. Emily enjoys working on art projects and attending musicals.  While at UTD, she plans to study computer science and geosciences.


  • Kelsey Blanche Condra of Richardson High School, daughter of Debra and Ed Condra. Kelsey is active on her high school newspaper staff and in the National Honor Society.  She has done volunteer work for a homeless shelter and continues to tutor elementary school students. Kelsey plans to major in the humanities and literary studies.

  • Megan Elizabeth Creasey of J. J. Pearce High School in Richardson, daughter of Julia and Jim Creasey.  She is captain of the Robotics Team, and a member of Mu Alpha Theta Math Club, Engineering Club, and National Honor Society . She also is a ballet dancer.  Megan wants to pursue a double degree in physics and electrical engineering. 

  • Sarah Islam of L. V. Berkner High School in Richardson, daughter of Almasi and Mohammad Islam.  Sarah is an active member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta Math Club, Spanish Club, National Spanish Honor Society, and volunteers for the Holy Land Foundation. Sarah founded Berkner’s chapter of the Muslim Students Association. She plans to major in cognitive science, and thereafter attend medical school.


  • Robert Christopher Hastings of Baldwin County High School in Bay Minette, Alabama, son of Robert and Teri Hastings.  Chris is a soccer player and a member of the AFJROTC, Key Club, French Club and the Kitty Hawk Air Society.  He plans to study electrical engineering.


  • Walter Everett Voit of Wando High School in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, son of Ann and Eberhard Voit.  Walter is a member of his high school’s soccer, basketball, and Quiz Bowl teams and plays the piano.  Walter plans to study computer science. 


  • Morgan Feeney of Walden III High School in Racine, Wisconsin, daughter of Dorothy and Thomas Feeney.   Morgan is a member of her high school’s Academic Decathlon team and chess team.  Morgan writes poetry and wants to major in literary studies. She plans to play for UTD’s national collegiate-champion chess team.


About UTD

               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 approximately 6,500 undergraduate and 4,500 graduate 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.

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This page last updated April 30, 2001