UTD logo

The University of Texas at Dallas, P.O. Box 830688, Richardson, Texas 75083-0688

News Release

For Immediate Release

News contact: Jenni Huffenberger, UTD, (972) 883-4431 [email protected]

U. T. Dallas Unveils Fourth Class
of Eugene McDermott Scholars

Group of 16 Students Represent Five States

RICHARDSON, Texas (March 15, 2004) —
The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) today announced the 16 students from five states who will make up the school's fourth class of Eugene McDermott Scholars. Selected from more than 100 students nominated, the eight young men and eight young women include two valedictorians, three salutatorians, three drum majors, two cross-country runners, several tennis players, a rock musician, a jazz musician and a singer. Collectively, the group speaks six foreign languages and has an average SAT score of 1480.

As McDermott Scholars, the students will have all educational expenses - including travel, room and board and supplies - 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, visit the nation's capital and have an opportunity to study abroad as well as a chance to apply for internships at prominent corporations and research institutions.

Dr. Charles Leonard, the program's director, observed that as the McDermott Scholars Program has become better known and appreciated, competition for the awards has become more intense.

"This year we had more than 100 nominations, and about 90 of those students qualified for some level of merit-based scholarship at UTD," Leonard said. "We're very excited about this class, with its overall outstanding quality as a group and with each remarkable, individual leader."

Leonard also noted the growing geographic range of the nominations - from South Carolina to Oregon, and across Texas from El Paso to Shelbyville. "Our 2004 class represents five states: Texas, New Mexico, Missouri, South Carolina and, for the first time, Louisiana," he said.

As McDermott Scholars, the students also will participate in a wide range of educational and civic activities. Among other things, the first three classes of Scholars have "adopted" three Dallas Independent School District elementary schools, where they mentor the children and help them with their class work and language skills.

Since the inaugural class was admitted in the fall semester of 2001, the program has attracted 52 Scholars, about half of them from the Dallas area. As a whole, the group is composed of 13 valedictorians, and the 52 students have a combined average SAT score of 1470. The new class of 16, with an even higher average SAT score, will bring the total number of McDermott Scholars on the UTD campus to 68.

With the new class, the McDermott Scholars Program for the first time will have a full four-year complement of students, with each academic year - freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors - represented. As early as May, the first of the Scholars will begin to graduate - ahead of schedule. Since the program is a four-year offering, those graduating in less than four years will have an opportunity to continue their studies at UTD as graduate students on full scholarship until they reach the four-year cap.

Many of the current Scholars already have taken advantage of the opportunity to study and perform service abroad. Currently, there are students from the program in Germany, France, Spain and South America, and another is in Washington, D.C. working in the Center for Strategic and International Studies as part of the University of Texas System Bill Archer Fellows program.

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 his TI co-founders, Cecil Green and Erik Jonsson, both of whom are also deceased, founded the research institution that in 1969 became UTD.

Those selected as McDermott Scholars for the 2004-05 academic year are as follows:




Mirielle Anderson, Episcopal School of Acadiana. Mirielle is a representative of her school's honor council and attended the National Youth Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. She is an accomplished pianist and tennis player. She intends to major in biology and wants to teach and conduct scientific research.


Lelia Gowland, Metairie Park Country Day School. Lelia is an accomplished singer and has performed choral music since junior high across the New Orleans area, in Washington, D.C., and in Ireland. She has volunteered in local hospitals and schools and is an advocate for diversity in education. She plans to major in literary studies.



St. Louis

Alexander Raw, Metro Academic and Classical High School. Alex is a cross-country runner and a musician. He attended Carnegie Mellon University 's pre-college summer program and won his district-wide mathematics competition and placed first in Academic Olympics. The younger brother of a McDermott Scholar, Alex is uncertain on a major but intends to study medicine after graduation.


New Mexico


Erica Neiser, Manzano High School. Erica is captain of her varsity cross-country team and plays violin in the Albuquerque Youth Symphony. She has won local and regional awards in mathematics and science competitions and has interned at Sandia National Laboratories. Though she excels in physics and chemistry, Erica is considering a major in neuroscience.



Rachel Markowitz, Armand Hammer United World College. A native of Overland Park, Kansas, Rachel attends this internationally focused boarding school in Northern New Mexico. She is a three-sport athlete, participates in orchestra and the National Honor Society and has been trained in the "Constructive Engagement of Conflict" program. Rachel is interested in international relief work and is undecided on a major.


South Carolina


Benedict Voit, Wando High School. Benedict is his high school's salutatorian, plays trumpet in the school band and is involved in Math Club and the Latin Forum. He also is active in Junior Classical League, Quiz Bowl, National Honor Society and Show Choir. Both of Benedict's older brothers also are McDermott Scholars. He plans to major in government and politics.




Hannah Frank, James Bowie High School. Hannah is her school's salutatorian and has wide-ranging interests across the academic spectrum. She has won awards in literature, science and language. She speaks Russian, plays in the marching band and is an avid and very talented photographer. Hannah is undecided on a major, but is considering art and performance and historical studies.



Zac Cox, St. Mark's School of Texas. Zac is an accomplished student mathematician who has won numerous awards at his school and statewide. He plays the guitar and enjoys camping and hiking. He has volunteered as a math team coach in DISD elementary schools and has been a youth leader in his church throughout high school. Zac intends to major in mathematics.


Alessandro Gregorat, Trinity Christian Academy. Alessandro was first chair saxophone player in his school's band and currently is a drum major. He is a tennis player, an expert skier, speaks fluent Italian and has spent considerable time as a hospital volunteer. He plans to major in physics.



Iris Kwong, Frisco High School. Iris is involved in National Honor Society, Spanish Club and peer assistance and leadership program. She has volunteered at local elementary schools and in Head Start programs and has been on mission trips to Hong Kong, China and Tijuana, Mexico. With an eye toward a career in law, Iris plans to major in government and politics or economics.



Liam Skoyles, Cinco Ranch High School. Liam is an Eagle Scout, a varsity soccer player and an enthusiastic participant in Destination ImagiNation creative problem-solving competitions. He has received his school's top physics and computer science awards. The sibling of a McDermott Scholar, Liam plans to major in electrical engineering.



James Fickenscher, Monahans High School. His high school's salutatorian, James is a timpanist in the school band, an actor, class president and active in UIL academic competitions. He also is in a local rock band that plays charity performances in Monahans and Odessa. He plans to major in mathematics.



Holly Kwan, Plano Senior High School. Holly is an accomplished musician. She plays guitar, piano and saxophone. She is a volunteer tutor with the Asian American Youth Association and has competed in science fair at the school, district and state levels. Though she excels in science and mathematics, Holly intends to major in art and performance.



George Graham, Rowlett High School. George is Rowlett's drum major and plays in his school's jazz band. He has won numerous musical and academic awards and is active in computer education association and robotics competitions, and he maintains his school's Web site. George is undecided on a major.



Kerri West, Shelbyville High School. Kerri is her high school's valedictorian and is active in Junior Chamber of Commerce, student government and UIL journalism and debate. She is Shelbyville's drum major and has won numerous academic competitions. She is interested in a career in journalism and intends to major in literary studies.



Jordan Youngblood, Weatherford High School. Jordan is his school's valedictorian and is active in mock trial, physics club, computer science club and National Honor Society. He has won awards in art and English. Jordan wants to be a secondary school teacher and plans to major in literary studies.


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 more than 13,700 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 http://www.utdallas.edu.

Other Press Releases & Announcements
This page last updated
August 03, 2013