UT Dallas to Welcome 24 New McDermott Scholars
Competitive Program to Launch Freshmen on Voyage of Academic Discovery
Jun. 28, 2012
Twelve women and 12 men will join a select – not to mention extremely accomplished – group of young academics when they start fall classes at UT Dallas as the 2012 Class of McDermott Scholars.
More than 1,000 high school seniors from more than 30 states and five countries sought membership in the program. Of those, 55 were invited to interview for places in the program at the annual Finalists’ Weekend, and from those, 24 were chosen.
Together, they ranked in the top of their high school classes and their two-part SAT scores averaged 1536. Included in the group are three valedictorians and three Presidential Scholar nominees. In addition, 21 of the students received recognition in the National Merit Scholar Program.
Half come from Texas, including 10 from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and the rest from eight other states.
“These students are among the best and brightest in the nation. That they have chosen to attend UT Dallas as McDermott Scholars is an indication of the quality of our institution and of the McDermott Scholars Program. The myriad resources of both will enable each scholar to grow through an individualized college experience while contributing to the McDermott Program, to our University, and to the larger world,” said McDermott Program Director Molly Seeligson.
“I am delighted to welcome these outstanding individuals, and look forward to helping them continue the McDermott Scholars Program’s legacy of excellence.”
As McDermott Scholars, the students will have educational expenses — including tuition and fees, and stipends for living expenses, books, travel and post-graduation preparation — covered for the next four years. They also 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 national politics.
• During their sophomore year, scholars take leading roles on campus, and experience state and local politics 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 and capstone service project and the passing of the McDermott Scholars Program torch in the “Lighting the Legacy” ceremony.
The arrival of the 2012 class will mark the program's 12th year. The members of this year’s class will join the 57 scholars already in attendance at UT Dallas. There are also 124 alumni of the program.
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 2012 entering class are:
Stanton College Preparatory School, Jacksonville
National Merit Scholar and AP Scholar Hunter McWinn graduated with an IB Diploma. He was a member of six honor societies, including the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta. He was president of his school’s Latin Club and its chapter of the Latin Honor Society. He was also the vice president of the Chess Club and the foreign language editor of the IB Magazine. His volunteer activities have included charity work with the Boy Scouts of America. A student of creative writing, McWinn is at work on his first novel and will spend this summer at UT Dallas developing his craft, and will also attend the National Junior Classical League convention. McWinn will enter UT Dallas as a physics major.
International Baccalaureate at Bartow High School, Bartow
Lindsey Ward is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction as well as the holder of an IB Diploma. She won medals in the National Spanish Exam in 2010 (gold) and 2011 (bronze) and a DAR Good Citizenship Award in 2012. She was active in Drama Club, National Honor Society, World Language Honor Society, and Future Business Leaders of America. She also performed with Golden Voices, a competitive choir. Ward founded No Llores Argentina, a nonprofit organization focused on cultural awareness and poverty relief. She will major in international political economy.
Seung Hyun “Joseph” Lim
Timberline High School, Boise
Valedictorian Joseph Lim is a National Merit Commended Student, a National AP Scholar, and a Presidential Scholar Nominee. He is a lettered varsity tennis player and founded the Life Science Club. He was a member of National Honor Society and Speakers Youth Forum, and was the state winner of American Mathematics Competition 10B. Lim was concertmaster for both the Boise Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and the Timberline Chamber Orchestra, won the 2011 Boise Youth Philharmonic Orchestra Concerto Competition, and placed second in the State Solo Competition for violin in 2011 and 2012. He has interned at the National Institutes of Health. Lim will major in biomedical engineering at UT Dallas.
Richmond-Burton Community High School, Richmond
Melanie Maurer is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar. She was valedictorian of her class and a member of the National Honor Society. Maurer was active in band and choir and has repeatedly held leadership positions with the Band Board. She competed in the national Team America Rocketry Challenge. Through the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program, Maurer volunteered regularly at homeless shelters. This summer, she will be one of two Illinois delegates to the National Youth Science Camp in West Virginia. Maurer will major in biomedical engineering and business at UT Dallas.
Metairie Park Country Day School, Metairie
Nina Haug joins the program as a National Merit Scholar, an AP Scholar with Honor and a Presidential Scholar Nominee. She was the vice president of her class, editor of the school literary magazine, and founder of the Speech and Debate Team and the Teaching Alternative Choices organization. She co-captained the softball team, managed the basketball team, and checked out more books from her school library than any other student in the institution’s 83-year history. This summer she is studying French at the University of Paris - Sorbonne. Haug will enter UT Dallas with an undeclared major.
Fontainebleau High School, Mandeville
Arden Wells is a National Merit Scholar, a Presidential Scholar nominee, and her class’s valedictorian. Wells was named Student of the Year for her high school, her parish and her region. She was co-founder of the Vegetarian Club, president of National Honor Society and Photography Club, and vice president of Mu Alpha Theta. Wells plays piano for her church’s youth band and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and the Special Olympics. She has researched nanoparticle drug delivery at the University of New Orleans’ Advanced Materials Research Institute and will attend the National Youth Science Camp in West Virginia this summer. She plans to double major in chemistry and geoscience.
Millburn High School, Millburn
Suhrud Kulkarni is an AP Scholar with Distinction. He is the editor of his school’s literary magazine, The Cellar Door, and a member of the competitive chess club. Vice president of the Math Club, Kulkarni has competed in numerous math competitions, most recently the Princeton University Math Competition. He is a dedicated gymnast who has earned top medals at invitational competitions and will be a member of the UT Dallas men’s gymnastics team. Suhrud has volunteered with the vision charity New Eyes for the Needy, and has been a camp counselor to students with developmental challenges. He is fluent in Hindi and Marathi, and studies Spanish. At UT Dallas, he will major in computer science.
Wando High School, Mount Pleasant
Valedictorian Bogdan Bordieanu is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction. He achieved a perfect score on the SAT. Bordieanu was his school’s winner for both AMC 10 and AMC 12 (mathematics examinations offered by the Mathematical Association of America), a member of the South Carolina All State Math Team, and the bronze medalist in the 59thNational Mathematics Olympiad in Romania. Bordieanu was also president and vice president of Mu Alpha Theta, president of the National Honor Society and Beta National Club, and the coach of the Math Team. He speaks Romanian and English and is learning German. Bordieanu plans to study mathematics at UT Dallas.
Seven Lakes High School, Katy
Nathan Agnew is a National Hispanic Scholar, a National Merit Commended Student, and an AP Scholar with Distinction. A member of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Agnew won first-place awards in Business Math and Marketing at the FBLA state level. He is active in many extracurricular organizations, including National Honor Society, UIL Academic Team, Spanish National Honor Society and Academic Decathlon. Agnew is a member of the 2012 Texas Quiz Bowl State Champion team. He will double major in economics and mathematics at UT Dallas.
Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Denton
Joshua Cai is an AP Scholar and a National Merit Commended Student. He achieved a perfect score on the SAT. Before entering the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS), Cai was ranked first among more than 1,200 students at Allen High School. Cai was the top scorer in the Texas Mathematics League in 2010-2011, achieved first place in mathematics at the Exxon Mobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair in 2011 and earned a Julian C. Stanley Scholarship at TAMS for mathematics. Cai has conducted mathematics research at the University of North Texas and will research in Arts & Technology at UT Dallas this summer. He will major in mathematics at UT Dallas.
Yuying “Abi” Chen
Richardson High School, Richardson
Abi Chen graduated as salutatorian and is a National Merit Commended Student and a National AP Scholar. The president of her school’s Speech and Debate Team as well as the co-founder of the Texas UIL Academics Team, Chen was heavily involved in debate, earning degrees of Superior Distinction (in 2011) and Outstanding Distinction (in 2012) from the National Forensic League. She was also president of the Environmental Club and treasurer of Mu Alpha Theta and the Girls Service League. Chen volunteered at several different institutions, including the Richardson Public Library’s children’s department, and her school’s math department and college center. She will enter UT Dallas as an undeclared freshman.
School for the Talented and Gifted, Dallas
Benjamin Cruz is an AP Scholar with Distinction and graduated fifth in his class. A member of both National Honor Society and National English Honor Society, Cruz serves as president of Mu Alpha Theta and vice president of National Science Honor Society. Cruz is active in his church and volunteers with the Master Guides, a statewide youth club in which he is the assistant director of his local chapter. He is also a musician and is the first chair and leader of the viola section in his school’s orchestra. Cruz is fluent in English and Spanish and near-fluent in French. Cruz will major in electrical engineering at UT Dallas.
Episcopal High School, Bellaire
Cynthia Liang is National Merit Commended Student and a member of the National Honor Society. An accomplished clarinetist, she was repeatedly selected for all-state bands and was recognized for her solo at the Houston Symphonic Band Solo and Ensemble Competition. Liang was the president of her school’s band, secretary of the Chinese Club, treasurer of Diversity in Action and a member of the Math Club. She volunteered for four years as a math tutor with Breakthrough Houston. Liang contributed to research presented at meetings of the American Association for Cancer Research and of the United States and Canada Academy of Pathology; she coauthored a paper submitted to the journal Haematologica. She is undecided on a major.
VerNeil “Cubie” Mesecher
Flower Mound High School, Flower Mound
Cubie Mesecher is a National Merit Scholar and a National AP Scholar. In high school, Mesecher tutored classmates in math and chemistry and was a member of the competitive color guard team. He also was the president of the Computer Club and vice president of programming in the Technology Student Association. Mesecher was head programmer for the team that won the 2011 Texas BEST Robotics competition and the VEX Robotics Oklahoma Regional Tournament. This summer he will work at UT Dallas with robotics researcher Dr. Nicholas Gans while spearheading the revival of the university’s robotics team. Mesecher will major in computer science at UT Dallas.
Plano West Senior High School, Plano
Emily Niewiarowski is an AP Scholar with Distinction and a National Merit Scholar. Already fluent in English and Polish, Niewiarowski studied Spanish for six years and has won three gold medals in the National Spanish Exam; she also won a Bertie Green Junior Travel Award in support of a language and cultural immersion trip to Argentina. Niewiarowski was president of the Spanish Honor Society, a member of the Pan American Student Forum and a member of National Honor Society. A violinist, Niewiarowski was active in her school’s orchestra as both a musician and a fundraiser/event organizer. At UT Dallas she plans to major in biochemistry.
Greenhill School, Addison
Mashal Noor is a National Merit Commended Student and a member of the Honor Society for Language Study. Noor is a keen student of language and world culture and is fluent in English and Urdu; she also has intermediate mastery of Chinese and Spanish and is a long-time student of Arabic. In high school Noor was a member of South Asian Student Association, the co-founder and president of the Muslim Students Association, and a board officer with the East Asian Studies Club. Noor is also a student of calligraphy and recently completed a year-long senior capstone project on the fusion of Arabic and Chinese calligraphy. She will double major in psychology and child learning and development.
Plano Senior High, Plano
Sidd Sant is a National Merit Commended Student and an AP Scholar with Distinction. He was a member of National Honor Society and was a recognized competitor with the Speech and Debate Team (Forensics). A student of French, he competed successfully in the Fete Francaise and was ranked 7th and 11th on the National French Exam in 2010 and 2009 respectively. In addition to French, Sant speaks English, Hindi and Marathi. Sant is also a student of science; he was vice president of Learning About Science and Engineering Research (LASER) and has been a student researcher with UT Dallas’ Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute since 2009. He will major in biochemistry at UT Dallas.
School for the Talented & Gifted, Dallas
Sheridan Taylor enters UT Dallas as a National Merit Scholar and a National AP Scholar. She was a member of National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, National Science Honor Society and the International Thespian Society. Taylor was the editor-in-chief of her school’s Inklings newspaper/literary magazine, the webmaster of the Robotics Club and director and actress for the TAG Theater. An active Girl Scout, her Gold Award project was The Girl Power Conference, a one-day empowerment workshop and seminar for girls. Taylor will be at UT Dallas this summer working with Dr. Anthony Champagne and the Innocence Project of Texas; in the fall she will major in political science.
Plano Senior High School, Plano
National Merit Scholar Ali Tejani is an AP Scholar with Distinction and a Rotary Youth Leadership Award recipient. Tejani has volunteered at Methodist Richardson Medical Center, Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano and UT Southwestern Medical Center. As a vice president of Plano Senior High’s Student Congress, he led a student blood drive that collected 1,100 units. Tejani was the president and co-founder of the Key Club and the founder of 5-Star Tutoring, a nonprofit tutoring organization; he was the Youth Team Leader with the North Texas Volunteer Corp. and the president of the Plano Religious Education Center’s Student Congress. He is fluent in English, Spanish and Urdu. Tejani will major in biology at UT Dallas.
Edward S. Marcus High School, Flower Mound
Jacob VanNattan is a National Merit Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society. VanNattan helped his basketball team win the UIL 5A state championship for the past two years. He was also a member of the track and field team and served as captain for the high jump. He is also part of the Science National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta, and a member of the UIL Math and Science Team. VanNattan is also an enthusiastic chess player, pianist and guitarist. He has volunteered at Grace Baptist Church and tutored junior high school students in his neighborhood. This summer he is working in the laboratory of UT Dallas neuroscience researcher Dr. Michael Kilgard. VanNattan will enter UT Dallas undeclared and will play on the varsity basketball team.
William Monroe High School, Stanardsville
Salutatorian Aubrey Kinser is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar. She is a committed volunteer with the UVA Health System, the Northside Library, the Charlottesville Habitat Store and the Orange County School System. Kinser is the vice president of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, the treasurer of National Honor Society and a member of BETA Club; her involvement in these organizations has resulted in community service projects averaging 120 hours per year. Kinser has studied French throughout high school. She will enter UT Dallas in the fall as an undeclared freshman.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria
Lizaveta Miadzvedskaya is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar. She was a gold medalist in the International Russian Essay Contest and the Olympiada of Spoken Russian Language. A student researcher in chemistry and biochemistry, Miadzvedskaya has helped to run the Thomas Jefferson Symposium to Advance Research in Science and Technology for the past three years. She is the senior coordinator of the Big Sib Program, the co-president of the Russian Honor Society, a member of National Honor society and a photographer for the yearbook. Miadzvedskaya has volunteered with Relay for Life and with Women in Science and Engineering; in her free time she dances and plays piano. She is undecided on a major.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria
Aimi Nguyen is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with Honor. She was a gold medal winner on the National Spanish Exam. Nguyen served as a Student Diversity Officer and was a member of the Vietnamese Student Association. She was an active volunteer in community outreach and charitable fundraising. Nguyen is a member of the National Honor Society and has tutored students of all ages in mathematics and the sciences. She is fluent in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Nguyen will enter UT Dallas in the fall as an undeclared freshman.
Russell “Charlie” Hannigan
Lake Stevens Senior High School, Lake Stevens
Charlie Hannigan is an AP Scholar with Distinction and a member of the National Honor Society. He was the Evergreen Boys State Governor in 2011 as well as an American Legion Boys Nation Senator. Hannigan was president of the Knowledge Bowl and of the Game Club, and won the RISE award for character on the tennis court; he also won the “Mr. Lake Stevens High School” charity pageant. He is active with his church as a youth counselor, the chairman of the Discipleship Committee and the Sunday School organizer. Hannigan will spend the summer as a counselor at a camp on Washington’s Lake Sammish. He plans to major in mathematics at UT Dallas.