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University Of Texas At Dallas Names Latest
In Its Third Year, Program Lures Top Students
RICHARDSON, Texas (April 4, 2003) - What do you get when you combine valedictorians, salutatorians, Eagle Scouts, National Merit Scholars, a pianist, a law school hopeful, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a violinist, a Silver Award Girl Scout and a number of other intriguing ingredients? At The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), you get the latest class of Eugene McDermott Scholars - a group of extremely talented young men and women with a penchant for academic excellence and community activism.
Modeled after the prestigious Morehead Scholars program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, the UTD 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 the late Erik Jonsson, also founded the research institution that in 1969 became UTD.
In the two years since Mrs. McDermott's gift formally launched the initiative and the inaugural class was admitted for the fall semester of the 2001-02 academic year, the program has attracted 55 scholars, about half of them from the Dallas area. Eight have come from the Richardson Independent School District - five from Richardson High School alone.
Dr. Charles Leonard, the program's director, said that while the McDermott Scholars Program had attracted students from as far away as India, he was convinced that one of its strengths was UTD's ability to enroll top talent from local schools as well.
"It's sometimes harder for us to get a gifted student from Richardson to stay in Richardson than it is for us to attract a student from outside Texas. That's nothing against Richardson, where I live after all. I'm sure that's true of most universities and the cities or towns that they're part of," Leonard said. "For that reason, we're especially proud when we get those hometown Scholars. At the same time, we're delighted to have McDermott Scholars from across the United States and around the world."
As McDermott Scholars, the incoming class of 16 will have all educational expenses - including travel, room and board and supplies - covered for the next four years. Also included will be special programs such as an orientation trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, a visit to the nation's capital, an opportunity to study abroad, a chance to apply for internships at prominent corporations and research facilities and numerous other rewarding experiences.
McDermott Scholars are encouraged to participate in a wide range of educational and civic activities, and the first two classes already have risen to that challenge by "adopting" classes from Dallas Independent School District elementary schools. The Scholars mentor the children and help them with their class work, language skills and even some extracurricular activities.
Many of the 39 current Scholars already have taken advantage of opportunities to study and perform service abroad. One student currently is teaching chemistry and English in Uganda; another is studying art and technology at the University of Richmond in London, and another plans to travel to Honduras this summer to help build houses for the needy. Several other students have held research positions at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
"We strive to provide the students with as much exposure to the arts, technology, sciences and culture as possible," Leonard said. "When McDermott Scholars leave UTD to make their mark, we want them to have seen and experienced a great deal and to be well-rounded, upstanding citizens of the world."
Those selected as McDermott Scholars to begin in the 2003-04 academic year are as follows:
William "Clint" Rohr, Jesuit Preparatory School, Dallas, son of William and Beth Rohr. Clint's current career goal is to become a psychiatrist. He tutors at a school for the dyslexic, has lettered in track and field, excelled at debate and is passionate about his hobby as a "techno" dance-music DJ. He has won many academic awards at Jesuit from science to theology and was a Welch Summer Scholar in chemistry at The University of Texas at Austin.
John McLean III, Strake Jesuit Academy, Houston, son of John McLean Jr. and Kassandra McLean. John, who is second in his class at Strake Jesuit, is an Eagle Scout, a competitive swimmer, a water polo player and a Latin scholar.
Pamela Palagonia, Richardson High School, Richardson, daughter of Anthony and Erin Palagonia. Pamela is a member of Richardson's nationally ranked Mock trial team, a member of the drill team, secretary of her school's law review club and a member of the National Honor Society and National Spanish Honor Society.
Steve Petterborg, Richardson High School, Richardson, son of Larry and Mary Ellen Petterborg. Steve is a National Merit Finalist, an officer in his school's computer club and a member of the UIL Academics and Academic Decathlon teams. He also is co-president of Richardson's Multicultural Club.
Adam Raw, Metro Academic and Classical Academy, St. Louis, son of Timothy Raw and Carol Jo Entwistle. Adam takes community college classes that go beyond Metro's science curriculum and participated in a Harvard summer school program in philosophy and probability. He has donated nearly 700 hours to volunteer instruction at the St. Louis Science Center and the St. Louis Public Library. His extracurricular activities have included concert band, soccer, math club, French club and the fishing club.
Jonathan Lane, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, son of Joseph and Kathleen Lane. Jonathan, in addition to being a very gifted mathematics and science student, is a member of the All-State Symphonic band as a bass clarinet player, plays soccer and baseball and is an aficionado of baseball statistics.
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