21 Exceptional Students Receive Scholarships from Honors College, Special Academic Opportunities

August 2010 By

OXFORD, Miss. - Fourteen students from Mississippi, two each from Alabama and Tennessee, and one each from Illinois, Wisconsin and Canada enter the University of Mississippi this fall on prestigious scholarships as members of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

Providing $32,000 each, the McDonnell Barksdale Honors Scholarships, Donald S. Pichitino Scholarships and Harold Parker Memorial Scholarships attract exceptional students to Ole Miss to experience special academic opportunities at the Honors College.

"Ole Miss has one of the top three honors colleges in the nation and a campus rooted in traditional Southern values. To grow intellectually and socially in such an environment will be an experience like no other," said Barksdale Honors Scholarship recipient Samra Blake Ward of Meridian.

Pichitino Scholarship recipient Kevin Gordon Scott of Crystal Lake, Ill., said, "I chose to attend Ole Miss because the professors and staff truly seem to care about my future, in both the professional and social world. They helped me to mold a unique program in the international studies major that meshed perfectly with my interests and goals of working in foreign policy.

"I was attracted to the Honors College because of the opportunity to work with and get to know some of the brightest students in the country. That, combined with the dedication of the HC staff to really challenge its students, presented a chance that I simply could not pass up."

Established in 1997 through a gift from alumni Jim and Sally Barksdale, the college provides undergraduate students from all disciplines with a vibrant center of academic excellence, merging intellectual rigor with public service, to help them become outstanding in their fields and engaged citizens of society.

During their freshman year, the students enroll in the Honors College interdisciplinary courses, which expose them to critical thinking in the arts, sciences and humanities. They also enroll in honors sections of courses across disciplines to fulfill hours in their majors or to meet general academic requirements.

As early as their freshman year, students have the opportunity to do research, which produces an honor's thesis in the student's senior year.

The incoming group of scholars, posting an ACT average of 32.4 and average GPA of 3.96, includes seven National Merit Finalists.

In addition to Ward, other recipients of the McDonnell Barksdale Honors Scholarships are Kaitlyn Elizabeth Barnes of Jackson, Katrina Marie Briscoe of Oxford, Morgan Elizabeth Davis of Jackson, Ashli Elizabeth Fitzpatrick of Hattiesburg, Nathan Daniel Ford of Starkville, Mary Morgan Gladney of Olive Branch, Austin Edward Lavinghouse of Ocean Springs, Hadley Jo Pearson of Nesbit, Charles Thomas Pritchard of Pass Christian, James Landin Smith of Madison, Yi Wei of Starkville and Mallory Beatrice White of Sandersville.

Besides Scott, recipients of the Donald S. Pichitino Scholarships are Cipriano Louis Apicelli of Kenosha, Wisc., Cara Madeleine Thorne of Toronto, Byron Charles Head of Nashville, Tenn., Alaina Brooke King of Corinth and Rachel Lisbeth Saliba of Dothan, Ala.

Recipients of the Harold Parker Memorial Scholarships are Stacy Nicole Wolff of Memphis, Tenn., and Sarah Price Wright of Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Barnes, a National Merit Finalist, is a graduate of Murrah High School with a 4.30 weighted grade-point average. An AP scholar with honors and member of the National Honor Society, she was chosen among Portico's "25 Students Who Will Change the World." Her service included work with Youth Leadership Jackson and the Civil Rights Civil Liberties Club. She is interested in studying the classics, and she hopes to teach in the Mississippi Teacher Corps. Her long-term goal is to attend law school and pursue an international career.

Briscoe finished No. 1 in her class of 146 at Lafayette High School. Recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh's Young American Challenge Award, she won six class awards and the Scholar-Athlete Award. She was an officer in several organizations, including Key Club, Mu Alpha Theta and National Honor Society. She participated in the 2009 Lott Leadership Institute at Ole Miss. Her volunteer service included church mission trips and work with the Humane Society, Salvation Army and Relay for Life. While she is undecided on a major, her main interests are education and business.

Davis graduated from Saint Andrews Episcopal School, with a 4.02 weighted GPA. She belonged to the National Honor Society and was named a National Achievement Outstanding Participant. Her service projects included working as a volunteer in Ghana and assisting youth as a Trendsetters Reading and Mentoring Teen. She plans to major in chemistry and minor in Spanish, in preparation for medical school to become either an emergency room physician or pediatrician.

Fitzpatrick graduated first in her class of 17 at Sacred Heart Catholic High School. A two-time National Latin Exam Silver Medalist, she was named Mock Trial State Champion during her junior year and Most Valuable Attorney in Regional Mock Trial for two years. Her volunteer work included Saint Vincent de Paul Food Distribution, Christian Services Angel Food Project and Habitat for Humanity. She is interested in studying chemistry and biochemistry, with plans to continue a family tradition of entering the medical profession.

Ford graduated from Starkville High School, where he ranked No. 1 among 198 students. A delegate to Mississippi Boys State and member of the National Honor Society, he made a perfect score on the Advanced Placement European History Exam. He performed in the All-Star Cast of the Mississippi Theatre Association's Theatre for Children and as a member of the Mississippi All-State High School Honor Choir. He helped raise money for the charities Invisible Children and Operation Smile, and his Eagle Scout service projects included constructing handicapped-accessible voting booths and hunting blinds. He is interested in musical theatre and a possible career in stage performance.

Gladney, a National Merit Finalist, graduated from Southern Baptist Educational Center, where she ranked No. 1 among 103 students. She belonged to the National Honor Society and was a two-year National Spanish Exam Silver Medalist. She made a perfect score on the Advanced Placement English Exam. Her service included volunteering for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and the local Thrift Store and Food Bank. Her high school Spanish II teacher inspired her to pursue mastering the Spanish language, as well as studying Latin American culture and society.

A National Merit Finalist, Lavinghouse graduated No. 2 in a class of 397 at Ocean Springs High School. He was a STAR Student and member of the National Honor Society. He received an AP Scholar Award and placed first in the Mu Alpha Theta Discrete Mathematics Written Competition. He did volunteer work with the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center and was a founding member of the OSHS Ambassadors, assisting people with special needs. He plans to study a variety of subjects on his way to completing a master's degree in astrophysics. His dream is to work at the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Pearson, a National Merit Finalist, graduated first in her class of 200 at Olive Branch High School. An AP scholar with honors, she was recognized for academic achievement in AP biology, pre-AP English, algebra II and chemistry. A member of the National Honor Society, she placed first in Individual Award in Algebra II at Blue Mountain College's Math and Science Tournament and received High Ranking at Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Mathematics Tournament. Her service included volunteering for the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity. She plans a career in the medical field, probably as a psychiatrist.

A National Merit Finalist, Pritchard graduated first in his class of 73 at Saint Stanislaus College Prep. He attained the distinction of maxima cum laude on the National Latin Exam in both Latin I and Latin II. A Mississippi Governor's School Scholar, he placed second in the State Math and Science Competition Quiz Bowl and was named his school's Wendy's Heisman Scholar-Athlete. His volunteer service included working with the mentally challenged at the South Mississippi Regional Center and building houses for Katrina victims. He plans to major in either history or biology with a pre-med emphasis, in preparation for a career as a dermatologist or family physician.

A National Merit Finalist and STAR Student, Smith graduated from Madison Central High School with a weighted GPA of 3.9. He won the World Scholar's Cup-National Silver Medal in both debate and literature. He attained the distinction of maxima cum laude on the National Latin Exam, and he won the Gold Medal in Latin in State Junior Classical League Competition. He was named Outstanding Participant in United Nations Global Debate. His service included volunteering for Toys for Tots, Make-A-Wish and local mentoring and tutoring programs. While he has not decided on a course of study, his major academic interests include psychology, English and foreign languages.

Ward ranked No. 3 in her class of 388 at Meridian High School, where she won the French II Award, Ameila Graeser English Award and Jerry Reynolds History Award. An Academic Team Medalist, she was a regional Science Fair winner and Voice of Democracy Essay district winner. Winner of the Meridian Star Excellence in Journalism Award, she was her school's delegate to both the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Conference and Girls State. Her service included work with Relay for Life, Salvation Army, and the Boys and Girls Club. Her observations of how students process and retain information have inspired her to double major in psychology and English, then teach or become a school counselor. Ultimately, she plans to continue her studies to become a cognitive psychologist.

Wei graduated from Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science with a 4.0 GPA. She made the Straight 'A' Honor Roll all four years of high school. She was a finalist for the QuestBridge National College Match program, a semifinalist in the State Science Bowl and member of the MSMS Math and Science Day First-Place Team. Her volunteer efforts included work as a tour guide for a local history preservation cemetery and fundraiser for the March of Dimes. She is interested in enrolling in UM's Croft Institute for International Studies. Her academic interests range from pharmacy and nutrition to business, psychology and international studies.

White graduated from Northeast Jones High School, where she finished first in her class of 133. A STAR Student and HOBY Ambassador, she won the John W. Harris National Leadership Award and was a first-place winner in the State Future Business Leaders of America public speaking competition and business leader competition. She volunteered for the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics and more. Her experience as a volunteer has inspired her to seek a career of service to others. She plans to study pharmacy.

Apicelli ranked No. 1 among 188 students in his graduating class at Indian Trail Academy. A member of the National Honor Society, he served on the Student Council and was a three-year participant in both the Academic Decathlon and Science Olympiad. An Eagle Scout, his service activities included work with the Boy Scouts, Stepping Stones (mentoring) and Safe Harbor Animal Shelter. In preparation for a career as a physician, he plans to major in the biological sciences with a pre-med emphasis.

Scott graduated first in his class of 335 at Crystal Lake Central High School, where he received the AP Scholar Award with Distinction. A member of the National Honor Society, he served two years as an officer on the CLCHS Student Body. He represented his school at the World Youth Science and Engineering Competition and was named to the All-County Honors Band. He was a volunteer with Public Action to Deliver Shelter and Community Beach Cleanup, among other service projects. He is considering a career in forensic science but is also interested in sociology and criminal justice.

Thorne finished first in her class of 357 at Woburn Collegiate School. She received the Academic Proficiency Award three years for highest GPA, and she served two years as an officer on the Athletic Council. Her community service included work with the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, Breakfast Club and Girl Impact in partnership with UNICEF's Kenyan Girl's Scholarship Fund. She plans to major in exercise science with a pre-med emphasis, preparing to realize her dream of becoming a doctor specializing in sports medicine.

A National Merit Finalist, Head graduated from Martin L. King Academic Magnet School in Nashville with a 4.0 GPA. He won the Outstanding Delegate Award at the Tennessee Model UN Conference. A member of the National Honor Society, he received the English Award. His community service included work with Y-CAP/YMCA, Mt. T.O.P. summer mission and Community Cares Fellowship. He is interested in studying at UM's Croft Institute in preparation for a career dedicated to working in a Latin American country helping to make life better for its people.

King graduated from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus with a 4.0 GPA and recognition as a "Top Five" student in all of her courses. She made a perfect score on the Mississippi Algebra Exam and was editor of the MSMS newspaper, The Vision. Her service activities included tutoring children and helping with a toy drive at the Lighthouse Foundation, Katrina cleanup and working at a soup kitchen in New York City. She plans to major in biology with a pre-med emphasis, then attend medical school. Her dream is to become a pediatric oncologist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Saliba graduated from Houston Academy, with a weighted GPA of 4.11. She attained Superior Academic Excellence in chorus, and anatomy and physiology. She was a Furman Scholar, National Young Leaders Conference Caucus Delegate and member of the Alabama Honor Choir. She belonged to the National Honor Society and served on the school yearbook/newsletter staff. Her community service included work with the Salvation Army, Wiregrass Food Bank, Dothan Rescue Mission and Head Start. She plans to study music education.

Wolff finished second in her class of 285 at Bartlett High School. She was nominated for Academic All-Star and was a "Top Ten" student all four years of high school. A member of the National Honor Society, Key Club and Beta Club, she placed in two Science Olympiad events. Her service included volunteering at her local public library, Memphis Zoo and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. In pursuit of her dream for a career in medical research, she plans a double major in biology and chemistry.

Wright graduated from Holy Spirit High School with a 4.2 weighted GPA. She received the Hugh O'Brien Leadership Award and attained magna cum laude distinction on the National Latin Exam. A member of her school's Academic Team, she was a member of the Art Club and president of the Latin Club. She served on the Mayor's Youth Council and volunteered as a member of the Tuscaloosa Civinettes, a local service organization for high school girls. In preparation for an international career, she plans to focus her undergraduate studies on foreign languages and linguistics. Her choices for graduate school include medicine, business or seminary.

For more information about the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, visit honors.olemiss.edu.