FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Ten 2002 freshmen students from the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences have been awarded prestigious Sturgis Fellowships at the University of Arkansas, each worth $48,000 for four years.

The freshman class for fall 2002 includes Curtis Gene Atkins, Jean Jones, Lance Owen, William Reyenga and Joseph Tran of Fort Smith; Laura Beall of West Fork; Christopher Jackson of Muenster, Texas; John Tate of Baton Rouge, La.; Michael Thompson of Farmington; and Jin-Yuan Wang of Derby, Kan.

The 10 Sturgis Fellows are members of the UA Honors College, which was established and endowed through the $300 million gift announced by the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation of Bentonville on April 11. Of that amount, $200 million is being used for the undergraduate honors college.

The Honors College Academy is designed to recruit for the University of Arkansas that "band" of very bright, hardworking students whose ACT scores range from 28 to 31 (out of a possible 36) and a grade point average of 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale). If they do well their freshman year, they are offered admission into the Honors College proper, and their base scholarship of $4,000 per year continues for the three remaining years.

Suzanne McCray, UA Honors College associate dean, said the students selected to the 2002 Sturgis class have an average ACT score of 33 and an average GPA of 3.96.

"The 2002 Sturgis Fellows are brilliant and very accomplished," said Don Bobbitt, interim dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. "Once again, this is proof of the nationally competitive freshmen the University of Arkansas continues to attract year after year. These students could have attended any other school in the country, but chose the University of Arkansas. We are honored and it is exciting to know that these Sturgis recipients selected Fulbright College for their studies."

The Sturgis Fellowship is made possible by an $8,000,000 endowment from the Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable Trust to the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

Each Sturgis Fellow receives $48,000, $12,000 per year, and provides every student with one of the most prestigious scholarships offered by any university in the country — providing for tuition, room, board and discretionary funds for computers, musical instruments, professional journals, trips to conferences and travel abroad during junior year.

Anna Terry, former Sturgis Fellow and UA class of 2001, said the Sturgis Fellowship definitely plays a role in attracting the brightest and top-achieving students throughout the country.

"The very existence of an academic scholarship such as the Sturgis Fellowship demonstrates that attracting good students is a top priority at the University of Arkansas," Terry said. "Here, students create their own opportunities - perhaps through independent study or research, through community service, or by playing a musical instrument. I am sure Roy and Christine Sturgis would be proud of the excellent educational environment that their monies have helped foster and support."

The original endowment funded five, four-year fellowships of $40,000. Because of the enormous success of the fellowship in attracting the top students from the region and around the country, the Sturgis Foundation awarded the University of Arkansas an additional $3 million in 1992. An additional gift in 1997 of $2.5 million brought the total endowment to $7.5 million.

Sturgis Fellows have received a vast array of national scholarships including British Marshall Scholarships, Barry Goldwater Scholarships, Morris Udall Scholarships, Harry S. Truman Scholarships and the Rhodes Scholarship.

Curtis Gene Atkins is interested in political science and economics. As a high school senior at Pocola High School, he was active in the Student Council and in Future Business Leaders of America. He organized volunteers for Jo Carson for Congress campaign.

"I had no idea that what started out as me spending four to five hours a week at the Democratic headquarters would bloom into so many non-political people becoming involved in having a say in their government," Atkins said. "And even though Jo Carson lost her election, the experience was great, and I would not trade it for anything."

Atkins is also delighted to now join the Sturgis ranks.

"It is quite an honor," he said. "There are some big shoes to fill, and we will see how this opportunity blooms."

Jean Jones is not sure what she will major in but has narrowed her selection to English, biology or history, and she wants to teach. She has a long high school resume. While at Northside High School she was active in Quiz Bowl, Future Business Leaders of America, Senior Council, band and Key Club, serving as its president. She also volunteered regularly at the Salvation Army and the Ragon Family Center, where she was a tutor.

"I love teaching of any sort, and I love challenges, so the tutoring position was fun and provided a great experience for me," Jones said.

Lance Owen, a National Merit Commended Student, is interested in biology and genetics. While at Southside High School he participated in Medical Application of Science for Health, shadowing doctors at Sparks Hospital for more than two weeks. But perhaps his most rewarding

experience came while participating in band. Throughout his junior and high school music career, he has qualified for All-Region bands, and he has always participated in music camps.

"It was the most powerful musical experience I have ever had during one particular music camp," Owen said. "During my free period I was listening to one of the other bands rehearse. The piece being played was Russian Christmas Music and it made me come to the realization that music was one of the most influential and powerful things in the world and that my intellectual future depended on it."

Though Owen plans to eventually earn a M.D., he said that music will also play a key role. He is using his Sturgis Fellowship to pursue a degree in biology and a minor in music.

William Reyenga, a National Merit Finalist, graduated from Northside High School as an AP Scholar with honors. He accepted the Sturgis Fellowship in order to earn a degree in the sciences and eventually go to medical school. Willie was a member of Northside's state Quiz Bowl team that went on to become national champions.

"My favorite subject has always been science; being on a team where I hear questions from many academic categories has broadened my field of knowledge," Reyenga said.

Joseph Tran, a Southside High School graduate, will use his Sturgis Fellowship to study science and to participate in the premed program. While in high school, he participated in the Latin Honor Society, the National Mathematics Honor Society and Cultural Ambassadors.

He spent hours volunteering each week.

"My involvement with the children at the George Kistler Center was my most important activity in high school," Tran said. "I helped a physical therapist treat children. By talking and playing with the children, I distracted them, which allowed the therapist to work on their muscles and joints with the least resistance possible. I enjoyed working with the disabled children and it strengthened my determination to be a doctor."

Laura Beall, a National Merit Finalist, is interested in history, literature, biology and genetics. While at West Fork High School she was very active in Student Council, band and Academic Competition in Education (ACE), where she was a member of the first place team in 2001.

"ACE was a wonderful experience for me. I realized that learning was not in any way confined to classrooms or certain hours, and I began to understand that I could study whatever interested me, whenever it interested me," Beall said. "I think the Sturgis Fellowship will allow me to continue in that tradition and it will help me do it outside, as well inside the classroom, around the world."

Christopher Jackson’s interests include physics, computers, mathematics, history and literature. While at Muenster High School, he was an active member of his school's computer science team. He spent about 10 hours a week involved in community service. He was very active in his church and played varsity basketball.

"The Sturgis Fellowship made me give the University of Arkansas a second and thorough look," Jackson said. "I am glad I did. So far everything has been great."

John Tate received many honors and awards before accepting the Sturgis Fellowships. He plans to major in chemistry and possibly philosophy. He also tutored in an inner-city elementary school and served as a teacher’s aid at the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation and his service go well beyond teaching.

"In serving the community by building houses for Habitat for Humanity, aiding Sudanese families adjusting to life in the United States, and serving dinner to men at the Bishop Ott Shelter, I have learned important lessons about freeing people from the vices of homelessness and helplessness," Tate said.

Michael Thompson, a nominee for the United States Presidential Scholar's Program, is from Farmington High School and is majoring in English.

"I want to pursue an English degree because I want to learn about literature and become a better writer," Thompson said. "I want to expand what I know--to be challenged to my fullest potential. The Sturgis program will help me do that."

Jin-Yuan Wang, a graduate of Derby High School, is majoring in political science. In high school he was very active in Scholar's Bowl, he was a National Commended Scholar and was active in the French Club, the Debate Team, the American History Club and the Robotics Club.


Suzanne McCray, Associate Dean, UA Honors College 479-575-2509, smccray@uark.edu

Jay Nickel, Assistant Manager of Media Relations 479-575-7943, jnickel@uark.edu


Three Inventions From BioDesign Program Receive Provisional Patents

Interdisciplinary student interns participating in the Northwest Arkansas BioDesign Sprints program have teamed up with clinicians and other healthcare professionals to create three novel inventions.

Cabinet Official Visits Bentonville to Ask Community's Help With Suicide Prevention

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough asked members of the Arkansas community and faith-based groups to join forces in the prevention of veteran suicide.

Ag Communications' Miller Selected for U of A Rome Center Fellowship

Jefferson Miller, U of A professor of agricultural communications, has been named a Research Fellow at the U of A Rome Center and funded through the U of A Graduate School and International Education.

Renowned International Expert to Speak Oct. 5 for Rome Center Speaker Series

Dario Fabbri, a renowned Italian journalist and geopolitics expert, will present on October 5 at 11 a.m. as part of the U of A's Rome Center Speaker Series hosted by the Graduate School and International Education. 

Fall Teaching Reception Awardees Recognized at Ceremony

The Faculty Teaching Awards Reception for 2022-23 recognized faculty who have received university-level teaching awards during the previous academic year. 

News Daily