University of Arkansas Honors College Announces 2018 Bodenhamer Fellows

Bodenhamer Fellows, top, l-r: Noah Ballinger, Rafael Estrella ,Sabrina Jones; bottom l-r: Alex Siebenmorgen, Mary Strickland, Christina Trexler
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Bodenhamer Fellows, top, l-r: Noah Ballinger, Rafael Estrella ,Sabrina Jones; bottom l-r: Alex Siebenmorgen, Mary Strickland, Christina Trexler

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas Honors College has selected six incoming freshmen as the recipients of this year’s Bodenhamer Fellowships. The Bodenhamer Fellowship is one of the most prestigious scholarships the university offers to undergraduates, awarding each student $70,000 over the course of their education.

The fellowship, now in its 20th year, cultivates a strong sense of community among current and alumni recipients, as they pursue an impressive range of careers and graduate and professional degrees.

The 2018 Bodenhamer Fellows are:

  • Noah Ballinger of Fayetteville
  • Rafael Estrella of Little Rock
  • Sabrina Jones of Russellville
  • Alex Siebenmorgen of Fort Smith
  • Mary Strickland of Little Rock
  • Christina Trexler of Springdale

This year’s group embraces a wide range of interests and skills, from music and mock trial to physics, chess and engineering.

The Bodenhamer Foundation, created by Lee Bodenhamer (B.S.B.A.’57, M.B.A.’61, both at U of A, and D.B.A.’68 Harvard), established the Bodenhamer Fellowships in 1998. Students must score at least a 32 on the ACT and have a grade point average of 3.8 or higher in order to be eligible for the award. Community service, extracurricular activities and evidence of intellectual curiosity, leadership and creativity are also considered in the selection process.

In addition to covering the normal cost of attending the university, the fellowship may be used for study abroad, attendance at professional and educational conferences, research and special equipment that a fellow may need.

“Now in its 20th year, the Bodenhamer program has produced more than 100 alumni who are making a difference in their communities and the nation,” said Honors College Dean Lynda Coon. “The 2018 cohort features a wide variety of both academic interests and a broad range of community involvement. We look forward to welcoming this new group of fellows to the Bodenhamer family.” 

2018 Bodenhamer Fellows

Noah Ballinger graduated as a Distinguished Honors Graduate from Fayetteville High School and plans to study engineering. He is a National Merit Finalist and a self-taught ukulele, guitar, and banjo musician. He served as a representative at Boys State and received the Arkansas Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship.

A nationally-ranked chess player, he placed first in reserve in the 2017 Arkansas Open for Chess and has been a member of the United States Chess Federation since 2007. He received a Fayetteville Public Education Foundation grant to purchase 14 tournament chess sets for his peers and was instrumental in creating “Living Chess,” a form of chess in which humans are the pieces, at Fayetteville High. He serves as a chess tutor for the city of Fayetteville and as a math tutor with Mu Alpha Theta, an honorary math society.

Ballinger is already familiar with with the University of Arkansas, having completed a physics internship with  associate professor Barraza-Lopez, for which he wrote 4688 lines of code, which will be added to a book and used in further research. He is the son of Thalia and Todd Ballinger.

Rafael Estrella graduated from Little Rock Central High School. He is a National Merit Finalist as well as a National Hispanic Scholar and placed first in the school senior division for mathematics in the Arkansas Science and Humanities Fair.

Outside the classroom, he served in a variety of clubs such as Mu Alpha Theta and Beta Club. He is the first bass in Little Rock Central’s Orchestra and has played in both the junior and senior divisions of the Concert Orchestra. Estrella is preparing for a career in engineering and has served as the junior vice president and vice president of the pre-college Engineering Club.

Through this work, he was able to design a mobile shelter for the homeless in Central Arkansas. He is the son of Rafael Estrella and Wilma Castro.

Sabrina Jones is a graduate of the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs and plans to major in physics. She scored a 36 on her ACT.  She is a National Hispanic Scholar as well as a National Merit Finalist and received awards for top grades in mathematics, Spanish and physics.

She has already completed college-level research through her work with the Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where she worked on metabolic implications in tumor formations. Jones served as president of her school’s Beta Club and president of the National Honors Society as well as the Policy Committee chair of the Student Government Association.

In her time at the Arkansas School, she has sought to improve her campus and the local community, from efforts to improve residential life at the school to organizing a street cleaning project in Hot Springs. She is the daughter of Sandra and Kurt Jones.

Alex Siebenmorgen graduated from Southside High School in Fort Smith, where he scored a 36 on his ACT and founded the Maverick Mountain Biking Club. At Southside he was a member of the school’s tennis team and served as the captain of the Science Bowl team. He is both a National Hispanic Scholar and a National Merit Finalist.

Siebenmorgen received a gold medal on the National Spanish Exam and placed third in the state of Arkansas in the level three bilingual category. He was also recognized as an all-star Quiz Bowl player and Arkansas State History Bee champion. He is an avid fan of the electric guitar, which he has been learning to play.

Siebenmorgen has served his community by volunteering at Quiz Bowl tournaments, nursing homes, and by tutoring students in math at a local elementary school. He plans to major in engineering and is the son of Michael and Susana Siebenmorgen.

Mary Strickland graduated as valedictorian from Mount Saint Mary’s Academy in Little Rock and plans to major in international studies. She is a National Merit Finalist and has served on the Mount Saint Mary’s Student Council as the senior class vice president.

She was recognized as an AP Scholar with Distinction, and received numerous service and leadership awards, including the Arkansas Times Academic All-Star award. Strickland was recognized as an outstanding delegate in multiple Model U.N. competitions and was recognized as a 7A High Point Player for the Arkansas Governor’s Quiz Bowl Association. She was a member of the Mount Saint Mary’s Mock Trial team, which placed fourth in the state competition and where she was recognized as outstanding attorney.

Strickland has served her community as an Angel of Hope, volunteered at the Central Arkansas Radiation Technology Institute and participated in the Race for the Cure. She is the daughter of Julia and Reese Strickland.

Christina Trexler is a graduate of Har-Ber High School in Springdale, where she graduated first in her class and was recognized as a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar.

As a member of HOSA-Future Health Professionals, she served as the community liasion and organized blood drives and volunteer opportunities for the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Her chapter of HOSA placed first in the 2018 state competition. Trexler is an accomplished volleyball player and was recognized as her team’s “playmaker” for her contributions to Har-Ber’s state runner-up team.

She has served as the head of special projects for a mechanical supply company in Springdale and served as the captain of Har-Ber’s Bowling team. Trexler plans to enroll in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. She is the daughter of Sandy and Mike Trexler.

The new Bodenhamer Fellows will join a group of 138 current and alumni fellows who have benefited from the generous support of the Bodenhamer family. Alumni fellows are excelling in a wide range of career paths, from cybersecurity to opera performance to leadership development in the Delta. Many are pursuing advanced degrees at universities such as Harvard, Yale and Vanderbilt.

On July 30, the new class of Bodenhamer Fellows will travel to New York City for a five-day trip that includes visits to the Statue of Liberty, the Guggenheim Museum, the United Nations and the Empire State Building. The summer trip is an annual tradition funded by Lee Bodenhamer, and helps build bonds among the new Bodenhamer fellows.

Inspired by Lee Bodenhamer’s keen spirit, a celebratory “Bode Bash” is being planned this fall that will welcome back 20 years of Bodenhamer alumni and honor their accomplishments, many of which were made possible through the impetus of the Bodenhamer Fellowship.

About the Honors College: The University of Arkansas Honors College was established in 2002 and unites the university’s top undergraduate students and professors in a learning environment characterized by discovery, creativity and service. Each year the Honors College awards up to 90 freshman fellowships that provide $70,000 over four years, and more than $1 million in undergraduate research and study abroad grants. The Honors College is nationally recognized for the high caliber of students it admits and graduates. Honors students enjoy small, in-depth classes, and programs are offered in all disciplines, tailored to students’ academic interests, with interdisciplinary collaborations encouraged. Fifty percent of Honors College graduates have studied abroad – three times the national average – and one hundred percent of them have engaged in mentored research.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Katie Wilson, Associate Director for Student Success
Honors College

Kendall Curlee, director of communications
Honors College


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