2017-2018 New Recipients

ASHLEY FARROW

Cave Creek, Arizona

Ashley will be a junior in her third year of a five year program in Architecture/Architectural Engineering. Realizing there would be no money for college and inspired by her mother who worked multiple jobs to support the family, Ashley determined she could work as hard for her education. In addition to her course work, she is a Resident Assistant for thirty girls, represents her studio in the school of architecture student council, and with her team will build a fun outdoor space for a girls home in Lawrence. She shared, “My passion for architecture and the environment drives me to always want to learn more. My education will help me reach my goal to create sustainable buildings that will help our planet.


BRENDA SARMIENTO

Kansas City, Kansas

Brenda will be a freshman majoring in pre-medicine. She is a first-generation college student and shared, “Like Mrs. Watkins I also believe that all women should receive a good and strong education. It’s always been my dream to attend The University of Kansas. I value my education so much because it helps me connect with the people I see every day, at my job and around the world on the internet.” Brenda is currently taking a Certified Nurse Assistant course so that she can get a start on her career goal of becoming a Pediatric nurse. In addition to taking leadership roles in her high school’s National Honor Society, 20/20 Leadership and Student Council, she plays varsity soccer.


EDAN BELIHU

Shawnee, Kansas

Edan, a first generation college student, will be a freshman studying biology and psychology. During high school, she has been active in health related programs and has served in leadership roles for Dream Team. Edan grew up in Ethiopia and at the age of eleven, after a long separation, she was able to join her father in the United States. She acknowledged the blessings of her dad and great teachers who supported her through the challenges of navigating a new culture and a new language. Edan shared, “No matter how difficult my path has been I never gave up, and I aspired to dream higher than I thought I could reach. Mrs. Watkins is the type of person who never gave up.”


MARISSA MORENO

Kansas City, Kansas

Marissa, a first generation college student, will be a freshman studying civil engineering. Marissa has volunteered at Vacation Bible School every year since fifth grade; she babysits for a young girl with spinabifida, sings in her high school choir, and cantors at several parishes in the Kansas City area. She shared in her application: “Education has been my rock throughout my life. School is my safe place and it makes me feel amazing. In academia, I am not some misunderstood girl in an unideal situation. Education is how I am going to change my life.” She also wrote: “Elizabeth Miller Watkins realized that helping young girls like myself was a way to change the world.”


MARIYA MCGILLIVARY

Lawrence, Kansas

Mariya, a first generation college student, will be completing her final year in a five year Mechanical Engineering program. She shared that she was the only girl on her middle school football team and she was a starting player. She went on to say that “she used the criticism from school staff to strive to work harder. I think Mrs. Watkins would have grinned from that one.” As a Young Life volunteer leader, Mariya has served at life changing work weeks and summer camps and next year she will share a house with four other Young Life friends. She wrote in her application, “I strive to contagiously spread love and joy, be a motivation for others, and a role model for my brother.”


MELISSA O’NEAL

Lawrence, Kansas

Melissa, a first generation college student, will be a senior majoring in Community Health Education. An active volunteer, she is certified to coach several sports in the Douglas County Special Olympics, works with elementary school students to improve their reading skills and promote fitness and movement, and helps children on the autism spectrum learn water safety and swimming skills through the Sensory Supported Aquatics program at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She started an organization on the KU campus called, Hawks with Hawklets. As a parent herself, she hopes that this club “will provide an environment that will help support parents who are going back to college.”


NHI BUI

Olathe, Kansas

Nhi, a first generation college student, will be in her fourth year of the 5 year Doctor of Pharmacy program. Nhi was called upon to communicate, translate, and support her parents as her mother dealt with a life-threatening medical condition. She wrote in her application, “Going through this process guided me towards the field of medicine, and ultimately led to my decision to pursue a career in pharmacy. I want to be out in the field and work with poor communities. I hope to make a significant impact in my community.” Nhi volunteers at Watkins Health Center as a navigator. Nhi’s experience last year living at Margaret Amini Scholarship Hall gave her a “new perspective on how women can empower each other.”


NOOSHIN SHAHLARI

Leawood, Kansas

Nooshin will be a junior majoring in Chemical Engineering. Nooshin has been involved in several research projects at KU; designing a new eye drop for chronic dry eye, improving production of spinal implants, and Rhodiola rosea. While in high school, she founded Smart Smiles in Kansas City, MO, an organization “aimed at enriching the lives of kids in orphanage homes by tutoring them in major subjects, and just spending time with them while they are facing a rough time in their lives.” Nooshin shared, “Mrs. Watkins reminds me of my grandmother. Although my grandmother never attended college she passed on many lessons, like working hard and having a growth mindset through challenges.”


SOFIA DE LA O

Bel Aire, Kansas

Sofia is in her fifth year of a five year program in chemical engineering with a pre-medicine concentration. Sofia shared, “Elizabeth Miller Watkins and her legacy have made an impact on my life since the day I moved into Douthart Scholarship Hall. Her generosity and novel vision for creating a housing arrangement that enables women, like me, to live cooperatively and cut expenses led to the formation of the scholarship hall community that welcomed me with open arms and inspired me to become an active student on campus.” Sofia’s service experiences working with children from the Boys and Girls Club “developed into a desire to become a Resident Assistant and serve as a mentor for younger KU students.”


SOPHIA SANCHEZ

Derby, Kansas

Sophia, a first generation college student, will be a junior majoring in psychology on a pre-med track. Sophia excelled in high school and her parents were fully supportive of higher education. However, she felt unprepared and without guidance for all the options and decisions involved in going to college. She shared that “it was all very new to me and my parents” who had emigrated from Mexico. In the end, I’m very happy that I decided on KU and someday I hope that I can provide guidance to someone who needs it.” Sophia volunteers with hospice care and was recently involved in a KU research lab studying ways to improve the efficacy of group therapy for people struggling with substance abuse.



2017-2018 Renewal Recipients

ADELAIDA MENDOZA

Holcomb, Kansas

SECOND YEAR RECIPIENT: Next academic year, Adelaida will be a junior continuing to work towards a major in English. She shared, “As of this semester, I am going to begin my LSAT Prep Course! It is definitely one of the first steps towards my chosen career. As soon as the course ends, I will be headed to Europe to a month long excursion called the British Summer Institute! This faculty-led trip will count towards Adelaida’s English degree. Adelaida just became a HUG co-coordinator for the KU Center for Community Outreach and she expressed her gratitude for the opportunity “to begin giving back to Lawrence.”


ALLYSSA DEJARNETTE

Lee's Summit, Missouri

SECOND YEAR RECIPIENT: Allyssa will be a senior with a major in Elementary Education. She shared, “This year my academic plans have shifted moderately. I realized that I have a passion for working with individuals with special needs. I volunteered for two sessions at Camp Encourage, a specialized camp for kiddos elementary aged through high school aged on the autistic spectrum. I absolutely loved it. Now, I am involved in the Transition to Post Secondary Education Program at KU which allows students with developmental disabilities to pursue degrees. I am less involved in music, as a result, but I believe that I am following the path to pursue my dreams.” Allyssa will enter practicum placements in the Fall and student teach in the Spring.


BAILEY RENDZIA

DeSoto, Kansas

FOURTH YEAR RECIPIENT: Next academic year Bailey, a first generation college student, will be a senior continuing her studies in the School of Engineering. In her renewal application, she shared that she “will also be pursuing an internship with Johnson County Public Works & Infrastructure during this school year to learn more about field work in civil engineering. Bailey shared that as a Civil Engineer, she “will be able to work on projects that benefit my community and come up with innovative solutions to problems people face throughout the world.”


CECILIA VILLANUEVA

Hutchinson, Kansas

THIRD YEAR RECIPIENT: Next academic year Cecilia, a first generation college student, will be a senior majoring in Microbiology. She shared, “My plans for the upcoming school year are to successfully complete my last year of undergraduate at KU and graduate in the Spring of 2018. I plan to continue to live in Miller Scholarship Hall and be heavily involved in the running of this home by continuing to be a part of the executive board. I also plan to continue my undergraduate research, which I have had the wonderful opportunity to really drip my foot into this year, including the opportunity to present my research at a conference.”


CHEYENNE BROWN

Kansas City, Kansas

THIRD YEAR RECIPIENT: Cheyenne will be a junior next year and will continue her studies in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology. She shared in her renewal application, “I hope to continue working as a Teaching Assistant for the Undergraduate Biology program and to join more organizations that will help facilitate my education in the Biology program, as well as support my educational goals of getting into veterinary school. Cheyenne shared: “I truly believe that with all of the support I have received from family, friends, and of course, Kitchen 8, I will be able to make my dreams a reality.”


DANIELLE GERETY

Wichita, Kansas

SECOND YEAR RECIPIENT: Danielle will be a junior majoring in Microbiology with a pre-Clinical Laboratory Sciences emphasis. Danielle’s academic plans changed dramatically this year. During Fall of 2016, while working in undergraduate research and shadowing physicians, she realized that she no longer wanted to become a Pathologist. She wrote, “I was devastated because I felt like I had no idea where my life was heading and in what direction I wanted my career to go; however, I knew that I wanted to continue with science. I applied for the Clinical Laboratory Sciences program at The University of Kansas Medical Center and hope to be taking classes at KU Med Center in Kansas City next year.”


DESTINY SHELTON

Stafford, Kansas

THIRD YEAR RECIPIENT:Destiny, a first generation college student, will be graduating from KU in May 2017 with a BGS in Psychology and a minor in Business. She has applied to attend the Social Welfare Graduate Program at The University of Kansas Medical School in Kansas City starting in Fall 2017. In addition to her 20 hour course load this spring semester, Destiny is a tutor and an Oliver Residence Hall Desk Assistant.


JORDAN MERADITH

Omaha, Nebraska

FOURTH YEAR RECIPIENT: Jordan will complete her student teaching required for a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She found her passion for teaching through her job at Hilltop Child Development Center where she has worked since her second semester at KU. She writes: “I am very excited to start my student teaching next year! I recently got a kitten named Elvie.” Jordan is head coach for a middle school girls volleyball team through the Lawrence Department of Parks and Recreation.


JULIA SANTOS

Holcomb, Kansas

SECOND YEAR RECIPIENT: Julia will be a senior continuing her studies in Biology, with a focus on the pre-medicine track. She writes, “This next year I will be dedicating much more of my time studying for the MCAT and next Fall I will be applying to various medical schools (KU Med being first priority). Julia works as a peer leader through KU’s PLUS program. She is a Biology I tutor. Julia shared in her renewal application:  "The next few years of my academic journey will continually become more expensive. Any support, financially and emotionally, would be greatly appreciated." 


JULIE HIEGER

Andale, Kansas

SECOND YEAR RECIPIENT: Julie will graduate in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Behavioral Science. Starting in the Fall 2017, she will continue her education in the Masters of Occupational Therapy program at The University of Kansas Medical School. Wrapping up her senior year, she reminisced about her time at KU saying, “I have been blessed by being a past member of Watkins Scholarship Hall, where I met many great friends and my current roommate. As I go forward, I leave with fond memories and am proud to continue as a Jayhawk. What is going on in my life now is that I am realizing my blessings and looking forward to the future, whatever that entails."


KATE MCCURDY

Lawrence, Kansas

THIRD YEAR RECIPIENT: Kate will be a senior majoring in Civil Engineering with a minor in Business Administration. Kate participates in many activities including KU Women’s Chorale, Society of Women Engineers, and KU Swim Club. As a resident of Margaret Amini scholarship hall, Kate noted that she sees Mrs. Watkins as a supporter of young women and a role model. She expressed great appreciation for the support provided through the scholarship. Kate will be participating in the regional Concrete Canoe Competition on April 22.


KATIE STRNAD

Munden, Kansas

FOURTH YEAR RECIPIENT:Katie will complete her 6th and final year of pharmacy school at the University of Kansas next year. The last year of training is structured around experiential learning and during the months from June 2017-April 2018, Katie will complete nine pharmacy rotations. She writes, “I am very excited to continue my education with these experiential rotations and begin putting into practice what I have learned in the classroom!” She also shared, “At the end of each year I complete in pharmacy school I am more convinced that I have chosen a career path I am passionate about. I would not be able to pursue this dream without the support and generosity of scholarships like the Elizabeth Miller Watkins Memorial Scholarship!”


KATY WINKEL

Glen Elder, Kansas

SECOND YEAR RECIPIENT:Next year Katy will be in her 5th year in the six-year PharmD program. She writes in her renewal application, “The coursework continues to be very challenging, and I continue to work as many hours as possible at the Hy-Vee in Overland Park as a pharmacy intern. I am really enjoying my job at Hy-Vee and am learning a great deal from my customer interactions.” Katy started working at a retail pharmacy near her hometown at the age of fourteen. The owner and pharmacist encouraged her pursuit of this career path and inspired her dream to attend the KU School of Pharmacy.


KAYLA WEGLEY

Ozark, Missouri

THIRD YEAR RECIPIENT:Kayla, a first generation college student, will graduate in December, 2017 with a BFA in Dance. Kayla wrote, “I am very excited to be continuing work in research and production on choreography analysis and funding in modern dance. I was awarded an internship through my department this Fall that allowed me to work closely with an international artist, as well as gave me new passion and direction for my career. I have been fortunate to continue to work, and participate in leadership with the University Dance Company and Miller Scholarship Hall. I will be traveling to Italy in May, and teaching and choreographing over this summer.”


Elizabeth Miller Watkins Scholars are the cream of the crop. They have participated in endless hours of volunteer work, in addition to their scholastic achievement and their outside employment. They are the epitome of what Mrs. Watkins envisioned for the scholarship halls.

- Alica Thomas, Elizabeth Miller Watkins Memorial Scholarship Advisory Board Chair

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