2018-2019 New Recipients

AUBREY BURGESS

Wichita, Kansas

Aubrey will be a senior majoring in Graphic Design. Last year, while assessing her academic path, she changed from and then reinstated her design major. She shared that this process allowed her “to reassess my values and realize the importance of being pushed to be bet-ter.” Aubrey wrote “my experiences with people have been the most vital component of my educa-tion.” She looks forward to making connections with individuals that expand her “understanding of what it means to be a human.” She has been an active leader at Watkins Scholarship Hall where she has lived for three years and aspires to carry on the values that older residents have given her.


AUBRIE STRICKER

Gardner, Kansas

Aubrie, the first female in her family to attend college, will be a senior majoring in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. She plans to continue on to graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in biomedical research. Aubrie grew up on a farm where she learned the value of commitment and challenging work, both of which she has applied to her college life. Aubrie describes her involvement in undergraduate research as her “most impactful education experience” resulting in “several successes including multiple presentations, awards and a publication.” She also wrote: “I have had incredible mentorship along my undergraduate journey and that is something I hope to be able to pass on to others.”


BREA WALKLEY

Baxter Springs, Kansas

Brea, a first-generation college student, will be a senior majoring in Community Health. She plans to attend graduate school for Occupational Therapy. In her application, she wrote of her dreams to work in pediatric oncology to help children during and after treatment “get back to their activities of daily living. But most importantly, getting them back. . .to be kids again so one day they’ll be able to pursue their dreams just like I’m trying to pursue mine.” She wrote about Mrs. Watkins concern that health services be accessible. Brea is relieved that, while at KU, she is able to receive quality health care at a reasonable cost through Watkins Health Services.


CARLY CONROY

De Soto, Kansas

Carly, a first generation college student, will be a freshman with a pre-medicine focus. She recently completed a Certified Nurse Assistant course which helped to solidify her choice to pursue a career in healthcare. Carly shared: “For me, learning new information that interests me is euphoric. When you really dive deep into learning something new, all of your problems that seem so big at the time will melt away before your eyes.” She writes of Mrs. Watkins: “She never let anything hold her back from her true potential, and up to this point, I haven’t either.”


HAILEY SOLOMON

Oswego, Kansas

Hailey will be a junior majoring in civil engineering. She hopes to use her degree to build homes, bridges, and water treatment facilities in third-world countries. Hailey founded an organization called Warm the World, where members of the community can come together to make warm clothes for the homeless. She shared: “If I could choose only one quality to be remembered by, I would want it to be kindness, which is a goal I believe Mrs. Watkins also nurtured . . . Mrs. Watkins believed in the power of one person and the remarkable potential each individual has that will awaken when he/she is simply given the opportunity.”


JAMIE TRETO

Garden City, Kansas

Jamie, a first-generation college student, will be a senior majoring in political science with a pre-law emphasis. She shared: “The field of immigration is where my interest is at, because as a daughter of two former immigrants, I know how difficult it is to find people who care about undocumented people’s rights.” Jamie shared that like Mrs. Watkins, her mother had to drop out of school at a young age. Her mother instilled in Jamie “a desire to complete my undergraduate degree and to take it even further: go to law school and become an independent woman with a dream to change the world.”


KARLA ARIAS

Dodge City, Kansas

Karla, a first-generation college student, will be a sophomore majoring in biochemistry with a pre-medicine emphasis. Through the Emerging Scholar’s program, Karla is getting her feet wet with experiences directly related to her life dream to join Doctors Without Borders as a pediatric surgeon. Karla referred to the honor of getting to know Mrs. Watkins through the experiences of a Miller Scholarship Hall resident. Comparing their lives, she wrote: “Elizabeth gave up on her education to provide for her family and I decided to pursue an education to help provide for mine.”


LINDSEY RED ELK

Cache, Oklahoma

Lindsey, a first-generation college student, will transfer to KU as a junior majoring in engineering physics. Lindsay wrote in her application, “one must actively seek out opportunities and when they are found, one must pursue them with everything.” Lindsay’s journey to KU started with a volleyball scholarship at Independence Community College. Encouraged by her physics professor, Lindsay pursued an opportunity to attend a Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics which was held at KU. The conference weekend was a life changing experience. She applied and was admitted to KU. She hopes to use her education to aid the Mars mission or other deep space explorations.


LISA LIM

Dodge City, Kansas

Lisa, a first-generation college student, will be a sophomore majoring in pre-pharmacy. Lisa wrote that “Like Mrs. Watkins, I prioritize my family over everything else”. For several years during high school, she worked nearly full-time at her family’s desserts shop that was their primary income source. Lisa has known for a long time she wanted to work in the healthcare field. After shadowing several pharmacists, she realized that “I wanted to be like them. I wanted to give back to my community . . . with the skills and knowledge of a pharmacist meant to better the lives of other people.”


MATIE MEEKS

Atchison, Kansas

Matie has been admitted to the School of Pharmacy and will be a third-year student in the 6-year PharmD program. Through the experience of visiting her sick father in the hospital over several years, Matie ”determined that the real heroes in life were those who dedicated their lives to helping others, like the doctors, nurses, and pharmacists of the hospital – and Mrs. Watkins.” Her work experience at an independent community pharmacy and leadership in KU’s Pre-Pharmacy Club have reinforced her desire to develop a career helping people through the power of medicine. She wrote “I will always hold the selfless values of Mrs. Elizabeth Miller Watkins close to my heart.”



POOJA POLADIA

Olathe, Kansas

Pooja will be in the fourth year of the six-year pharmacy program leading to a Doctor of Pharmacy. Pooja volunteers at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, serves in leadership positions at Watkins Hall and works as a Pharmacy Intern. Pooja shared that she was inspired by Mrs. Watkins’ example of overcoming her struggles. She wrote, “When I came to the US, I realized I had to work a lot harder for I had trouble with the language and the material taught here was vastly different from India. Even then, I loved going to school every day and it mattered to me that I understood material in class.”


VANESSA TIRADO-GARCIA

Kansas City, Kansas

Vanessa, a first-generation college student, will be a freshman with the dream of becoming a nurse. Like Mrs. Watkins, Vanessa went to work at an early age to help provide for her family. Her first job was within walking distance from KU medical center. She wrote that “Most of the customers I attended at my job happened to be nursing students and it just made me dream of how one day, maybe that could be me.” Vanessa is active in cross country and was team captain for three years. She volunteers in her elementary school and in community summer programs to help children in her neighborhood.



2018-2019 Renewal Recipients

ASHLEY FARROW

Cave Creek, Arizona

2nd YEAR RECIPIENT: Ashley will be a senior in her fourth year of a five year program leading to a Master of Architecture. Ashley shared, “I could not be more in love with my major. “ Her academic plans include fulfilling her study abroad requirement, earning an internship at an architecture firm, and completing courses to achieve a certificate in sustainability. Her Design Build Studio class will design and build a pop-up shop in a renovated shipping container as a test site for start up businesses in Kansas City, Kansas. She writes, “My education will help me reach my goal to create sustainable buildings that will help our planet.”


BRENDA SARMIENTO

Kansas City, Kansas

2nd YEAR RECIPIENT:Brenda will be a sophomore continuing on a pre-nursing track and she plans to complete a minor in Anthropology. She is a first-generation college student. At her job as a Certified Nurse Assistant, Brenda likes making others feel better and the job helps her gain experience related to her chosen career path. Brenda shared, “KU is everything I have imagined and more, I love attending this school.” “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.”


CECILIA VILLANUEVA

Hutchinson, Kansas

4th YEAR RECIPIENT:Cecilia, a first-generation college student, will graduate with a BS in Microbiology in May 2018. She wrote, “This year is an exciting year full of changes and opportunities.” She has been admitted to the KU Medical Center’s graduate program leading to a PhD in Microbiology with the goal of becoming an academic biomedical researcher and will be moving out of Miller Scholarship Hall where she has been heavily involved in the running of this home. Congratulations on her engagement to her best friend! Cecilia shared, “I feel so blessed and fortunate to have had the support of generous individuals like yourselves which have allowed me to achieve my dream.”


CHEYENNE BROWN

Kansas City, Kansas

4th YEAR RECIPIENT:Cheyenne will be a senior next year completing a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Her experience this year as scholarship chair for the service sorority, Omega Phi Alpha, confirmed her desire to help others using whatever resources are available to her. She began working as a technician assistant at an animal hospital which is preparing her for her future career as a veterinarian. She shared in her renewal application, “It is almost surreal to think that I've come this far, and I just want to say thank you so much for supporting me all this way.”


DANIELLE GERETY

Wichita, Kansas

3rd YEAR RECIPIENT:Danielle will be a senior in her second year at KU Medical Center working towards a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Laboratory Sciences. While working in undergraduate research and shadowing physicians, she realized she wanted a career that was hands-on in the lab. In her renewal application she shared, “I love being in this program, and this scholarship will help me in fulfilling my goal of becoming a medical scientist.” After living in a scholarship hall and then with her aunt to save money, she is attempting to live on her own and become more independent.


DESTINY SHELTON

Stafford, Kansas

4th YEAR RECIPIENT:Destiny, a first-generation college student, graduated from KU in May 2017 with a BGS in Psychology and a minor in Business. She entered the Social Welfare Graduate Program at The University of Kansas Medical School in Fall 2017. Along with juggling graduate school work, internship and employment, Destiny got married on December 5th.


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.


EDAN BELIHU

Shawnee, Kansas

4th YEAR RECIPIENT:Edan, a first-generation college student, will be a sophomore majoring in social work/pre-med with a minor in linguistics. Edan shared “After spending a semester at KU, I have discovered that I love social work and being able to help individuals in a difficult situation.” Edan is looking forward to being involved in research topics relevant to her career goals and academic interests through the Emerging Scholars program. She also hopes to do some shadowing experiences to better prepare her for medical school.


JULIE HIEGER

Andale, Kansas

3rd YEAR RECIPIENT: Julie graduated from KU in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Behavioral Science, and in the Fall 2017, she entered the Masters of Occupational Therapy program at The University of Kansas Medical School. Julie shared in her renewal application, “The first two semesters of OT school and the experiences provided have been invaluable. Through classroom coursework and fieldwork opportunities at a day program for adults with different abilities, an assisted living facility, and a free clinic, my decision to pursue OT has been affirmed many times over. . . Despite the financial struggles, I am loving life!”


KATY WINKEL

Glen Elder, Kansas

3rd YEAR RECIPIENT:Next year Katy will be in her sixth year in the six-year PharmD program and begins clinical rotations in June 2018. She will continue to work as a pharmacy intern and to volunteer at a clinic in Kansas City. 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.


MADISON REED

Edgerton, Kansas

2nd YEAR RECIPIENT:Madison will complete her final year of undergraduate study next year. In May 2019, she will be a member of the first class of RN/BSN degree partnership students to graduate from Johnson County Community College. She will graduate with an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing from JCCC and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from KU. Madison wrote in her renewal application, “I am beyond excited to finally walk under the campanile and down the hill as a graduating student and cannot thank enough everyone affiliated with Elizabeth Miller Watkins for believing in me and helping me accomplish my goal of becoming a nurse!”


MARISSA MORENO

Kansas City, Kansas

2nd YEAR RECIPIENT:Marissa, a first generation college student, will be a sophomore studying Civil Engineering. Marissa shared, “I feel that I am thriving. My classes truly interest me and I am doing really well in them. The people, especially the girls, in my major have really made an impact on me because they have truly believed in my ability to succeed. I would love to continue receiving this scholarship because it is so amazing to just be able to focus on school like everyone else. I just wanted to say thank you for all of your support.”


MELISSA O’NEAL

Lawrence, Kansas

2nd YEAR RECIPIENT:Melissa, a first-generation college student, will graduate in May 2018 with a BS in Community Health Education. She has been accepted into the Master of Occupational Therapy program at KU Med Center. She shared in her renewal application, “My husband and I are both pursuing higher education to create a better future for our son. The financial burden on our shoulders is huge and receiving a renewed scholarship would be such a blessing. Receiving this scholarship would allow me to work slightly less and spend more time with our son and working on the requirements for my master’s degree.”


NHI BUI

Olathe, Kansas

2nd YEAR RECIPIENT:Nhi, a first-generation college student, will be in her fifth year of the six-year Doctor of Pharmacy program. She wrote, “I have been very grateful and humbled for the financial assistance that has alleviated some of my financial burden. Sometimes I find it difficult to focus on things outside of academics, because of how physically demanding my curriculum is, however I’m continuing to make improvements in this area. I am looking forward to spending time with my grandmother who is coming to the States to visit my family from Vietnam. My grandmother played a big part of my life as a child.”


NOOSHIN SHAHLARI

Leawood, Kansas

2nd YEAR RECIPIENT:Nooshin will complete her coursework for a BS in Chemical Engineering in May 2019. She founded, and is President of, an organization, Women in Medicine. She shared, “Although this organization is a passion of mine, it takes a lot of time and resources. I love the impact it makes, however it leaves me minimal time to work or to have an income. I want to make a difference in the lives of women and students that I reach. I am very fortunate for the Watkins Scholarship, to allow me to devote my time to making an impact through the organization I have started.”


RAJVI SHAH

Overland Park, Kansas

4th YEAR RECIPIENT:Rajvi graduated from KU in May, 2017, with a Bachelor of Science in Neurobiology. She was accepted to the University of Kansas, School of Medicine, and will begin her second year in medical school in the Fall as she works towards a career in pediatric neurology as a Doctor of Medicine. She shared in her renewal application, “I am thankful for this scholarship and the women I have met through this organization!”


SOPHIA SANCHEZ

Derby, Kansas

2nd YEAR RECIPIENT:Sophia, a first-generation college student, will be a senior working towards a Bachelor of Art in Psychology. Last spring, she volunteered at a hospice center and over the summer she shadowed doctors in hospitals in Spain. She shared that both were amazing experiences and she gained a lot of knowledge from both of them. She now plans to apply for graduate study program to become a clinical psychologist. In her last year at KU, Sophia will focus on preparing for graduate school by getting more involved as a research lab assistant.


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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