A new class of McDermott Scholars has just been selected, bringing a new crop from five different states to join their diverse counterparts in the scholarship’s fourth year.
Eight men and eight women from Missouri, South Carolina, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas, were chosen from 100 nominations and 39 finalists, said Charles Leonard, director of the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program.
“It shows the smartest kids from all over Texas and surrounding states are willing to consider UTD,” Leonard said. “It shows that we are being taken seriously.”
As with previous years, the students chose UTD over prestigious universities around the country bring the total number of Scholars on campus to 68.
“One of them turned down Stanford,” Leonard said, “but we lost our first kid to Harvard.”
Benedict Voit, from Wando High School in Charleston, South Carolina, said everyday it gets “more and more real.”
“After I got the acceptance letter I had to keep pinching myself to make sure it was all true,” Voit said.
Drawing from his musical experience in high school, Voit hopes to work on the music program at UTD.
“I think a lot of (the Scholars) are musically inclined. I am hoping we can get the music program energized,” he said.
Holly Kwan, from Plano Senior High School in Plano, Texas, said she is also excited about the arts at UTD.
“I am really excited about the arts and cultural experiences,” Kwan said. “I was really glad to stay close to home and still get the study abroad experience.”
And all three said that the people make the program.
“The most interesting part of the program is the dynamic group of people,” said Liam Skoyles, from Cinco Ranch High School in Katy, Texas. “I am excited. It’s a great opportunity and wonderful to be wanted in a program like this.”
The McDermott Scholars Program was instituted in 2001 through a $32 million endowment by Margaret McDermott, wife of the late Eugene McDermott – co-founder of the research institution that became UTD in 1969.