UTSA launches Top Scholar program: Top-tier, merit-based, four-year experience

Top Scholars

Inaugural participants in UTSA Top Scholar program

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(Nov. 19, 2013) -- The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) announces the launch of Top Scholar, a premier four-year program that combines a merit-based scholarship with personalized experiences in academics, leadership and community service.

Developed and supported by the UTSA Office of the Associate Provost for Diversity and Recruitment, the Top Scholar program will serve as an essential building block in UTSA's effort to become a Tier One university by proactively recruiting high-caliber, first-time students in Greater San Antonio and throughout Texas.

The UTSA Top Scholars receive a four-year scholarship that includes funding for tuition, fees, and room and board. Unique as the only UTSA scholarship program that includes enhanced educational and leadership development opportunities, this exclusive group receives high-level signature opportunities and personal attention. Associated programming may include interaction with senior university and community leaders, attendance at conferences, and the opportunity to meet recognized scholars in their chosen fields, one-on-one advising and personalized career development, and participation in cultural and community service events.

Kristi Meyer has been charged with leading the Top Scholar program. Meyer most recently served as director of the UTSA Graduation Initiative and has extensive experience helping students succeed.

"At UTSA, we are building a community of highly talented students who are eager to pursue knowledge and achievement," said Meyer. "We anticipate that this program will contribute to the dramatic shift we are seeing as UTSA becomes an institution of first choice for the best and brightest students across the state."

This fall, five of UTSA's exceptional first-year students joined the first Top Scholar class:

Eric Ficke, a math and science whiz, plans to major in computer science with an emphasis in cyber security. Graduating near the top of his class at San Antonio Christian High School, Eric's top two choices were UTSA and Stanford because of their research strengths in cyber security. He is an Eagle Scout and a musician and enjoys volunteering for K-LOVE radio, reading and playing racquetball. His career goal is to work in cyber security for a large company.

Sophia Garcia is a natural leader. At Highlands High School in San Antonio, she was captain of the Academic Decathlon team and president of the Go Green environmental club. She also ranked fifth in her graduating class of 394. At UTSA, Garcia is in the Rising Researcher program, which prepares first-semester students to assist UTSA faculty in cutting-edge research. Her career goal is to be a microbiologist.

Amanda Griffee graduated ninth in her graduating class of 500 students. An Optimist International Oratorical regional champion, Griffee also excelled in band and as captain of the tennis team at Byron P. Steele High School in Cibolo, Texas. As a child, she was susceptible to dehydration and spent quite a bit of time in the hospital. Her personal experience being cared for by a wonderful doctor is what drives her to want to be a pediatrician.

Sarah Santos was valedictorian of her class of 602 students at John Marshall High School in San Antonio and attributes her success in life to her competitive spirit. Her interests include reading, writing, listening to music, playing video games and winning arguments. As a psychology major at UTSA, Santos loves studying the human mind and plans to explore clinical psychology as a possible career path.

Caroline Williams is an adventurous young woman with a desire to experience as much as possible. A product of the Waldorf School in Austin, Texas, known for developing well-rounded and independent individuals, Williams has studied in Germany, worked on a farm, holds a black belt in Kuk Sool Won, a form of Korean martial arts, and volunteers regularly. Currently an undeclared major at UTSA, she is exploring several options.

Eligible students must be Texas residents who are entering college for the first time. The most competitive students score 1400 or higher on the two-part SAT, 2100 or higher on the three-part SAT, or 32 or higher on the ACT. Class rank and record of community volunteerism and leadership also are considered.

In order to remain in the program, the students must maintain a UTSA GPA of at least 3.25, live on campus for the first two years, complete 30 hours each academic year, complete at least one community service and leadership development project each year, and actively participate in all aspects of the program.

The Top Scholar program is accepting applications through Dec. 1, 2013. For more information and to apply to the program, visit the UTSA Top Scholar website.

This Top Scholar application process is separate and in addition to the traditional UTSA undergraduate admission process, which can be found at the UTSA Admissions website.

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About UTSA

The University of Texas at San Antonio is an emerging Tier One research institution specializing in health, energy, security, sustainability, and human and social development. With nearly 29,000 students, it is the largest university in the San Antonio metropolitan region. UTSA advances knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service.

The university embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property -- for Texas, the nation and the world.