UTSA Top Scholar program recruits 10 outstanding students in third year

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(Aug. 13, 2015) – The UTSA Top Scholar program enters its third year in 2015 with a record class that shows UTSA has become an institution of choice for top-ranked students in San Antonio and across Texas.

Ten students are receiving full scholarships this year – doubling the number of Top Scholars in the program's first two years. They will be pursuing degrees in anthropology, biochemistry, biomedical engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics and political science.

"UTSA's top-tier academic and research programs are attracting the best and brightest students," said Kristi Meyer, director of the UTSA Top Scholar program. "Students recognize the incredible learning opportunities that exist at UTSA. In turn, they help build excellence at the university and spur our momentum to Tier One."

One of this year's scholars is Cameron Nguyen, the salutatorian and president of the National Honor Society at Tom C. Clark High School in San Antonio. Nguyen, a first-generation American, is following in his family's footsteps. His father is a UTSA alum and his brother, Cory, is a second-year Top Scholar.

"I saw what my brother got out of it. Once I got accepted, UTSA was number one on my list," said Nguyen, who is majoring in computer science. "As a personal accomplishment, it feels great. It means all the work I did in high school paid off. Being a part of this program will give me the best educational experience I could hope for."

This year's Top Scholars averaged 1442 on the two-part SAT, 2138 on the three-part SAT and 32 on the ACT. As a class, they rank in the top five percent of students nationally. Other members of the 2019 class of Top Scholars include:

Oscar Cantua – the salutatorian and a National Hispanic Merit Scholar at Sinton High School, near Corpus Christi. A National Honor Society member, Cantua is a first-generation college student who is majoring in physics. He participated in the Texas High School Aerospace Program and was an intern at the NASA Educational Outreach Program.

Michael Cartwright – head engineer on the Brennan Robotics SABest Team at San Antonio's Brennan High School. He was also a member of the National Honor Society, a leader in the MegaMath Competition and winner of the Brennan Bear Award for Math. Cartwright is majoring in computer science.

Madison Chilton – captain and MVP for varsity soccer, and district champion and winner of the Heart and Desire award for varsity track at Vidor High School near Houston. A member of the MENSA IQ Society and the National Honor Society, Chilton was first chair for UIL All Regional Choir and sang for "The Chilton Sisters," a service-through-song program. She is majoring in political science.

Mairin Derk – a National Merit Commended Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society at the North East School of the Arts at Robert E. Lee High School. Derk directed and produced theatrical productions, performed at Magik Children's Theater and the Woodlawn Theater, and served as a peer tutor. She is majoring in anthropology.

Brianna Diaz – a National Hispanic Scholar, member of the National Honor Society and secretary of the Environmental Science Club at Alvin High School, near Houston. Diaz, who earned a Rotary Youth Leadership Award, is a first-generation college student. She is majoring in mathematics, with the goal of becoming a public school teacher.

Bharath Ram – valedictorian and Student Council president at Health Careers High School in San Antonio. A National Merit Commended Scholar, Ram was a National Young Arts Award winner and a semi-finalist for the Presidential Scholar in the Arts. He is majoring in biomedical engineering for a career in medicine.

Austin Smith – the founding member and officer of the Unity Club at San Antonio's Winston Churchill High School, where he was a leader on the UIL math team. An AP Scholar with Distinction, he earned the Hill Country Village Community Service Award as teen volunteer of the year. He is majoring in biochemistry.

Luke Taylor – a National Merit Commended Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society at O'Conner High School in San Antonio. He was also a member of Mu Alpha Theta, the mathematics honor society, and earned first place at a Computer Engineering competition at UTSA. Taylor is majoring in computer science.

Ashley Tran – the valedictorian at Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio, where she was a National Merit Commended Scholar, president of the Latin Club and a member of Mu Alpha Theta. A classical pianist, Tran has performed at Carnegie Hall. She is majoring in biochemistry, with the goal of becoming an orthodontist.

Launched in 2013, the UTSA Top Scholar program combines a comprehensive four-year merit-based scholarship with personalized experiences in academics, leadership and community service. It is an essential component of UTSA's efforts to proactively recruit high-caliber, first-time students in the greater San Antonio area and throughout Texas.

Eligible students must be Texas residents 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 records of community volunteerism and leadership are also considered.

To remain in the program, Top Scholars 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.


To learn more about the UTSA Top Scholar program, visit www.utsa.edu/topscholar.

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