UTSA Top Scholar program welcomes new top-ranking students

Top Scholars

Class of 2018 scholars (from left): Sandeep Chilakamarri, Sara Dibrell, Linda McNulty, Bianca Pulido and Cory Nguyen

Share this Story

(Oct. 24, 2014) -- Contributing to the many reasons The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) has become an institution of choice for top-ranked students across San Antonio and Texas, the UTSA Top Scholar program welcomes its second class of exceptional first-year students.

Launched in fall 2013, the UTSA Top Scholar program is a premier program that combines a comprehensive four-year merit-based scholarship with personalized experiences in academics, leadership and community service.

Kristi Meyer, director for the UTSA Top Scholar program, said, "The UTSA Top Scholar program continues to grow and evolve as we advance to Tier One. Our entering class of 2014 scholars chose UTSA because of the remarkable opportunities UTSA offers."

Reserved for a select few top-ranked students each year, the following first-year students comprise UTSA's second Top Scholar class:

  • Sandeep Chilakamarri ranked in the top 2 percent of his graduating class at Coppell High School in North Texas. He is an accomplished classical pianist, played on his high school tennis team and was part of the Junior World Affairs Council. He is fluent in Tegulu, Spanish and English. Sandeep enters UTSA as a biology major.
  • Sara Dibrell graduated as valedictorian at Seguin High School. She took the top prize in 2013 at the Intel International Science Fair, and she has been involved in Destination Imagination since kindergarten. She served as percussion section leader in the Seguin High School band and is a member of the Spirit of San Antonio's front-line percussion ensemble. Sara enters UTSA as a biochemistry major.
  • Linda McNulty graduated from Providence High School in San Antonio. While at Providence, she interned for two magazines, taught herself Arabic and started the high school's film club. She also earned a perfect score of 800 on the Critical Reading section of the SAT. She teaches pottery to children and recently won the top-prize $10,000 scholarship from the National Association of Women Business Owners San Antonio chapter for her accomplishments. Linda enters UTSA as a classics major.
  • Cory Nguyen, an Advanced Placement (AP) Scholar with Distinction, ranked third in his graduating class at Clark High School in San Antonio. While at Clark, he ran on the cross-county team, was a student ambassador and earned a perfect score of 800 on the Math section of the SAT. Cory is an Eagle Scout and enters UTSA as a biology major.
  • Bianca Pulido graduated from Health Careers High School in San Antonio. She was a standout as part of the Prefreshman Engineering Program (PREP) program and plans to be a lawyer. She was named among the Conexion 2014 "20 Under 20," a list of exceptional youth published each year by the San Antonio Express-News. Bianca enters UTSA as an English major.

Developed and supported by the UTSA Office of the Associate Provost for Diversity and Recruitment, the Top Scholar program serves as an essential building block in UTSA's top-tier efforts to proactively recruit high-caliber, first-time students in the greater San Antonio area and throughout Texas. Associate Provost Lisa Firmin oversees the program.

"The UTSA Top Scholar program is one way that UTSA is forging new ground in innovation and excellence," said Firmin. "The UTSA Top Scholar program is an important contribution to excellence at UTSA, bringing exceptional young scholars to UTSA who are eager to contribute to our Tier One mission."

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 records of community volunteerism and leadership are also considered. The combined average two-part SAT score of UTSA's incoming 2014 Top Scholars is 1434.

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.


The Top Scholar program is accepting applications through Dec. 1, 2014. For more information and to apply, visit the UTSA Top Scholar website.

The application process is separate and in addition to the traditional UTSA undergraduate admission process. Learn more at the UTSA Admissions website.

Connect online with UTSA on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.





UTSA Bold Promise CTA

UTSA's Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA 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.

UTSA's Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA's Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.