Pocahontas teacher receives honor

Melodie Murray who teaches geometry, pre-calculus, AP calculus, advanced topics and mathematical modeling at Pocahontas High School was the recipient of the 2019 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics.

The National Science Foundation, on behalf of The White House, oversees the program that recognizes teachers who have demonstrated a commitment to professional development, innovative teaching techniques, and technology use in their classrooms. Each recipient receives a $10,000 award, presidential citation, and a trip to Washington, D.C., for a series of recognition events, professional development activities, and an awards ceremony.

King Foundation awards STEM grant

The Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation has awarded $35,000 to the Arkansas State University Foundation, Inc., designated for program support of the Arkansas Science Festival.

It will be used to develop virtual and socially-distanced STEM programs.

Arkansas Science Festival is scheduled for October on the Arkansas State University campus in Jonesboro.

The King Foundation, located in Dallas, makes community and initiative grants in Arkansas, North Texas and West Texas.

Steele Chair funded at U of A

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock has received a $420,000 gift from the estate of Dr. Jack T. Steele, to finalize the creation of the Jack T. Steele, M.D. Endowed Chair in Family and Preventive Medicine in the College of Medicine.

Steele was born in 1926 in Lynn and lived in Walnut Ridge as a child.

Cathey receives P.E.O. STAR Scholarship

Sarah Camille Cathey, a senior at Wynne High School, has received a P.E.O. STAR Scholarship for the 2020-21 academic year. The scholarship is a one-time award of $2,500.

To qualify, a candidate should display excellence in academics, strong leadership ability, involvement in extracurricular activities, community service and potential for future success.

Cathey is the daughter of Dr. Jake and Crystal Cathey and was recommended by Chapter AY of Wynne. She will attend the University of Alabama this fall to study marketing.

WBU presents doctorate to Gibbens

Jerry Gibbens, who served for more than half a century as an English professor at Williams Baptist University, was presented an honorary doctorate by WBU. The honor was bestowed during the university’s commencement exercises.

Gibbens, a WBU alumnus, returned to his alma mater in 1967 as a member of the English faculty, serving for 53 years in that capacity before retiring this spring. He was also chair of the Division of Arts and Sciences and the Department of English and Communication Arts. He was named an emeritus professor upon his retirement.

Tant named to Millikin dean’s list

Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., has announced that Robert Tant of Paragould is among the outstanding undergraduates who have been named to the dean’s list for the spring 2020 semester.

Students who attempt 12 graded credits during a fall or spring semester and earn a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher earn dean’s list honors.

Arkansas Governor’s School participants

More than seven months of planning for AGS 2020 was overturned when the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Arkansas. A four-week, residential program was converted to a virtual environment July 5-Aug. 1.

The 295 high school seniors who completed the program participated in intensive study in one of nine Area I academic disciplines: visual arts, choral music, instrumental music, drama, English/language arts, mathematics, natural science, social science or cybersecurity; Area II, analyzing the nature of knowledge and developing critical thinking skills; and Area III, focusing on personal and social development.

Area completers and their schools were Sarah Havdala, Aria Jenkins and Deann Jones from the Academies of Jonesboro High School; Brooklyn Panneck from Nettleton High; and Frances Chen and Ella Layton from Valley View High.

BRTC adds electricity/electronics courses

Black River Technical College is now offering industrial electricity/electronics courses on the Paragould campus.

The program is designed to prepare students for jobs in the use and maintenance of common electrical and electronic devices and instruments. Upon completion of the program, a certificate of proficiency in the field of industrial electricity/electronics will be awarded.

Manuel earns Optus Family Scholarship

Optus, Inc. in Jonesboro has selected Mary Manuel as this year’s recipient for the $1,000 per semester Optus Family Scholarship. She is the daughter of Ryan and Jackie Boyd. Ryan is a national account manager for Optus and has been with the company for 15 years.

Manuel, a 2020 graduate of Jonesboro High School, graduating with a 4.09 grade-point average, will attend Arkansas State University in the fall, majoring in occupational therapy.

The Optus Family Scholarship honors Adam Harrington who died in 2006. He was a Nettleton High School graduate and the son of Optus employee Neal Harrington and wife Rhonda.

To qualify for the scholarship, students must be full-time working towards an undergraduate degree at an accredited college or university, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, and be the child or grandchild of a current full-time Optus employee.

Students begin pharmacy degree

Thirty-five students received their white coat on Aug. 21 at Harding University in Searcy to begin their academic training to become doctors of pharmacy.

Area students participating in the ceremony were Caroline Parker of Harrisburg, Iliriana Ramadani of Jonesboro, Ngoc Nguyen of Paragould, Claudia Sifford and Emma Vancil, both of Pocahontas, and Khue Truong of Wynne.

Local student makes Columbia dean’s list

Columbia College in Missouri has named Monica Semora of Paragould to its summer semester dean’s list.

To be included, a student must have completed 12 semester hours in a 16-week period and achieved a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 on a 4.0-point scale.

Local students complete summer research

Ouachita Baptist University’s J.D. Patterson School of Natural Sciences Summer Research Program was one of the few institutions in the state to continue summer research during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 program included 26 students and 12 faculty members and was only two students short of the program’s overall record number of student researchers in a single summer.

Included in those 26 students were Cannon Fisher, a senior nutrition and dietetics major from Wynne and Gabe Poe, a junior biomedical sciences major from Lake City.

The university is located in Arkadelphia.

Patterson receives Reeves Scholarship

Patrick Patterson of Jonesboro, a 2013 graduate of Cabot High School who is pursuing an Associate of Science in Business, is the first recipient of the Noah Reeves Scholarship.

The scholarship is designed to assist ASUN students who have faced adversity while trying to reach their academic goals. Reeves was an ASU-Newport student that lost his battle with cancer in early 2020.

Local A-State alumni honored

The Arkansas State University Alumni Association and Student Philanthropy Council recently announced the latest recipients of the Emerging Young Alumni Award. Among those named were two area residents.

Adam Watkins of Jonesboro earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree in 2006 and Master of Social Work in 2011.

He currently serves as executive director of the Northeast Arkansas Regional AIDS Network, with which he has been associated for 15 years. He has worked with A-State’s Department of Social Work to arrange a student internship opportunity, serves on the department’s community advisory board, and is board chairman for the campus Wesley Foundation.

Graycen Colbert Bigger of Pocahontas is an economic developer and communications specialist. She serves as executive director of the Northeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal Authority (NEARIA) and assistant vice president of community development for Farmers and Merchants Bank.

Bigger earned bachelor’s degrees in photojournalism and the history of art from A-State in 2009.

Local students graduate at SAU

Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia recognized 172 graduates at Summer 2020 Commencement Ceremonies.

Area graduates and their degrees included David Rogers II of Jonesboro, Bachelor of Business Administration in management; Katrina Hall of Wynne, Bachelor of Science degree in biology; Victoria Tacker of Tyronza, Master of Education degree in library media; and Caroline Armstrong of Lake City, Master of Science degree in agriculture.