You are currently viewing University of Texas at Dallas: UTD Welcomes Newest Class of Eugene McDermott Scholars

University of Texas at Dallas: UTD Welcomes Newest Class of Eugene McDermott Scholars

  • Post author:
  • Post category:Uncategorized

The Eugene McDermott Scholars Program at The University of Texas at Dallas welcomed 17 students this fall.

The McDermott program provides students with UT Dallas’ rigorous and personalized education, along with a four-year slate of intensive extracurricular activities. McDermott Scholars have access to leadership training, cultural enrichment and opportunities designed to equip them with the skills, experience and confidence to succeed as leaders in society’s many dimensions.

“These 17 new Comets are individuals with records of outstanding achievement in academics. What makes them distinctive is their similarly outstanding leadership and service. We look forward to supporting them as they engage in the challenging and fulfilling college experience,” said Reena Schellenberg, director of McDermott Student Programs. “There’s no doubt that during the next four years and beyond, their contributions on campus and in the larger world will exemplify the McDermott legacy of positive impact.”

This year’s cohort features 13 students from Texas, two from Idaho, and one each from Arizona and Arkansas. The students joined 35 other scholars currently at UT Dallas and the program’s 332 alumni.

The program was made possible by a $32 million gift from Margaret McDermott, wife of Eugene McDermott, one of the co-founders of Texas Instruments (TI). Eugene McDermott and two TI co-founders, Cecil Green and J. Erik Jonsson, founded the research institution that joined the UT System in 1969.

Here is the 2022 class of scholars.

Giana Abraham
Allen High School, Texas
Major: neuroscience
Abraham is a National Merit Commended Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction. She volunteered with the Allen Public Library and Unified Robotics, which introduces science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts to people with intellectual disabilities. Her over 400 hours of service earned her a gold President’s Volunteer Service Award. Abraham served as student body president, as president of her school’s National and Math Honor Societies, and on its diversity and inclusion committee. Her research received an honorable mention at the Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair. Abraham is a church youth group leader and choir member and is learning Malayalam.

Zaina Asad
Flower Mound High School, Texas
Major: business administration
Asad is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction. Active in the theater department throughout high school, she worked her way up to the position of head of costuming and competed for design and construction at the 2019 International Thespian Festival. Asad interned with administrators at Mayhill Hospital in Denton and a local private medical practice. She also volunteered at a soup kitchen and as a tutor for children in her school district. Asad plays guitar and is learning to play the piano. She is fluent in Urdu.

Mariana Cano
Harmony Science Academy – Dallas High
Major: global business
Cano is an AP Scholar and was salutatorian of her high school class. As senior council president, she helped host sports tournaments and other school activities. As part of the Student Leadership Committee, Cano practiced proposing a bill to the Texas Legislature. She served as a news anchor and script editor for her school’s YouTube channel. As National Honor Society vice president at her school, Cano hosted blood drives and organized students around efforts to address social issues. She is also a passionate pianist. Cano is fluent in Spanish and is learning Korean.

Ayomide “Mide” Precious Dairo
Cypress Springs High School, Texas
Major: psychology
Dairo was the valedictorian of her high school class and senior class president. Dairo served as co-president of her high school’s mental health alliance and participated in its HOSA – Future Health Professionals chapter, competing and placing first in Texas in medical terminology. She volunteered at a local elementary school tutoring fifth graders in math and at a nonprofit organization benefiting low-income students.

Tejas Devata
Heritage High School, Frisco, Texas
Major: neuroscience
Devata is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with Honor. He volunteered at his local temple and other organizations to provide educational opportunities to children. Devata is a three-time recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award. He was the vice president of his school’s National Honor Society, an officer in the debate club and a member of Business Professionals of America, through which he won numerous state and national accolades. He also worked as a policy advocate regarding diet pill and supplement sales and has researched acculturation and eating disorders. Devata is fluent in Telugu.

Shivani Gupta
Flower Mound High School, Texas
Major: neuroscience
Gupta is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction. She was parliamentarian of her school’s National Honor Society and a member of the speech and debate team. Gupta was a scenic design intern at the theater group DFW Play, interned as a therapy technician at a local occupational therapy clinic, and is a Federal Emergency Management Agency Community Emergency Response Team member. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gupta created a portable UV-C disinfection chamber and presented the design to representatives of the Texas Legislature and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. As a volunteer attorney at the Lewisville Teen Court, she represented juveniles who committed Class C misdemeanors. She is a Gold Award Girl Scout.

Liam Elliot Nichols
McKinney High School, Texas
Major: mathematics
Nichols is a National Merit Commended student and graduated at the top of his high school class. He was a member of the speech and debate team; led the math club; started a chess club in his senior year; and also participated in the chemistry, philosophy and computer science clubs. Nichols was a University Interscholastic League competitor in current events as well as in number sense and calculator applications. He worked as a soccer referee in high school. Nichols is the second eldest of 11 children and was an algebra tutor at home as well as at school. He will assist Richardson-area students through the campus organization Comet Tutors.

Edwin Thomas Philip
Hebron High School, Carrollton, Texas
Major: undeclared
Philip is a National Merit Commended Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction. He has volunteered with the Texas Ramp Project, Computers for the Blind, Baylor Scott & White Health and local vaccination clinics. Philip was president of the Science National Honor Society at his school, and president and founder of his school’s chapter of IntelliChoice, an organization that provides free and accessible math tutoring to economically disadvantaged students. He will work with the IntelliChoice chapter at UTD. Philip was also an instructor for Red Tiger Karate and captain of Hebron’s Valorant team, which was the High School Esports League national champion.

Aiswarya Saravanan
Bentonville High School, Arkansas
Major: neuroscience
Saravanan is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction. She was a member of the National Honor Society and HOSA – Future Health Professionals and was captain of the debate and mock trial teams. Saravanan volunteered at her local library and with children’s reading groups to promote literacy. Additionally, she taught dance and coached her former junior high MathCounts team. She holds multiple medical certifications and as a certified nursing assistant volunteered in a local hospital’s COVID-19 unit and labor and delivery unit and was a public health ambassador for her community. She is fluent in Tamil and can read and write Latin.

Sneha Sharma
Timberline High School, Boise, Idaho
Major: neuroscience
Sharma is a National Merit Commended Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction. She worked with children as a licensed child care provider and through the St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital advisory board, the city of Boise’s WaterShed Action Team and the Mayor’s Council on Children and Youth. Through the Boise Host Lions Club, Sharma started a charity drive that collected nearly 400 pairs of eyeglasses. She led her school’s HOSA – Future Health Professionals and environmental clubs, spoke at social and environmental justice rallies, helped her school district pass a clean energy commitment, advocated for wildlife conservation, and is on the board of an environmental education nonprofit. Sharma also has been recognized in state competitions for piano and drawing. She is fluent in Hindi and conversational in Spanish.

Anjali Shenoy
Perry High School, Gilbert, Arizona
Major: psychology
Shenoy is an AP Scholar with Distinction and was a member of the National Honor Society. An officer for her high school’s UNICEF chapter, she helped disabled children through the Sparrow Club. As a member of Leaders In Training, a youth professional development organization, she shadowed the city attorney and worked in the city’s human resources department. Shenoy has been an advocate for mental health awareness and helped people through recovery. A painter, she has had her works displayed in art shows; one won a best painting award from the Chandler Center for the Arts. She is fluent in six languages, including Hindi and Konkani, and can read Latin.

Sneha Shrinivas
Centennial High School, Frisco, Texas
Major: computer science
Shrinivas is a National Merit Scholar. She organized many Feed My Starving Children drives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and helped plan Naada Daanam: Carnatic For A Cure, which raised over $70,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Shrinivas co-founded a Girls in STEM chapter at her high school and hosted many science, technology, engineering and math career workshops for underprivileged middle and high school girls. Her writing about the immigrant experience was nationally recognized by Indian American Impact, and she has been involved in national immigration policy reform through advocacy work in Washington, D.C.

Leah Grace Sullivan
Cypress Homeschool STEM Academy, Texas
Major: data science
As a dual-credit student at Lone Star College-Tomball, Sullivan co-founded the Homeschool Dual Credit Club, served as president of the Gay-Straight Alliance and was the head delegate for the Model United Nations team. She was also active in the Lone Star College Honors College, where she served as the operations manager for the leadership team, as a peer mentor and a student recruiter. Sullivan worked for Katy Independent School District as a head lifeguard, swim instructor and lifeguard instructor, and for Harris County as a student election clerk. She also volunteered at local food pantries and as a junior counselor at Texas A&M University’s Summer Educational Enrichment in Math camp.

Liana “Oli” Szabo
Plano West Senior High School, Texas
Major: undeclared
Szabo is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction. They coached middle and high school mock trial, and were the president and lead attorney on their mock trial team. Szabo helped found vCare4Seniors, which connected nursing home residents with high school students during the COVID-19 pandemic. They were co-president of the school orchestra, served as a National Honor Society officer and were the director of management for DFW Students for Biden. Szabo studied in Germany on a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange scholarship, worked at Concordia Language Villages as a camp counselor, and received the American Association of Teachers of German Study Trip Award. Szabo is fluent in Hungarian and conversational in German.

Nishka Talwar
Hendrickson High School, Pflugerville, Texas
Major: neuroscience
Talwar is an AP Scholar with Distinction and an AP Capstone Diploma recipient. She graduated third in her high school class. She was active in University Interscholastic League academics, The Locker and HOSA – Future Health Professionals. Talwar served at her school as president of both the National Honor Society and GirlAdvocates!, vice president of the student council, secretary of Special Olympics Unified Champions, and an ambassador for the career technology education program. She offered free tutoring to underserved communities in India and Texas, mentored youth in her high school, and volunteered at the local food pantry, public library and elder care facility. She is fluent in Hindi and conversational in Spanish.

Alekya Sai Tanikella
Capital High School, Boise, Idaho
Major: neuroscience
A founding member of the Virtual Red Cross Club of Idaho, Montana and eastern Oregon, Tanikella hosted multiple blood drives in her school and community. She also was a member of the inaugural Youth Climate Action Council, created a native plant garden and hosted climate-related events as part of outreach to youth and families. Tanikella created Bee Musicale, a group of students who played classical music for residents of senior centers. At Boise State University, Tanikella studied the effects of CRISPR-Cas9 on zebrafish and published her research in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. She is fluent in Telugu and conversational in Spanish.

Jennifer Zhang
Lebanon Trail High School, Frisco, Texas
Major: computer science
Zhang, the valedictorian of her high school class, is a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction. She volunteered through her church as a math and English tutor for refugee students, and volunteered with the Dallas Life and Grace Bridge food bank. She was the vice president of her school’s Operation Smile chapter, helping to raise awareness and money for child cleft-lip surgeries. As a member of the National Art Honor Society and Create To Donate, she was also involved in several art service projects for her school and local community.