KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Twenty freshmen have won coveted Medallion Scholarships to begin their studies at Western Michigan University this fall.
Medallion Scholarships are the highest merit-based award WMU can bestow on an incoming freshman. Valued at $60,000 each over four years, they constitute one of the largest merit-based awards in American higher education.
Some of this year's incoming scholars received a WMU Presidential Medallion Scholarship, while others received awards that bear the names of their scholarships' donors or the individuals for whom the scholarships were established.
The students were selected after competing for the awards in the 35th annual Medallion Scholarship Program event held during two November sessions at WMU. Invitations to compete were based on a combination of high grade-point averages and ACT or SAT scores, and were extended to students who had applied to WMU by Oct. 16, 2017.
Medallion scholarship competition
A total of 625 seniors from across Michigan and the United States participated in the 2017 competition. The half-day event included essay writing and a group problem-solving activity for the students as well as activities for the participants' parents and families. During this most recent event, competitors for the first time submitted a one- to two-minute video about themselves.
The 52 top-performing competitors returned to campus and were interviewed as finalists for the Medallion Scholarship, with 20 ultimately being selected to receive the honor.
In addition to the $60,000 monetary award, Medallion Scholars become members of WMU's Lee Honors College. The college, one of the oldest honors programs in the nation, enhances the undergraduate learning experience by providing such benefits as smaller class sizes, individualized academic advising and a freshman mentoring program.
The finalists not awarded Medallion Scholarships were offered a President's Academic Excellence Scholarship valued at $25,000 over four years.
scholarship recipients for 2018-19
This year's incoming Medallion Scholars have a grade-point average of 4.18. Their scores average 29.3 on the ACT and 1348 on the SAT. The new class of scholars will begin their studies at WMU in the fall and are scheduled to graduate during the 2021-22 academic year. Of the 20 finalists, 12 are from Michigan, seven are from Illinois and one is from Ohio.
Allison Anker, of Lake Orion, graduated from Lake Orion High School and plans to major in business law at WMU. She was awarded a Presidential Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society, Anker earned annual "Lamp of Learning" academic performance awards all four years of high school for maintaining an overall GPA of 3.5 or higher and showing strong academic integrity. In addition, she was recognized as a varsity scholar-athlete. Through her involvement with the Distributive Education Clubs of America and the American Legion Auxiliary Girls, Anker had the opportunity to attend a variety of conferences across the country, including state and international Career Development conferences as well as an Emerging Leader Summit in Washington, D.C., for DECA. She also returned to the nation's capital for ALA Girls Nation, meeting the president of the United States, Michigan senators and various other political figures.
Anker was an intern in August 2017 at eyeglass company SVS Vision and worked in the corporate headquarters for the vice president of retail development. She also interned as a political writer at You Go Girl, a female-run online publication that features art and articles regarding issues women face within society. Anker was a member of the school choir, thespian troupe and soccer team, and she volunteered at her district's alternative high school. In addition to school-related volunteering, she was involved in a variety of fundraisers and events for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and for Stitches of Love, a patriotic service organization that creates stockings filled with gifts for soldiers.
Laurel Blakie, of Rockford, graduated from Lowell Senior High School in Lowell and plans to major in biomedical sciences at WMU. She was awarded a Presidential Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society, Blakie was selected from her Advanced Placement Biology class to travel to the Van Andel Education Institute and be a member of the High School Journal Club. During this experience, she learned about available careers and met and shadowed researchers at the Van Andel Institute as well as conducted her own scientific experiment and learned how to assess and present scholarly articles. A musician, she played first-chair clarinet for the Symphonic Band and Pit Orchestra and led the Marching Band's clarinet section for three years. She also earned superior rankings at both District and State Solo and Ensemble competitions.
Blakie joined numerous high school and community organizations and was an active volunteer. She was a member and captain of her school's Ukulele Club and a member of the Book Club, Basketball Band and Symphony Orchestra as well as the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus and its Mandala women's ensemble. In addition, she raised funds for her school and took part in the Interact Club, which provides volunteer opportunities for students at the high school. Blakie also volunteered for the Grand Rapids Symphony's "kid's corner," playing the trombone at the instrument petting zoo and teaching kids as young as 3 to play an instrument. She toured Trinidad and Tobago in 2016 as a member of the symphony's youth chorus and acted as a cultural ambassador for the United States while spending the summer of 2015 touring France and Germany with the Blue Lake International Choir.
Elizabeth Carpentier, of Gurnee, Illinois, graduated from Warren Township High School in Gurnee and plans to major in music therapy at WMU. She was awarded a Harold and Grace Upjohn Foundation Endowed Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society, Carpentier was recognized numerous times in high school for her musical talents and her volunteer activities with the Technology Department. The percussionist was selected for various leadership positions with the Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Band and Marching Band. She also was selected to be in several district jazz bands. Carpentier was involved with the Tech Team all fours years and worked in the Technology Department for two summers as a student technician, fixing computers and projectors, setting up computer labs, and taking inventory for various pieces of equipment. Previously, she volunteered during the summer doing essentially the same work, although she was not old enough to hold a job.
Carpentier played lacrosse and was in Winter Guard. She studied abroad in London and Paris in 2016 with the school's Social Studies Department and the group Education First. She traveled with the same program in 2017 to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji to learn about the indigenous people of each country, as well as the large historical sites in these nations. She also participated in a mission trip to an area near Victoria, Minnesota, to volunteer in a food pantry and help the surrounding community's low-income population. In addition, she volunteered at a local school for children with severe special needs, helping the school with its annual fundraising events and data entry and technology needs. She also shares responsibilities with her family to care for her sibling with special needs, who requires 24/7 care.
Joshua Davis, of New Lenox, Illinois, graduated from Lincoln-Way Central High School in Will County, Illinois, and plans to major in finance at WMU. He was awarded a Presidential Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society, Davis was on the High Honor Roll each semester throughout high school. He was a member of the soccer team and in addition to serving as team captain his senior year, garnered awards such as Defensive Player of the Year, All Conference Player, All Sectional Player and Athlete of the Year. Davis expanded his soccer talents by becoming a certified U.S. Soccer Federation referee. Over the past four years, he officiated in more than 170 youth and adult games a year during the regular season and summer and winter tournaments. For his efforts, he received the Young Referee of the Year Award from U.S. Youth Soccer.
Davis was a regular volunteer at the local animal shelter Cache Creek, was a volunteer soccer referee for a McDonald's charity event and has trained developing referees. He says the most impactful experience he has had was working with children in his community at a local soccer summer camp the past four years. During that time, he had the opportunity to teach youth between the ages of 5 and 14 fundamental skills, organized drills and scrimmages. The most rewarding part of the experience was the opportunity to share his passion for the game with children and form relationships with returning players and witness their growth year after year.
Mackenzie Farmwald, of Portage, graduated from Portage Northern High School and plans to major in chemistry at WMU and conduct research that will aid people who have special needs, especially those with Down syndrome and autism. She was awarded a Presidential Medallion Scholarship. During her first three years of high school, Farmwald earned the award of highest honors, which recognizes having a weighted GPA of 4.0 or higher. While in high school, she was active on the Forensics Team for four years, earning 12th place in the impromptu category at the state level and second place at the regional competition, both in 2017.
Farmwald also was a member of the Marching Band for four years and served for two of those years as one of the band's leaders. In addition, she played on a community ultimate frisbee team for four years and was captain this past year. She has been a volunteer at Portage Free Methodist Church the past six years, and her service has included being part of the Youth Leadership Team for the past two years. Her study abroad experience includes a mission trip in 2015 to Toronto to fix homes and build up the community. In addition, she has worked as a respite care provider for a young girl with Down syndrome and autism and at St. Francis Camp on the Lake, a facility focused on providing a camp experience to people who otherwise would not be able to have such an experience.
Serena Karlov, of Naperville, Illinois, graduated from Naperville Central High School and plans to major in biomedical sciences at WMU and complete the University's pre-medicine curriculum. She was awarded a Presidential Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society, Karlov received the 4.0 GPA Award at her school every semester of high school, as well as a varsity award for cross country and an Academic All-Conference Award for maintaining a high GPA while being an athlete. She was a three-year member of the Medical Club and during her senior year had the opportunity through one of her classes to visit different departments of nearby hospitals, gaining medical insight from the staff and learning about courses that pertain to the human body.
Karlov was invited by her school district to attend an all-day local leadership conference in 2015, and she worked throughout high school to increase her leadership skills. In addition, she was a four-year member of the cross country team and the freshman/sophomore and junior varsity softball teams, usually in the role of starting catcher. She also participated in basketball, soccer and track and was a member of the Rotary Club and the LINK freshman mentoring program. Outside of school, she volunteered at many events for her church, including the Naperville Marathon, Naperville Triathlon and Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit organization that packages and distributes food to developing countries around the globe.
Hunter King, of Battle Creek, graduated from Harper Creek High School in Battle Creek and is undecided about his major at WMU. He was awarded a Roy and Beulah Kendall Endowed Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society, King attended the Battle Creek Area Mathematics and Science Center, a rigorous mathematics, science and technology program. He was named student of the month at Harper Creek every year at least once since kindergarten, including multiple times a year in high school. He also was on the school honor roll and received the Board of Education award his freshman, sophomore and junior years. In addition, he consistently served as a representative on the Student Council and was class president his sophomore and junior years.
King has performed in more than 20 productions in many different theatres in the community, including The Franke Center for the Arts, Marshall Civic Players, Kellogg Community College Theatre, Battle Creek Junior Theatre, Harper Creek Drama and What A Do Theatre. His related activities have included working as an assistant director and a stage manager, youth mentor, box office attendant, concession stand attendant and social media manager. Specifically, at What A Do, he built a youth program that he mentored and directed for the past four years. His community activities have included volunteering at the Food Bank of South Central Michigan and with the local nonprofit Charitable Union, which helps provide clothes and bedding to children, families and veterans in the Greater Battle Creek area. King also was a chair and longtime member of the Battle Creek Community Foundation Youth Alliance Committee as well as a member of the foundation's Board of Trustees and Livable Community Grantmaking Committee.
Lauren Kowal, of Troy, graduated from Bishop Foley Catholic High School in Madison Heights, and plans to major in music at WMU. She was awarded a Gwen Frostic Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society, Kowal was named an Advanced Placement scholar with honors, a Student of the Month in AP Chemistry, and a Top Student in AP Language and Composition. In addition, she received a Music Ministry Leadership Award as well as received the Scholastic All Catholic Academic Award from the Archdiocese of Detroit. She also competed in the Michigan Mathematics Prize Competition and American Mathematics Competition and was active in several student organizations, serving many in a leadership position.
Kowal served multiple years as Music Department president; was a member of the Key Club, serving terms as Bulletin Editor as well as vice president; and was a member and student leader of the Drama Club and Pro-Life Club. She also was involved with the Choir Club, Band Club and Music Ministry Team. An oboe player, she was a leader with her sections as a member of the Oakland Youth Orchestra Symphony and the Albion, Wayne State University and Central Michigan University high school honors bands. In addition, she played volleyball, ran track and cross country, and co-captained the cross country team for a year. Kowal engaged in volunteer activities while president of the Music Department as well as served as the track and field assistant coach for Guardian Angels Catholic School.
Ryan Kruegel, of Plainfield, Illinois, graduated from Plainfield East High School and plans to major in computer engineering at WMU. He was awarded a Presidential Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society, Kruegel was on the High Honor Roll every semester in high school and received the Plainfield East High School Academic Patch and the National AP Scholar With Honor award. He was a member of the school mathematics team all four years and won multiple individual and team awards in varying categories in competitions against other area high schools. One award that Kruegel is particularly proud of is the first place he and a partner earned in the presentation portion of the Finite Logic Machines competition. The pair were approached two days before the contest to participate and spent that time teaching themselves how to solve these logic machines.
Kruegel was a four-year member of the Marching Band, serving as low brass section leader his senior year; was one of the original organizers of the Videogame Club; and participated in cross country, the Jazz Band and the Pep Band. During his junior and senior years, he was a member of the Wind Ensemble, the highest level of band at his high school and a group for which placement is based on auditions. Wind Ensemble members set the example for the other three bands at the school by displaying dedication and hard work. In his community, he has served as a church usher, Sunday school assistant and volunteer for a community blood drive.
Preston McKale, of Harrison Twp., graduated from the International Academy in Macomb and plans to major in theatre at WMU. He was awarded a Harold and Beulah McKee Endowed Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society, McKale was active in theatre throughout high school. He was extensively involved with the Drama Club, Michigan Thespians and All The World's A Stage, an award-winning theatre arts education organization. He was an actor in many school musicals, plays and films. Besides acting, he also did work as a stage manager, assistant stage manager, production assistant and writer during various productions as well as organized multiple workshops on several aspects of theatrical performance.
McKale also played high school and club soccer and was a member of the Soccer Club, Spike Ball Club and dance decorating committee. He has been an actor at the Stratford Shakespeare Student Players Festival in Canada since 2014 and participated in the Michigan Thespian Festival in 2015. Other community appearances have included performances at the Romeo Peach Festival and Edsel and Eleanor Ford House Fairy Tale Festival, both in 2017. McKale studied abroad in 2016 with the Spanish Club in Peru, visiting schoolchildren there and giving them supplies. He has worked as a mathematics tutor, a soccer referee and referee administrator, and in groundskeeping for a Detroit country club. In addition, he volunteered for the Trinity Lutheran Church homeless shelter, Macomb Center for the Performing Arts, Dr. Seuss Storytelling Michigan touring company and American Youth Soccer Organization. In 2016, he also assisted with a water bottle drive to help mitigate the Flint water crisis.
Nicole Obrochta, of Harwood Heights, Illinois, graduated from Ridgewood High School in Norridge, Illinois, and plans to major in English-secondary education at WMU and become a teacher at a high school or middle school. She received a Merze Tate Endowed Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society, Obrochta also was active in the Italian National Honors Society and served this organization as president.
Obrochta also is an accomplished athlete. In 2017, she received the Most Improved Player award for her efforts on the Ridgewood Varsity Volleyball Team. She played volleyball all four years, serving as team captain her freshman and senior years, and also spent four years as a sprinter and long and triple jump competitor on the Ridgewood Track and Field Team. In addition, Obrochta designed the T-shirts sold at one of the volleyball team's annual autism tournaments and was a member of her school's Senior Instructional Leadership Corps, serving as a student teacher and working with students with various disabilities. As president of the Italian National Honors Society, she worked to involve society members and her school at large in rewarding service projects, such as creating holiday cards for terminally ill children.
Leo Phillips, of Grandville, graduated from Grandville High School and plans to major in sustainable brewing at WMU. He received a Burdick-Thorne Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society, Phillips received two academic excellence awards from Grandville High School. He became an Eagle Scout in 2016 and has held numerous leadership roles during his years as a Scout, including assistant Scoutmaster, quartermaster and patrol leader. For his Eagle Scout project, he planned, developed and led others in the construction of a fire situation training course for the Grandville Fire Department.
Phillips excelled in sports and competed on the rugby, track and field, and cross country teams. He was awarded All Conference and All State honors for the 2017 rugby season and was recognized as the most valuable player by his team. He was active in the National Honor Society's tutoring program and blood drives as well as his church, participating in the Saint Pius X Youth Group and volunteering at various functions and serving for a time on its leadership team.
Marley Reilly, of Beecher, Illinois, graduated from Beecher High School and plans to major in biomedical sciences at WMU and pursue a career in medicine. She received a Presidential Medallion Scholarship. Reilly was a member of her school's Math Team and Scholastic Bowl Team, both of which won regional competitions. She also was a three-year member of the soccer team and was named a Scholar-Athlete by her varsity soccer coach.
Reilly was highly involved in student government during high school. She was a Student Council representative all four years and served as vice president of the Class Officers group as well as served for three years as vice president of her class and for one year as its president. In addition, she was a four-year member of her school's anti-bullying organizations and the Drama Club, acting in several productions. She also was involved for two years in the Environmental Club. Reilly's volunteer activities have included serving as team manager for the Boys Varsity Soccer Team and serving as a camp counselor for a kids theater camp.
Brooke Semler, of Spring Grove, Illinois, graduated from Richmond-Burton Community High School in Richmond, Illinois, and plans to major in aviation flight science at WMU and ultimately become a commercial pilot. She received a Presidential Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society, Semler was one of three students at her school chosen to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Award Conference in Wisconsin in 2017. She also received both the Presidential Education Award and the Academic Letter Award each year for academic excellence.
A four-year member of the Marching Band, Semler served as the percussion section leader for 2017-18. She was active in music ensembles and performed or served as a crew member for school plays and musicals throughout high school, receiving the 2015 Step-Up award from the Drama Department for going above and beyond. She also was a member of the French Club and Varsity Dance Team all four years of high school and was captain of the Varsity Dance Team her senior year. In addition, Semler was a three-year member of the Marine Biology Club and of Tri-M, a group she served for a year as vice president and arranged to have perform regularly at the local assisted living facility. She has volunteered in her community with organizations that help address hunger in Haiti and support female victims of domestic assault.
Tyler Skibicki, of Lake Orion, graduated from Lake Orion High School and plans to major in mechanical engineering at WMU and already has his own business doing small motor repair. Skibicki received a Presidential Medallion Scholarship. A member of the Science National Honor Society, Skibicki has been on the honor roll every quarter throughout middle school and high school and created his own independent study class in Engine Design and Development, focusing on new ways to reduce friction in engines. He played football as a freshman and sophomore, basketball through his junior year and track all four years of high school. He was named an Oakland Activities Association Scholar-Athlete in both basketball and track and competed in the state finals in the 110-meter hurdles.
Skibicki also participated in the Leadership Class, his school's equivalent to the student council, and was first chair trombone in the Campus Band. In addition, he placed highly in various band competitions. He completed three times the number of service hours required by his school for graduation. Skibicki volunteered at local elementary schools, shared his knowledge of science with other students, painted houses in Detroit with Saint John's Church, and helped out with Christmas services, child care, vacation Bible studies and Thanksgiving-basket deliveries with Kensington Church.
Jackson Stewart, of Rochester Hills, graduated from Rochester High School and plans to major in engineering at WMU. He received a Presidential Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society, Stewart received his school's student-athlete award in 2016 and an honorable mention in the Michigan Industrial and Technology Education Society engineering competition for his design of a 50-ton fixture for a push press. He was a starting offensive lineman and starting defensive tackle on the freshman football team, and participated for a time in lacrosse, track and field, and the Ski Club.
Through the National Honor Society, Stewart volunteered for community activities and tutored other students, helping one of them raise his grade from D to A-. In addition, he volunteered for five summers at Offering Alternative Therapy with Smiles, a camp for mentally challenged students. Stewart helped campers with summer activities such as fishing, swimming, archery and horseback riding, plus helped maintain the horses, ready the horses for riders, maintain the pastures, and build new items and structures for the barn. He also was employed at the Robot Garage, where he helped children learn the basics of engineering by helping them complete Lego structures.
Destiny Washington, of Harrison Twp., graduated from L'Anse Creuse High School and plans to major in chemical engineering and dance at WMU and explore her interest in pursuing a career in biomedical engineering. She received a Gwen Frostic Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society, Washington attended her school district's Frederick V. Pankow Center in Clinton Township, Michigan, a specialty high school for students interested in math, science and technology; the performing arts; and career and technical education. She has received her school's Scholastic Achievement Award each year and received an award of excellence from the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists.
Washington was secretary for her National Honor Society chapter and a member and tutor for Mu Alpha Theta, the math honor society. She is an accomplished dancer who also teaches at her studio and competed in the 2017 United States All Star Federation for cheer and dance teams Dance Worlds competition. She was named student teacher of the year at her studio last year and has performed in the studio company for 12 years. Outside of school, her community service activities have included volunteering for the Children's Hospital of Detroit as well as the Hot Cider Hustle 5K.
Sabrina Welch, of Schoolcraft, graduated from Schoolcraft High School and plans to major in speech pathology and audiology at WMU and hopes to conduct research in the field while at WMU. She received a Presidential Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society, Welch competed in two statewide computer science competitions during her high school years as well as attended the Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center. Through KAMSC, she participated in the 2017 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair at WMU and won a ribbon from the center for outstanding research on The Effect of Childhood Stroke on the Quality of Life, a project she conducted with a research partner and WMU's Dr. Kieran Fogarty.
Welch was active in the Key Club, a high school extension of Kiwanis International, as well as Common Bond, an organization that supports challenged students at her high school. She also was an active member of the Student Council and was a longtime member of the Boys Golf Team and the Archery Team. She participated in numerous service projects through the Student Council, Key Club and Common Bond. Outside of school, Welch volunteered with children at the Schoolcraft Community Library and has shadowed her brother's speech therapist. She also volunteered for many years at the Michiana Christian Camp in Niles, which she has served as an assistant group leader, and at the West Kalamazoo Christian Church, which she has served as an assistant for the kindergarten through fifth-grade classroom.
Hope Welter, of Grand Blanc, graduated from Grand Blanc Community High School and intends to major in biomedical sciences at WMU, with plans to become a pediatric surgeon. She received a Presidential Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society, Welter represented her school in the Science Olympiad, competing in events in physics, chemistry and biology. She also was selected by her school's Distributive Education Clubs of America and Health Occupation Students of America chapters to compete at the district and state levels.
Welter served as president of her class during her senior year, vice president of marketing for DECA, secretary of HOSA and copy editor for the yearbook. She was a member of the Grand Blanc Dance Team for three years and was involved with the Youth Advisory Committee, which establishes grants for local community projects that help make surrounding cities, especially Flint, better places to live. In addition, Welter chaired the National Honor Society blood drive and to raise awareness of teen suicide and depression, helped create Luke's Legacy Foundation in memory of a dear friend who died by suicide.
Tess Whitehurst, of Whitehouse, Ohio, graduated from Anthony Wayne High School in Whitehouse and plans to major in political science at WMU with the goal of becoming a lawyer. She received a Presidential Medallion Scholarship. A member of the National Honor Society, Whitehurst was selected to represent her school at Youth Nation in summer 2017 and is a past Kiwanis Student of the Month. She participated in the 2016 Northwest Thespian Conference as well as several Ohio Community Theater Association annual contests, competing with community theater groups from across Ohio and winning competitions in the musical category four times.
Whitehurst is an accomplished athlete and thespian. She was a member of the track and field team for four years, serving as captain her junior and senior years, and a member of the cross country team for two years, serving as captain her senior year. She also was a four-year member of the Drama Club and a two-year member of the Thespian Society and has performed in 12 musicals. In addition, she is a former class officer and was a four-year member of the French Club, three-year member of the Concert Choir and two-year member of the Interact Club. Whitehurst's significant community service experiences include being a "volunteen" at the Waterville library, tutoring elementary and middle school students, performing at charity events, and participating in events to feed the hungry.
Learn more about the Medallion Scholarship Program.
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