Three Alabama high school seniors awarded UAB’s most prestigious endowed scholarships

Hunter Drinkard of Creola, Samantha Fry of Mobile and Cailet Hardtmann-Huckabee of Huntsville will attend UAB this fall after earning four-year scholarships.

senior scholarshipsFrom left: Cailet Hardtmann-Huckabee, Hunter Drinkard, and Samantha FryMore than 1,800 students celebrated the culmination of their academic experience at the University of Alabama at Birmingham on April 30. As those graduates move on to their next chapter, the stories of hundreds of incoming students are just beginning.

Three Alabama high school seniors have been awarded the most prestigious endowed scholarships at UAB. These competitive scholarships were created to support some of the state’s most promising students. Each scholarship provides four years of full tuition, a residence hall allotment and a $1,000 summer research stipend.

Hunter Drinkard of Creola, Alabama, has been awarded the Charles W. Ireland Presidential Honors Scholarship. The scholarship was established by Vulcan Materials Company in 1983 to honor the company’s former chairman of the board and encourage students to pursue their college education in the state of Alabama. Annually, approximately 10 applicants are selected to interview for the scholarship. Only one entering freshman is named the Charles W. Ireland Scholar each year.

Drinkard is a graduating senior at Saraland High School, where he is a member of the National Honor Society and serves as president of the school’s chapter of Health Occupation Students of America, senior class representative, and founder and captain of the Scholar’s Bowl team.

“I knew that UAB was a place for students like me, who appreciate opportunities for development. By investing the next four years of my life at UAB, I am confident I will receive an abundance of opportunities to enrich my academic career while being surrounded by students who share common goals and interests.”
—Hunter Drinkard

“I knew that UAB was a place for students like me, who appreciate opportunities for development,” Drinkard said. “By investing the next four years of my life at UAB, I am confident I will receive an abundance of opportunities to enrich my academic career while being surrounded by students who share common goals and interests.”

His passion for learning about the brain is what led him to pursue a major in neuroscience in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. The UAB Undergraduate Neuroscience Program is an admission-based program for high-ability students looking to pursue careers in medicine, biomedical research or other health-related professions. Students in the program receive extensive research experience by working closely with a research mentor in a laboratory.

“Since my freshman year of high school, I have earnestly aspired to become a research neurosurgeon,” Drinkard said. The brain is often considered the final frontier of scientific research due to its overwhelming complexity and eccentricity. If I can aid, even in the smallest degree, in deciphering the code that is the human brain, I will be satisfied.”

Drinkard has also been accepted to the UAB Honors College’s University Honors Program. Students admitted to UAB with a minimum 28 ACT or 1,260 SAT score and a minimum 3.5 GPA are invited to join the Honors College. Once accepted, students can choose one of the college’s three specialized programs of study or create their own personalized pathway. The Global and Community Leadership, Science and Technology, and University Honors Programs are designed to feed their curiosity and lay out a curriculum of courses and experiences through which they can explore global leadership, science and technology, or interdisciplinary arts and sciences beyond standard coursework.

Drinkard will also take part in the Early Medical School Acceptance Program. The program provides aspiring medical students with opportunities to become involved with research and patient care as undergraduates, by shadowing physicians in UAB clinics and hospitals, working in research laboratories, volunteering in a medical or social services setting, and participating in clinical and health services research.

Samantha Fry of Mobile, Alabama, has been awarded the Regions Academic Scholarship. Only 10 applicants are interviewed and one is selected as the Regions Academic Scholar each year. Fry will graduate from Davidson High School with a 4.96 GPA on May 20.

She was one of 220 Alabama high school students selected as semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship competition in 2015. High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The test serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.5 million entrants each year. The application pool is then narrowed down to 50,000 of the highest scorers. From there, only about 16,000 students qualify as semifinalists. Her extracurricular activities during her time at Davidson include concert and marching band, Model UN, yearbook staff, and serving as co-captain of the Scholars Bowl team.

“My advanced placement classes along with STEM curriculum have shaped me into a science-oriented student. I am eager to take on my next academic challenge as an honors student at UAB. Opportunities within the College of Arts and Sciences along with a strong medical presence make me excited about being part of such a progressive university.”
—Samantha Fry

“My advanced placement classes along with STEM curriculum have shaped me into a science-oriented student,” Fry said. “I am eager to take on my next academic challenge as an honors student at UAB. Opportunities within the College of Arts and Sciences along with a strong medical presence make me excited about being part of such a progressive university.”

Fry’s academic areas of interest include public health and oncology. She will major in chemistry and pursue her passion for scientific research through the UAB Honors College’s personalized pathway. Students who choose a personalized pathway work with honors advisers to create a four-year map of their academic experience. The plan consists of innovative honors course offerings, unique seminars, and leadership and service learning opportunities to satisfy their degree requirements. Fry has also been accepted to the Early Medical School Acceptance Program.

Cailet Hardtmann-Huckabee of Huntsville, Alabama, is the recipient of the McCallum Presidential Scholarship. The scholarship was established in 1993 to honor Dr. Charles A. McCallum, former president of UAB and dean of the UAB School of Dentistry. Only 10 applicants are interviewed, and one is selected as the McCallum Presidential Scholar each year.

“As a top hospital and research institution, UAB will provide me with unique opportunities to get an in-depth look at the medical world in action. In addition, being at UAB will satisfy my desire to serve others, as I will have opportunities to interact with the Birmingham community and hopefully mentor and tutor children in area schools.”
—Cailet Hardtmann-Huckabee

Huckabee is a graduating senior at Grissom High School, where she serves as co-founder and co-president of the Chemistry Society, co-president of the Students Participating and Engaging Actively in their Community club, and a member of the Grissom High School theater department and dance ensemble.

Huckabee will major in chemistry and will also enjoy the benefit of creating a personalized curriculum as a student in the UAB Honors College. She will combine her love of science and her service-oriented mind to pursue a career in pediatric medicine.

“By investing in UAB, I expect to be better prepared to go into the medical field,” Huckabee said. “As a top hospital and research institution, UAB will provide me with unique opportunities to get an in-depth look at the medical world in action. In addition, being at UAB will satisfy my desire to serve others, as I will have opportunities to interact with the Birmingham community and hopefully mentor and tutor children in area schools.”

UAB offers a variety of scholarships to prospective students. Learn more about scholarship opportunities at UAB.

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