First 12 students selected for scholarship programs

The inaugural group of Hillis Scholars were announced on Thursday at a reception at the Baylor Sciences Building. Front row: Aledo junior Mary Taylor Tillman, Austin junior Isaac Lill, Colorado Springs, Colo., junior Kyra Curtis, Hawthorn Woods, Ill., junior Alexa Larsen; Back row: Denver junior Jeremy Sieker, Tucson, Ariz., junior Austin MacDonald, Nashville, Tenn., senior Jonathan Siktberg, Aurora, Colo., senior Mallory Myers. Flower Mound senior David Crawford, Amman, Jordan, sophomore Abdullah Ghali, Stillwater, Minn., senior Alice Knaeble and Houston senior Sarah Tucker were also named Hillis Scholars. Photo credit: Courtesy of Baylor Media Communications

Twelve Baylor students were named the first individuals chosen for the William Hillis Scholar in Biomedical Sciences Program on Thursday.

The program is a scholarship program that also offers students unique opportunities for research and enhanced academic advising.

“For the juniors and sophomores, there’s going to be a lot of mentorship involved,” said Aurora, Colo., senior Mallory Myers, who is looking forward to mentoring her fellow Hillis Scholars.

Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences established this program to recognize high-achieving undergraduate prehealth students and to better equip them for the competitive application processes for both graduate programs and medical schools.
“I certainly think that, as one of the younger members of the group, I’ll be able to get a lot of insight into the whole process,” said Austin sophomore Isaac Lill.

Myers said she has already applied to 18 medical schools around the nation.

“I’m definitely excited to share my wisdom and experience in applying with younger members,” Myers said. “I’m sure that they will be very successful.”

Both Myers and Lill said they are looking forward to building relationships with the other scholars. Lill said the ceremony naming the scholars was the first time they had all been together.

“I think it’ll be really fun just to get to get to know this group of students,” Myers said. “They seem really intelligent and really humble at the same time and I think we’ll become close friends as the year goes on.”

Lill said he is also excited about medical research and learning more about cancer and chemistry.

“There’s a ton of research that goes on here…” Lill said. “I just hope to, through this organization, really get involved and get to know what’s going on at Baylor.”

Lee C. Nordt, Ph.D., dean of the Baylor College of Arts & Sciences, said in a press release from Baylor Media Communications that Baylor has a growing reputation as one of the nation’s leaders in undergraduate healthcare education.

“We believe that the Hillis Scholars program will help make sure that our students continue to be leaders in the fields of healthcare and medical education in future generations,” Nordt said.

The program is named for Dr. William B. Hillis, a medical doctor and researcher who served more than 30 years as a professor and administrator at Baylor University
“It’s an honor to be named an inaugural Hillis Scholar,” said Nashville senior Jonathan Siktberg. “Dr. Hillis is a Baylor legend and has impacted the lives of generations of students.”

These 12 inaugural members include: David Crawford, a senior University Scholar from Flower Mound; Kyra Curtis, a junior biology major from Colorado Springs, Colo.; Abdullah Ghali, a sophomore biology major from Amman, Jordan; Alice Knaeble, a senior University Scholar from Stillwater, Minn.; Alexa Larsen, a junior pre-neuroscience major from Hawthorn Woods, Ill.; Isaac Lill, a junior biochemistry major from Austin; Austin MacDonald, a junior biology and computer science double major from Tuscon, Ariz.; Mallory Myers, a senior University Scholar from Aurora, Colo.; Jeremy Sieker, a junior University Scholar from Denver, Colo.; Jonathan Siktberg, a senior Baylor Business Fellows major from Nashville, Tenn.; Mary Taylor Tillman, a junior biology major from Aledo; and Sarah Tucker, a senior medical humanities major from Houston.

Many current students were nominated by faculty and staff from the department and then given the opportunity to apply to be a Hillis Scholar. After applying, a smaller committee of faculty chose Siktberg and 11 others for the program.