CEAT's W.W. Allen Scholars and Boys & Girls Club Scholar selected for 2022
Friday, July 1, 2022
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Sophie Hawkins, Lenna Abouzahr and William Penney were selected as recipients of two prestigious scholarships for the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology at Oklahoma State University.
Abouzahr and Hawkins were named the annual W.W. Allen Scholarship winners.
The W.W. Allen scholarship is available to engineering students and it offers over $135,000 in scholarships and opportunities. The scholarship consists of $7,500 annually, industry networking, study abroad experiences and mentorship. Scholars also receive full tuition and housing for obtaining a master’s degree at the University of Cambridge.
Lenna Abouzahr is from Stillwater, Oklahoma, and graduated from Stillwater High School. She devoted most of her time to her position as the marching band’s drum major, as well as being the captain of the school’s mock trial team and the president of Young Democrats. She was also a member of the academic team, Beta Club and National Honor Society.
“High school was a good way for me to explore and see what I was interested in,” Abouzahr said.
During a student shadowing program at a Stillwater hospital, she saw the repercussions of a hack in the hospital’s computer system. She also remembers the fallout of the Texas power crisis. These experiences influenced her decision to major in electrical and computer engineering.
“It was just so awful because electricity is something everyone takes for granted,” Abouzahr said. “It's such an integral part of our everyday lives, and we don't realize how important it is. It was terrible seeing people without electricity.”
Abouzahr’s appreciation for electricity also developed from visiting the Middle East, which is where her parents are from. She has visited Lebanon four times and said experiencing the country’s issues with electricity is something that hits close to home.
“We couldn't even use a vacuum, because it uses up too much energy,” Abouzahr said. “And now, the economic crisis there is making it more expensive to use the generators in the neighborhoods. The alternative is using solar panels."
Becoming involved on campus is something Abouzahr hopes to continue in college. Different organizations like Society of Women Engineers and Muslim Student Association pique Abouzahr’s interest and build her excitement for beginning her college career.
“Part of the reason I'm excited is because I believe women belong in all aspects of society, including fields like engineering that have been traditionally male dominated,” Abouzahr said. “I want to help show others that women and minorities are deserving of prestigious scholarships like this and that we can do anything we put our minds to.”
Sophie Hawkins is from Arlington, Texas, and graduated from Trinity High School. She plans on majoring in industrial engineering and management because of her passion for leadership and sustainability. Her social and mathematics skills also played a part in the selection of her major.
“I wanted to find a way to merge my people skills with my math-oriented brain,” Hawkins said. “I felt like industrial engineering was the perfect mix of those two. Just because it's the most people-oriented field of engineering. I thought that would be a great way to utilize both of my skill sets.”
Hawkins demonstrated her skills and interests through involvement in different organizations at her school. Her former roles as the marching band’s head drum major; the director of community outreach in Junior World Affairs Council; and being a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society have enhanced her leadership abilities.
Global awareness is a movement that Hawkins has followed from a young age. In her spare time, she uses her interest in fashion and sustainability to practice upcycling — thrifting and adjusting clothes as a way to avoid fast fashion. Exposing herself to different perspectives involving the climate crisis has inspired Hawkins to work toward the movement in her future career.
“If I can make an impact on corporate levels, that will make a bigger difference than if I'm trying to implement those sustainability aspects at home,” Hawkins said. “So I want to prioritize that in my life. I think that putting it in my career is a great way to contribute to this cause on a daily basis.”
Improving her fluency in Spanish is something Hawkins hopes to accomplish by using the scholarship’s opportunity to study abroad. She is interested in visiting Honduras after researching a project performed by a group of Cornell students.
“They implemented this project to help with their water clarity, and then they transferred it over so that now the community runs it,” Hawkins said. “I just think it'd be really interesting to learn about that process. Not just the technical aspect of the process, but also how they implement it with the community members.”
William Penney was selected as the 2022 W.W. Allen Boys and Girls Scholar.
This scholarship program was designed to benefit someone who was an active member of a Boys & Girls Club while in high school, and who wishes to pursue educational goals in the field of engineering. The recipient is awarded $15,000 annually for up to four years of study toward a degree in engineering, as well as enrichment activities and domestic and international travel.
Penney is a graduate from Coalgate High School in Coalgate, Oklahoma, and plans to pursue a degree in chemical engineering. Throughout his high school career, Penney was involved in many leadership roles and organizations. His roles included Student Council president, senior class president, National Honor Society vice president, captain of the Coalgate Academic Quiz Bowl Team, member of the track team and a member of the powerlifting team.
“I have been extremely involved on campus throughout my high school career as an officer of almost every organization I have been a part of,” Penney said. “This has given me countless opportunities to be a leader and has pushed me out of my comfort zone to become the person I am today.”
Greg Davidson is Penney’s former principal, superintendent and academic team coach. When Davidson began recruiting for the academic team, Penney was the first to sign up and the only member to return to the second session prepared. This was the beginning of Penney’s path to becoming an All-State player his senior year.
“The end result was Penney becoming one of the best, if not the best, academic bowl players in the state,” Davidson said. “A career marked by four state tournament appearances, four national tournaments, a four-time member of Team Oklahoma, and being named Oklahoma Academic Coaches’ Association Academic Bowl All-State his senior year.”
However, Penney’s involvement isn’t the only quality that distinguishes him from others. Davidson believes Penney’s work ethic, competitiveness and desire to be successful are only a few of the characteristics that make him a “once-in-a-lifetime” kid.
“In addition to being a great student, he is also of the highest moral character,” Davidson said. “He is very compassionate, especially when it comes to children and those that are less fortunate. He has one of the biggest hearts for still being so young in years. Honestly, the world needs more Will Penneys.”
Penny said he was in disbelief when he received the news.
I had an instant feeling of relief because the financial burden of college had been lifted from my shoulders,” Penney said. “I feel proud that the hard work I have put in has been rewarded. I am extremely grateful to have been selected for this scholarship and I will strive to ensure this money goes to good use.”
Penney looks forward to the new friends, organizations and challenges he will encounter when beginning his future with OSU.
“I would like to personally thank Mr. Wayne Allen for his generosity and for making my dreams to study chemical engineering at Oklahoma State University a reality,” he said.
Story By: Bailey Sisk | firstname.lastname@example.org