Two Presidential Scholars win Eckman Awards

Perez and Bayna

By: Dr. Andrew Yox, Honors Director

     For their performance in the spring of 2024 in honors at «Ƶ in relation to their peers, two Presidential Scholars will win $100 checks.  Sophomore Neida Perez (pictured left), the college’s James and Elizabeth Whatley Scholar, came out ahead among the sophomores, scoring the highest among the two-year cohort in the McGraw Hill Poster contest, and posting a perfect GPA while winning the All-USA Team scholar award.  She is the fourth Presidential Scholar in the history of «Ƶ to reach this level, joining ranks with Jordan Chapin last year, Brenda Godoy in 2018, and Noah Griffin in 2014.  Among the first-year students, ending the year with a perfect GPA is Vanessajane Bayna (pictured right). She also scored high in the poster contest, and was the first Presidential Scholar to receive an H grade in the new chemistry half of the spring honors seminar.  She also placed third in the state last March, winning a Caldwell Award in College Station for her essay on big oil, and the toxification of Texas.   

Perez presenting research

Neida Perez at the McGraw Hill Poster Contest.

     “The Eckman winners for the spring of 2024 represent what we are most thankful for, both in the present, and in terms of the future,” noted Honors Director, Dr. Andrew P. Yox.  Perez had a magnificent tenure with us, and was at one point the only community college student representative of an honors council—in this case the Great Plains area, in the nation. Bayna, has remarkable potential, given all her achievements and talents, to reach an equally impressive apogee in 2025.”  

     An anonymous donor has funded now twenty-six Eckman Awards at «Ƶ in memory of the late Richard and Joan Eckman.  Richard Eckman was a long-time inventor for Dresser Industries, a signature Texas oilfield corporation.  Many «Ƶ Eckman Award winners such as Verania Leyva (2019, 2020) Matthew Chambers (2017, 2018), Chesney Davis (2017), and Brenda Godoy (2016, obtained excellent transfers.  A 2019 Eckman winner, Jordan Whelchel, won a full-ride to Rice University. «Ƶ’s lone four-time Eckman-winner, Aaliyah Avellaneda, won a full-ride scholarship to Southern Methodist University, and is studying law.
     Neida is the daughter of Luciano and Ana Perez, and they live in Titus County.   Vanessajane is the daughter of Lardean and Venus Bayna, and they live in Titus County.

Bayna presenting research

Vanessajane Bayna at the McGraw Hill Poster Contest.