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2016 Application Deadline
March 25

Info Sessions:

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 4-5pm
Thursday, Feb. 11, 12-1pm
@ Hillcrest House

Hillcrest Scholarships

The Hillcrest Scholarships provide funds to support transformative, off-campus experiences for Honors students in the summer following the junior year. Students apply during the sophomore year. The scholarships provide up to $5000 in financial assistance for students to engage in a research experience, internship, entrepreneurial activity, or service- or leadership-related initiative domestically or internationally. (The scholarship is not limited to these examples.) Students, with the aid of their faculty mentors, are encouraged to design unique projects that help them meet their academic and/or career goals.

For more information about the Hillcrest Scholarships, contact:

Dr. Melinda Adams
Assistant Director and Prestigious Scholarships Coordinator
adams2mj@jmu.edu
(540) 568-6526
Hillcrest 202

Students apply to one of four scholarship areas:

  • Global Studies
  • Research
  • Service and Leadership
  • Fredric I. McGhee Scholarship for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Students with demonstrated financial need are eligible for the Hinshaw-Daniel Scholarship. Applicants should apply for one of the four scholarships listed above and will be automatically considered for both awards.

Hillcrest scholars are selected on the basis of their proposed project, their ability to connect the proposed experience to future goals, their leadership experience and community engagement, and their ability to make a significant contribution to society in the future. The Hillcrest Scholarship helps fulfill the JMU Honors Program’s mission of providing an academic community engaging highly motivated and intellectually gifted students in exceptional experiences that develop excellence in leadership service, and scholarship.


How to Apply

Students apply for the Hillcrest Scholarships during the second semester of the sophomore year. Application instructions are listed on the website for each of the three awards (follow the above links). All applicants will submit the Hillcrest Application Form and Budget Worksheet:

Recipients are announced at the end of the semester.

Application Process

Applicants must be sophomore Honors students in good standing. Each applicant must select a faculty mentor to support and guide him/her through the application process. The faculty mentor’s roles include helping the applicant develop a feasible project and writing a letter of recommendation for the applicant that will be included in the portfolio.

To apply for the Hillcrest Scholarship, students submit an application that includes the following the materials:

  1. Application form
  2. Personal statement
  3. Project proposal (including title and abstract)
  4. Resume
  5. Transcript (can be unofficial)
  6. A letter of recommendation from the faculty mentor that specifies how the applicant meets the selection criteria and discusses the feasibility and merit of the applicant’s proposed project
  7. Letters of support/acceptance from individuals and/or organizations included in the project proposal
  8. Budget for the project

 Selection Process
  1. Preliminary Interviews: Preliminary interviews will be scheduled in late March/early April to select a set of finalists for each award. JMU faculty, administrators, and/or students will interview applicants. Committee members may ask questions about the application, the proposed project, the applicant’s preparation to carry out the project, and/or how the project connects with the applicant’s academic and professional goals. 
  2. Final Interviews: Finalists will participate in a second round of interviews in the morning of Saturday, April 16th. The final selection committee may include faculty members, administrators, students, alumni, and other friends of JMU.

2016 Schedule

March 23:  The final application is due. Applications should be submitted to Hillcrest by 4PM. Applicants are encouraged to submit a draft application to Dr. Adams well in advance of this date.

Late March-Early April:  Preliminary interviews.

April 15:  Honors Symposium and banquet. All Hillcrest applicants and their faculty mentors will be invited to a banquet in the evening.

April 16:  Final interviews will be held in the morning. Recipients will be announced at the end of the interviews.

Global Studies Award

The Hillcrest Global Studies Scholarship provides up to $5,000 in financial assistance to carry out an off-campus summer enrichment experience following the junior year. Students may use the scholarship to increase their knowledge and understanding of another country, culture, and language, to promote mutual understanding among countries, and/or to bring knowledge from another country back to the United States. Proposals may also address contemporary challenges to global society like sustainable development, migration, global disease, and environmental degradation. Students, with the aid of their faculty mentors, are encouraged to design unique projects that help them meet their academic and/or career goals. Please note that the scholarship cannot be used solely to fund a study abroad program.

Hillcrest scholars are selected on the basis of their proposed project, their ability to connect the proposed experience to future academic goals, their academic achievements and intellectual promise, and their ability to make a significant contribution to society in the future.


Selection Criteria

Hillcrest Scholars are selected on the following basis:

  1. The quality of the proposed enrichment experience: The selection committee will look for a specific and feasible project proposal that clearly articulates how the proposed activity fits into the applicant’s academic and career plans and indicates why the applicant plans to carry out this activity in the proposed location. The proposal should clearly discuss how the project contributes to future academic endeavors, such as the Senior Honors Project. 
  2. Academic achievements and intellectual promise: The selection committee will look at the applicant’s academic record, scholarly awards and honors, and potential to excel in his/her field of study.
  3. Commitment to the country/issue of study: The selection committee is looking for a demonstrated commitment to the country and/or issue of study. Evidence of this commitment may include coursework that focuses on the country or region of interest, the study of a relevant language, and/or coursework in the issue of interest.
  4. Ability to make a significant future contribution to society: The committee is interested in projects that promote the public good.

Research Award

The Hillcrest Research Scholarship provides up to $5,000 in financial assistance to carry out an off-campus summer enrichment experience following the junior year. Students may use the scholarship to engage in a research endeavor. This could include carrying out an individual research project related to the Senior Honors Project or participating in a broader research project by working with a team of researchers in a laboratory or another setting. Students, with the aid of their faculty mentors, are encouraged to design unique projects that help them meet their academic and career goals.

Hillcrest scholars are selected on the basis of their proposed project, their ability to connect the proposed research experience to future academic and career goals, their academic achievements and intellectual promise, and their ability to make a significant contribution to society in the future.


Selection Criteria

Hillcrest Scholars are selected on the following basis:

  1. The quality of the proposed enrichment experience: The selection committee will look for a specific and feasible project proposal that clearly articulates how the proposed activity fits into the applicant’s academic and career plans and indicates why the applicant plans to carry out this activity in the proposed location. The proposal should clearly discuss how the research project contributes to future academic endeavors, such as the Senior Honors Project.
  2. Academic achievements and intellectual promise: The selection committee will look at the applicant’s academic record, scholarly awards and honors, and potential to excel in his/her field of study.
  3. Ability to make a significant future contribution to society: The committee is interested in projects that promote the public good.

Service/Leadership Award

The Hillcrest Service/Leadership Scholarship provides up to $5,000 in financial assistance to carry out an off-campus summer enrichment experience following the junior year. Students may use the scholarship to engage in a service-learning project, to participate in civic engagement, or to carry out another service- or leadership-related initiative. Students, with the aid of their faculty mentors, are encouraged to design unique projects that help them meet their academic and/or career goals. Please note that the scholarship cannot be used solely to fund a study abroad program.

Hillcrest scholars are selected on the basis of the quality of their proposed project, their academic achievements and intellectual promise, their leadership experience and community engagement, and their ability to make a significant contribution to society in the future.


Selection Criteria

Hillcrest Scholars are selected on the following basis:

  1. The quality of the proposed enrichment experience: The selection committee will look for a specific and feasible project proposal that clearly articulates how the proposed activity fits into the applicant’s academic and career plans and indicates why the applicant plans to carry out this activity in the proposed location. The proposal should clearly discuss how the project will contribute to the applicant’s future academic endeavors, such as the Senior Honors Project.
  2. Academic achievements and intellectual promise: The selection committee will look at the applicant’s academic record, scholarly awards and honors, and potential to excel in his/her field of study. 
  3. Leadership experience and community engagement: The committee is looking for applicants who are engaged in the university and wider community and who are proven leaders. Community engagement may include active participation in sports, arts, student government, voluntary associations, and other extracurricular activities.
  4. Ability to make a significant future contribution to society: The committee is interested in projects that promote the public good.

Fredric I. McGhee Scholarship Endowment for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

The Fredric I. McGhee Scholarship Endowment for Aspiring Entrepreneurs provides up to $5,000 in financial assistance to carry out transformational off-campus experiences such as, but not limited to, a business startup, research, analysis of a new product or conceptual idea, an internship, undertake an individual project related to the Senior Honors Project, or participate in another independent project.

A McGhee scholar will be selected on the basis of the quality of their proposed experience, their academic achievement and intellectual promise, and the potential for a meaningful transformational impact on their lives. To be named a McGhee scholar, a student must be an outstanding second year honors student in good academic standing.

Hinshaw-Daniel Scholarship

The Hinshaw-Daniel Scholarship provides up to $5,000 in financial assistance to Honors students with demonstrated financial need to engage in transformational off-campus experiences. Applicants should apply for either the Global Studies, Research, Service/Leadership, or McGhee Entrepreneurship awards. Students with demonstrated financial need will automatically be considered for the Hinshaw-Daniel Scholarship as well.

A Hinshaw-Daniel scholar will be selected on the basis of the quality of their proposed experience, their academic achievement and intellectual promise, and the potential for a meaningful transformational impact on their lives. It is intended that this scholarship will be in addition to qualifying University financial aid or scholarships and is not intended to replace aid or scholarship funds otherwise available to this need based student. 

Hillcrest Scholarship Recipients

Class of 2018
McGhee Scholarship

Mary Hawkins, Modern Foreign Languages (Spanish)Mary Hawkins "Teaching in Salamanca: A Senior Honors Project"

Mary will travel to Salamanca, Spain, to teach English. In the process she hopes to complete significant work on her Senior Honors Project, which will compare the teaching of English as a foreign language in Spain with the teaching of Spanish in America. Mary was inspired in the pursuit of this goal during an Honors global studies Area of Emphasis course trip to the Dominican Republic with Office of International Programs executive associate director of strategic partnerships Dr. Felix Wang, who will also serve as the faculty mentor for her Hillcrest Scholarship experience. 

Faculty Mentor: Felix Wang, Office of International Programs

Hillcrest Scholarship
Heather McKay

Heather McKay, Health Sciences (Pre-optometry)
"Uniting Career with Passion to Provide for Eye Care Needs in Ghana"

Heather will serve with Unite for Sight, a non-profit organization founded by Jennifer Staple-Clark and dedicated to reducing barriers to healthcare delivery around the world. Heather will participate in the Ghana program, which operates eye clinics in Accra, Kumasi, and Tamale. Her mentor on the project is Dr. Cindy Klevickis, a professor in the JMU Department of Integrated Science and Technology. Heather was inspired to take this important next step after participating in many other service opportunities, including experiences with Sheffield Place homeless shelter in Kansas City, a new school for underprivileged youth in the Dominican Republic, and Overcoming Barriers of Harrisonburg.  

Faculty Mentor: Cindy Klevickis, Integrated Science and Technology

Hinshaw-Daniel Scholarship
Amelia Morrison

Amelia Morrison, Geographic Science
"The Sandbox of Sustainability: Innovations in the City for Global Change"

Amelia will examine sustainable urban living in Groningen, The Netherlands and Palma de Mallorca, Spain through a Council on International Educational Exchange summer study abroad program. Her faculty mentor is Dr. Rob Alexander, an assistant professor in the JMU Department of Political Science. Amelia will conduct an independent GIS mapping survey of the alternative transportation infrastructure of the municipality of Groningen and examine slope stability in the coastal environment of the Balearic Islands in Spain. Her participation in local efforts with permaculture community project Vine & Fig, an anti-pollution student organization Waves Over Waste, and the active citizen’s group Virginia Power Dialogue, provided impetus for her efforts to find creative ways to build a more sustainable global society and economy.

Faculty Mentor: Rob Alexander, Political Science

Hillcrest Scholarship
Stephanie Pasewaldt

Stephanie Pasewaldt, Health Sciences (Public Health concentration)
"Interventions in Kenya and Uganda: A Step in the Right Direction"

Stephanie aims to develop, implement, and evaluate two health promotion interventions in Kampala, Uganda and Nairobi, Kenya. Her project, supervised by Dr. Stephanie Baller in the JMU Department of Health Sciences, will involve her fourth trip to master public health promotion and education principles and serve the street children of East Africa. Stephanie’s project funded by the Hillcrest Scholarship will focus on the Uganda organization Raising Up Hope and the Kenyan nonprofit Paradigm Youth Network Organization. Stephanie has already published an article for Girls’ Globe with collaborator Nick Oketch, a community organizer and leader of a Nairobi orphanage and children’s refuge.

Faculty Mentor: Stephanie Baller, Health Sciences

Hillcrest Scholarship
Cecilia Rogers

Cecilia Rogers, Biology
"Plant Conservation on St. John, USVI"

Cecilia will investigate the ecology of the understudied and threatened plant Solanum conocarpum on the island of St. John in Virgin Islands National Park. This thornless flowering shrub, which can reach more than nine feet in height, may have mutualistic relationships with native bee and butterfly pollinators and animal seed dispersers such as bats. Cecilia will engage with other scientists on the island to help inform their management plans for the national park. She will also guide local high school students by involving them in her field research. Cecilia’s faculty mentor is Dr. Heather Griscom, an associate professor in the Department of Biology. She was also inspired on the project by past Hillcrest Scholarship recipient Anna Nordseth, who studied coffee cultivation in Costa Rica.

Faculty Mentor: Heather Griscom, Biology


Class of 2017
Fredric I. McGhee Scholarship for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Jacqueline Herrick, Hospitality Management
"Immersing in Hospitality, Emerging as a Leader"

The proposed project is an intensive hospitality internship in the summer of 2016 that jointly builds upon my experience and diversifies my skill set in preparation for a career as a leader in the Hospitality Management field. I present two opportunities that explore the multifaceted hotel industry. The first is an international internship with Hilton Worldwide in Latin America. The second option is a domestic internship with LodgeWorks in Midtown Manhattan, New York. With the immense knowledge and direct experience of hotels, I would develop necessary skills for entrepreneurship in future endeavors. 

Faculty Mentor: Michael O'Fallon

Hinshaw-Daniel Award

Anna Nordseth, Biology, Spanish, and Geographic Science
"Tropical Ecology and Conservation Studies in Costa Rica"

As environmental degradation becomes a growing problem globally, it is increasingly important for the next generation of scientists to be trained to solve problems related to conservation. I intend to devote my life to studying ecology and doing research that will help inform conservation decisions and aid in environmental restoration. I am proposing to participate in the Tropical Ecology and Conservation study abroad program in Monteverde, Costa Rica. The program offers ten credit hours of coursework, which includes completion of an independent research project. Participation in this program would allow me to study relevant environmental issues while being immersed in a new culture and environment. In addition, it would serve as a foundation for my honors thesis, where I intend to study a threatened Costa Rican tree species. Having the opportunity to go to Costa Rica will give me unique research opportunities—both at home and abroad—and bring me one step closer to realizing my dream of being a tropical field ecologist.  

Faculty Mentor: Heather Griscom

Global Studies Award

Kayla Barker, Sociology and Religious Studies
“Coming Out in Pune and Beyond: A Cross-Cultural Examination through Service”

Pune, India is the perfect place to serve and research. Within the religiously and ethnically diverse country of India, the city of Pune and surrounding countryside is a microcosm of many global critical issues. The Associated Colleges of the Midwest’s (ACM) “India: Summer Service Learning and Cultural Immersion” program is particularly intriguing because it involves a homestay with a local Indian family along with service with a local NGO at a reasonable cost. I will work with ACM to be placed in an NGO that fits with my personal, professional, and academic goals and helps to expand my culturally-shaped perceptions. While in India, I will also be conducting research that will eventually be used toward my Senior Honors Thesis. Through my research, I will conduct interviews with Christians, Hindus, and Muslims in order to understand the role of “coming out” cross-culturally, specifically in the United States and India. 

Faculty Mentor: Aaron PeeksMease

Research Award

Grant Rybnicky, Biotechnology
“BRED: A Technique for Probing Mycobacteriophage Genomes for Useful Molecular Tools”

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the causative agent of Tuberculosis, affecting 9 million people worldwide each year. Little is known about M. tuberculosis genetics as it is slow growing and dangerous to work with. Mycobacteriophages, viruses that infect mycobacteria, coevolve with mycobacterial hosts and are more user-friendly windows into mycobacterial genetics; filled with undiscovered molecular tools optimized for mycobacterial systems. Phage genetics are studied through both comparative genomics and empirical testing. Comparative genomics allows for the identification of genes based on known homologues in other systems and identifies research targets. To test hypotheses posed by comparative genomics, mycobacteriophage DNA needs to be manipulated. By researching in Dr. Hatfull’s laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh, I will learn Bacteriophage Recombineering of Electroporated DNA (BRED), a technique for modifying mycobacteriophage DNA. Not only will BRED further my research at JMU, but it will also allow me to be a resource to the Viral Discovery and Genomics courses. 

Faculty Mentor: Steve Cresawn

Service/Leadership Award

Lizzie Zulauf, Biotechnology
"Providing Healthcare Aid to Guatemala and Peru"

Hands-on experience allows learning to occur in a much more efficient and lasting way. In the classroom, we master the raw facts that govern the world around us. However, when removed from a classroom setting we often find that situations are affected by outside factors. Aspects such as environment, nutrition, genetics, and culture come together in various ways and affect people differently. Through the Institute for Field Research Expeditions (IFRE), I will participate in a 4-week volunteer experience in Guatemala followed by another 4-week volunteer trip to Peru. In both Guatemala and Peru, I will be working closely with surgeons and physicians, assisting patients and educating families. My service through this program will have a direct impact on improving the quality and effectiveness of healthcare in Guatemala and Peru.

Faculty Mentor: Louise Temple


Class of 2016
Research Award

Breanna Lee, Biology
"Assembling a Transcriptome of Genes in Embryonic and Post-Embryonic Hemidactulium Scutatum Tails"

Vertebral segmentation throughout the life cycle is a feature unique to the salamander taxon (Amphibians: Urodeles). The molecular mechanisms of post-embryonic segmentation has been illusive thus far, however, a thorough investigation of the genes active during tail development throughout the Hemidactylium scutatum life cycle, may shed some light. Using the SOLiD transcriptome analysis method, a transcriptome from cell populations located in the tail for all life stages will be created and examined. It is suspected that genes active during embryological segmentation may be responsible for segmentation post-embryonically, therefore some key genes that influence somite formation and development are expected to be found in the tails throughout the life cycle. Once the molecular players are uncovered, further exploration of the segmentation mechanisms used by adult salamanders may offer insights on ways to stimulate adult segmentation in other vertebrates, such as humans.

Faculty Mentor: Sharon Babcock

Service/Leadership Award

Haley Winter, Modern Foreign Languages (Spanish)
"Great by Comparison, but Social Inequalities Still Persist"

As a global citizen, I view my responsibility as serving others, not just those who happen to reside in my same country. I believe that there should not be any more loyalty to helping another, solely because of their area of residence. I aim to aid the global community by providing my services to a social work organization that strives for the protection and development of at-risk children. By working with a Chilean organization, I hope to implement and improve my Spanish speaking skills and gain insight into the working of an international non-profit. Voluntarious de la Esperanza (VE) Global is an organization that accepts international volunteers to come work in orphanages and community outreach programs in Santiago, Chile. VE Global makes a greater impact on the community than most organizations because they spread their resources and time through many different outlets.

Faculty Mentor: Anthony Tongen

Global Studies Award

Claire Elverum, International Affairs
"Dunia Moja, Mazingira Moja (One World, One Environment)"

My project will involve working with students at Mwasama School’s Darasa Shamba (Garden School) in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. The goal is to translate a physical environmental innovation and learning site/school into an online site. This site will allow the students at Mwasama to network with other children globally, starting with two partner schools in Virginia. Through this network, the children will share their innovatins and experiences towards environmental protection and development. Genres on the site will include pictures, videos, poetry, essays, quotes, and anecdotes. I will partner with Barbet’s Duet, JMU’s Center for Instructional Technology, Mwasama Primary School, Norfolk Collegiate, and Oscar Smith Middle School.

Faculty Mentor: Besi Muhonja

Hinshaw-Daniel Scholarship

Rosealie Lynch, Anthropology
"Studying Yoga: Practice, Language, and Philosophy in Mysore, India"

Yoga plays a major role in my life as a conduit for personal growth through physical training, intellectual stimulation, and self-discovery. I wish to spend 6 ½ weeks studying yoga in Mysore, India. My stay will be from July 1-2014-August 14, 2014. At Anantha Research Foundation, I will take classes in Sanskrit, the ancient language of yoga, and deepen my understanding of yoga philosophy through the practice’s foundational teachings of Patanjali. In addition, I will use the resources at the Foundation to conduct an independent study of the Hindu/Yogic chakra systems that play an integral role in yoga. Supplementing these efforts, I will practice Ashtanga yoga daily at the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute. I will be practicing and studying in an enriching community of intellectuals and serious yogis, while experiencing a foreign country with a very different culture from my own.

Faculty Mentor: Liam Buckley


Class of 2015
Research Award

Joseph BalsamoJoseph Balsamo, Biology
"Exploring Signaling Mechanisms in the Developing Nervous System"

Complications of the auditory system are one of the leading healthcare problems in the US. Research within Gabriele laboratory at JMU has shown that a family of receptor tyrosine kinases known as Eph-ephrins plays a substantial role in determining auditory synapses. Studies have also indicated that Eph-ephrins form synapses based on complex concentration gradients within individual auditory centers of the brain. To better understand these gradients, the proposal offers an opportunity to develop microfluidic chambers in the Deppmann laboratory at the University of Virginia.

Faculty Mentor: Mark Gabriele, Biology

Service/Leadership Award

Caitlin McAvoyCaitlin McAvoy, Theater & Dance
"Bringing Dance to the Girls Who Need It Most"

This dance program is a two-week session under my teaching and direction for the physically and mentally disabled girls of Deborah House in Timisoara, Romania. The session will conclude with a final dance performance for the other girls of Deborah House, the leaders of Deborah House, and local members of the community.

Faculty Mentor: Kate Arrecchi, Theater & Dance

Global Studies Award

Emily ThyroffEmily Thyroff, Biology
"Rainforest Ecology Studies in Australia"

The proposed project is to participate in Rainforest Ecology Studies in Cairns, Australia through the School for Field Studies. The program's goal is to further research on rainforest ecosystem dynamics to restore rainforests after they have been destroyed. I will be taking 16 credit hours and answering a biological question that is complimentary to research on ginseng restoration in Appalachia. 

Faculty Mentor: Heather Griscom, Biology

Congratulations also go to the finalists:

  • Research: Lauren Distler, Courtney Matson
  • Service & Leadership: Morgan Pate

Class of 2014
Research Award

Carly Starke, Biotechnology

Carly StarkeSalmonella enterica serovar Typhi is the main cause of typhoid fever; Salmonella species cannot survive below pH 4. My proposal involves working at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to engineer a vaccine vector as a wafer format to survive a low pH, within the oral cavity and gastro-intestinal tract, allowing a reduction in the doses required for long-lasting, high efficacy immunity. This will be done by cloning genes involved in the acid resistance pathway of the bacterium Shigella into Salmonella. Acid resistance in these strains will be assessed compared to the parent strain at pH 1.5 to 5 over 3 hours and these acid resistance genes will be inserted into the Salmonella chromosome.

Service & Leadership Award

Michelle Amaya, Health Sciences

Michelle AmayaMy project proposal is intended to help me engage in a service-leadership global health immersion program called Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care. This project is to take place in La Paz, Bolivia working through Child Family Health International, an NGO. My first step will be to receive training as a Certified Nursing Assistant through the BonSecours Nurse Aide Training Program at DePaul Medical Center in Norfolk, Virginia. Following this training, I will deepen my commitment to service by engaging in a clinical rotation program through Child Family Health International, serving impoverished and at-risk children and adolescents of La Paz, Bolivia.

Congratulations also go to the finalists:

  • Research: Tate Burkholder, Michael Partin, Adam White
  • Service & Leadership: Victoria Awadalla, Brendan English