Honors College

Hillcrest Scholarship Recipients Announced

Hillcrest scholarships support transformative off-campus experiences for Honors students.


The JMU Honors College is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the Hillcrest Scholarships. Each Hillcrest Scholarship provides up to $5000 to support transformative off-campus experiences for Honors students.  

Each of the recipients designed a unique project that meets their academic and professional goals. The recipients are: J Travis Cooper, Erica Head, Davina Miaw, and Monica Slater.  Erica LaRocca and Meredith Obaytek were named Honorable Mentions and will receive $3000 towards their projects.

J Travis Cooper, a Musical Theatre major and Honors student, is receiving the Fredric I. McGhee Scholarship to spend the summer of 2019 at Leviathan Studio on Lasqueti Island in British Columbia, Canada. As a member of the Contact Improvisation Residency for Experience Dancers, J Travis will receive training in contact improvisation, a modern movement style. This work will feed into their Honors Capstone Project, which will explore the use of  dance to understand human interaction, and will prepare J Travis for their ultimate goal of opening their own dance studio. Describing J Travis’s contributions to the School of Theatre and Dance, Professor Ben Lambert says, “J Travis is one of the most electric artists to attend our program and has had an immeasurable impact on the inclusivity, depth, and quality of our Theatre and Musical Theatre programs.”

Erica Head, an Honors student majoring in Biology, is receiving the Hinshaw-Daniel Scholarship to travel to Fiji next summer to volunteer at the veterinary clinic of Animals Fiji. Erica is from Virginia’s Eastern Shore, where she lives on her family’s farm. She has been working with animals for her entire life and is looking to develop more experience with tropical and exotic animals. Animals Fiji is the only veterinary operation on the main island of Fiji, so she will be contributing to the health of animals from across the country. Erica is preparing to become a veterinarian, and her project mentor, Dr. Christopher Rose, says that Erica’s “passion to become a veterinarian stems from a life-long commitment to animal care.”

Davina Miaw is an Honors student majoring in Music. Her project will take her to Wuhan, China, where she will conduct a project that utilizes music and songwriting to help high school students tell stories of personal identity. Her final project will be a digital storybook that includes the students’ compositions and reflections on the composition process. This project will serve as part of Davina’s Honors Capstone Project, in which she will incorporate similar methods in a local elementary school. Her project mentor, Dr. David Stringham, says that Davina “models our academic program’s values of flexibility, responsiveness, and inclusion as a musician, a teacher, and an individual.”

Monica Slater, a Music major and Honors student, will travel to Berlin, Germany, to participate in the Berlin Opera Academy. An aspiring opera performer, Monica will further her training in language, technique, and diction through coursework, master classes, and by performing in a full opera production during this internship. In her career, Monica hopes to become an ambassador for the art form in the United States. Described by her mentor Professor Kevin McMillan as “a brilliant actress, a diligent student, and a cheerful, fresh, enthusiastic learner,” Monica will draw on this experience during her capstone project, an opera performance on the vocal literature of Brazil.

Erica LaRocca, a Health Sciences major and Honors student, received an Honorable Mention. Her proposal was to spend the summer in Ecuador as an intern in an occupational therapy clinic. 

Meredith Obaytek, a Psychology major and Honors student, also received an Honorable Mention. For her project, she will be volunteering at an art therapy clinic in Costa Rica. 

Both Erica and Meredith are proficient in Spanish and are preparing for careers in occupational therapy.

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Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018

Last Updated: Monday, December 21, 2020

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