The Honors Welcome on August 14, 2020 recognized 12 students selected to the University Scholars Program. University Scholars is a highly-selective program with intensive personal and professional development opportunities for students who have demonstrated outstanding academic accomplishment in their first year.
Each spring, all first-year Texas A&M University freshmen who finish their first semester with a 3.5+ GPA are invited to apply. Based on these applications—which include a personal statement, creative story, and discussion of a critical question in the students’ intended field—about forty are invited for a rigorous interview to discuss and defend their ideas. The University Scholars are selected for the critical thinking, self-awareness, poise, and maturity demonstrated in their application and interviews. This process helps us identify the students who are most intellectually curious, motivated, and accomplished.
The University Scholars Class of 2023 will join twenty-three of their upperclassman peers in the Exploration Series—seminar courses offered to University Scholars each semester. Sophomores new to the program participate in a personal statement writing seminar, “Futuring Yourself.” Juniors participate in “Agents of Change” and seniors “Happiness” in the fall semester. In spring semesters, University Scholars get to choose from a variety of topical seminars; past topics have included transportation, education, television, comedy, and animal conservation, among many other topics.
Throughout the program, University Scholars seek intellectual challenge and share their unique perspectives from an array of academic and cultural backgrounds. We are excited for these eleven new University Scholars to grow in this program over the next three years, and look forward to seeing how they impact Texas A&M and the world!
2023 Class of University Scholars
Jordan Bass ‘23
Mack Cleveland ‘23
William Frendreiss ‘23
Tarni Hewage ‘23
Lalita Kunamneni ‘23
Shruti Mavuri ‘23
Ethan Miller ‘23
Hannah Neighbors ‘23
Aabid Razvi ‘23
Nimisha Srikanth ‘23
Abigail Tack ‘23
Jasmine Tran ‘23
Jordan Bass ‘23
Howdy! My name is Jordan Bass, I am sophomore physics major from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and I am the loudest and proudest member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie class of 2023! A-A-A-A-A! So far at Texas A&M, I have received the honor of being a University Scholar, the honor of receiving an instate tuition waiver, and I have been awarded a number of departmental scholarships from the physics department. I have also been selected for leadership positions in The Singing Cadets where I am the High School Recruitment Chair, and in John15 where I am a Group Leader or GL. Presently, I have no research experience but am searching. I like to volunteer with the American Red Cross and have donated over two gallons of blood, and I volunteer as a lector at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. My hobbies include playing sports and video games, making and listening to music, and following and debating current events.
Mack Cleveland ‘23
Mack Cleveland is a Materials Science and Engineering major with a Mathematics minor from Bedford, Texas, with interests ranging from chemistry and mathematics to philosophy and classics. He is a National Merit Scholar and a recipient of the President’s Endowed Scholarship. In the summer of 2019, he attended the MSC Conway Fitzhugh International Honors Leadership Seminar in Italy. Following his freshman year, he participated in a summer online research experience for undergraduates through Texas A&M, where he studied vacancy formation energies in amorphous silicon under Dr. Michael Demkowicz. Mack serves as a managerial editor for Explorations, the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal, and as a member of the Engineering Honors Executive Committee. He also serves as treasurer of the Texas A&M Speech and Debate Team, where he competes in extemporaneous speaking and parliamentary debate. He attends the Church of the Incarnation. In his free time, Mack enjoys listening to history podcasts and reading books on philosophy and history.
William Frendreiss ‘23
William Frendreiss ‘23 is an applied math major from Chicago. Heavily involved in the math department at A&M, he spends his time working on research projects and working as a tutor. In high school, he was a member of a volunteer math tutor club as well as National Honors Society. Currently, he is working on multiple research projects, including a Polymath REU wherein he collaborates with students from around the country to answer questions about commutative algebras. William believes that the key to successfully solving any problem is to take a variety of perspectives and approaches into account before finalizing a solution. When he is not working on mathematics, he daydreams of being in New England where he spent his summers as a child and learned to sail competitively, an activity he carried throughout high school. His favorite place in the world is on the beach, soaking up the sun and taking long walks.
Tarni Hewage ’23
My name is Tarni Hewage ’23, and I am majoring in economics with a minor in philosophy. I am originally from Colombo, Sri Lanka but my family now lives in Little Elm, Texas. I am a part of the Chinese Economic Statecraft research team under Dr. Norris at the Bush School, studying how states can employ their economic power to execute strategic objectives. Through this I earned the distinction of Aggie Research Scholar. I serve as treasurer for Aggie Minority Women in Law as well as treasurer for Global Legal Empowerment Brigades. I am also a news reporter for The Battalion as well as a writing consultant at the University Writing Center. After college, I hope to attend law school and become a corporate lawyer as well as a pro bono civil rights attorney, stemming from my passion for learning about the incarceration system and its contributions towards wrongful convictions against African Americans. In my free time, I enjoy singing, running, baking, writing, and being a barista.
Lalita Kunamneni ’23
Lalita Kunamneni ’23 is a Biochemistry major in the class of 2023 from Flower Mound, Texas. She aims to go into the medical field in the future and hopes to expand access to primary care in medically underserved areas. Lalita is also a National Merit Finalist, recipient of the President’s Endowed Scholarship, and on the Dean’s Honor Roll. At A&M, she is currently serving as the executive director of programming for MSC Freshman Leadership International. Within MSC FLI, she is working to reform the Campus Cultural Challenge to reach larger populations, as well as adapting it to an online format. She is also the deputy director of advancement for CARPOOL and has volunteered over 100 hours with this organization. Additionally, in the summer of 2018, she interned under Dr. Minary researching the electrodeposition of metal in the nanoscale. She loves to travel, and has gone abroad on the Costa Rica Service Learning Program with MSC FLI. In her free time, she loves to read, bake, and has recently picked up knitting and crochet.
Hannah Neighbors ‘22
Hannah Neighbors ‘22 is a University Studies Leadership major minoring in both business and religious studies. From League City, Texas, she will graduate in 2022. Hannah is a National Merit Scholar, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Scholar, and President’s Endowed Scholarship recipient. She represents Texas A&M to prospective students as a National Scholar Ambassador and will mentor incoming freshmen in the University Honors Program during the 2020-21 academic year. Hannah is also the Leadership Engagement Process Chair on the Advisory Board of the Maroon and White Leadership Program, a student leadership development program on campus. To further explore her professional interests in the policymaking process, she is completing an internship with the Office of Congressman Randy Weber this summer. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors while running or hiking. She also likes watching thriller and mystery TV shows and movies and reading compelling stories, both fiction and nonfiction.”
Ethan Miller ‘22
Ethan Miller ‘22, is majoring in Urban and Regional Planning (Policy Track). He has done a Geographic Information Systems analysis of Texas public school funding from local property taxes reallocated to school districts on a per-pupil basis; compiled a synthesis of work regarding climate change and the spread of vector-borne diseases to assess risk and adaptation strategies; studied the economic and public health benefits of a legalized prostitution system in the United States; and several urban planning critiques across the cities of Seattle, Vancouver, The Woodlands, and Freiburg, Germany. During his time at The Woodland’s High School, he was a member of the National Honors Society and Social Studies National Honors Society. He founded and organized a fun run benefitting the All Ears Listening and Language Center, an early childhood education program for deaf children in The Woodlands. In his free time, he loves art, hiking, music, and politics.
Aabid Razvi ’23
Aabid Razvi ’23 is Business Honors and Finance double major with a minor in Cybersecurity from College Station, TX. At Texas A&M, he is Craig and Galen Brown Foundation Scholar who is involved in the business school through organizations like the Business Student Council, the Horizons Consulting Guild and the Honors Freshman Business Initiative. A proud member of Fish Aides, the Gilbert Leadership Conference, and The Big Event, he is looking for ways to serve and develop leadership skills during his time at Texas A&M. Aabid is currently leading a team helping small businesses and nonprofits across the state of Texas who have been affected by COVID-19 through guidance on loan applications and business decisions to help them stay open. This past year, he started a consulting business that works with speech and debate teams across the state to improve public speaking and argumentation skills. In his free time, you can find him traveling across the world, playing basketball or watching football, and keeping up with the latest political news.
Shruti Mavuri ‘23
Howdy! I am Shruti Mavuri, Biomedical Sciences major from Flower Mound, Texas, graduating class of 2023. I am a pre-med student hoping to become a neonatal surgeon in the future and I am focused on helping mothers and children with FASD through clinical research and raising awareness. I have been awarded the Craig and Galen Brown Scholarship, President’s Endowed Scholarship and am a National Merit Scholar. I was a part of Dr. Chang’s clinical cardiology lab at the Houston Methodist Research Institute this past summer. Additionally, I am an active volunteer at the CHI St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bryan, Texas, and I also volunteered at the Brazos County Food Bank with the pre-med honor society, Alpha Epsilon Delta. I have been an Indian Classical dancer for 14 years now and am one of the co-captains for the competitive classical team on campus, TAMU Sahithya. In my free-time, I enjoy playing the flute, piccolo and piano, as well as listening to podcasts and watching Bollywood movies!
Nimisha Srikanth ‘23
Nimisha Srikanth is a Genetics major and Public Health minor from Flower Mound, Texas and a proud member of the class of 2023 (A-A-A-A-A!!). She is a recipient of the Craig and Galen Brown Foundation Scholarship, President’s Endowed Scholarship, and National Merit Finalist. She is part of Dr. Michael Golding’s research lab and is investigating the effects of alcohol on a fetus and their development. Her prior research experience includes a paper about medical professionals’ attitudes towards gay patients and involvement in an NIH Bariatric Study and COVID-19 Zero Prevalence Study. She aspires to earn an MPH and PhD in Community Health and work on research, policy, and programs regarding the improvement of reproductive health in America. Nimisha is also a chair for the Aggie Icers, member of TANSA, and is an Old School Fish. In her free time, Nimisha is an avid sports fan (especially hockey), loves to listen to all genres of music, sing Indian classical music, collect a vast array of items, and brainstorm ideas for fictional stories but never complete them.
Abigail Tack ‘23
My name is Abigail Tack, and I am a sophomore animal science major with a concentration in production and management. I was born in Montana, but I grew up in Humble, Texas. I have not participated in any collegiate level research yet. In high school, I participated in The National History Day competition, where I had to research a historical event and its effects on today’s society. I would compile information from personal interviews, oral histories, newspaper articles, etc. to teach and share about a specific chosen topic. I competed at the national level for three consecutive years in Washington, D.C. One of my projects earned third place in the nation. In addition to this award, one of my biggest honors was giving the valedictorian speech to my high school class. I was involved in multiple high school organizations that prioritized and required volunteer work, including FFA and National Honor Society. I enjoy filling my free time with books, games with friends and family, and learning random trivia.
Jasmine Tran ‘23
Jasmine Tran ‘23 is a statistics major, bioinformatics and mathematics minor from Garland, Texas, who graduated as the Berkner HS Valedictorian. Her passion for medicine is driven by her desire to emulate the surgeons that gave her back her childhood and become an orthopedic surgeon. She is a Terry Foundation Scholarship recipient and serves as the liaison for the student organization. She is also a Science Leadership Scholar using her experience as a first-generation student to help incoming students. Last summer, she was a Clinical Orthopedic Student Research Intern at Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, where she assisted in investigating revision surgeries in toe walking. She currently works with Dr. Sumana Datta as a statistics team student researcher for the First Years Eats Program. Jasmine volunteers for COOKED-19 providing essential hospital workers with fresh local meals. She is a music lover at heart who continues her passion for piano with the A&M Orchestra. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, cooking, biking, and hopes to one day spar in Taekwondo again.
Freshmen interested in applying for the University Scholars program can learn more by attending the recruitment “Mocktails” mixer in December or an informational session in the spring. Applications open in January each year. Learn more at http://launch.tamu.edu/Honors/University-Scholars.