The first class of Ackerley Computer Science and Technology Scholars has been selected at Graceland University. The five share in nearly $10,000 in scholarships awarded for the current academic year in a new program established with the $2 million gift of brothers, Robert and Leland Ackerley, Houston, Texas.
The Ackerleys' gift, announced earlier this year, benefits the university's computer science department with a portion of the funds going to a computer scholars' program in which the five students have won the first scholarships.
Four of the five have each been awarded $1,500. They are: Jesse Cash, Troy, Kan.; Leona Dorothy, Creston, Iowa; Anuj Rajbhandari, Kathmandu, Nepal; and Aaron Twombly, Highland, Kan. Dritan Zhuja, Pristina, Kosovo, has been awarded $3,500. Jim Jones, Ackerley Computer Science and Technology Scholars Program Director, said the scholarships are renewable.
"There is a lot of energy and talent among these students," Jones said. "It is exciting for me to work with them as program director and facilitate their projects." The total award potential for all five is more than $25,000, Jones said, adding that the establishment of the new program coincides with the 30th anniversary of the beginning of Graceland's computer science degree program.
Jones said the group already has begun projects. They have assisted a local Lamoni coffee house set up wireless Internet access and will present demonstrations and displays for homecoming weekend. Additionally, Jones said, the five will attend computer science conferences this year and expand the student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).
In addition to their academic success, all five scholars are in leadership roles on the campus.
Cash, a senior IT major minoring in CS is president of the campus ACM chapter. He is a valued member of the Graceland campus computer support team where. He came to college as a pre-med major but switched to IT in response to his avid interest in computers and network technology.
Dorothy, a second year student with junior status, is a CS/IT double-major. Her composite ACT score was 32 and she maintains a 4.0 grade point average. This summer, Dorothy worked for Graceland troubleshooting and servicing computer workstations and eradicating viruses.
Rajbhandari is a senior CS/IT double-major with minors in math, business administration and leadership. He is active in the campus chapter of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), is past president of the campus chapter of ACM and is in the honors program. He works as a faculty assistant in the computer science laboratory.
Twombly, a junior IT major,is systems administrator for the computer science laboratory and computer science department servers. Additionally, Twombly plays a critical role in the administration of other computer labs on campus. His advice about network and software issues is frequently sought by faculty, Jones said.
Zhuja is a transfer student from the University of Pristina in Kosovo. He is a sophomore CS/IT double-major enrolled in the pre-engineering program. Jones said Zhuja is noted for building a variety of robotic systems while a high school student in Kosovo, including a miniature walking robot and mechanical hand with independent fingers.
The Ackerleys own and operate Smith and Associates, an independent worldwide distributor of electronic components and semiconductors. They conduct business in more than 20 languages from seven locations around the world. Neither attended Graceland, but their roots to the university go to its very beginnings. It was their great-great-grandmother, Marietta Walker, who, in 1893, donated the original 20 acres of land upon which Graceland was established and opened in 1895.
The brothers' gift also will be used for the constant upgrade of the university's computer laboratories computer equipment (all will be replaced at least every three years) and for faculty professional development and support.
Taken from the Graceland University news archives (an edited version in Community of Christ's The Herald, Dec'03)
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