2015 Hugh Harris Scholarship Award Winners Announced

The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), Gulf Coast Chapter, in conjunction with NDIA’s Targets, UAVs and Range Operations Division is pleased to announce this year’s winners of the annual Hubert D. (Hugh) Harris Scholarship Award.  Each recipient will receive a $1,000.00 award which will be sent to the respective colleges' financial aid office for use by the students.  The Scholarship was established in 1992 in honor of Mr. Harris who was a research and development engineer at Eglin AFB. He was recognized throughout the Department of Defense and industry for his advanced ideas and contributions to the development of unmanned aerial target vehicle systems. The recipients are as listed below. 

Sophia Bergmann, Niceville High School, graduated with a 4.7 GPA and is ranked third out of a class of 450 students.  Her high school career has encompassed academics, athletics, service clubs and community service.  She has been a dedicated member of the Varsity Track and Field Team and Swim and Dive Team.  She was the recipient of numerous athletic awards such as MVP award and Coach’s award.  Sophia accumulated over 250 community service hours and was a member of the Natural Geography in-Shore Areas Program.  She was a National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar with Distinction, Cyberpatriot Team Captain and National Latin Exam Summa Cum Laude.  While still undecided, Sophia has been accepted to numerous national engineering universities where she plans to major in Aerospace or Electrical Engineering.

Justina Chan, Fort Walton Beach High School, graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 4.53 weighted GPA. She was co-founder and treasurer of the Key Club, section leader of the Viking Band and member of the Student Council.  She additionally volunteered with the Salvation Army and the Special Olympics. She will pursue a Biomedical Engineering degree at the University of Florida.

Tyler Gaedecke is a Summa Cum Laude Honors Graduate at Niceville High School with a 4.57 GPA and an SAT score of 2130.  He has been a member of the All-County Academic Team where he was the team co-captain.  He held leadership positions in the National Honor Society, Art Club, and Invisible Children program.  Tyler has been a Youth Board member at his church and has tutored others in Chemistry and AP Chemistry and was a volunteer for Kids on Campus at the local college. He has also received first place awards in community and county art shows.  He will be attending the University of Virginia and majoring in chemistry with concentrations in biochemistry, potentially leading to a medical profession.

Joseph Gargas, Fort Walton Beach High School, graduated with a 4.0 unweighted GPA and an impressive composite ACT score of 32 while taking numerous advanced placement courses.  He was active in the Science National Honors Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and Captain of the Varsity soccer team for two years while volunteering at the YMCA, Waterfront Mission and his church.  Although he is still weighing his options, Joseph has been invited to a number of prestigious universities including Johns Hopkins and Washington University. Because of his passion for science and math, he will pursue a Biomedical Engineering degree at the University of Florida.  

Drew Knight, Jersey Village High School, Houston, TX is an Eagle Scout, a member of the National Honor Society and has played varsity football for four years.  He is also a member of the Interact Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes while volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, Boy Scouts of America and the local homeless shelter. Drew is in the top 5% of his class of 790 students and has a 2140 SAT score. His favorite classes have been Physics, Chemistry and Calculus, and he will attend Louisiana State University to pursue a Petroleum Engineering degree.

Matthew Nelson, Niceville High School, is a National Merit Finalist, Boy Scouts of America Presidential Service Award and National Latin Exam Perfect Score recipient.  He has been an active member of the school’s cross country, track & field, swim and dive teams and marching band.  He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 4.45 GPA and an impressive ACT score of 34. While still undecided on where he will attend college, he has been accepted at top-notch engineering institutions where he will pursue a degree in industrial/systems engineering and/or mechanical engineering.

Hana Rutland, T.L. Hanna High School, Anderson, SC, has been a 4-year member of the National Honor Society and member of the school’s U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad.  Hana is an avid member of the Varsity Swim Team and was this year’s team captain.  She is an active member of her church youth group and has worked with the area YMCA during summers.  Hana achieved a 4.44 GPA and intends to take her love of the physical sciences to Lenoir-Rhyne University where she will pursue a degree in Biochemistry enroute to a medical profession.

Megan Wood, Fort Walton Beach High School, has been actively involved in all aspects of high school and the community: 4-year band percussionist; AP Scholar with distinction; National Beta Club Convention winner; and numerous academic achievement awards while taking advanced placement courses.  She has been the Destin Youth Council Vice Chair and has donated many volunteer hours in such programs as the Lions Club food drives and the American Legion. Megan is in the top 3% of her class with a weighted GPA of 4.68 and has been invited to attend eight universities to date.  After her selection, she will pursue a Civil or Environmental Engineering degree.

May Zaw, Fort Walton Beach High School, graduated Summa Cum Laude and has been selected for the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists Award of Excellence in addition to her many Viking Scholar awards.  During her high school career, she has been active in numerous academic and student government associations, as well as contributing to community service activities such as Children in Crisis, Salvation Army and Teen Trendsetter Reading Mentors.  May has participated in an intensive 4-year, Project Lead the Way, Biomedical Program while maintaining a weighted 4.51 GPA.  She intends to pursue a Biology degree at the University of Florida enroute to a medical degree.

The Hugh Harris Scholarship program is extremely proud to be able to assist these fine students in furthering their scientific, technical, engineering and mathematics careers.

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