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2017 ASMS Graduates Make History

The 2017 senior class earned $13 million in merit-based scholarships and scored a composite 29.5 on the ACT, the highest in the school’s history. More than half of the graduates scored above 30.

The senior class included three national merit finalists: Erin Dempsey, Genevieve Tillman, and Maria Trifas and seven national merit commended scholars: Jediael Fraser, Jameson Moore, Lidija Namike, Lauren Pearce, Allie Stamper, Rogan Sullivan, and Alex White.

Three seniors will be attending Ivy League schools, including Erin Dempsey (Cornell University), Maria Trifas (Columbia University), and Alex White (Columbia University).

This year’s commencement address was given by Jo Bonner, ASMS Foundation Board of Directors Chair and Vice Chancellor of Economic Development for The University of Alabama System.

“Class of 2017, the world awaits you, and we are all anxious to see where you are going to take us,” Bonner said at graduation. “With your degrees from ASMS, one thing is absolutely certain. Your future is brighter and opportunities in front of you are great. Good luck, and never forget where home is.”

Click here to see a full list of the ASMS Class of 2017 and the colleges they will attend.

Meet 10 Graduates from the Class of 2017

Maria Trifas, from Jacksonville, Ala., received a National Merit Scholarship to attend Columbia University and plans to study biochemistry. Aside from concentrating on academics, Trifas became involved in several campus clubs and activities, including Speech and Debate, Science Olympiad, Math Team, Student Government Association (SGA), Student Ambassadors, Women of the World, National Honor Society (NHS), and National French Honor Society. Trifas also conducted science fair research on campus, and her project went on to win 2nd place at regionals and 3rd place at state. “Doing research while at ASMS led me to participate in a summer program at Vanderbilt University, during which I spent six weeks in a lab conducting stem cell research.”

Satsuma Ala. native Alex White will attend Columbia University in the fall to study materials science or chemical engineering. He was accepted to Princeton, Brown, Yale, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Carnegie Mellon, Rice, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but decided that the allure of studying in New York City was too appealing to pass up. “ASMS has made my future possible,” he says. “From the very generously-funded SGA to working with professors at the University of South Alabama (USA) through the internship program, ASMS has given any and all opportunities I needed to become the master of my fate.” Although White was academically driven, he also found time to take part in a diverse array of activities including chess team, varsity soccer, SGA, the band program, and served as an Ambassador Residential Life Support Team (RLST) member.

Alex Stephens, from Hanceville, Ala., will attend Vanderbilt University in the fall. Stephens served as SGA President, Ambassador, RLST team member, and member of several clubs, including Science Olympiad, Key Club, Robotics, and Computing Lab. “I did a lot of exciting stuff at ASMS, but I think my favorite experience was cooking a dinner with my friends one Saturday,” he says. “The meal itself wasn’t anything special, but I think the friendships I made at ASMS were special, as cheesy as that sounds.”

Mobile native Kristina Clarke plans to study chemical engineering at Howard University in the fall. Clarke also served as a STEM Ambassador and says she enjoyed introducing younger students to science concepts. Although she excelled academically, Clarke also made lasting friendships at ASMS. “I remember the day ASMS got the swing set,” she says. “That swing set changed my life. I hung out with some of my best friends, studied for tests, and even ate lunch on that swing set.”

From Cowarts, Ala., Robert Cooper will be attending the Illinois Institute of Technology this fall to study computer engineering. “ASMS offered me a chance to learn everything that I needed to call myself a great programmer and a well-rounded scholar,” he says. “In all honesty, ASMS gave me a vital tool I needed to achieve my dreams – knowledge.” Cooper had the opportunity to work as a computing science intern at USA and was a member of Computing Club, Robotics, and the Lockheed Martin Code Quest.

Isabel Riccio, who hails from Gulf Shores, Ala., will attend Tulane University to study neuroscience. “ASMS has done a lot for me by offering classes that have helped prepare me for the medical school admissions process,” she says. “I have confidence that I will be able to achieve my goal of becoming a doctor.” During her time at ASMS, Riccio was a RLST, Ambassador, and a member of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), NHS, Beta Club, and Ignite.

Tuscaloosa native Marie Doyle will attend the University of Notre Dame to seek a double major in biology and English. “ASMS forced me to mature and work out who I was a lot earlier than I would have if I’d stayed at my home school,” she says. “As I go off to college, I feel like I have the time and direction to focus on what’s important to me.” At ASMS, she was involved in Key Club, Speech and Debate, Cross Country, Soccer, Writing Lab, Model UN, Science Olympiad, and Scholars Bowl.

Ali Albalakhi, from Eutaw, Ala., will attend Brandeis University in Boston, Mass., to major in mathematics and chemistry and minor in Latin American Literature. Albalakhi served as president of HOSA, vice president of French Club, and a member of the Black Student Union, Beta Club, and Off the Leash. During Special Projects 2017, Albalakhi traveled to Europe and visited France, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. “The trip taught me so much about the beauty of other people’s customs and culture,” he says.

Nicole Naylor, will attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) to study biology. Naylor earned early admission to the school’s Optometry School. While at ASMS, she participated in many cubs, including Lab of Learning, Key Club, Women of the World, and Outdoor Adventure Club. “The close friendships I have developed over my three years at ASMS have impacted me significantly,” she says. Naylor placed third in the “Medicine and Health Science” category in the UAB Science and Engineering Fair.

To complete an Eagle Scout project, Jorge Del’Angel, who is from Orrville, Ala., built a community garden on West Campus. “After three weekends, my team and I finished it, and I am proud it’s still growing,” he says. Del’Angel will attend Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University to study agricultural engineering. He was selected to travel on an eight-week, all-expenses paid trip to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico through the World Food Prize Borlaug-Ruan Internship Program.

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