East Central University President Dr. Katricia Pierson (left) and former Oklahoma Gov. George Nigh (right) pose with the four finalists for the George Nigh Award. From left (next to Pierson) are Jessica Potter, of Cyril; Kristina Mayfield, of Pauls Valley; Anna Lawler, of Chandler and the George Nigh Award winner Carlee Henderson, of Ada and Latta High School. The George Nigh Award is presented to the top graduating senior from ECU. The ceremony was held at the annual George Nigh Award Luncheon on Wednesday.

East Central University biology major Carlee Henderson was named the 2017 George Nigh Award winner for being the top graduating senior, it was announced at a luncheon on Wednesday in ECU Foundation Hall of the Chickasaw Business and Conference Center.

Henderson, an Ada resident and Latta High School graduate, was one of four finalists for the prestigious honor. The other three were Anna Lawler, a nursing major from Chandler; Kristina Mayfield, a history-teacher certification major from Pauls Valley and Jessica Potter, an elementary education major from Cyril.

The award is named in honor of George Nigh, the former governor of Oklahoma and ECU alumnus. Nigh served four terms in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, four as lieutenant governor and two as governor. He was also president of the University of Central Oklahoma.

The late Julian Rothbaum, a Tulsa oilman, banker and one-time state regent for higher education, established an endowment through the ECU Foundation Inc. to fund the Nigh Award. Each year top ECU seniors are selected to apply for this award and undergo a rigorous application and interview process.

Henderson is set to graduate in May with a bachelor of science in biology and chemistry. She plans to continue her education at the Oklahoma State College of Osteopathic Medicine where she will pursue a medical degree. Henderson is a certified nurse aide and has more than 75 hours of experience shadowing local physicians.

She is a member of the ECU Spanish Club as well as being a member of the Alpha Chi and Beta Beta Beta Honor Societies. Henderson is also a member of the McNair Scholars Program and the Vision Bank Presidential Leadership Program. She has been a member of the ECU softball squad since 2013 and was part of a Great American Conference Championship Team in 2015-16. She has also served as a volunteer for several local organizations, including Abba’s Tables, Athletes for Others, Oklahoma Blood Institute and the Compassion Outreach Center.

During her undergraduate career, Henderson has received multiple awards, including the Crafton-Tull GAC Distinguished Scholar Athlete, Division 2 Athletic Directors Association Academic Achievement Award and was named ECU’s 2015 Homecoming Queen.

Here are short biographies of the other three finalists:

Anna Lawler

Lawler is expected to graduate in May with a bachelor of science in nursing. She has spent two summers in Hong Kong serving the Chinese people through ministry and works as a volunteer in local nursing homes. Lawler has completed over 700 clinical hours and was recognized as the American Red Cross Nursing Pin this spring. She is a member of the TriBeta National Biological Honor Society, Alpha Chi and the East Central University Nursing Student Association. Lawler has received multiple awards, including the George and Donna Nigh Leadership Scholarship Academy, Presidential Plus Scholarship and the Genevieve Goodman Community Service Award and Scholarship. She is passionate about serving others and excited to begin her career as a registered nurse.

Kristina Mayfield

Mayfield plans to graduate in May with a bachelor of arts in history (teacher certification). She is a member of Alpha Chi and Phi Alpha Theta Honor Societies and has served as the President of the Oklahoma Gamma Chapter of Alpha Chi. Mayfield has also served as vice president of the Student Oklahoma Education Association of ECU, treasure of the Student Council for Exceptional Children and senator of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences to the Student Government Association of ECU. She actively pursues professional development opportunities, including the Student Oklahoma Education Association (SOEA) Fall Professional Development Conference, Oklahoma Leadership Retreat and Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English (OCTE) Conference. Mayfield is an adamant supporter of public education and plans to continue pursuing her master’s degree in school counseling while teaching social studies or English Language Arts (ELA) at a middle school.

Jessica Potter

Potter is expected to graduate in May with a bachelor of arts in elementary education. She was an ambassador for the NASA Oklahoma Space Grant Consortium and treasurer for the Student Oklahoma Education Association. Potter is a member of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society Oklahoma Gamma Chapter. She volunteers locally at Abba’s Tables, PAWS and H2O Engage and The Loop. Potter was a presenter at the Space Exploration Educators Conference and has attended the Upward and Onward Conference and multiple SOEA conferences. She will be pursuing her master’s degree in sports psychology while teaching in a middle school classroom in the Ada area. She ultimately plans to pursue a doctorate degree.



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