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ADA, Okla. - Five graduating seniors at East Central University have been selected as finalists for the George Nigh Award to be awarded at the 10 a.m. commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 11, at the Kerr Activities Center. Recently, the finalists met with Governor George Nigh at a reception then went through the final selection process.

The George Nigh Award goes to the top graduating senior from ECU annually and is named in honor of the former governor of Oklahoma and ECU alumnus. In addition to his terms as governor, Nigh served multiple terms in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and as lieutenant governor. He also served as president of the University of Central Oklahoma.

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

The finalists this year are Delanie Seals, Jayci Powell, Liberty Murray, Logan Thompson and Megan Lewis.

Delanie Seals received her bachelor’s degree in Dec. of 2023 in Legal Studies and is preparing to graduate with a master’s in Water Resource Policy Management. During her time at ECU, Seals has served in many organizations and leadership positions. Those include Association of Black Students Secretary, Multiculturalism Committee for the City of Ada, Honors Student Association, Pi Sigma Alpha, Student Government president, Native American Student Association Secretary and more.

She has received the Shirley Mixon Trailblazer Award, Spirit of MLK Award, O.W. Lee Leadership Award and Chickasaw Foundation Mitch Sperry Memorial Scholarship. Seals is also credited for writing the Juneteenth Proclamation for the City of Ada.

She has also worked and interned under Rep. Melanie Stansbury, Rep. Mauree Turner, Chickasaw Nation District Court, Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, the Office of Human Capital and Talent Management in Washington D.C. and the ECU Politics, Law, and Society Department.

Seales is currently working on her law school applications so that she can formally study Environmental and Native American Law after graduation with the goal to practice law for organizations such as the Innocence Project, ACLU, NARF, or NAACP.

Jayci Powell will receive her bachelor’s in Elementary Education while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. During her time at ECU, Powell has served in a number of organizations and for a number of causes. Those include the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success, working for the ECU Academic Success Center, serving on the ECU Baptist Student Union Leadership team, Trinity Baptist Church Collegiate Ministry mission in Belize, ECU Oklahoma National History Day Regional Judge, TLC Therapeutic Riding Center volunteer and more.

In relation to her focus on teaching and working with children, Powell served as a summer student worker for Dale High School, a staff member for Camp Walk on Water, Women’s Bible Study Leader for the Baptist Student Union and a student teacher at Grove Elementary School.

Powell is currently preparing for a career in elementary teaching. One of her objectives is to create a diverse and welcoming environment for her class with the intent to meet the needs of any child that comes through her classroom regardless of language, physical needs, ability or background.

Liberty Murray will receive her bachelor’s in Accounting this May. During her time at ECU, Murray has worked for Oklahoma Heritage Bank and filled two separate positions for the People’s Electric Cooperative. She has held leadership positions such as Chi Omega Community Service Director and President, Trinity Baptist Church Leadership Team and Senior Business Scholar Leader.

Murray has received several honors including the 2023 Phi Theta Scholarship, Delta Mu Delta Honor Society, Alpha Chi Society, 2022 Mike and Leslie Dicus Memorial Accounting Scholarship, 2022 Trevor Sutton Leaders for Christ Scholarship and the 2022 Dr. Barbara McKinzie Accounting Scholarship. She has also been involved in a number of collegiate and community activities such as serving in multiple positions for Chi Omega, Panhellenic Council, Business Scholar Leaders, Business Leaders Association and Trinity Collegiate Ministry.

After graduation, Murray will spend the summer interning at Finley and Cook, a CPA firm in Shawnee. She also intends on pursuing her master’s in Accounting while preparing to for the CPA. After completing her masters, Murray’s goals are to work for a midsize firm in Audit or Tax.

Logan Thompson will receive his bachelor’s in Accounting this May while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. During his time at ECU, Thompson has served in many organizations. Those include the Honors Program, Honors Student Association Leadership Team, Alpha Chi Honors Society, ECU Student Center for the Public Trust and Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Thompson has also worked during his tenure as a student as the Honors Student Association treasurer, accounting assistant for Armer Consulting and accounting intern for Smith Carney CPA.

Thompson’s goal after graduation is to his obtain his master’s in Accounting at ECU and prepare himself for the CPA exam to become a Certified Public Accountant. His long-term goal is to pursue a career as a fraud examiner or work in forensic accounting, a profession that would allow him to help businesses prevent and detect fraudulent activities in the workplace and ensure reliable information is presented fairly and ethically to the public.

Megan Lewis will receive her bachelor’s degree in Biology this May. During her time at ECU, Lewis has served in many organizations and leadership positions. Those include the Honors Program, PreVet Club, National Society of Leadership and Success, Alpha Chi Honors Society and the Honors Student Association Leadership Team. She also participated in a variety of community services including, as a volunteer for the Pontotoc Animal Welfare Society, Fresh Check Day, Watershed Reservoir Cleanup and more.

Lewis has received the Honors First-Year Classroom Leader of the Year award, Early Admissions to Oklahoma State University Veterinary School, the Baccalaureate Scholarship, Harvey Price Memorial Scholarship, Thomas King Scholarship and Dr. Thomas McKnight Scholarship.

After graduation, Lewis intends on attending Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine with the long-term goal of opening the first animal hospital in southern Oklahoma that remains open twenty-four-seven. Eventually, her intention is to develop her veterinary hospital into an organization similar to the Bella SPCA Non-Profit Veterinary Hospital that aims to aid low-income, elderly or terminally ill pet owners.

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