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Hatton, of Pauls Valley, received the award Friday at a luncheon honoring him and four other finalists Lindsey Dugan, of McAlester; Ashley Cardwell, of Mustang; Checed Rodgers, of Stonewall; and Kristin Belicek, of Purcell, for their outstanding academic achievements.

Former Oklahoma Gov. George Nigh, who was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives when he was a senior at ECU, answered questions from the finalists before the winner was announced.

Hatton received $1,000 for the award, which is based on academic achievement, character and potential contribution to public service.

The late Julian Rothbaum, a Tulsa oil man, banker and one-time state regent for higher education, established an endowment through the East Central University Foundation Inc. to fund the Nigh Award in honor of the former governor.

Nigh, also a former president of the University of Central Oklahoma, served four terms in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, four terms as lieutenant governor and two terms as governor.

Hatton graduated in December with a bachelor’s of science in biology with a pre-dental concentration. He also minored in business administration and chemistry. He plans to apply to dental school at the University of Oklahoma/College of Dentistry this fall.

He has made the President’s and Dean’s Honor Rolls at ECU as well as acquiring memberships to the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society and TriBeta College Honor Society. He also earned the Raniyah Ramadan Scholarship, Presidential Plus Scholarship, Francisco-Hatchett Scholarship and James A. Thomas Scholarship.

Besides being a member of the ECU Business Club since 2011 and a guitarist for the Cornerstone Community Church Worship Band for four years, Hatton has volunteered for the Free Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Little Ben’s Pizza for eight years, 5-7 Food Ministry, Cornerstone Community Church youth group for two years and Mission Arlington Christmas Store for three years.

Finalist Lindsey Dugan will graduate in May with a bachelor’s of arts degree in English with a minor in mass communication. Dugan has received ECU’s Presidential Plus Scholarship and is a member of ECU’s Honors Society; Literati, an organization dedicated to the literary arts; Sigma Tau Delta, an English Honors Society; and Rotaract, an organization dedicated to world cooperation. She also won the 2012 Reed Loving Watt Award, is president and co-founder of the ECU Anime Club and is regular volunteer at P.A.W.S. animal shelter.

Ashley Cardwell, another finalist, is a math major at ECU and is expected to graduate in May. She received an ECU Regent Baccalaureate Scholarship, golf scholarship, James O. Danley Mathematics Scholarship and Mathematics Academic Achievement Award. Her activities include: ECU Honors Student Association as a peer mentor and treasurer, women’s golf team member, Alpha Chi member, NASA Fellow and McNair Scholar. She was the class valedictorian at Mustang High School.

Finalist Checed Rodgers is a computer science major who is expected to graduate in May. He has already obtained one bachelor’s degree in legal studies from ECU in 2010 and was a math minor. Rodgers has been a part of the ECU Honors Program. He participated in the ECU Legal Professionals Association by assisting with fundraising and community service efforts and was a Legal Research and Writing Scholar. Rodgers also founded, coordinated and participated in a no-cost math tutoring program for local Native American grade school, high school students and children of tribal employees.

Finalist Kristin Belicek, who will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, is a member of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society and has been on the ECU Dean’s Honor Roll all four years. Belicek has served a student teacher at Francis Elementary School and has planned units, taught lessons and assessed students at the Ada Early Childhood Center and Hays Grade Center. Her objective is to obtain a teaching position in the early childhood education field.

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