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An East Central University student who says her parents taught her that hard work, determination, a positive attitude and a kind heart would take her anywhere worth going has been named the 2010 recipient of the prestigious George Nigh Award as ECU's top graduating senior.

Photo of Lauren Hensley standing in front of Tiger FountainLauren Hensley of Mounds will receive the $750 award named for the former Oklahoma governor at a luncheon Wednesday [APRIL 28] in the Stanley Wagner Ballroom in the Memorial Student Union.

Hensley and finalists Jordan Antonisse of Richardson, Texas, Naomi Hughes of Noble, Dianna Kriegh of Stratford and Candise Story of Oklahoma City will be honored by ECU officials and community leaders for their outstanding academic achievements.

The luncheon is open to the public, and officers and members of area civic groups are encouraged to attend. Lunch will be served from 11:45 a.m. until 12:20 p.m. and the program should be completed by 1 p.m. The cost is $5. Reservations can be made by calling the ECU President's Office at 580-559-5213 by Monday [APRIL 26].

The Nigh Award is based on academic achievement, character and potential contribution to public service. The award is funded by an endowment established through the ECU Foundation Inc. by Julian Rothbaum. Rothbaum was a Tulsa oil man, banker and one-time state regent for higher education.

Nigh was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives when he was a senior at ECU and served four terms. He also served four terms as lieutenant governor and two terms as governor. He was the first Oklahoma governor ever re-elected to a second term and remains the only governor ever to carry all 77 counties. He is a former president of the University of Central Oklahoma.

Lauren Hensley and her identical twin sister, Megan, are actively involved in ECU organizations and activities.

Lauren Hensley, who was voted ECU's Homecoming queen last fall, has a perfect 4.0 grade point average at ECU and is a member of Alpha Chi national honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha national political science honor society and Order of Omega honor society for members of Greek organizations. She is a member of Chi Omega and was named an Outstanding Greek Scholar.

Hensley has been a freshman representative and secretary of the Student Senate and is completing her second year as president. She is a two-year member of the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Student Government Association.

She was named a Top Ten Freshman, received the Rising Sophomore Leader Award and won the Political Science Department's Senate Campaign Simulation in 2007. She is a member of the Oklahoma Council of Student Body Presidents, College Republicans and the ECU President's Cabinet. She has participated in volunteer work ranging from community service projects to political campaigns. She is majoring in history with a minor in political science.

Both Lauren and Megan Hensley have been accepted by the University of Oklahoma College of Law and plan to become attorneys. They are the daughters of Bob and Denise Hensley of Mounds.

Finalist Jordan Antonisse has been a member of ECU's soccer team since 2006. She was named to the Lone Star Conference Commissioner's Honor Roll for three years and the Lone Star Conference Academic Team in 2009. She is a member of Tri Beta biology honor society and the Bio-Med Club. She is majoring in biology and plans to earn a doctorate in dental surgery.

Naomi Hughes is majoring in mass communications. She finished in the top 3 percent in the Leemaur Publishing Co.'s 2007 national essay contest. She has worked in ECU's Linscheid Library for three years and plans to earn a master's degree in library science and work as a public librarian in Oklahoma.

Dianna Kriegh is majoring in history and wants to earn a graduate degree in East Asian history. First, though, she plans to teach English for six months to a year in South Korea, either through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant, for which she is a finalist, or a program run by the Korean government. She is a member of Alpha Chi national honor society, Phi Alpha Theta history honors society and ECU's Honors Student Association.

Candise Story graduated from Rose State College before coming to ECU. She will graduate from ECU with bachelor's degrees in both psychology and human services counseling. She is a member of Alpha Chi national honor society and Psi Chi international psychology honor society. She wants to earn a doctorate in psychology and become a school psychologist to help children overcome problems and reach their full potential.

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