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ORAU 2022 Pollard Scholarship recipients announced

Scholarship program recognizes area academic achievers and leaders

ORAU awarded five William G. Pollard Scholarships of $2,500 each toward undergraduate studies for the 2022-23 academic year. The recipients of this year’s scholarships include Taliya Barton, Emily Bigler, Lauren Ferguson, Colleen McCloskey and Patrick McWilliams.

Each year, ORAU awards these scholarships to employees’ children or stepchildren who display exceptional achievements in their high school or undergraduate studies. Applicants must submit official transcripts from all high schools and colleges attended, three references (at least two of which must be from teachers) and a 500-word essay describing professional and personal interests.

The William G. Pollard Scholarship Awards are presented in honor of ORAU’s founder in recognition of his dedication to science and education. A University of Tennessee physics professor, Pollard founded the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies—which later became ORAU—to link the valuable scientific resources developed in Oak Ridge as part of the Manhattan Project with regional universities.

Below are additional details on each of this year’s winners:

Taliya Barton

Daughter of Xavier and LaTosha Barton of Knoxville, Taliya is a 2022 graduate of Powell High School, where she excelled academically while taking challenging courses, including honors, AP and dual enrollment. Due to earning a high GPA, she was recognized as a scholar athlete after she played basketball for the Lady Panthers for all four years and ran track for the Panthers during her senior year. In addition to her school and sports activities, she works part time while also volunteering in various capacities at her church. She said she greatly appreciates the advice her family, church family, coaches and teachers have provided her over the years. She looks forward to utilizing this valuable guidance as she enrolls in Tennessee State University in the fall to pursue a degree in computer science. Her goal is to ultimately work as a software engineer.

Emily Bigler

Daughter of Beth White, Emily is a rising junior at Middle Tennessee State University, where she a double major in public policy and management, and Spanish, as well as a double minor in political and civic engagement, and honors. Emily is a part of the Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society, Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society and Lambda Sigma Honor Society, where she was the Editor for her chapter. Emily is also on the MTSU Department of Political Science and International Relations Student Advisory Committee. In the future, Emily hopes to work with survivors of human trafficking as well as educate the public to not only recognize signs of human trafficking but also to effectively intervene, beginning in early childhood education. Last summer, she interned for Knoxville Internationals Network, and this year, she is a Summer in the City intern for the Knoxville Parks and Recreation department. In her free time, she enjoys baking, origami, reading and spending time at the MTSU Baptist Collegiate Ministry.

Lauren Ferguson

Daughter of Michelle Ferguson, Lauren graduated summa cum laude from Turpin High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she received a STEM Honors Diploma and had a final GPA of 4.525. While at Turpin, she was secretary of the school’s National Honor Society chapter and a member of the Varsity Academic Quiz Team. A National Merit Scholar finalist, Lauren scored a perfect 36 on the ACT. She enjoys reading, writing short stories and teaching the kindergartners at her church. She works at Mathnasium tutoring students in math. Lauren will be attending The Ohio State University in the fall and majoring in biomedical engineering.

Colleen McCloskey

Daughter of Patrick and Ashley McCloskey of Knoxville, Colleen is a 2021 graduate of Farragut High School where she graduated with distinction and completed a year of college by taking dual enrollment and AP courses. She was a member of the Farragut Marching Band Admirals for four years and a captain of the color guard and part of the leadership team as a junior and senior. She also performed and competed with her high school winter guard team. Working at a fast-food restaurant in high school and as a waitress at a busy restaurant her first year of college helped her save money along with attending Pellissippi State Community College. She is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and was in a women’s engineering club at Pellissippi. She earned an Associate of Science degree in May 2022 and will attend the University of Tennessee this fall to continue pursuing a degree in industrial engineering.

Patrick McWilliams

Son of Mike and Sonya McWilliams, Patrick graduated with honors and distinction from Halls High School in 2022. He was a member of the National Honor Society and captain of the HHS Varsity Soccer team for three years, where he earned all-district and all-region awards. Patrick was a Tri-Star Scholar earning Career and Technical Education certification in construction and CADD. He participated in numerous community service activities throughout high school. Patrick will be attending the University of Dayton in Ohio this fall where he plans to pursue a career in engineering and hopes to spend time studying abroad. 

ORAU Media Contacts and Information

About ORAU

ORAU, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, provides science, health, and workforce solutions that address national priorities and serve the public interest. Through our specialized teams of experts and access to a consortium of more than 150 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local, and commercial customers to provide innovative scientific and technical solutions and help advance their missions. ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Media Contacts

Pam BoneeDirector, CommunicationsCell: (865) 603-5142
Wendy WestManager, CommunicationsCell: (865) 207-7953