University Announces 2023 Honors Scholarship Recipients


From left: Makenzie Fennell, Riley Surles, Danielle Sulenski, Ryan Nix, Lilly Preciado, Nathan Clance, Coral Church, Natalie Wingo.

by Buffy Lockette 

Enjoying their first semester on campus this fall are the recipients of JSU's top award for incoming students, the JSU Honors Scholarship.  

Only eight high school seniors are selected each year for the highly competitive scholarship. To qualify, applicants must have, at minimum, an ACT score of 30 or higher, a 3.75 GPA and demonstrated leadership and service in their schools and communities. Those selected are provided tuition, housing, a meal plan and books.  

"We are proud to welcome our new eight Honors Scholars to the Honors Program at JSU," said Dr. Lori Owens, Dean of Honors and Special Programs. "Not only are they bright and talented individuals, but they are also leaders with a heart for service. We look forward to the contributions they will make in the classroom, in campus life, and to the surrounding community during their four years at JSU." 

The 2023 honorees include:  

Coral Church: Coral graduated third in her class at Pell City High School, where she was active in several academic clubs including the English, Spanish and Mu Alpha Theta Honor Society. She served in several leadership roles, including dance line captain, Beta Club secretary, SGA executive vice president and president. In the community, she volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club, Veterans Home and at School Clean-up Day.  

Nathan Clance: Nathan graduated in the top 2 percent of students from Gordon County High School (Georgia), where he was a member of the National Honor Society and Tri-M Honors Society. The AP Scholar also received the University of Georgia Certificate of Merit and the College Board National Rural and Small Town Recognition Program Award. He was on the tennis team, served as percussionist and drum major in band and volunteered at Trinity Baptist Church and other non-profits.  

Makenzie Fennell: Makenzie graduated with high honors from Chelsea High School, where she was a member of Mu Alpha Theta, National Honors Society, Key Club and the basketball team. She was also a Chelsea Ambassador. In the community, she volunteered with her church youth band and for Habitat for Humanity.  

Ryan Nix: Ryan graduated with high honors from Hayden High School, where he served as SGA president, drumline section leader, was a member of Beta Club and served on yearbook staff. He also earned an award for Outstanding Achievement in US History and participated in the Youth Leadership Development Program. In the community, he volunteered with Walk for Warriors, Vacation Bible School and Peer Tutoring.  

Lilly Preciado: Lilly graduated as salutatorian of North Jackson High School, where she earned many awards including second place in the Alabama State Senior Beta Convention, second place in the Northeast Alabama Community College Aurora Writing Competition, and third place in the ArtsCon Competition and Jackson County Math Tournament. The SGA vice president and Beta Club president was also active in color guard, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta Honor Society and Jackson County Junior Leadership. She volunteered for the Angel Tree Program and with an elementary school festival. 

Danielle Sulenski: Danielle graduated with high honors from Chelsea High School, where she joined several organizations including the National Honor Society and the National Art Honor Society. She also played volleyball. In the community, she volunteered with the Chelsea Community Center, Angel Tree Program and at volleyball camps.  

Riley Surles: Riley graduated in the top 6 percent of his class from Pell City High School, where he was a member of the National English Honors Society, Math Honors Society, Spanish Honors Society, Beta Club and Interact Club. The Math Team president placed sixth at the State Math Competition. He was also active in sports, serving as wrestling captain and earning the wrestling Sloan “Boo” Harmon Character Award. He also played football and competed in track and field. He volunteered as a math tutor and assisted with a youth football camp.  

Natalie Wingo: Natalie graduated with high honors from Cleburne County High School, where she earned several honors, including placing second in the region and third in the state at the Web Design Tech Fair. She also participated in Spanish Club, History Club, Prayer and Bible Club, Drama Club and Future Farmers of America. She was presented the LE Bell Generosity Award having volunteered for childcare services, Feeding Cleburne and with Christmas toy fundraisers.