FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Four talented, driven Arkansas high school graduates joined the distinguished list of Sturgis Fellows in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences this fall.

The 2018 class members are: Mia Alshami of Little Rock, Josie Carson of Pearcy, Sarkis “Sam” Kalajyan of Hot Springs, and Beck Williams of Fort Smith.

“We are very excited to have these scholars join Fulbright College,” said Todd Shields, dean of Fulbright College. “They are among the best and brightest students from across the state of Arkansas, and have already accomplished so much. We can’t wait to see what they’ll achieve next!”

The Sturgis Fellowship is the University of Arkansas’ oldest and among its the most prestigious fellowship programs. It awards each fellow $72,000 over four years, covering tuition, room and board, and provides support for educational tools such as computer hardware and software, high-quality musical instruments, professional journals and participation at academic conferences. Sturgis Fellows must pursue a major within Fulbright College, complete an intensive academic program and graduate with honors. They are also encouraged to study abroad.

The fellowships are made possible by the continual support of the Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable and Educational Trust.

“For the past three decades, the Sturgises’ support has funded this wonderful program and created so many amazing educational and study abroad opportunities for the fellows,” said Kirstin Erickson, director of the Fulbright College Honors Program. “We are incredibly grateful and honored that they have established such a meaningful living legacy in this way.”

Since 1986, Sturgis Fellows have won Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Gates Cambridge, Goldwater and Fulbright Scholarships. Their undergraduate study abroad experiences have included programs in Japan, England, India, South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda, China, Russia, Italy, Germany, Austria, Australia, Scotland, Ireland and Spain.

About the 2018 Sturgis Fellows:

Mia Alshami, a graduate of Pulaski Academy, was an AP Scholar who graduated with honors, and participated in the Outstanding Model U.N. at the Northwestern MUN conference, the MIT conference, and the Arkansas conference. She studied natural science at the Arkansas Governor’s School and attended Arkansas Girls State. She also competed in numerous science fairs, and qualified for the national Junior Science and Humanities Symposia. Additionally, she was president of her school’s Amnesty International chapter, tennis team captain and two-time state tennis champion and completed a senior thesis on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. She plans to major in chemistry with an emphasis in biochemistry, with goals of medical or law school. Her parents are Ayman and Bana Alshami.

Josie Carson, a graduate of Lake Hamilton High School, was an AP Scholar with Distinction and a member of both the cross country and track teams. She was selected as the Gatorade Arkansas Player of the Year for Girls Cross Country in her junior and senior year, was named to the All Arkansas Academic Track and Field Team, and is on the University of Arkansas women’s track and field team. She was flute section leader and first chair in band, senior class vice president, student council treasurer, secretary of Mu Alpha Theta and a member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club. She plans to major in chemistry with an emphasis in biochemistry. Her parents are Eric and Deonne Carson.

Sarkis “Sam” Kalajyan, a graduate of the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts, was a community leader in his school, a member of the National Honor Society and Robotics clubs and attended Arkansas Boys State. He was also co-captain of the school’s flag football team. He volunteered with Hot Springs National Park, receiving the Hartzog Award with his volunteer group. He plans to major in biology, chemistry and/or psychology. His parents are Amy Torosyan and Jack Kalajyan.

Beck Williams, a graduate of Southside High School, was a National Merit Finalist and a National AP Scholar. He is an Eagle Scout and was a part of Boy Scout Troop 3 of Fort Smith. Additionally, he was vice president of his class for three years, and president of the Southside Maverick Band as well as the trombone section leader during his senior year. He is an alumnus of the Fort Smith Junior Leadership Academy, was a volunteer soccer coach for seven-year-olds and volunteered with a local political campaign. He plans to double major in political science and mathematics, with a focus on statistics. His parents are Nancy and Bruce Perkinson.

About the Fellowship: The Sturgis Fellowship in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences was established at the University of Arkansas in 1985 through the generous philanthropy of the Dallas-based Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable and Educational Trust with an endowment of $2 million. The program’s success led to additional gifts in 1992 and 1998, bringing the total program endowment to $10 million. With only 16-20 Sturgis Fellows on campus at any given time, each receives the kind of individual attention from the director, associate director and staff of the Fulbright College Honors Program that delivers a memorable and productive college experience.

About the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences: The J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is the largest and most academically diverse unit on campus with 19 departments and 43 academic programs and research centers. The college provides the core curriculum for all University of Arkansas students and is named for J. William Fulbright, former university president and longtime U.S. senator.