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by Norm Miller

PINEVILLE, La. (LCNews)--Louisiana College held its annual Smith Scholarship competition January 27 and awarded the top prize of a full-ride scholarship to Alena Noakes, a senior at Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts in Natchitoches.

Alena was selected from among 25 highly qualified competitors, all of whom were considered based on their academic achievement of a 28 ACT score, as well as their leadership qualities and Christian character.

"It was a very tough year, they were an incredible group of students," said Dr. Cathy Eschete, Director of Field Experience and assistant professor in LC’s School of Education.

The contestants were "academically gifted, just well rounded. Very involved in their schools, in community service, just an outstanding group of students. They all interviewed well so it was a tough decision for us today," Eschete said.

Alena said she was surprised to hear her name announced as the winner. "It was really shocking because I didn't expect it. I've worked really hard, but everyone here was so unique and so different -- it wasn't something I expected to happen to me. I met some really awesome people here and they all deserve it, they all deserve the recognition."

The other competitors who choose to attend LC this fall will receive an annual scholarship of $8,500 and will join the CS Lewis Honors Scholars program.

“We are very thankful for the students who honored us by entering the competition,” said LC President Dr. Rick Brewer. “What a privilege it is for us to be considered worthy by these young accomplished scholars.”

Brewer was gratified that Alena attends LSMSA, a school that emphasizes the importance of the Arts. “STEM must become STEAM is more than a catchy quip we often repeat. At Louisiana College it is reality. We believe the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math all are undergirded and enhanced by the Arts, which hones the skills of analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and problem solving. The STEAM reality at LC will help Alena feel right at home as she continues her academic preparation.”

Justin Noakes, Alena’s father, said he and his wife Sydni are “most happy that Alena will be close to home and will pursue her degree with like minded students.  He also said his daughter “will thrive in an environment of good Christian people” and that he is “happy with what Dr. Brewer is doing at LC.”

Justin is an alum of LC, as is his wife, his father, and son Lane. Son Clayton is a student at LC.

An endowment donation from Tom and Beverly Durham to honor Mrs. Durham’s mother, Elizabeth Smith, founded the Smith Scholarship in the early 1970s. LC Board of Visitors member Andrew Cutrer represented the Durham family at the event.

“The Durhams established this scholarship many years ago based on their love for their alma mater and a deep commitment to Christian higher education,” said Cutrer, a 1995 LC alumnus and senior vice president for Human Resources at Red River Bank. “The Smith Scholarship has changed the lives of many individuals by giving them an opportunity to attend this wonderful college.”

Cutrer said LC is a “special place ... ordained by God. We must never forget that.  We are proud of the work that Dr. Brewer and his staff are doing here at LC.  Good things are happening here, and it is apparent in the attitude and spirit on this campus and in the community.”