Two Presidential Scholarship recipients lead this year’s list of four high school seniors who have won the top scholarships offered at Erskine College. The students were chosen from among 30 finalists interviewed on the Erskine campus Feb. 5-6.
Ashton Coker, a senior at Emerald High School, Greenwood, S.C., and Alexis Lyda, a senior at Woodruff High School, Woodruff, S.C., were each selected to receive an Erskine College Presidential Scholarship.
The Presidential Scholarship is the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship offered at Erskine College. Named in honor of the 16 presidents who have served Erskine College since its founding in 1839, the scholarship covers tuition, room, board, and fees, minus any state, federal, and outside scholarships or grants. The scholarship is renewable for four years of study and is valued at approximately $170,000. Recipients are required to uphold the ideals and standards of Erskine College.
Coker, a member of the National Honor Society, was a 2015 Palmetto Boys State attendee and played varsity golf. He has volunteered with the American Cancer Society and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and has participated in Relay for Life, the Charleston-Columbia Food Relief Drive, and a Triathlon for Children’s Literacy. He has assisted with Angel Tree, mission trips, Bible school, and the Mission Friends children’s program at his church.
He plans to major in chemistry and is interested in research and in going on to graduate school. He believes that Erskine, with its small size and focus on students, will offer him an opportunity to “get a start on my research career” as well as deepen his knowledge. He hopes to undertake research projects as an undergraduate and to present and publish his work.
Lyda, a member of the National Honor Society who has served on student council, is president of the National Art Honor Society, a club for artists with a focus on community service. She is varsity tennis team captain; is a mentor for new students in the Advanced Placement art program; and assists the guidance department with school tours and new student orientation. She has worked as a volunteer at Hope Academy, a school for autistic students, has led praise and worship teams for youth groups, and is active in youth and children’s ministries at her church.
She hopes to major in psychology and continue her study of visual art, eventually pursuing a master’s degree in art therapy. She has worked with a mentor whom she has shadowed at a local center for autistic education and says this has enabled her to “help others while growing myself” and to discover “my calling, my true purpose.”
Selected from among the 30 Presidential Scholarship finalists to receive the Solomon Scholarship, which covers tuition and is renewable for a total of four years of study, were Sarah Kate Coleman of Columbia, S.C., and Grace Anne Williams of Conway, S.C. The Solomon Scholarship is valued at approximately $120,000.
Coleman attends Richland Northeast High School, where she is a member of the National Honor Society and has participated in Student Government and French Club. She has also been involved with Palmetto Center for the Arts Dance, Palmetto Center for the Arts Theater, and Hope 365, and has worked on service projects through Girl Scouts and her church youth group. Last summer she went on a mission trip to Jamaica, assisting an organization that provides a home and care for some of the most vulnerable members of the community.
She hopes to major in psychology and eventually earn a Ph.D. in criminal psychology. She would also like to become an American Sign Language Translator. She describes her “greater calling” as making a difference in the lives of people who are “often overlooked by society.”
Williams attends Carolina Forest High School, where she is an AP Scholar with Distinction, a member of the National Honor Society, and was a member of marching band for five years, serving as color guard captain during her last season. She was Second Chair Oboe for the South Carolina All-Region Band in 2013. A member of Interact Club, she is also been active in the youth organization at her church.
Williams plans to major in psychology and hopes to go on to graduate school. She would like to work for an international organization and is interested in the challenges of helping “political leaders of the world work together.”
The scholarship winners, all outstanding students, will be welcomed to the Erskine community in the fall when they begin their freshman year as members of the Class of 2020.