CHICKASHA – Two USAO student-athletes will find it a little easier to pay for college after receiving an exclusive scholarship: The Bill and Pat Smith Scholar-Athlete Scholarship.
Paige Pulliam, women’s basketball guard, and Seth Sturgeon, baseball pitcher, are this year’s scholarship recipients.
The scholarship is awarded each year to one male and one female USAO athlete who exemplify the concept of student-athlete. Candidates must make a significant contribution to their team, observe high standards of sportsmanship and earn a 3.0 GPA or higher.
Pulliam is a two-time recipient of the scholarship, having won it last season as well. The biology junior has been a two-year starter on the women’s basketball team.
Pulliam has been a crucial force on the court, leading the team in scoring with a 14.11 average for the 2011-12. Additionally, she’s maintained a 3.91 grade point average as a biology major over her two years at USAO.
“I do play sports, but I also do volunteer and the other stuff they set up. I also keep a high GPA,” she said. “I’m a huge nerd … I love working hard in school.”
Pulliam’s professors and new basketball coach, Jennifer Hayden, noticed her hard work in the classroom and on the court, as she received three nominations.
“She was actively involved in all aspects of the courses and frequently asked shrewd questions during lectures and reviews,” said Dr. J.C. Sanders, assistant professor of physics. “If all our students were like Paige, it would make our jobs as educators much easier … Paige truly represents the best and the brightest of USAO and is an exemplary scholar, athlete and citizen.”
Dr. Roch Chan-Yu-King, chemistry professor, echoed Sanders’ sentiments about Pulliam’s work ethic.
“As is evident from her overall grade point average, Paige is an intelligent, hard working and highly focused student,” he said. “She is well liked by her fellow students and faculty members.”
In addition to her classroom work and significance on the court, Pulliam is involved in several campus activities. She is an active member of Colleges Against Cancer, the Biology and Associated Sciences Club, a participant in USAO’s annual day of service Drover Difference Day and the recipient of USAO’s Emerging Leaders Award.
“I was super excited to find out. It feels really good. It makes me feel like my hard work isn’t going unnoticed,” Pulliam said. “It makes me really happy. I feel really honored, especially when three different people nominated me for it. It makes me feel really good that they think of me like that.”
Pulliam is from Newcastle. She is the daughter of Wes and Janice Pulliam.
As a first-year Drover last year, Sturgeon shined on the field and in the classroom.
Sturgeon was one of the Drover baseball team’s conference starting pitchers, earning a 7-1 record for the season. He had the second lowest earned run average on the team and threw 41 strikeouts on the season.
Additionally, the sociology senior has maintained a 3.79 grade point average. Sturgeon’s academics and athletic talent were enough to earn him Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete honor this past season except that he was a transfer student.
Sturgeon said he was really excited and honored to receive the scholarship, especially because it relieves some financial burdens.
“The scholarship really takes up a big chunk of what my parents and I were going to have to pay initially,” he said. “I’ve worked hard in the classroom and on the field, so it’s nice to see it paying off.”
Both head baseball coach Mike Ross and James Finck, Ph.D., assistant professor of American history, agree that Sturgeon is a leader both on the field and in the classroom.
“I have had Seth in two of my history classes this past year and have been very impressed by his work, knowledge and leadership,” Finck said. “I quickly realized I had a quality student, but where he surprised me the most was his leadership with the other players … Without him, they would not have done as well as they did.”
Ross named Sturgeon as a captain as a junior transfer.
“Seth takes his academics very serious and understands the importance of the USAO experience,” Ross said. “On the field, Seth is a model athlete whose work ethic is above and beyond many others I have coached ... He is one of the best young men I have ever coached.”
Sturgeon said he was honored to have received the scholarship that is awarded to just one male USAO athlete a year.
“I was ecstatic. It’s something I’m really honored to have received,“ he said. “I’m really excited and appreciative I could receive it.”
Sturgeon is from Enid. He is the son of Steve and Connie Hart.