By Jackie Torok
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has announced its newest cohort of Cheatham-White Scholarship recipients, representing some of the highest-achieving students among members of the class of 2026.
The 20 academically talented first-year students boast an average cumulative GPA of 4.45 and, on average, ranked in the top 5 to 10 percent of their graduating high school classes. Fifteen hail from North Carolina, with the others from Maryland, Minnesota and Virginia. They represent six of the university’s academic colleges: the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics, College of Engineering, John R. and Kathy R. Hairston College of Health and Human Sciences, and College of Science and Technology.
“Cheatham-White Scholars distinguish themselves through their abilities and their work, whether in the classroom or in the community,” said Margaret I. Kanipes, Ph.D., N.C. A&T Honors Program director. “As Aggies, they will be challenged, enlightened and prepared for continued success in their every endeavor as future leaders and innovators.”
“Our fifth cohort of Cheatham-White Scholars represents a continuing commitment to academic excellence,” said Interim Provost Tonya Smith-Jackson, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. “We are confident these students will enhance their skills and develop their talents to achieve every goal they have set for themselves, now and in the future.”
The Cheatham-White Scholarship, established in 2018, is named for Henry P. Cheatham and George H. White, two African Americans who represented North Carolina in the United States Congress around the turn of the 20th century. From difficult beginnings – Cheatham was born enslaved, and White, the son of a mother whom historians say was also likely enslaved – each worked hard to earn a university education before launching careers in teaching, law and ultimately public service.
The scholarship is a fully funded four-year award that covers the costs of tuition, student fees, housing, meals, textbooks, a laptop computer, supplies, travel and personal expenses. It also provides four summers of fully funded enrichment and networking opportunities that may include international travel and study. It is a truly complete award designed to recognize academic achievement and potential at the highest levels.
This year’s scholars are listed below in alphabetical order:
- Brandon Artis, son of Michael and Pamela Artis, is from Chester, Virginia, and a graduate of Lloyd C. Bird High School. He is studying biology with a minor in animal science. After completing his degree in biology, he plans to attend medical school to become an emergency medicine physician.
- Destiny Baines, daughter of Correy and Lakisha Baines, is from Whitsett, North Carolina, and a graduate of Dudley High School. She is studying bioengineering to obtain a Ph.D. in pharmacology and become a licensed pharmacist in North Carolina. She would like to come back to her community and open a pharmacy in a disadvantaged area.
- Iyona Barnes, daughter of Dwight Hinnant and Keshia Lilly, is from Baltimore and a graduate of Baltimore City College. She is studying nursing with a minor in psychology. Her ultimate career goal is to become a travel nurse anesthetist to help African American teenagers who may have less access to quality health care.
- Nahdia Benson, daughter of Derrick Benson and La Donna Bonneville, is from Raleigh, North Carolina, and a graduate of Thales Academy. She is studying mechanical engineering with a minor in computer science. After graduation, she plans to earn a master’s degree in mechanical engineering with a concentration in robotics. Her career goal is to be a robotics engineer, either in automation or defense.
- Kari Brown, daughter of Jay and Christina Brown, is from Clayton, North Carolina, and a graduate of Cleveland High School. She is studying architectural engineering, with plans to work at an architectural firm while pursuing a master’s degree in architecture. Her goal is to be a licensed architect and one day open her own architectural firm, serving as a role model and advocate for minorities in architecture.
- Joshua Clark, son of Raymond Clark and Cheryl Cobb, is from Knightdale, North Carolina, and a graduate of Enloe High School and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. He is studying agricultural and environmental systems with a minor in biological engineering. His career goal is to improve people’s lives using botany through agriculture, pharmacology, sustainability, or some other field, but preferably through a self-owned small business.
- Bruce Davis III, son of Bruce and Tiana Davis, is from Raleigh and a graduate of Wake Young Men’s Leadership Academy. He is studying civil engineering with a minor in landscape architecture. His career goal is to start his own landscape architecture firm that uses sustainable practices of engineering and architecture to collaborate on projects locally and across the nation.
- Myla Fowlkes, daughter of Christopher and Melissa Fowlkes, is from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and a graduate of Park Center International Baccalaureate World School. She is studying bioengineering with plans to become an intellectual property attorney. This career is extremely important to her because she can help patent life-saving devices and protect the property of creators and inventors around the world.
- Warren Glover II, son of Warren and Keya Glover, is from Clemmons, North Carolina, and a graduate of Simon G. Atkins High School. He is studying mechanical engineering with a concentration in aerospace. After graduation, he plans to enter the workforce as an aerospace engineer at NASA where he can contribute to space exploration.
- Taylor Harding, daughter of Anthony and Abenah Harding, is from Morrisville, North Carolina, and a graduate of Research Triangle High School. She is studying liberal studies with a pre-law concentration. Her goal is to own a medical law firm focusing on protecting and bringing justice to minorities and other marginalized groups discriminated against in the healthcare system.
- Kyle Hilliard, son of Kevin and Katrina Hilliard, is from Greensboro, North Carolina, and a graduate of the STEM Early College at N.C. A&T. He is studying industrial and systems engineering with a minor in psychology. After the completion of his undergraduate degree, he plans to attend graduate school.
- Myla Hudson, daughter of Mark and KaTrina Hudson, is from Charlotte, North Carolina, and a graduate of Mallard Creek High School. She is studying biology with a minor in psychology. Her ultimate career goal entails working with organizations such as the U.S. Peace Corps as an international travel doctor specializing in pediatric or oncology care.
- Jarrod Mason, son of Andre and Michele Mason, is from Cornelius, North Carolina, and a graduate of Merancas Middle College at Central Piedmont Community College. He is studying computer science with a minor in finance. After graduating from college, he plans on pursuing a career in cybersecurity as a cybersecurity analyst, particularly in banking, to combine his interests in computer science and finance.
- Richard Obi, son of Martin and Chinyere Obi, is from Baltimore and a graduate of Chesapeake High School STEM Academy. He is studying nursing with a minor in business. His career goal is to be employed as a pediatric nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital. After a few years as a nurse, he intends to further his studies to become a nurse practitioner.
- Samia Powell, daughter of Sammy Powell and Natasha Hannah, is from Durham, North Carolina, and a graduate of Hillside New Tech High School. She is studying business information technology with a minor in finance. Her career goal is to work in a STEM-related job, specifically in business analytics, with plans to start a clothing and embroidery business as well as a faith-based business focused on serving others and spreading the word of God.
- Nayla Seda, daughter of Jonas Welcher and Yvonda Seda, is from Garner, North Carolina, and a graduate of Sanderson High School. She is studying architectural engineering with a minor in journalism. After graduating from college, she plans to pursue a career in construction and property management.
- Jessica Solomon, daughter of Dr. Darley and Dana Solomon, is from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and graduated from Atkins Academic and Technology High School. She is studying biology and plans to pursue a career in research where she can discover innovative solutions to medical questions and topics.
- Jordan Speller, son of Travis and Nashima Speller, is from Durham and a graduate of Josephine Dobbs Clement Early College High School. He is studying biology with a minor in bioengineering. After completing his degree, he plans on attending medical school. His goal is to become a cardiologist.
- Joshua Wilkins, son of Reginald and Natisha Wilkins, is from Charlotte and a graduate of Cato Middle College High School. He is studying bioengineering with a minor in business. His career goal is to be a biomedical engineer. He wants to focus more on creating prosthetics and tools like pacemakers to help save lives.
- Eryn Yarrell, daughter of Eric and Joan Yarrell, is from Alexandria, Virginia, and a graduate of Hayfield Secondary School. She is studying bioengineering with a minor in African-American history and Spanish. Her ultimate goal is to pursue a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in minority disparities and then attend medical school. Her end goal is to become either a reconstructive plastic surgeon or an obstetrician-gynecologist.