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4/23/2012

First class of Hamilton Scholars announced during ceremony

Pictured, left to right, are: Gaylord College Dean Joe Foote, Hamilton Scholar Tahira Taqi, and Lindi Press, stepdaughter of Mildred Nichols Hamilton.

The Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication held its annual scholarship awards ceremony April 21, during which the first class of Mildred Nichols Hamilton Scholars was named.

Each Hamilton Scholar receives $2,000 per year for up to four years, providing they continue to meet academic criteria.

The recipients, all incoming freshmen, are:

  • Kayli Bollinger, McKinney, Texas
  • Jessica Freeman, Broken Arrow, Okla.
  • Nicole Forte, Tulsa
  • Tahira Taqi, Tulsa
  • Kaitlyn Underwood,  McKinney, Texas

Hamilton, who passed away in 2010, directed nearly $1 million of her estate to OU to establish a scholarship endowment for women students in the Gaylord College. The scholarship endowment is one of the largest in the Gaylord College.

A 1943 OU journalism alumna, she served as The Oklahoma Daily’s editor in the fall of 1943 and was the first woman ever to take a seat in the Oklahoma Memorial Stadium press box. She went on to have a storied career in journalism, reporting for the Baton Rouge, La., Morning Advocate and News; the Oklahoma City bureau of The Associated Press; the Vallejo Times-Herald; and the San Francisco Examiner, where she spent 30 years as a top feature writer.  She also covered national and international conferences on women’s rights.  In 1955, she received the Reid Foundation Fellowship, established by the Ogden Reid family of the New York Herald Tribune, and spent a year in Europe.   

Tahira Taqi’s parents, Nader and Dorene Taqi, said the scholarship was an unexpected blessing.

“It’s so amazing that someone was so generous to give back to this young generation. It is going to go a long way toward her education,” Nader Taqi said.

“I was really excited and grateful to be chosen as one of the recipients,” added Tahira, a Jenks High School senior who plans to study public relations at OU. “Journalism is such a growing field and a major part of our lives. This award makes me even more excited about coming here.”

Kayli Bollinger, a senior at McKinney Christian Academy, plans to study advertising. She said receiving the Hamilton Scholarship helped to influence her decision to come to OU.

“I was really excited to hear I received this scholarship,” she said. “I feel everything happens for a reason and, when I was awarded the scholarship, I said, ‘I need to be here at OU studying advertising.’”

Bollinger said she hopes someday to establish a youth ministry that promotes healthy and constructive lifestyles for adolescent girls. She said she will apply what she learns studying advertising at OU to help promote positive life choices.

Bollinger and Taqi said it’s an honor to be in the first class of Hamilton Scholars.

“I think she is a role model for females studying journalism,”Tahira Taqi said, “so it’s really exciting to follow in her footsteps.”

(Pictured, left to right, are: Gaylord College Dean Joe Foote, Hamilton Scholar Tahira Taqi, and Lindi Press, stepdaughter of Mildred Nichols Hamilton. Press, who serves as Academic Committee Coordinator for the Office of the University Registrar at Stanford University, traveled from California to meet the first class of Hamilton Scholars.)