Two incoming freshmen named LU top scholars

Lamar University is proud to announce that two incoming freshmen have been tapped as Presidential Scholars. Bridge City High School senior Waverlee Cooper and Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School senior Luke Sodolak will both receive a full scholarship for four years at Lamar University covering tuition, fees, room and board and books, a value of $80,000.

This most prestigious scholarship for incoming freshmen only considers students who have a minimum 3.85 GPA, rank in the top 25% of their class and demonstrate leadership, service and/or creative endeavors.

“We are delighted to offer these two outstanding individuals full, four-year scholarships to attend Lamar University,” said Dr. Ken Evans, president. “These young people have achieved academically; they have served their community and have led their peers in numerous organizations, in the arts and through sports competitions. We look forward to having them on the LU campus.”  

Waverlee Cooper
Cooper will enter LU’s College of Arts and Sciences for the Fall Semester of 2021 to major in chemistry on
Waverlee Cooper
Waverlee Cooper
a pre-dental track. Long-term, Cooper hopes to specialize in orthodontics. As an AP student taking dual-credit courses in English, algebra, economics and U.S. government, Cooper ranked second in her class of 195. She participated in a variety of academic, sports, arts and service activities including National Honor Society, tennis and volleyball, Stark Reading and UIL solo and ensemble contest playing the saxophone and flute. Cooper tutored other students, completed service projects for the Salvation Army and served the homeless at the Port Arthur Hospitality Center. Cooper also received numerous and distinctive awards including the Honesty & Integrity Award given to a male and female in each grade by the Bridge City High School faculty.

“Being accepted into Lamar to pursue dentistry is a huge opportunity, and I am looking forward to continuing my journey as a cardinal, except now it will be a Lamar Cardinal,” said Cooper. “I am extremely excited to expand my academic career to the utmost standard of excellence.”

Three letters of recommendation were included with Cooper’s application confirming Cooper’s academic excellence but also noting her exceptional character.

“Having taught mathematics for 30 years, Waverlee is one of the outstanding students that I

have had the pleasure of working with,” said Bryan A. Christan, Bridge City High School math teacher.  “She is intelligent, dedicated and caring. She knows how to overcome obstacles and adversity. Most importantly in my estimation, she has exhibited kindness and caring towards her fellow classmates.”

Luke Sodolak
Luke Sodolak
Luke Sodolak
Sodolak will pursue his “love for the pure mechanics of being able to build things for engineering” when he enters the Lamar University College of Engineering for the Fall 2021 Semester to earn a degree in mechanical engineering. He plans to minor in biology with hopes to continue his education in biomedical engineering.

“Though I have always wanted to help people by pursuing some career related to the medical field, when my mom was going through her breast cancer treatments, my eyes were really opened to the vast expanse of improvement that I can achieve through the field of biomedical engineering,” said Sodolak. “I experienced first-hand how medical technology and devices can become so much greater to make things easier and less painful for the patients, and even to go so far as to save more patients' lives.”

During his high school career, Sodolak was very active in Boy Scouts of America. He played the drums and piano, ran cross country, played tennis and was the reigning champion of the ping pong club.

Sodolak was chosen for several leadership positions. He was chosen to represent Kelly High School at the Youth Leadership Southeast Texas Conference. He was also selected to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum, Explore STEM and the Rotary Youth Leadership Association Camp. Sodolak served his Boy Scout troop as senior patrol leader, which is the highest leadership position in the troop. Was a leader on the school Retreat Team, his church’s youth leadership team and was vice president of student council his sophomore and senior years.

As a junior in high school, Sodolak participated in Lamar Univerrsity’s College of Engineering Project Engineer and served on the championship team that built the best overall robot over the course of the week-long program.

“I have taught Luke for three years in pre-AP biology, AP biology and in anatomy and physiology.  One of Luke’s most outstanding traits as a student is his insatiable curiosity to learn new things.  He couples this with an outstanding work ethic and a desire to succeed in whatever he attempts,” said Loren Rice, teacher at Kelly High School.