Suffolk student winner of first Hillcrest Scholarship at JMU

Published 3:41 pm Saturday, April 28, 2012

Michelle Amaya, a Suffolk native and sophomore biology pre-physician assistant major at James Madison University, has been awarded the Hillcrest Scholarship. Her winning proposal to engage in a service-leadership global health immersion program in Bolivia was selected from 15 applicants.

The scholarship was established this year by the Honors Advisory Council, a group composed of JMU and honors alumni and supporters of the Honors Program. It is awarded to an outstanding sophomore honors student selected on the basis of their proposed project, their academic achievements and intellectual promise, their leadership experience and community engagement and their ability to make a significant contribution to society in the future. The winning scholars are provided with financial assistance, which supports an off-campus summer enrichment experience undertaken in the summer between their junior and senior years. Students may use the scholarship to carry out research, participate in an internship, engage in a service-learning project or fund language training or another training program related to the applicant’s academic goals.


The $7,500 scholarship will allow Amaya to participate in a global health immersion program called Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care. Amaya will first receive training as a Certified Nursing Assistant through the BonSecours Nurse Aide Training Program at DePaul Medical Center in Norfolk. Following this training, Amaya will engage in a clinical rotation program through Child Family Health International, which serves impoverished and at-risk children and adolescents of La Paz, Bolivia.


Email newsletter signup

Applicants for the Hillcrest Scholarships worked closely with faculty mentors to develop innovative project proposals. They submitted draft portfolios consisting of a résumé, letter of support from the faculty mentor, personal statement, project proposal, budget, and other supporting documents in December, and final portfolios in January.

“The diversity of applications for the first annual Hillcrest Scholarship,” said Chris Bachmann, who served on the research selection committee, “was truly amazing — from helping North Korean refugees build better lives to studying Russian culture in St. Petersburg to conducting medical research in the Netherlands to aiding an orphanage in Mozambique — and showed me just how involved and engaged our students really are with the world around them.”

The JMU Honors Program offers enhanced academic opportunities, inside and outside of the classroom, to intellectually gifted and highly motivated students. It currently enrolls more than 900 students who come from all of the university’s majors and colleges. It has added several new programs and opportunities for students in the last few years, including an honors hall in one wing of Shenandoah Hall, honors seminars abroad in London and Florence, Honors Faculty Fellows, and the Hillcrest Scholarships. Students can enter the honors program as freshmen, sophomores, or in their junior year to complete a senior honors project.