Nine University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff freshmen in the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences have each been awarded $1,000 Electric Cooperative of Arkansas (ECA) scholarships. Recipients are: Justin Arledge, Mark Carlock, Morgan Ely, Jamison Murry, Darren Young, all of Pine Bluff; Michael Jones of Monticello, Ark.; Kayla Reynolds of Memphis, Tenn.; Justin Thomas of Sherwood and Jonathan Watson of Little Rock.

The scholarship is made possible through the ECA Mentoring Scholars Program, said Dr. Linda L. Okiror, SAFHS associate dean. Students designated as Mentoring Scholars attend regularly scheduled sessions with a faculty mentor in their major and receive additional advisement and support from their mentors during their freshman year.

Mentors participating in the program at UAPB are Dr. Shadrach Okiror, Dr. Tracy Dunbar, Dr. Ondieki Gekara and Rita Conley (agriculture), Dr. Kaye Crippen (merchandising, textiles and design), Alicia Farmer (regulatory science) and Dr. Steve Lochmann (aquaculture/fisheries).

"The faculty/student mentoring concept has contributed to the success of these students in many ways," Dr. Okiror said. "Eighty-two percent of the Scholars have remained at UAPB and have either completed their degrees or are still enrolled."

The national retention rate for four-year public, open enrollment universities is 67.8 percent. The freshmen Scholars have been retained to the sophomore year at a rate of 96.5 percent compared to the UAPB freshmen retention rate of 59.5 percent. Eighty-five percent of the eligible seniors have graduated, completing their degrees in an average of 4.5 years and earning an average grade point average of 3.18. Six Scholars are expected to graduate by May 2014.

Eighty-seven SAFHS freshmen have been designated as Mentoring Scholars and each awarded $1,000 scholarships by the ECA since 1998. Many Scholars develop a close relationship with the mentor and continue to be advised by them throughout their degrees.

Many are offered employment and contribute to their faculty mentor’s research program following the freshman year.

"Recent Scholars have participated in research projects in animal science by vaccinating, feeding and weighing farm animals," Dr. Okiror said. "Recently, two textiles and fashion design Scholars entered their designs at a fashion completion in Dallas under the guidance of their faculty mentors. Many other Scholars have made scientific presentations and published their research under the supervision of their mentor."

For more information about how incoming freshmen can apply for the ECA Mentoring Scholars Program, contact Dr. Linda L. Okiror, associate dean of the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences at 870-575-8538 or email