Director of the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards
Suzanne McCray serves as the Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and the Director of Nationally Competitive Awards. As the director of the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, she has advised hundreds of University of Arkansas students concerning scholarship and graduate school applications. For three years, she served on the national program review committee for the Coca-Cola Scholarship, and she is currently serving a tenth year on the national selection committee for the Stewart L. and Morris K. Udall Scholarship review and her third on the Critical Language Scholarship review. Dr. McCray has been an active member of the National Association of Fellowships Advisors as well, serving as its president from 2003-2005. She has edited six volumes of essays on the topic of nationally competitive scholarships. The most recent include All Before Them: Student Opportunities and Nationally Competitive Fellowships (2015) and Road Less Traveled and other Perspectives on Nationally Competitive Scholarships (2017). She holds more than 300 meetings a year with students applying for scholarships, serves on a variety of campus scholarship committees, and is a member of the premed advisory committee. She earned bachelor’s (high honors) and masters’s degrees in English from the University of Arkansas and a PhD in English from the University of Tennessee.
Senior Associate Director of Nationally Competitive Awards
Emily Wright serves as Senior Associate Director for the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards. She advises students who are applying for scholarships and fellowships to support research initiatives and graduate education. As the Fulbright Program Adviser, Wright guides graduating seniors, graduate students, and alumni through the application process for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. She also serves as the Co-Director of the Advanced Placement Summer Institute, hosted by the University of Arkansas each summer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Arkansas and a Masters of Arts in International Affairs from the University of Oklahoma. Wright was awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study advanced Arabic in Salalah, Oman. Prior to joining ONCA, Wright worked in cross-cultural and higher education in Washington, DC.
Assistant Director of Nationally Competitive Awards
Matthew Halbert serves as Assistant Director for the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards. He advises students throughout their pursuit of scholarships and fellowships that support research initiatives and graduate education. Halbert coordinates the Celebrating Discovery Program which connects Arkansas high school students with current UA undergraduates and their research projects, assists with the Advanced Placement Summer Institute, and the Arkansas Reads program which provides books to elementary schools in the Arkansas Delta. Halbert holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Central Michigan University, Master of Arts from the University of Rochester and the University of Michigan, and is ABD for a Doctor of Musical Arts in Pedagogy at the University of Iowa.
Graduate Assistant for the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards
Hannah Carothers serves as the graduate assistant for the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards. She supports students throughout their application process by reviewing applications, answering questions, giving advice, and even offering a listening ear when needed. Carothers is also responsible for helping ONCA run efficiently on a day-to-day basis by providing general office support. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2021. During her undergraduate studies, Carothers performed her honors research and wrote her honors thesis on Stroop interference in foreign languages with the support of Dr. Bill Levine in the Psychology department. Currently, she is back at the University of Arkansas to pursue her Master of Science in Counseling with a focus on Mental Health Counseling.
Graduate Assistant for the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards
Drew Schulz is a graduate assistant for the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards. He assists in the day-to-day operations of ONCA, as well as assisting students with application and interview guidance. Drew has a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Truman State University in Kirksville Missouri. Currently he is working towards a Master of Music in Horn Performance at The University of Arkansas. His favorite activities include pickleball and hanging out with his cat Violet.
Courtney Hill graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and a minor in sustainability. In 2014, she taught English at a magnet high school in South Korea through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Environmental Engineering at the University of Virginia, where she investigates the relationship between human health and access to silver embedded ceramics as well as other mechanisms by which silver can be used to treat water in low income areas. Her graduate work is supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and a Ford Foundation Dissertation Completion Fellowship. In 2018, she was named a Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences. Previously, Courtney has has served as an advisor for the Center for Undergraduate Excellence working with students who apply for nationally competitive awards at the University of Virginia.
Ben Hood is the Founder and Chief Product Officer at WattBuy, an energy intelligence platform that gives personalized recommendations to homeowners for solar panels, batteries, and electricity plans, in order to save money and help the environment. He has been a software product manager for more than a dozen years, working at technology companies Apple, Endgame, Metabiota, and Aol. As a part of the diplomatic community, he has lived in Washington, DC, Warsaw, Poland, and Istanbul, Turkey, where he was the economics associate in charge of entrepreneurship, business and finance at the US Consulate. Prior to working in technology, Ben studied astrophysics, and earned his Ph.D. from the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, where he was a Marshall scholar and studied and simulated extrasolar planets. At the University of Arkansas, Ben was a Bodenhamer Fellow and graduated summa cum laude with dual degrees in computer engineering and physics. Ben and his wife Courtney currently live in the Washington DC area, with their three daughters, Lillian, Margaret, and Caraway.
Danielle Neighbour is a Foreign Affairs Officer with the U.S. Department of State, where she serves in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) covering transboundary water governance in East and Southeast Asia. Previously, she was a Schwarzman Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum, where she researched wastewater and water policy in the United States and China. She holds a Master's of Global Affairs from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, and a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering and Spanish minor from the University of Arkansas. Danielle is a Presidential Management Fellow, Schwarzman Scholar, and Truman Scholar.
Mariel Young graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in anthropology and Spanish. In 2014, she earned an MPhil in Human Evolutionary Studies from Cambridge, where she was supported by a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard, where she studies evolutionary and developmental genetics of embryonic bone growth. She also serves as a pedagogy fellow and works in science outreach for Harvard’s teaching and learning center.