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Past All-Stars still shining 

The Arkansas Times sifted through the first 16 years of our Academic All-Star Team winners and got in touch with a handful to see what's happened to them in the years since.

Coming soon: An Arkansas Times Facebook page that we hope will give a spot for all past winners to renew acquaintances and compare notes.

Anandi Sheth was in the first class of Academic All-Stars when she graduated from Hall High School in 1995. Like the rest, she wasn't an All-Star for nothing: she went on to get her bachelor's degree at Rice University, majoring in history and biochemistry, and then did a medical residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Her travels in India as a child provoked an interest in infectious diseases and public health, and her first summer in medical school she spent in the Peruvian Amazon studying malaria. Her experiences in South America encouraged her studies in epidemiology, and she underwent further training at an HIV clinic in Uganda. Witnessing the devastating political and personal effects of that disease on her Ugandan community inspired Sheth to pursue a hands-on education in applied epidemiology — she wanted to assist in the surveillance, control, and prevention of food- and water-borne diseases, both in the United States and abroad. So, she moved to Atlanta to complete the Centers for Disease Control's Epidemic Intelligence Service, a two-year program in applied public health.

Today, Sheth remains in Atlanta, where this summer she will complete a fellowship at Emory University to become an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine. Her career goals include continued study concerning HIV transmission and prevention, especially in women. She married in 2009, and last September gave birth to a baby boy.

Quite a few All-Stars have gone on to join the medical community, but not Adrienne Nunnally, now Adrienne de Almeida. After graduating from Searcy High School in 1997, she got her bachelor's degree in English and computer science from Harding University. She moved to the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex to work for LST (Let's Start Talking) Ministry, a mission organization focused on using the Bible as a tool for teaching English. During her three years there she visited Rio de Janeiro on two mission projects, and in 2004 decided to become an LST intern there with the Church of Christ.

De Almeida is still in Rio, fluent in Portuguese, and continues supporting the various ministries of the Church of Christ. These days she trains volunteers to be leaders and teachers within the community and studies with pre-teen girls to help them navigate the trials of adolescence. All of this, while also coordinating the church's Children's Ministry, hosting international groups of missionaries, and teaching a conversational English class in the evenings. She's also a freelance translator, and is considering getting a master's degree in that field.

Married in 2007, she is looking forward to starting a family and has no plans to leave Rio.

≥ All-Stars seem to have no trouble staying busy. For instance, 1999 Fayetteville High School graduate Mary Claire Butt, who got her bachelor's degree in history, Spanish, and international studies from Wake Forest University, then graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arkansas School of Law. Her full academic plate didn't stop her from cheerleading and dedicating time to a sorority and other campus goings-on. To top it off, during her junior year she landed a spot on an episode of the TV game show "The Weakest Link" with a college cheerleader theme and won. Playing Trivial Pursuit really paid off — $74,000, in fact. One of the hardest things she's ever done was to not reveal the win to friends and family before the episode aired five months later.

Before law school, she packed up with her winnings and moved to Washington. With a bit of networking she landed a job as fund-raising assistant for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Not satisfied with just a full-time job, Butt returned to cheerleading when she tried out for, and made, the squad for the Baltimore Ravens. For one season she enjoyed the view from the field while still working on the Hill (NFL cheerleading isn't full time, and squad members are required to also be full-time students or workers). She quit cheerleading after becoming a junior staffer for Mark Pryor, and spent the next two years working for him in Washington. Today she still lives in Washington. She's Mary Claire York, a second-year litigation assistant associate at the international law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, and she's expecting her first child.

Lawrence Watts was recognized in 2005 when he graduated from Central High School. He received a degree in math from Princeton University in 2009, right in the middle of the economic recession that's still riding the headlines. Before leaving Princeton he took the Math GRE and the LSAT, with the intention of applying to law school, but instead he decided to take time off from academia and returned to Little Rock.

Back home, he took a job with Osborn Carreiro & Associates, an actuarial consulting firm that specializes in risk analysis of pension funding. Watts, a numbers person, enjoys it, despite the fact that to become an actuary requires a set of five rigorous exams covering corporate finance, economics, and statistics (he's passed three of the exams so far, and the next one is coming up in May). He's lately been spending a lot of time at the Capitol getting exposure to the legislative process — Osborn Carreiro & Associates are the actuaries of the Joint Retirement Committee, analyzing the potential impact of proposed retirement legislation in Arkansas.

Updates on some other past winners

Jordan Boyd-Graeber (ASMSA 2000) has a B.S. in history and computer science from California Institute of Technology, and a master's and Ph.D. in computer science from Princeton University. He is at the University of Maryland in College Park completing his first year as an assistant professor in the College of Information Studies.

Heath Schluterman (Fort Smith Northside 1997) graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor's degree and later a Ph.D., in chemical engineering. He is now a full-time instructor in the freshman engineering department at the University of Arkansas.

Richard Bruno (Little Rock Parkview 1998) got his B.A. in psychology from Princeton University, and is currently halfway through med school at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. He's working on universal healthcare coverage efforts, which he sees as this generation's great social movement.

Emma Huang (Little Rock Central 1998) has a B.S. in mathematics from the California Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. from the Department of Biostatistics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Today she lives in Brisbane, Australia, and works as a statistical geneticist for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia's primary research government organization.

Hugh Churchill (Conway 2001) lives in Cambridge, Mass., and is a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University. He got his B.A. in physics and mathematics from Oberlin College, and a bachelor's in tuba performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He also received his master's degree in physics from Harvard.

Carol Nixon (Pine Bluff 2001), now Carol Nixon Ricketts, received her B.A. magna cum laude in history from Hendrix College, and her JD from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. She lives in Little Rock and is an attorney with Hardin, Jesson & Terry PLC.

Sarah Wilhoit (ASMSA 2001) got her B.S. in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology and her M.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan. Today she lives in Pasadena, Calif., working as an engineer at St. Jude Medical, where she helps design pacemakers and ICDs (implantable cardioverter defibrillators).

Christin Spradley (Pine Bluff 2002) got her B.A. magna cum laude in political science from Duke University, and from 2006 to 2008 was a Peace Corps volunteer in the West African Republic of Mali. She is currently pursuing a law degree and has accepted a job at the New York office of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

Hannah DeBerg (North Little Rock 2003) graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor's in physics and mathematics, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate and biophysics researcher in the physics department of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Samuel Korbe (Springdale, 2003)graduated cum laude in biochemistry from the University of Tulsa, and is finishing his medical degree at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. He was recently matched to a residency in anesthesiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

An open invitation to all previous Academic All-Stars: Write us with news of yourself and e-mail addresses. We'd like to begin compiling a comprehensive list for all to follow.

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