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.



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