Front left: Amy Escobedo, Abby Kerr, Ashley Hernandez-Rojo, Adamari Escobedo, Esmeralda Almaguer Back left: Kenady Hathorn, Cailyn Crow, Rosa Torres  –  Not pictured: Austin Brown


Nine Lufkin High School students are experiencing what it feels like to have a life-changing phone call or email. Senior Abby Kerr was on her way out to view the eclipse with her classmates when she got the call.

“I was excited, but also overwhelmed,” Abby said. “I missed their call so I tried to call them back. It was during the solar eclipse. I told them ‘I can’t hear you. I’m walking inside’. And then I hear ‘we’d like to offer you the scholarship’. I was jumping up and down.”

The scholarship Abby is referring to is the prestigious Smith-Hutson Scholarship that provides free tuition, books, fees and living expenses on campus. Abby will attend Stephen F. Austin State University in the fall majoring in nursing. Abby is head majorette in the Lufkin Panther Band and participates in the Patient Care Technician program and National Honor Society. Lufkin High School has eight students who are receiving the Smith-Huston scholarship to attend Angelina College, Sam Houston State University or Stephen F. Austin State University, and one student who received the Terry Foundation Scholarship.

The Smith-Hutson Scholarship was established to provide post-secondary opportunity for students who may not have otherwise had a chance to earn a degree. According to the Sam Houston State University website, the Smith-Hutson Scholarship Program is targeted toward individuals who have demonstrated academic prowess, leadership potential, and financial need. To remain eligible for renewal, scholars must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5 and a minimum of 30 semester credit hours each year.

Two Lufkin High School students will be attending Sam Houston State University on a Smith-Hutson Scholarship,  Ashley Hernandez-Rojo and Adamari Escobedo. Ashley is major in accounting. She is a Panther Pride lieutenant, a member of National Honor Society and the Soccer Sweethearts. Adamari is majoring in psychology and minoring in victim studies. She is a member of National Honor Society, Communities in School and Future Farmers of America (FFA).

“I was at my grandparents’ house the day of my interview,” Adamari said. “Mr. Garcia (from Sam Houston State University) said, ‘We’ll let you know within five days at the latest; you might want to answer a call from Chris Garcia.’ (But on the same day) I answered and he said, ‘You’re a part of the Smith-Hutson family!'”

Amy Escobedo, Esmeralda Almaguer and Rosa Torres will be attending Angelina College on the Smith-Hutson Scholarship. Amy will participate in the nursing program. Currently, she’s involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Patient Care Technician program and manager for the softball program. Esmeralda Almaguer will major in accounting and minor in marketing. She is a team member on the LHS Soccer team and participates in Communities in School and the Animal Rights Club. Rosa will major in diagnostic medical sonography. She participates in the Ignite Club and the Pan American Club. Rosa said she received an email that she would be receiving a full ride to Angelina College.

“I was teary-eyed,” she said.

Cailyn Crow received the Smith-Hutson to attend Stephen F. Austin State University to major in aviation. She is in the STEM Academy, National Honor Society and Interact Club that is affiliated with the Rotary Club.

“It was a huge burden lifted,” Cailyn said. “We wondered how are we going to pay $80K in tuition?”

Kenady Hathorn’s full ride is coming from a different foundation, the prestigious Terry Foundation. She will be attending Texas A&M University to major in mechanical engineering. She is a Panther Pride lieutenant and involved in the STEM Academy and National Honor Society.

She found out that she received the scholarship when she was leaving the high school.

“I started crying,” Kenady said. ” I’m super thankful. I didn’t know how I was going to pay for that (college tuition). It was all God’s provision.”

Lufkin High School senior Austin Brown received the Smith-Huston scholarship to attend Angelina College. He was unavailable for comment and photo.

(Photo by: ANDY ADAMS/Lufkin ISD)