UM Names Inaugural Class of Provost Honors Student Scholars

Provost Honors Scholars are enrolled in UM's Davidson Honors College.

MISSOULA – The University of Montana has named its very first class of Provost Honors Scholars for 2020 – a new scholarship for top students from around the nation chosen for their diverse and accomplished experiences.   

The prestigious award significantly reduces the cost of attendance at UM.

Representing five states and including 11 students from Montana, the scholarship was awarded to students for their merit in excellence academic performance, exemplary public service, demonstrated leadership, unique personal qualities and potential for future impact. Each student is enrolled in UM’s Davidson Honors College.

 “We are especially excited to add the Provost Honors Scholarship to the portfolio of premiere merit-based awards for incoming Davidson Honors College students this fall,” said Tim Nichols, DHC dean. “This scholarship allows us to attract and support top students from across the state and nation to pursue their academic and professional aspirations the University of Montana. Our first class of Provost Honors Scholars is extraordinary and certainly delivers on this promise.”

The class of 2020 Provost Honors Scholars are:



An image of Jacki OlexaJackie Olexa is a National Merit Scholar and will pursue both wildlife biology and computer science at UM. At Bozeman High School, Olexa played cello in the orchestra and was a member of both the National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society while participating in debate and academic olympics. She has worked in a barn since she was 6 years old and has worked as a counselor at Eagle Mount hippotherapy program. Olexa also enjoys embroidery and she said she is looking forward to meeting new friends and to trying new things when she comes to campus.




Christine Compton will study journalism at UM. She earned a 4.0-grade point average, has served as class president, yearbook editor and has traveled internationally playing her trombone. Compton also is an accomplished soccer player and served as president of the Japanese club at Billings West High School. 

This is a photo of Emily Tschetter.Emily Tschetter is majoring in journalism at UM. She’s an award-winning musician and was the principal cellist in the Billings Youth Orchestra. Tschetter was the speech captain of her high school forensics team and is an active volunteer for Planned Parenthood and other community organizations.






An image of Emma HindsEmma Hinds is a communicative sciences and disorders major. She learned sign language for her high school senior project and is planning a career as a future speech pathologist. At Bozeman High School, Hinds was a member of National Honor Society and was active in student government and volleyball. Hinds said she loves the UM campus and the friendly comforting environment of the DHC.




Columbia Falls

This is an image of Kimberley PeacockKimberly Peacock graduated from Columbia Falls High School and will explore a pre-nursing major at UM. She is an acclaimed long-distance runner and enjoys jazz band and working with dogs at Columbine Kennels. Peacock, a cancer survivor, said she is looking forward to participating in campus recreation and to the countless opportunities available at UM.





This is an image of Amelia HawesAmelia Hawes will study sociology at UM and is enrolling in the Franke Global Leadership Initiative. Passionate about travel and learning about other people and cultures, Hawes has already studied in Costa Rica and interned with an activist artist collective in New York City. While at Beaverhead County High School, she earned the global seal of biliteracy in Spanish, and was active in the Montana Youth Legislature. Hawes said she loves learning and is looking forward to her university classes and meeting new people.





This is a photo of Stella Eddy.Stella Eddy will study biology and Spanish at UM. She loves meeting new and interesting people and trying out vegan recipes as an accomplished baker. Eddy was active in track and field, soccer and skiing. She also volunteered at the local veterans food pantry and participated in Model United Nations, National Honor Society and Leaders of Tomorrow. 





This is an image of Bohdi HollmanBohdi Hollman intends to major in computer science and hopes to eventually become a software engineer. While at Flathead High School, Hollman was an individual state champion in speech and debate and was also active in Model United Nations, cross country and track and field. He holds a passion for long distance running, art and reading. Hollman said he is looking forward “to practically every aspect that the University of Montana has to offer.”





This is a picture of Scott O'DonnellScott O’Donnell will pursue history at UM. He is a two-time All-American speech and debater and served as team captain. O’Donnell participated in an immersion program in Peru and in was active in Academic WorldQuest and Model United Nations. He’s also been a lifeguard and swim instructor and served as trumpet section leader and a state music festival honoree.






Lillian Crews is a 4.0-grade-point-average student who was a two-time Montana All-State and All-Northwest Choir member. She is an active volunteer and will pursue journalism and creative writing at UM.

Seeley Lake

Ella Batchelder will pursue history and political science at UM. At Seeley Swan High School, she earned a 4.0-grade-point average and received the Presidential Award of Excellence. Batchelder was also class representative for student council, was captain of the Seeley Lake Nordic Club, and a leader for Seeley Lake’s elementary outdoor adventure program.


This is a picture of Noah VanderkarNoah Vanderkar, from Sacramento, will major in political science at UM, and is also interested in international business and climate change studies. Passionate about civic engagement, Vanderkar has volunteered on six local, state and federal campaigns, has served as a class officer and represented his high school at California Boys State. Additionally, he has volunteered at a local homeless and resource center and is a competitive club swimmer and volleyball player. Vanderkar said he is looking forward meeting new people and to new adventures in Montana.





This is a picture of McKenna JohnsonMcKenna Johnson, from Boise, will study journalism at UM. She will also be part of the Franke Global Leadership Initiative and hopes to participate in a student exchange. In high school, Johnson was editor of her high school newspaper, Key Club vice president and was a member of National Honor Society and the Studio C competitive dance team. Johnson also was the national youth correspondent for the Washington Journalism Media Conference. She enjoys the outdoors and is looking forward to hiking, skiing and kayaking in Montana.





Renna Al-Haj is from Rapid City, South Dakota, and she will study journalism at UM. Al-Haj participated in and volunteered with the Hugh O’Brien Leadership program. She was a member of All-State orchestra and choir and volunteered with Community Health Center of the Black Hills and the Black Hills Humane Society. A member of the National Honor Society, Al-Haj also served as president of the economics club, worked two jobs and was instrumental in local efforts to integrate social equality.


This shows Josiah Anderson on a bikeJosiah Anderson, from Tacoma, Washington, will study ecosystems science and restoration at UM, and hopes to minor in both music and climate change studies. In high school, Anderson was principle cellist in the Tacoma Youth Symphony. He’s also a nationally competitive cyclocross racer and is skilled at building and repairing bicycles. Anderson enjoys playing and listening to interesting music, camping in a hammock as often as he can, speaking and reading French and photography. He said he’s looking forward to spending time outside in the wilderness areas around Missoula that are easily accessible by bike.




A photo of Dylan CherulloDylan Cherullo, from Olympia, Washington, is a second-generation Grizzly and he will study economics and physics at UM. Cherullo participated in the National Outdoor Leadership School in Alaska and interned with a local clean tech start-up. He has served as a camp counselor, was a member of the National Honor Society, volunteered at a local food bank and played baseball and maintained fields for the Awesome Ford Raptors.





Shasta Hecht is from Olympia, Washington, and she will study English and creative writing at UM. A past participant in the DHC’s Schwanke Summer Honors Institute, Hecht is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys backcountry skiing and alpine ski racing. She was also captain of her cross-country team and was named hardest worker and most inspirational in her school awards. She volunteered at the Olympia Foodbank and was an Academic All-American.

This is a picture of Allison PeschekAllison Peschek, from Renton, Washington, will study wildlife biology and art at UM. She served as a page in the Washington State Legislature and was a member of the National Honor Society. Peschek is also an award-winning Girl Scout, a championship swimmer and a talented musician who plays bassoon, piano and percussion. Peschek said she’s looking forward to being part of the Grizzly Marching Band.





Contact: Timothy Nichols, UM Davidson Honors College Dean, 406-243-2534,