Thomas R. Pack of Ada, East Central University's first Truman Scholar, will be honored Friday [APRIL 28] as the recipient of the prestigious $500 George Nigh Award as ECU's top senior.

Pack will receive the award from former Gov. George Nigh at a luncheon in the South Dining Hall of Taff Cafeteria in ECU's Memorial Student Union. The luncheon is open to the public and the cost is $5. The buffet line will open at 11:30 a.m. Reservations, while not required, can be made by calling the ECU President's Office at 310-5213.

Presiding officers of area civic groups will be seated at the head table and members of those groups are encouraged to attend.

Pack and finalists Amanda Henson of Oklahoma City and Laura Kysar of Edmond will be honored by ECU officials and community leaders for their outstanding academic performance.

The Nigh Award is based on academic achievement, character and potential contribution to public service.

"Thomas has lofty goals, but they are not just for his own personal benefit," said Dr. Bill Cole, president of ECU. "His desire to work in international development has the potential to help people all over the world. He has given a lot of thought to planning his future education and experiences with this goal in mind, and I'm confident he will find success and great satisfaction in his work."

Pack is the 27th recipient of the Nigh Award. The late Julian Rothbaum, a Tulsa oil man, banker and one-time state regent for higher education, established an endowment to fund the award in honor of the former governor.

Nigh, also a former president of the University of Central Oklahoma, began his political career by serving four terms in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He then served four terms as lieutenant governor and two terms as governor.

Coincidentally, Pack also is the 2006 recipient of the $1,000 George and Donna Nigh Public Service Scholarship for outstanding students preparing for careers in public service.

Pack, who was home-schooled, was concurrently enrolled at ECU when he was 16. He is majoring in political science and has a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation selected Pack and a University of Tulsa student last spring as Oklahoma's Truman Scholars for 2005. They were among 75 scholars nationwide chosen out of 602 candidates on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability and the likelihood of "making a difference."

The scholarship awards $30,000 for graduate study in preparation for a career in government or other public service. Other benefits include priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling and special internship opportunities in the federal government.

Pack plans to work toward a career with the United States Agency for International Development or possibly with the International Monetary Fund or World Bank.

"In short," he wrote in his Nigh Award application, "I want to ensure that the money that Americans send to aid developing countries is used effectively, in a sustainable way, and goes to really help the people who need it the most."

The most rewarding aspect of working in international development, he added, is working for a cause he finds vitally important.

"I find international development and the elimination of worldwide poverty to be a moral necessity," he wrote, "necessary to the security of the United States and beneficial for peace and stability in the world."

In June, Pack will begin working for a year in the Office of Rural Health Policy in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The position was arranged through the Truman Scholarship Foundation and will give him an overview of the problems that plague rural healthcare.

He also may volunteer for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer to get an on-the-ground look at problems facing the developing world, he said. He plans to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford and a Marshall Scholarship to attend Cambridge to study either development or global governance and diplomacy.

If he does not win either scholarship, he said, he will apply to Cambridge to study, using the funds provided by the Truman Scholarship.

At ECU, Pack is chief justice of the ECU Honor Court, president of the Honors Student Association and president of Pi Sigma Alpha political science honor society. He has been ECU's representative since 2004 for Vocal Oklahomans in Civic Engagement, a program of the Oklahoma Campus Compact.

From 2003 to 2005 he was a freshman representative, then treasurer, of the Student Senate and was Student Senator of the year in 2004. He was vice chair of the College Republicans from 2003 to 2005 and was named one of the Top Ten Freshmen and Top Ten Seniors.

Pack was the outstanding intern in the 2004 American University WINS Program and was an intern the same year for the Department of Defense, Office of Acquisition Resources and Analysis. He has worked on relief projects in several regions of North and South America and helped start and coordinate the Pi Sigma Alpha Week of Work of community service projects in Hammond Heights.

He is an intern with the United Campus Ministry and works with the director of the Honors Program as the student honors director. He previously was a teller at Vision Bank in Ada and was news editor of the ECU Journal.

Pack is the son of Dr. Bruce and Rosalyn Pack of Ada.

Finalist Amanda Henson also has a perfect 4.0 grade point average and is majoring in early childhood education with the goal of teaching either pre-kindergarten or kindergarten. She plans to earn a master's degree in reading to help children build a strong foundation in reading. She also may teach abroad as a missionary.

Henson has been a member of the ECU Band and the Clarinet Ensemble for nine semesters. She was the band's clarinet section leader the last two football seasons and earned first chair in the band for the last three semesters. She represented ECU as a member of the 2005 Intercollegiate Band. She has been a member of the United Campus Ministry for four years and the Baptist Student Union and Alpha Chi national honor society for two years.

Laura Kysar also is an early childhood education major with a 4.0 grade point average whose goal is to encourage her future students to develop a love of learning and the lifelong quest for knowledge. She plans to earn a master's degree to become a reading specialist and achieve National Board certification.

Kysar, who is completing her student teaching at Northern Hills Elementary School in Edmond, is a member of Alpha Chi national honor society, the 4.0 Greek Club and Chi Lambda Alpha sorority and was the sorority's Panhellenic representative. She participated in the Oklahoma Research Day in 2005 and in ECU's Academic Excellence Day this year.