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Where are the first Arkansas Times Academic All-Stars now?

Making good is where, mostly in other states.



For the 10th anniversary of the Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team, we ran down the whereabouts of each of the 20 members of the first group of winners.

Seventeen of them now reside outside Arkansas, perhaps a sign that enhanced scholarship programs at state universities, which some of them received, aren't always a guarantee that home-grown talent will stay home. But several are pursuing doctoral studies and could find careers back in Arkansas some day. The first All-Stars:

RANI L. CROAGER, Little Rock Central High: She graduated from Duke University with a degree in math and economics. She's now an associate investment banker — a position usually reserved for people with MBAs — for Wachovia Securities in Charlotte, N.C. "I'm gunning for a managing director position one day."

AMY DRAKE WILSON, Rogers High School: She earned a degree in biochemistry at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a medical degree from Johns Hopkins. She's in her pediatrics residency at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital and has an interest in pediatric endocrinology. A newlywed, she and her husband — who has a doctorate in biochemistry — spend their off hours fixing up their new home.

REBECCA LOFTON ALTMAN, Hughes High School: She received a degree in psychology from Charleston Southern University and owns a graphic design and private franchising company with her husband in Charleston, S.C. "I really enjoy working with people and helping them start their own business."

BROOKE CAROLINE MCKNIGHT, Damascus, South Side High School: A UA Honors College graduate with a degree in journalism, she's now the inventory manager at Bale Chevrolet. Controlling $20 million worth of car and truck inventory has its perks: "I'm making more money than I probably would have if I'd stayed in journalism."

CRYSTAL MORRISON DENSMORE, Bismarck, Arkansas School for Mathematics and Science: She earned a degree in chemistry from the University of Missouri at Rolla and then earned a master's degree and Ph.D., the latter in 2003, from the University of Michigan. Her specialty: macromolecular science and engineering, or polymer chemistry.

After her doctorate, she won a prestigious Agnew National Security Post-Doctoral Fellowship, which meant a two-year stint as staff scientist at the Los Alamos (N.M.) National Laboratory. When her fellowship is completed, she could be a candidate for a full-time job at Los Alamos or look for work in private industry or academia.

KIISHA MORROW, Pine Bluff High: She received both her undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard and is now practicing corporate law for a large firm in New York City. She enjoys traveling with friends and family and recently made a trip to South Africa.

RUTH PLYMALE, Greenwood High School: She received a degree in botany from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and is currently in an entomology doctorate program at Pennsylvania State University, where she's focusing on the corn ear worm, a species indigenous to Arkansas. She plans to teach at a small university in the future.

JENNIFER LYNNE ROWE, Malvern High School: She graduated from the UA with a degree in English and is currently working part-time in Fayetteville. She plans to attend graduate school.

KATHERINE LEAH SHAVER, Batesville High School: She graduated from Lyon College with a degree in math and a concentration in secondary education. She's now teaching high school in Greensboro, Ga.

ANANDI N. SHETH, Little Rock Hall High School: She received a degree in history and biochemistry from Rice University and a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University. She's currently completing her internal medicine residency at Johns Hopkins. She plans on specializing in infectious disease, specifically the study and treatment of HIV.

JONATHAN PAULK BRASHER, Fort Smith, Arkansas School for Mathematics and Science: After graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in math and biology, he worked for a couple of years in a Cambridge, Mass., cancer research lab. He's now at the University of Virginia pursuing a master's degree in East Asian studies with a focus on China. He said he'd like to find a job after graduation that combines both his knowledge of China and his science and technology skills.

ERIC DUANE LARSON, Mountain Home High School: A captain in the Air Force, he graduated from the Air Force Academy and received a master's degree in logistics from the Air Force's Institute of Technology in Ohio, where he's now an instructor. "I never thought about teaching, but I love it a lot."

JOSEPH RUSSELL LEASE, Lake Hamilton High: A Sturgis scholar at the UA, he graduated with an English degree and has just finished a master's degree in teaching at Duke University. He's now in his first year teaching AP English to high school seniors in Durham, N.C.

ADRIEN LAMONT LEWIS, Little Rock McClellan High School: He received a degree in chemical engineering from Vanderbilt University and is now a staff and environmental engineer for Miller Brewing Company in Trenton, Ohio. Although he said he's not a big beer drinker, he's also an official taste-tester for the company.

CADE MICHAEL MARTIN, Little Rock Pulaski Academy: He received a degree in microbiology from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a medical degree from UAMS. He's currently completing an internal medicine residency at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and will enter a radiology residency in July.

SAMUEL MERRIWEATHER, Sweet Home, Mills University Studies High School: He received bachelor's and master's degrees in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech; he's currently in their Ph.D. program. He plans on becoming a high school math or science teacher.

BRENT A. RAGAR, Cabot High School: He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a medical degree from Washington University. He's currently completing a combined internal medicine and pediatric residency at Harvard, with an eye toward becoming a country doctor. "There's a need for good small-town doctors who know something more about a patient than just their name."

RUSSELL ROBERSON, North Little Rock High School: He attended Hendrix College for his undergraduate degree, studied in New Zealand on a Fulbright Fellowship and is now attending Harvard Medical School, where he plans to receive an M.D. and a Ph.D. He wants to pursue both clinical and research medicine at a teaching hospital, perhaps UAMS.

JODY LYNN SIMMONS, Rector, Clay County Central High School: He graduated from the UA with a bachelor's degree in agricultural business and a master's in accounting. He's now a farmer in Rector, where he grows cotton, corn and soybeans.

ELBERT TRAISTER, Little Rock Central High: He graduated from Rice University with a degree in chemical engineering and went to work as a medical underwriter in Houston. After being laid off last year he decided to pursue an acting career full time. He's made the jump from theater to TV and film with small roles in the 2001 blockbuster "Pearl Harbor" and last year's NBC TV movie "Saving Jessica Lynch."

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