2016 Sharp Scholars named during ceremony


Sharp Scholar Jesus Guzman Bonilla and his mother, Letiticia, speak to Assistant Director of Admissions Christopher Bryan.


Sharp Scholar Kendall Byrd and his parents speak with Reinhardt University Dr. Kina Mallard at her home during a reception following the ceremony March 30.

Some of the best and brightest to enter campus this fall were honored in a scholarship ceremony March 30.

Reinhardt University President Dr. Kina Mallard and Dr. Mark Roberts, vice president and dean for academic affairs, awarded 22 high school students Sharp Scholarships in the Bannister Glasshouse surrounded by family and friends.

Sixty-five high school students went through the application and interview process, with only one-third receiving a scholarship between $2,000 and $5,000.

“I am looking into the faces of students who have been chosen. We chose you. You worked hard to be chosen and I congratulate you,” Dr. Mallard said. “In return, you have chosen us so we have a sacred trust as you come to Reinhardt. You’ve worked hard to come to Reinhardt and to choose the college of your choice. We are going to work hard to make sure you are successful in your four years. We are excited for you, we are proud of you and we are proud for you.”

Current Sharp Scholar Madeline Gray addressed the students and their families in attendance, telling her story as a Sharp Scholar and her experience at Reinhardt.

“This scholarship enabled me to be a full-time student at Reinhardt and it also confirmed my choice was a good one,” the senior biology major said. “Reinhardt seems to have the best of both worlds. It has the charm and intimacy of a small school, but it has the opportunity of a large school. You can meet your dean and have a conversation with him. Even the largest classes are not so large. At Reinhardt, you are never just a number or a student ID. You are an actual individual with great potential and the faculty here do everything they can to help you succeed.”

Jamonte Jackson, from Jefferson County High School near Augusta, said Reinhardt feels like home to him, and he is excited to receive the scholarship, as well as have the opportunity to play football.

“Being one of the top 22 is a blessing. I am grateful for the Sharp Scholarship,” the offensive lineman said. “The opportunity to play football presented itself and I took advantage. Ever since I’ve been coming up here, everyone has been treating me like a part of the family so I’m enjoying Reinhardt.”

Jackson plans to major in sports administration.

Brooke Fountain, from North Paulding High School, was named a Sharp Scholar and said that the close-knit family and small campus was welcoming to her.

“I like the fact that when I came up here, everybody was very personable and every time I have come back, everyone has known me by name. I didn’t want to be another face in the crowd. When I stepped on campus, it just felt like home,” said Fountain, who plans to major in English. “It’s an honor because it gives me a head start at Reinhardt and it lets me meet new people already. I’ll come already having a sense of some friends and professors.”

Her father, Matt, said he is proud of how hard she has worked to earn the scholarship.

“The commitment she has made, she’s really gone above and beyond what I ever did and one of the things really made me proud for her was going from getting the HOPE Scholarship and just being willing to come interview for the Sharp Scholarship,” he said.

Jesus Guzman Bonilla, from Centennial High School in Roswell, said he is thrilled that his hard work has paid off.

“It shows to be successful here at Reinhardt, you have to put your abilities into school and not just getting things by chance.”

His mother, Leticia Bonilla, speaking in Spanish, said she was “very happy and excited” for him and that she wants her son to “pursue his dreams and keep moving forward.”

Sharp Scholar Sarah Burgess said she is excited to join the Reinhardt family.

“It’s an honor because it gives me a head start at Reinhardt and it lets me meet new people already. I’ll come already having a sense of some friends and professors. I’ve lived five minutes away my whole life. My sister went here and she loved it. I’ve always wanted to go here,” Burgess said. “I’ve played at the Falany Performing Arts Center for six years (piano).”

To be eligible for the Sharp Scholarship, which is named for the university’s co-founder, J.A. Sharp, students must meet high academic standards and participate in a two-day fellowship and interview process with deans and university staff and faculty.

The following students were awarded the Sharp Scholarship in 2016:

  • Annese Blockley, of Calhoun, majoring in Early Childhood Education;
  • Andrus Brimidge, of Stockbridge, majoring in Mathematics;
  • Sarah Burgess, of Canton, undecided;
  • Kendall Byrd, of Adairsville, majoring in Religion;
  • Shannon Champion, of Kennesaw, majoring in Biology;
  • Levi Cochran, of Cumming, undecided;
  • Jessica Fanczi, of Dacula, majoring in English/Video & Media Editing;
  • Brooke Fountain, of Dallas, majoring in English;
  • Briana Gentry, of Marietta, majoring in Biology;
  • Christina Gresham, of Rocky Face, majoring in Digital Media Arts;
  • Jesus Guzman Bonilla, of Alpharetta, undecided;
  • Michael Houck, of Newnan, majoring in Sports Administration;
  • Jamonte Jackson, of Bartow, majoring in Sports Administration;
  • Nicole Korch, of Woodstock, majoring in Theater Studies;
  • Erin Laas, of Auburn, majoring in Media Writing;
  • Jamie Lunceford, of Lawrenceville, majoring in Pre-Nursing;
  • MaKayla Newell, of Canton, majoring in Early Childhood Education;
  • Laura Rave-Baena, of Canton, majoring in Pre-Nursing;
  • Wessly Soronellas, of Canton, majoring in Mathematics;
  • Sarah Vanek, of Dallas, majoring in Biology; and
  • Brady Watkins, of Woodstock, majoring in Business.