Special Edition Spotlight: Two CCES Seniors Awarded Full Academic Scholarships

by Jamie Bryant, Director of Marketing and PR
Christ Church Episcopal School experiences have prepared graduating seniors for whatever comes next and to make a positive difference in the world. This week, in the twilight of two students having received FULL academic scholarships to their respective Universities, we celebrate Marisa McGrady and Austin Hayden, and the ultimate reward for their 13 years of hard work and dedication.

Big things happen in Dallas, Texas and big things are happening for Austin Hayden, CCES Class of 2017.  His teachers have called him one of the most well-rounded students in the Class of 2017 so it’s no wonder that the highly-selective and prestigious Southern Methodist University has not only accepted Austin, but awarded him the President’s Scholarship— the highest academic award given by the University.

Likewise, classmate Marisa McGrady’s impressive college application bursting with intellectual and artistic achievements, superb grades, and ample involvement in extracurriculars, earned her the Presidential Scholarship at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, an honor reserved for only one student, the best and the brightest.

What other schools did you apply to, and why did you choose the ones you did?
Austin: I chose SMU because I love the city of Dallas and they offered the most balanced education for what I want to study, which is Computer Science and Finance with a possible minor in Spanish.  I also applied to Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and Clemson Honors, and was accepted to all of them.
Marisa: I applied to Clemson, Sewanee, Furman, and Wofford and was accepted to all four.  Many colleges and universities boast a tight-knit community that cares about everyone, but Lynn was the one place where I felt that statement really reigned true.

On top of being engaged scholars and having been students at CCES since their Primer year, Austin and Marisa’s generous involvement and diverse interests demonstrate passion, commitment, and leadership.  Austin has played varsity football and lacrosse all four years of high school.  He has served on Student Council since his sophomore year as a Representative, and is currently the president and founder of Chess Club and Cube Club, and student body Vice President.  He’s been inducted into the Cum Laude Society, Spanish Honor Society, and has been a part of two State Championship football teams, all while receiving High Honor roll each semester.

Marisa has been very involved in the school’s performing arts program and has generouslygiven her time to a wide range of extracurriculars.  She’s performed in school musicals in 9th, 11th, and 12th grade, with lead roles in 11th (Kate in Kiss Me, Kate) and 12th (Queen Aggravain in Once Upon a Mattress), fall dramas in 9th, 10th, and 11th with lead roles in 10th (Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Ernest) and 11th  (Philaminte in Learned Ladies), served as crew for the middle school musical in 9th and 12th, sung with the Bluebelles all 4 years (an organization for which she is now President), along with having been a member of the Latin Club, Basketball Cheerleading squad, Delphian, Choir, Cabaret, Thespian Society and Startalk Program (a highly competitive two-week Chinese immersion program sponsored by the US Dept. of State and the Confucius Institute, hosted at Furman University).

Marisa is no stranger to receiving awards.  She was the recipient of the Maggie McLeod award in 12th grade, recipient of the Sewanee Book Award for Creative Writing in 11th grade, recipient of the Hollins University Excellence in Writing award in 10th grade, all while maintaining Honor Roll all four years of high school.

Marisa is no stranger to receiving awards.  She was the recipient of the Maggie McLeod award in 12th grade, recipient of the Sewanee Book Award for Creative Writing in 11th grade, recipient of the Hollins University Excellence in Writing award in 10th grade, all while maintaining Honor Roll all four years of high school.

What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?
Austin:  It means that all my hard work, up to this point, has finally paid off.  The look on my mom’s face when we received the news was priceless, and something I will never forget.  I am blessed and beyond grateful to have received this scholarship and glad that I have made my parents proud.
Marisa:  It means everything to me because it shows my mother that all the time, energy, and money she dedicated to helping me become the best version of myself did not go to waste.  I would not have the work ethic, confidence, resilience, and love for the world that I do if it weren’t for my mother.

Austin, though humble in his responses, is a gifted student whose determination and work-ethic has led him to this well-deserved honor.  His College Counselor Linda Schulz describes Austin as “the epitome of the quintessential scholar-athlete.”  She goes on to say, “Austin is a respected leader on our campus.  Whether it is through his work as an elected Student Council officer or through his community-minded actions in the classroom, Austin role-models for others.  He is the consummate teammate, placing the needs of the group above his own.”

Marisa’s success stems in part from her admirable character qualities.  Her College Counselor, Linda Schulz says, “I admire Marisa for many reasons: her intellect, her artistic passions, her witty sense of humor and her compassion for others.  I respect that she is tough and is a person who possesses real stamina and perseverance.”  Bruce HalversonDirector of the Arts notes, “Marisa is a talented and intelligent performer with an immense stage presence which is enhanced by a strong vocal performance, both in the spoken word and singing.  Her lively sense of humor and positive personality shine through her on-stage characters to make watching her most enjoyable.  She understands where she ‘fits’ in a performance, meaning that when the scene is not focused on her character, she provides the type of support necessary to make the scene successful – this is an important lesson for life as well as the stage.”

Clearly, hard work is what gets the job done and both Austin Hayden and Marisa McGrady have thrived because they have enjoyed every step of their road to graduation and have gone after their passions vigorously.  Congratulations to both on their respected scholarships.  Both campus communities will be greatly enriched by their presence.


Who are your role models or mentors?
Austin: Joe Cummings (Varsity Boys Lacrosse Coach) and my brother, A.J.
Marisa: My mother and Janice Wright (Upper School Choir Teacher)
Where in the world would you like to get lost?
Austin: Odda, Norway
Marisa: Delphi, Greece.
What are your personal superstitions?
Austin: Making a wish at 11:11
Marisa: You can’t say Macbeth while in a theatrical production or that production will go horribly wrong!
What are you looking forward to in the remainder of your senior year?
Austin: Relaxing!
Marisa: I’m looking forward to having more free time to work on my book, The Mark.
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    • Austin and his brother A.J. on the SMU campus at Mustang Plaza.

    • Marisa pictured with mom Jenny, Linda Schulz, and her brother Michael.

Christ Church Episcopal School (“CCES”) admits students of any sex, race, color, national or ethnic origin, creed, religion, or sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at CCES. CCES does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, national or ethnic origin, creed, religion, or sexual orientation in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, financial aid or other programs, or athletic or other school-administered programs and activities.