We have a new Ledford Scholar this year, Hannah Duke from Charlotte, NC.
Hannah took classes in middle school and high school in physics to see if an interest in space, which she has had since she was very young, would correlate with an interest in and passion for physics. She found that it does and says that she is “beyond excited to explore physics more deeply at Wake alongside great faculty and fellow students.”. Hannah also loves to dance and play the piano. This played a part in her decision to come to Wake Forest which she says is “an institution that allows me to pursue challenging academics alongside high level arts classes”. The Ledford scholarship also played a significant role in her decision. Along with the significant financial help it provides she says that “it made me feel like Wake really cared about me as a student and was willing to invest in my potential”.
Several years ago one of our alumni, Randall Ledford (72), funded a scholarship for gifted physics students. It is a merit based four-year half-tuition scholarship which is awarded to a promising incoming physics major attending Wake Forest. Anyone is eligible to apply during the year it is available. Later he funded a second scholarship for which anyone attending high school in North Carolina during the time it is available is eligible to apply. The second scholarship is currently worth a minimum of $39,200.
Dr. Ledford says the following about the reasons he set up these two scholarships: “There are many reasons that motivates someone to contribute to education and universities. For me, my major reason is a way of ‘giving back’. I would not have been able to attend WFU without financial aid. Before I funded the scholarship, I donated to the yearly WFU fund raising campaign, but I wanted to do something more than simply writing a check each year. I chose to fund an endowed scholarship for young men and women who loved science and would like to major in physics. I wanted to help others who might not otherwise be able to attend WFU and have the opportunity I had. There was another important factor. I’ve always had a special affinity and loyalty to the WFU physics department. My physics professors shaped my life and taught me to think logically and analytically. Faculty members like Shields, Kerr, Williams and Turner will forever be more than just educators to me. They were true teachers that molded the boy who first walked into Salem Hall into the person I became. The scholarship was a way for me to do something for the department.”
Dr. Randall D. Ledford, Ph.D., is retired from Emerson Electric Company where he served as Senior Vice President and the Chief Technology Officer. During this time he also created R&D centers around the world including India, China and Eastern Europe. He was also President of Emerson Ventures since 1997. Prior to joining Emerson, he served as President and General Manager of several different divisions at Texas Instruments Inc., including the divisions of Digital Imaging, Software, Enterprise Solutions and Process Automation. He began his career with Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey where he worked on UNIX development, fiber optic communication and microwave transmissions. He has served as a director of several companies including Akermin, Inc., Gerber Scientific, Inc., Stereotaxis Inc., Amphenol Corporation and Interphase. Dr. Ledford was a director for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory strategic transition board. He has served on several university advisory boards including Cornell, Missouri, Carnegie Melon and WFU. Dr. Ledford received a Ph.D. and M.S. in Physics from Duke University and a B.S. in Physics from Wake Forest University.
The current recipient of the first Ledford Scholarship is Jacquelyn Sharpe who is a senior this year. She is on track to receive a BA in Physics and plans to graduate next spring.
Jacquelyn is from Marietta, GA, just outside of Atlanta. She is a physics major with mathematics an Spanish minors. She plays Ultimate Frisbee and participates in the school orchestra, where she plays the viola. She is also involved with the Wesley Foundation on campus and attends a local Methodist Church.
Jacquelyn has had a love for science since she was very young. She became interested in physics during her third year of high school and also enjoyed studying calculus while in high school. She says that she “was attracted to physics because of its real world applications of math and science”.
There were several reasons she chose to come to Wake Forest including its location in a small city in what is essentially a suburban campus, her desire to be at a small school where she says that she “could really get to know my professors and other students”, and the attractiveness of the Wake Forest campus including its trees and flowers. However, she says that “ The Ledford scholarship is one of the biggest reasons I am at Wake Forest. It would not have been feasible for my family to afford Wake Forest without the Ledford Scholarship.” After being informed that she had received the scholarship Jacquelyn says “I was delighted and immediately chose Wake Forest, which has been one of the best decisions of my life”.