Virginia Tech senior Ashley White, a University Honors student pursuing degrees in both materials science and engineering and music performance, has been named to USA Today's All-USA College Academic First Team.

White is one of 20 undergraduates selected from a field of more than 600 students nominated by colleges and universities throughout the United States. The All-USA first team students met the criteria for outstanding scholarship and leadership and for extending their intellectual talents beyond the classroom.

USA Today, the nation's best-selling newspaper, published the students' photographs and accomplishments in a two-page color spread on Feb. 17 and awarded each student a cash prize of $2,500. This is the second time USA Today has honored White, who was named to the All-USA third team in 2004.

White is the daughter of Sheila and David Rose of Newport News, Va., and Stephen and Susan White of Ashland, Ore. She is the granddaughter of Mary White and the late Robert White of Roanoke, Va., and of Warren and Mavis Boone of Rocky Mount, Va.

Being named to the All-USA first team is the most recent among numerous honors accorded White, who in November 2004 was selected to receive a British Marshall Scholarship. The two-year Marshall scholarships, which are worth about $75,000 each and cover all graduate study and living expenses at Cambridge University in England, are awarded to only 40 undergraduates in the U.S. each year. Marshall scholars are chosen for their accomplishments as intellectually distinguished undergraduates who will become future leaders and decision makers.

"At a very young age, Ashley demonstrated talent in science and engineering and considerable ability with the violin," said Charles Dudley, director of Virginia Tech's Honors Program. "Her experiences in college have reflected both of these talents and she has approached her education with a true relish."

Since 2000 White has performed as student concert master with the New River Valley Symphony, and in 2001 she became first violinist for the Virginia Tech Spring String Quartet. She also teaches private violin lessons at the Performing Arts Institute of Virginia and coaches violin students for youth orchestras.

During the summer of 2003, she used her University Honors Scholarship to fund an 11-week tour of Paraguay and Mexico, where she worked with youth orchestra programs. "I want to continue to study music and to work with youth orchestras," said White, who considers the 2003 tour to be one of her most significant accomplishments as an undergraduate.

"Ashley is a multi-faceted student with a personality that just won't quit," said John Husser, chair of the Department of Music in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. "There is no such thing as 'no' to Ashley. She came here with a plan to earn two degrees in four years. In addition, she has accomplished incredible outreach by sharing her love of music with children in Mexico and South America."

White spent the 2004 spring semester in Italy, studying engineering and music at the University of Rome, and during the summer worked as an engineering intern at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also has interned at NASA Langley, the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, Cornell University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Already a published researcher, White is co-author of a scientific paper on aerogel materials published in the Dec. 2003 issue of the Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids and of an experiment published in the 2000 Virginia Junior Academy of Science Proceedings. She is a member of the ceramics research group led by David Clark, head of the College of Engineering's Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

"When Ashley arrived at Virginia Tech she had a keen interest in aerogels, and she has pursued this interest fervently while working in my research group," said Clark. "There is no doubt that her research will be highly valuable in designing advanced materials for a diverse range of future applications, including the biomedical field."

As a graduate student at Cambridge, White will work in the area of materials engineering and she plans to conduct research in bio-materials. At this time her professional goal is to work in academia, although she also is interested in the field of public policy.

"Ashley is a person of integrity and energy, of talent and confidence, and of curiosity and adventure," said Dudley.

In addition to the Marshall and University Honors scholarships, White has received a Barry Goldwater Scholarship, a highly competitive national research award for undergraduates; and the Lewis Hoffman Award, presented by the American Ceramic Society to only one undergraduate annually. In 2002 she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

White has received numerous other scholarships while at Virginia Tech, including the Hokie Scholar Award, which pays full tuition for four years; Pulley-Louden Scholarship; Gilbert and Lucille Seay Scholarship; Pamplin Leader Award; Music Department Scholarship; and the Alfred E. Knobler Scholarship.

White, who will graduate in May 2005, is the fourth Virginia Tech student named to USA Today's All-USA First Team. Past honorees are Susan Cox, a 1992 aerospace engineering graduate; John Michael Schmidt, a 1998 biology and environmental sciences graduate; and Sarah Airey, a 2001 electrical and computer engineering graduate.


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