Southeast Announces Recipients of Competitive President’s Scholarship


Five outstanding area students have been selected as recipients of Southeast Missouri State University’s competitive President’s Scholarship for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The awardees are Grace Barlage of Murphysboro, Illinois; Clayton Eftink of Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Olivia Heidbrink of Ballwin, Missouri; Emma Koontz of Swansea, Illinois; and Megan Lipe of Perryville, Missouri.

The students were on campus Jan. 24 and participated in interviews to vie for the elite scholarship. The $10,000 award covers $7,000 in tuition and fees, and $3,000 for residence hall fees for students living on campus during their first year at Southeast. Students who meet the scholarship renewal criteria may increase their award annually, bringing the total scholarship value to $43,000.

“We had an exceptional group of students interview on campus,” said Lenell Hahn, Southeast director of Admissions. “Our time with them focused on their leadership, involvement, service and academic accomplishments.

“It was an honor to surprise Clayton, Emma, Grace, Megan and Olivia at their high schools” with the scholarship, she added. “Their hard work and tenacity prove they are ready to join a community of Southeast students driven to do.”

The President’s Scholarship recipients will be freshmen at Southeast when the fall 2020 semester begins in August. The recipients are:

Grace Barlage

Barlage is a senior at Murphysboro (Illinois) High School where she is vice president of the Student Council and co-president of the Future Business Leaders of America. She is vice president of the National Honor Society and is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and Beta Club. She participates in basketball, volleyball and choir. She also has found time for community service, raising money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the St. Andrew’s Parish Festival as the game coordinator. She also has been a leader for Fellowship of Christian Athletes. At 12 years old, she launched her own business, A Graceful Whim, and makes and sells children’s clothing and accessories. She has a passion for helping animals and is an intern at Wright Way Rescue Animal Shelter and Timber Trails Veterinary Clinic. Her love for animals drew her to consider Southeast’s pre-veterinary medicine program where she hopes to gain the skills and knowledge that will prepare her for veterinarian school and, one day, opening and operating her own animal clinic and shelter. She received the grand prize for the Regional Science Fair at Southern Illinois University and a gold award at the state science fair, both in 2015. She is the daughter of Nichole and Craig Smelter, and Seth and Casey Barlage.

Clayton Eftink

Eftink is a senior at Notre Dame Regional High School in Cape Girardeau where he has excelled as a student, an athlete and member of the community. He is the historian of the National Honor Society and member of the Men’s Club, Athletes Give Back, Thespian Honor Society, High School Youth Group and Feed My Starving Children. He also is a member of the varsity cross country team, where he was named All Conference, and the varsity track and field team, where he was named All Conference, All District and is a record holder. He is a member of Select Singers, participated in the Spring Musical and Quad State Music Festival, and was named all-state at the State Music Festival. Additionally, he is a lawn caretaker for Eftink Lawn Service. He hopes to combine his love of designing and restoring old cars, and his leadership abilities into a career as a mechanical engineer. He is the son of Adrian and Kim Eftink.

Olivia Heidbrink

Heidbrink is a senior at Marquette Senior High School in Chesterfield, Missouri, where she is a deputy group commander of the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). She is concertmaster with the Chamber Orchestra and president of the Marquette Senior High School German Club. She is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society. Additionally, she is a dance instructor with the Kinder Group of the German Cultural Society of St. Louis, and Rosenkönigin “Rose Queen” of the Youth Group of the German Cultural Society of St. Louis. She hopes to use her passion for mathematics and teaching to thrive in Southeast’s education programs and to, one day, become a math teacher and help other students learn. She is the daughter of Raymond Heidbrink and Marilyn Dodov Heidbrink.

Emma Koontz

Koontz is a senior at Belleville (Illinois) Township High School West where she is vice president of the Thespian Troupe 369 and secretary of the Maroon Majic select choir. She is social media editor for the HyNews student newspaper, and has been student director and student technical director for the school’s theatrical performances since 2018. She is a member of Little Theatre, French Club, Prom Committee, the Speech and Acting Team, BW Students on the Go, Treble Choir, National Honor Society, French Honor Society, Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society and the National English Honor Society. She has attended the Air Force and Air National Guard Teen Leadership Summits and has been a Student Council representative. In 2019, she won the Harvard Prize Book Award and, this year, she was named an Illinois State Scholar. Additionally, she is a member of the Lodge of Ondessonk and Tekakwitha service society, worship leader at Christ Church and has been a volunteer with Mind’s Eye Radio at Our Lady of the Snows Shrine, Holy Family School Boy Scout events and Maroon Majic Choir Camp. Her passion for helping others led to her interest in Southeast’s nursing program. Her dream is to become a nurse anesthetist and take care of those in need. She is the daughter of Brian Koontz and Mallory Welch.

Megan Lipe

Lipe is a senior at St. Vincent de Paul High School in Perryville, Missouri, where she has excelled academically and athletically. She is a varsity member of the soccer, basketball, cross country and softball teams. She has won multiple athletic awards, and has been named a varsity scholar athlete in all four sports. She also has been named to the A Honor Roll four straight years and has participated in SEMO Math Field Day. She is a member of the Spanish Club, marching and concert bands, Sodality and the A+ Program; vice president of Pep Club; and co-vice president of the National Honor Society. Additionally, she has volunteered with the Luke 18 retreat program, Vacation Bible School, and Sunday School, and was Senior Retreat leader. She has volunteered with St. Vincent de Paul’s soccer and basketball camps, has participated in Student Council, the Missouri Leadership Seminar and Rotary Interact, and was selected as a representative to Missouri Girls State and to the Leadership in Practice Seminar. She has been awarded the Christian Service Award for performing more than 100 hours of service. Her interests in helping others and in community service drew her to Southeast where she is interested in pursuing a degree in biology, biomedical sciences, and contributing to the local community with organizations such as Southeast Serves and Rotaract. She hopes to attend medical school and become a doctor. She is the daughter of Benjamin and Theresa Lipe.