Southeast Announces Recipients of President’s Scholarship


Five outstanding students have been selected as recipients of Southeast Missouri State University’s President’s Scholarship for the 2021-22 academic year.

The awardees are Jeanna Brantley of Festus, Missouri; Joshua Nelson of St. Charles, Missouri; Alex Pacheco of Bloomington, Illinois; Ashton Randolph of Marion, Illinois; and Makenna Wessell of Jackson, Missouri.

“Every year I am always impressed with talent, accomplishments and passion of the students who are awarded this scholarship and this year is no exception,” said Southeast President Dr. Carlos Vargas. “They stand out for their excellence and drive. I can’t wait to see what they do here at Southeast and beyond.”

The students 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.

“An exceptional group of students interviewed and we focused on their leadership, involvement, service and academic accomplishments,” said Lenell Hahn, Southeast director of Admissions. “It was an honor to award Jeanna, Joshua, Alex, Ashton and Makenna with this scholarship in recognition of their hard work and tenacity. We are excited to welcome them to as Redhawks.”

The President’s Scholarship recipients will be freshmen at Southeast when the fall 2021 semester begins in August. The recipients are:

Jeanna Brantley

Brantley is a senior at Festus High School where she is Student Body President and head drum major of the marching band. She is a member of the Student Council, Renaissance Program, Turning Resources and Energy in New Directions (TREND); Model United Nations; choir; and Speech, Debate and Theater team. She is a Peer Tutor, Missouri Association of Student Councils Ambassador and Special Olympics Play Unified Partner. She is the recipient of the 2020 National Gold Council of Excellence and 2020 Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award. Her interests in helping those with disabilities and special needs drew her to Southeast where she is interested in pursuing a degree in exceptional child education. She is the daughter of Jennifer Brantley.

Joshua Nelson

Nelson is a senior at St. Charles West High School where he is president of the Minority Achievement Committee (MAC) and members of the varsity basketball team. He is a huddle leader for the Fellow of Christian Athletes, and member of the National Honor Society, National Society of Black Engineers and Black Student Union. He also is a participant of the BEST Pharmacy Summer Institute and University of Missouri-St. Loui Bridge Program. He has been active in his local community as a tutor for the Boys and Girls Club of St. Charles County and volunteer for the Refuge and Restoration Mobile Food Market. He hopes to use his passion for biomedical engineering and healthcare to thrive in Southeast’s biomedical sciences program and to, one day, pursue a career in optometry. Nelson’s parents are Eric and Joy Nelson.

Alex Pacheco

Pacheco is a senior at University High School in Normal, Illinois, where he is a Student Diversity Committee Member and Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) Transgender Representative. Pacheco is also a member of the Madrigals Singers, and is a talented singer, actor and crew member for the theater program, performing and providing stage tech support in more than 12 productions and vocal competitions. At Southeast, Pacheco hopes pursue his passions for musical theatre and psychology, and exploring a career as a licensed clinical psychologist, providing services and affecting positive change for those who struggle with disabilities and mental health issues. Pacheco’s parents are Albert and Debra Pacheco.

Ashton Randolph

Randolph is a senior at Marion High School in Marion, Illinois, where she is secretary of the Executive Board of Student Councils and drum major for the Marching Wildcat Band. She is also student ambassador on the Spanish Club Board of Officers, and member of the Student Council, National Honor Society, National Science Honor Society, National Math Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society. She has also served as a volunteer at the Shawnee Health Center Summer Program and tutor for the Boyton Street Community Center and COVID-19 After School Tutoring Group through Journey Church. Because of her passion to help others, Randolph intends to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in communication disorders at Southeast and to, on day, become a speech and language pathologist. Randolph’s parents are Andrew and Angela Randolph.

Makenna Wessell

Wessell is a senior at Jackson High School in Jackson, Missouri, where she is vice present of the Student Body Council, captain of the Scholar Bowl team, and secretary of the Cool Kids Against Bulling (CKAB) student organization. She is a member of the Student Leadership Committee, Teen Advisory Group (TAG), Cultural Connections, Spanish Club, Theatre Club, choir and handbell choir. She also volunteers with Storybook Entertainment SEMO and the Make a Wish Foundation. She hopes to combine her love for literature and education into a career, pursuing a degreed in secondary English education at Southeast with hopes to become a high education professor. Wessell’s parents are Jasen and Alissa Wessell.