Peach Queen Ray receives scholarship

Published 10:59 pm Friday, May 14, 2010

Isabella High School senior Keela Ray recently signed a full academic scholarship to attend the University of Alabama Birmingham to study biomedical engineering.

Several family members and school officials gathered Friday afternoon to celebrate the occasion at the high school.

Ray received the Golden Excellence UAB scholarship along with Dupuis engineering scholarship, totaling approximately $32,000 over four years.

Thanks to Ray’s academic achievements, including a stellar grade point average and a high ACT score, and her notable participation on the Mustang Engineering team, Ray caught the eye of one of the premier biomedical engineering programs in the nation.

UAB first learned about Ray at a university robotics competition in Birmingham, where IHS students, under physics and science teacher Jay LeCroy’s supervision, competed.

Ray served as the team’s CEO and displayed a high level of leadership that piqued the interest of UAB officials.

UAB Director of Development and External Relations Paul George played a large role in recruiting Ray to the university.

He came to Isabella to celebrate the signing Friday afternoon.

Ray said she’d never heard of the biomedical engineering field until LeCroy told her about it.

She was initially interested in pursuing medicine to become a surgeon.

She then researched the field and career opportunities on the internet and decided it was a path worth taking.

After joining the robotics team and competing in the UAB competition last October, she met George, who gave her and her family a tour of the campus and engineering program.

“I just felt it was the best place for me to go,” Ray said. “I fell in love with it.”

George said biomedical engineering is quickly becoming the top major among pre-med students across the nation.

With a blend of science and engineering, graduates become incredibly attractive to medical schools and employers, George said.

LeCroy said he’s pleased to see Ray achieve this kind of success and make the still-new robotics program proud.

“She’s our star,” LeCroy said. “Instead of building linebackers and shortstops, this program is trying to build doctors and scientists.”

2009 marked the Mustangs Engineering program’s first year at the school after it received community grant funding from state senator Hank Erwin (R-Montevallo) and state representative Jimmy Martin (D-Clanton).

Ray will enroll this fall. Her mother is Wendy Smith, her grandmother is Gail Ray and her brother is Zane Smith.