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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

UALR Donaghey Scholar earns prestigious Portz Prize

A recent grad is the first honors recipient of the coveted Portz Prize, thanks to the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC).

Alex Leme is the first UALR Donaghey Scholar to earn this distinction, according to Dr. Earl Ramsey, director of the Donaghey Scholars Program at UALR.

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The NCHC Awards and Grants Committee recently selected Leme’s paper and two others from submissions received from throughout the country. Leme will join the other two NCHC Portz Scholars in New Orleans Saturday, Nov. 9.

All three will present their papers at a plenary session at the NCHC conference and be honored in a separate session. Leme will be awarded a $350 stipend and complimentary conference registration.

“The award is so distinguished, and the competition so fierce, that most honors directors rarely submit nominees,” said Ramsey, adding he had submitted “less than a handful” of nominees in his 25 years as director.

Leme’s winning NCHC paper examines surrealist photography to reconcile the real and surreal and the real and the constructed. The paper also investigates what the surrealists, primarily André Breton, might have said about photography.

Leme, a photographer with exhibitions scheduled in major cities, said he started with the premise that a single photograph may shift meaning as it moves from the place where it was taken to the place where it is published or viewed.

Leme, 35, a non-traditional student who heard about the Donaghey Scholars Program during an introductory visual art course at UALR, is a multilingual Brazilian who first came to the U.S. as a stockbroker.

Leme said although he was initially intimidated by the prospect of learning with younger students in the program, he quickly realized that scholarly pursuits know no age limits.

“The other students and professors motivated me and encouraged me to do better every day,” he said. “At no point did I feel out of place. Some of the greatest friends I made were made through the Donaghey program.”

The NCHC Portz Scholars Program began in 1990 to enable NCHC to acknowledge John and Edythe Portz’s many contributions to honors education.

The program selects the top research/creative papers by undergraduate honors students who have been nominated by their institutions for their outstanding work. This is the 23rd year of the competition.

To learn more about the UALR honors program, go to Donaghey Scholars Program.