Thomas Hamaker Receives 2019 R.E. Lee Wilson Award
2019 Wilson Award winner Thomas Hamaker and Perry Wilson, great-great-grandson of R.E. Lee Wilson
JONESBORO – Thomas J. Hamaker of Hampton, who will graduate in May with a double major in finance and marketing from Arkansas State University’s Neil Griffin College of Business, was announced as the 2019 R.E. Lee Wilson Award winner, Thursday evening, at the Cooper Alumni Center on campus.
Hamaker was one of the six Distinguished Service Award winners eligible for the honor. The Wilson Award and DSA winners were introduced and recognized during the 86th student honors awards ceremony, the culminating event of the 41st annual Convocation of Scholars. The other five DSA winners are Landen Crancer of Rector; Oliver Dozier of Paragould; Jon Mark Horton of Jonesboro; Tanisha Tak of Ahmedabed, Gujarate, India; and Starr Taylor of Jonesboro.
The Wilson Award is named in honor of R.E. Lee Wilson, a Mississippi County planter and businessman who served on the institution's Board of Trustees from 1917 until his death in 1933. The annual Wilson Award presentation began the following year, more than eight decades ago. For several years, Perry Wilson of Little Rock, great-great-grandson of R.E. Lee Wilson, has carried out the custom that calls for a descendent of the award's namesake to make the presentation.
Each year's recipient is selected on the basis of character, determination, leadership, service, participation and academic achievement.
“Before I met Thomas, I was told about Thomas,” said Dr. David Kern, McAdams-Frierson Chair of Bank Management, who nominated Hamaker. “The way he was described to me was, ‘I think I met the future governor of Arkansas,’ and I was not disappointed.”
Hamaker is currently working on his Honors senior thesis and has been on the Chancellor’s List and Honors Director’s List each semester he has been at Arkansas State. In addition to earning an A-State Scholar scholarship when he graduated from high school, Hamaker was inducted into Alpha Lambda Delta, a national honor society that recognizes academic excellence among freshman students; the campus chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, the premier honor society for academic excellence in business disciplines; and the National Society of Leadership and Success.
He is also a Griffin College of Business Dean’s Excellence scholar and a Risk Management Association Foundation scholar. Hamaker was the runner-up in information management in the 2016 Phi Beta Lambda National Leadership Conference.
Hamaker is active in the Student Government Association and other organizations, serving as a senator, a member of the election commission, the Student Philanthropy Council, the academic budget committee, Honors College program director for special events, and the Bowersox supply chain challenge team. He also works with Volunteer A-State and helps in the marketing efforts for American Red Cross blood drives, the A-State Debate Team, the College Bowl team, and the Leadership Center.
To gain experience in his chosen field, he worked with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Centennial Bank.
“He is what you look for in a leader,” Kern continued. “He has a positive influence on faculty and staff, on other students, on high school and junior high students, and I’ve seen him interact with young kids.”
Hamaker commented, “At the end of the day, if you are out in your community and if you are helping people and helping bridge that gap, being celebrated for that is going to be the best opportunity in the world. It’s something you’ll look back on and always remember the service you give.”
The names of Wilson Award winners are permanently listed in a prominent display outside Centennial Hall in the Carl R. Reng Student Union.
Previous Wilson Award recipients formed a Wilson Fellows Chapter of the A-State Alumni Association which has funded a scholarship program. Wilson Award winners receive a post-graduate scholarship from the chapter to be used for additional education after graduation from A-State.