Three Oklahoma high school seniors have been named Chancellor Hans Brisch Scholars for outstanding leadership, civic involvement and academic talent.

Gracey E. Coffelt, Locust Grove High School, Aaron David Mauk, Coalgate High School, and Samuel Keaston Gonzalez, Walters High School, will each receive a $2,000 award through the Chancellor Hans Brisch Scholarship program.

The Chancellor’s Scholars Program was created in 1990 with private funds. The program was renamed in 2006 to honor Brisch, who served as chancellor of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education for 15 years. Brisch retired in 2003 and passed away in February 2006.

Coffelt, Mauk and Gonzalez were selected from nominations made by high school principals statewide.

“We are proud of these talented Oklahoma student leaders who prioritize excellence in service and academic achievement,” said Chancellor Allison D. Garrett. “These exceptional students are committed to making a difference in the lives of others, and we wish them continued success as they pursue college degrees.”

Throughout high school, Coffelt focused on improving her school environment and helped fellow students through various community service projects. She worked to bring STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fairs to elementary students and volunteered to help bring various community enrichment events to Mayes County residents. She was recently chosen as one of only four students countywide to join a community leadership program addressing critical needs such as mental health, physical health and social media wellness.

Coffelt assisted with multiple blood drives for the Oklahoma Blood Institute, volunteered as a teacher’s aide during Upper Elementary Field Day, participated in Special Olympics and packed backpacks with food for underprivileged kids, among other service activities. She also coordinated the annual canned food drive and assisted with distributing food through the USDA’s Farmers to Families program during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a member of the Locust Grove Link Crew Team, which aims to ease freshman students’ transition, promoting academic success and reducing disciplinary issues.

Since her freshman year, Coffelt was a member of the school’s leadership program and served as class treasurer and vice president. Additionally, she was a member of the student council and served as vice president. She successfully balanced community service, a part-time job, honors classes and concurrent enrollment. She graduated with a 4.0 GPA, was a National Honor Society member for three years, and consistently made the Superintendent’s Honor Roll. Upon graduation, she had 21 credit hours through concurrent enrollment at Rogers State University and plans to attend Oklahoma State University in the fall.

Mauk is an active contributor to both his school and community. In 2023, he played a significant role in the Coalgate Community Park Building Project, recruiting, mobilizing and organizing volunteers. He also assembled playground equipment and spread gravel, demonstrating his dedication to community improvement.

Mauk is also involved in multiple Youth Action for Health Leadership campaigns, part of a statewide initiative funded by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) program. Additionally, he contributed his time and effort to many other initiatives, including campus trash clean-up sessions, activities during SPARK (Students Participating and Recognizing Acts of Kindness) Week, organizing activities to raise funds for local families’ cancer treatment expenses, volunteering to repair woodwind instruments for Coalgate Public Schools, and providing mentoring and tutoring to elementary band students. 

In leadership roles, Mauk served as senior class president and is a member of the Coalgate National Honor Society, a National Merit semi-finalist, and a three-time captain of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics State Tournament Qualifying Academic Team. He captained the National Academic Quiz Tournaments Academic Small School National Qualifying Team four times, and is a member of the Oklahoma High School Indian Student Honor Society. He graduated with a 4.33 GPA and plans to attend the University of Oklahoma in the fall.

Gonzalez embodies encouragement, honor and a steadfast commitment to serving his community. Through innovative initiatives like an eight-week “Life Skills” program for elementary and middle school students and a Veterans Flag Retirement Program, he demonstrates his dedication to empowering others. His involvement extends to judging 4-H exhibits, packaging meals for families at the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank, and volunteering at the Jesus House in Oklahoma City. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he assisted county staff with judging and hosting the Cotton County Free Fair.

Gonzalez’s leadership journey spanned all four years of high school, where he consistently earned class officer positions and served as president of the National Honor Society. As captain of the high school academic team, he mentored lower classmen to build their confidence and excelled in academic events. He participated in Student Council activities, was involved in Future Farmers of America (FFA) and attended the 4-H National Conference in Atlanta, where he actively engaged in workshops to enhance his leadership skills and implement new strategies in his local club.

Gonzalez was school valedictorian with a 4.0 GPA and is an Oklahoma Academic Scholar. He took concurrent enrollment classes, earning 15 credit hours from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. He will continue his academic journey at Oklahoma State University in the fall, where he plans to pursue a degree in biology with a focus on radiology.

Brisch Scholars are academically talented high school seniors with outstanding leadership ability who demonstrate a commitment to improving the learning environment of the school or positively impacting the community. In the 33 years since its inception, the Chancellor’s Scholars program has provided scholarships for more than 100 deserving students. Private gifts, including professional honoraria from the current and past chancellors, support the program, which honors not only Brisch but the office of the chancellor and all individuals who serve Oklahoma in that position.