Featured Academic All-State Alumni Presenters

Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence
Academic Awards Program

Featured Academic All-State Alumni Presenters

Over the past 32 years, the legacy of our Academic All-State alumni has grown exponentially as a result of their demonstrated career successes and impactful leadership in their respective fields and civic activities. As an impetus for inspiration and as a celebration of their achievement, featured alumni present the awards to the Medal for Excellence teachers and Academic All-Staters during our annual banquet.

We thank these Academic All-State Alumni award presenters for their participation in this year's Academic All-State Banquet:

A 1998 All-Stater and alumna of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, Pamela Olson studied physics and political science at Stanford University, graduating in 2002. She lived two years in Ramallah, Palestine, where she served as head writer and editor for the Palestine Monitor and was foreign press coordinator for Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi’s presidential campaign. She served briefly as a research associate for a Washington think tank and in 2013 published Fast Times in Palestine, a political memoir that was named a Best Travel Book by National Geographic. A Tulsa resident, Olson is a freelance writer and will soon publish her first novel.

Nolan Finch is a 1998 All-State alumnus and graduate of Bray-Doyle High School. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2002 and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 2004. He is currently a senior analytics team leader for Caterpillar Inc. in Chicago, where he develops computer vision solutions applied primarily in autonomous systems. Prior to joining Caterpillar in 2012, Finch worked as a senior technical staff member for Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque focusing primarily on inertial sensor development and mathematical systems modeling.

State Rep. Emily Virgin is a 2005 All-Stater and Noble High School graduate. In 2011, at the age of 24, she was elected state representative for Norman’s House District 44, making her the youngest representative in the Democratic caucus. She has been honored for distinguished service by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and for legislative excellence by the ACLU of Oklahoma. She was named a Rising Political Star on NBC News by Chuck Todd, host of Meet the Press. A Norman attorney, Virgin earned her political science degree in 2009 and law degree in 2013 from the University of Oklahoma.

A 1997 Putnam City High School and All-State Alumna, Diana Istook Abbott is a research associate in the Department of Biostatistics and Informatics at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center in Denver. She is involved in clinical trial design and analysis of clinical data, with the objective of uncovering the genetic underpinnings of disease processes. In her spare time, Abbott runs marathons throughout the country and recently competed in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Abbott holds degrees in mathematics from Brigham Young University, in biostatistics from the University of Oklahoma and a Ph.D. in statistical genetics from the University of Iowa.

A 1993 Norman High School graduate, Anil Gollahalli serves as vice president and general counsel to the Board of Regents for the University of Oklahoma, Cameron University and Rogers State University. Gollahalli received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from OU and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Most recently, Gollahalli was admitted as an officer of the Supreme Court of the United States and inducted into the Distinguished Graduates Society for the University of Oklahoma College of Engineering.  In 2015, he became the first All-State Alumnus to serve as president of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.

A 1999 All-State alumna and graduate of Edmond Santa Fe High School, Amber Wiley is an assistant professor of American Studies and associate director of the Intergroup Relations program at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Her research is centered on the social aspects of design — architecture as a literal and figural structure of power. She was named a 2016 Emerging Scholar by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine. Wiley earned her bachelor’s degree in architecture from Yale University, her master’s degree in architectural history from the University of Virginia and her Ph.D. in American studies from George Washington University.

Oklahoma City neurosurgeon Bridger Cox is a 1999 All-State Alumnus and Ardmore High School graduate. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and his medical degree from the University of Oklahoma. He also spent time studying at the University of Oxford. Cox completed residence training in neurological surgery at the University of Florida. He has been active in research and was awarded the 2012 Mayfield Clinical Science Award from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. In 2014, he joined Neuroscience Specialists in Oklahoma City, specializing in complex spinal surgery and minimally invasive treatments.