Branson Burnett Beasley Sparks
Branson Burnett Beasley Sparks, 26, of Hempstead, NY formerly of Alexandria, died on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 in Manhasset, NY from peripheral T-cell lymphoma. He was a second-year medical student at Hofstra School of Medicine.
Born on October 30, 1986 in Alexandria, LA, he spent his childhood and teen years there. He was an Eagle Scout and an acolyte at St. James Episcopal Church. He attended Bolton High School, where he received numerous awards at scholastic rallies and in speech and debate tournaments. In 2001 he was named the The Nation's Top Young Scientist by the Smithsonian Institution, The Discovery Channel, and Science Service, Inc. In 2005, Sparks graduated from Bolton with honors and distinctions. He received many college scholarship offers. He attended Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, with academic success, but wished to be closer to home. He accepted the presidential scholarship and transferred to Louisiana Tech University where he majored in economics. During his time there he worked on the yearbook, serving as photography editor, copy editor, and assistant yearbook editor. During his last two years he was the yearbook editor-in-chief. For a time he was the head photographer for the student newspaper and photographed sports events for the Monroe, LA, newspaper, The News Star. He was president of the Golden Key International Honour Society and a Robert C. Byrd Scholar. He was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Epsilon, and Beta Gamma Sigma honor societies. He was listed in Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities. He was named the Louisiana Tech University Outstanding Senior Scholar, College of Business. He received the top honor reserved for two seniors when he was designated as Who's Who Louisiana Tech Elite.
After completing his B.S. degree, Sparks graduated magna cum laude in 2009. In the months that followed, he became increasingly aware that he had a sincere desire to go to medical school. He was aided in making that decision by mentor and friend Dr. Fred Reid and was supported by the physicians, nurses, and staff of the Rapides Regional Medical Center Emergency Department where he had worked during the summers. Always eager to take any extra training that was available, he was named First Choice Employee.
To obtain the prerequisites for medical school, he completed the arduous post-baccalaureate pre-medical program at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA. During his year there, he earned Wilderness First Aid Certification. He became a SKYWARN Advanced Storm Spotter and an Amateur Radio Operator - Extra Class. He volunteered his time working in Bryn Mawr Hospital and helped organize a showcase of student talent where he displayed some photographs he had taken while pursuing his hobby of amateur photography. When a student at Bryn Mawr, he heard about a new medical school, built around an innovative curriculum, which was opening at Hofstra University. He set his sights on that school only and was one of 40 students chosen from over 4500 applicants for the inaugural class of Hofstra School of Medicine. While at Hofstra, Sparks was working on a Medical School Wiki to assist medical students with research. He also started specialty-related interest groups for emergency medicine and for obstetrics and gynecology. He assisted with the admissions process for applicants to the medical school. In addition, he was participating in a bee project to gather scientific evidence to prove the value of local honey in preventing seasonal hay fever symptoms.
Sparks will be remembered for his dry sense of humor, his leadership skills, his love and loyalty to family and friends, as well as for his ability for innovative problem solving and creative thinking. His unique style of writing and his ease with electronics will be missed.
He is survived by his parents, Robert Branson and Mary Ussery Sparks of Alexandria, LA; his maternal grandmother, Jimmie Burnett Ussery of Alexandria, LA; his uncle and aunt, who were also his godparents, Michael Walter and Elizabeth Sparks Neely of San Antonio, TX; and cousins Dr. Michelle Elizabeth Neely and Melanie Neely Wright.
He was predeceased by his paternal grandparents Robert Branson and Helen Slimp Sparks of Lake Charles, LA and maternal grandfather L. Roy Ussery of Alexandria, LA.
Services will be held at St. James Episcopal Church on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Visitation will be in the Parish Hall of St. James at 10:00 A.M. with services beginning at 11:00 A.M. in the church. Officiating will be the Reverend Fred Tinsley. He will be assisted by Deacon Belle Rollins, who sponsored Sparks at his confirmation, and by the Reverend Tracy MacKenzie.
Pallbearers will be Michael Silver, Ted Silver, Kevin Allen, Richard Robinson, Fred Reid, Matthew LaCaze and Bruce Underwood.
Burial will be at Greenwood Memorial Park under the direction of John Kramer and Son.
Memorials may be made to the Hofstra School of Medicine (500 Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY 11549), the Montessori Educational Center (4209 North Bolton Avenue, Alexandria, LA 71303), St. James Episcopal Church (1620 Murray Street, Alexandria, LA 71301), Horseshoe Drive United Methodist Church (1600 Horseshoe Drive, Alexandria, LA 71301), or The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (Donor Services, P.O. Box 4072, Pittsfield, MA 01202 or online at https://donate.lls.org/lls/donate