On Greatness: Honoring Achievement & Excellence

This evening, more than 50 students and outstanding faculty received awards at the 2017 Middle Georgia State University Honors Convocation. Later this week, at the Student Leadership Awards, approximately 30 more students will be honored for their excellence in extra-curricular pursuits.

Whether in the classroom or in the community, these students and faculty are living Plato’s adage that, “Those having torches will pass them on to others.”

Among our student awardees tonight were two receiving the highest honors—our Academic Recognition Day Scholar and our President’s Scholar. Every year the Chancellor of the University System of Georgia asks each System institution to select one student representative of outstanding scholastic achievement. Middle Georgia State’s 2016-17 Academic Recognition Day Scholar is Richard Kurhajian, a senior in our School of Aviation majoring in Logistics Management who serves as an Industrial Engineering Technician at Robins Air Force Base.

In addition, with my approval, each year our Student Honors, Awards and Graduation Committee designates one student from the entire senior class as President’s Scholar—who serves as our student speaker at Graduation. This year’s President’s Scholar is Rachel Hastings, an Honors Program Graduate, who has not only served as President and Vice President of the Honors Student Association, but has also served as student administrative assistant to the English department, as a work study intern for NewTown Macon, and as an assistant in the Media, Culture and the Arts Department’s MacLab.

Richard and Rachel, along with tonight’s other student honorees, represent the very best and brightest at Middle Georgia State. And we know that one of the essential ingredients to drawing out greatness in our students is dedicated faculty—who not only teach the content of their disciplines, but model academic leadership inside and outside the classroom. Tonight, we honored three of our faculty members with the 2017 Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship, and Service.

Described by one student as a faculty member who delivered interesting lectures, while reminding her students to be not only good nurses, but good people all around, the winner for Excellence in Teaching was Dr. Keri Justice. The faculty award for Excellence in Scholarship went to Dr. Paul Gladden, whose psychology research has yielded seven journal articles and one commentary in peer-reviewed journals, three book chapters, and collaborations with scholars in Mexico, Australia, Singapore, and Italy.  And, the faculty award for Excellence in Service was given to Dr. Randy Spaid, who was not only instrumental in developing a Professional Development School partnership with the Bibb County School District, but has been active on campus in the Faculty Senate, and off campus as a judge in academic competitions and serves on the Executive Board of the Georgia Science Teacher Association.

Each of these members of the faculty exemplify what Queen Rania of Jordan has observed about educators: “Good teachers teach. Great teachers transform.” Drs. Justice, Gladden, and Spaid are transforming not only our students, but our university, and our region for the better.

Other students honored this evening include:

Students recognized for Outstanding Academic Excellence, which requires a GPA between 3.8 and 4.0—

  • College of Arts & Sciences
    • Rachel Maddox, English
    • Heather Johnson, History
    • Taylor Wilson, Mathematics
    • Cameron Dober, Communication Studies
    • Smith Meach, Modern Language
    • Dejay Patel, General Studies
    • Alexandra Johnson, Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Stephanie Breitenbach, New Media and Communication
    • Rachel Brooke Woodard, Biology
    • Michael Ratterree, Criminal Justice
    • Jequoyah Knauls, Psychology
  • School of Aviation
    • Jonathan Merritt, Air Traffic Management
    • Brandon Prosser, Aviation Maintenance Technology
  • School of Business
    • Clayton Vedder, Accounting
    • Sarvin Tavakol, Management
    • Nicole Sikes, Marketing
    • Verla Duston, Production Operations
    • Rebecca Adair, General Business
  • School of Education
    • Megan Pittman, Early Childhood Special Education – Cochran Cohort
    • Bianca Wiggins, Early Childhood Special Education – Macon Cohort
  • School of Health Sciences
    • Natalie Farris, Nursing, B.S.N.
    • Casey Clark, Nursing, M.S.N.
    • Brooklyn Kilgore, Occupational Therapy
  • School of Information Technology
    • Juliana Zakula, Integrated Digital Media
    • Alexandra Papadopoulos, Information Assurance
    • Charles Speir, Network Technology and Administration
    • Mikah Ramsingh, Software Development

Students recognized for Academic Excellence, which requires a GPA between 3.5 and 3.79—

  • College of Arts & Sciences
    • Vicki Lester, Public Service
  • School of Aviation
    • Randy Mixon, Fight Management – Fixed Wing
  • School of Education
    • Zachary Griffin, Middle Grades Education
  • School of Health Sciences
    • Lauren McEachern, Health Services Administration
    • Kelly Brooks, Nursing, A.S.N.
    • John Herrera, Nursing, B.S.N.
    • Kristi Jones, Nursing, RN – B.S.N.
    • Lucie Davidson, Nursing, RN – B.S.N.
    • Terri LeDoux, Nursing, M.S.N.
    • Caleb Roger Clance, Respiratory Therapy
  • School of Information Technology
    • Chelsea Bennett, Cyber Forensics
    • Jessica LaBouve, Cybersecurity
    • Allan Poindexter, Game Design and Development

Honors Discipline Graduates, earning a “B” or better in four upper-level Honors courses with an overall GPA of at least 3.5—

  • Jequoyah Knauls, Psychology
  • Queen Girard, Aviation Management
  • Brittany Adams, Business Administration

Honors Program Graduates, earning and “A” or “B” in four or more Honors Program courses with an overall GPA of at least 3.5—

  • Smith Meach, Georgia Academy
  • Brian White, Biology
  • Rebekah Messamore, Psychology
  • Tiffany LaFollette, Psychology
  • Emily Brunner, Nursing
  • Taylor Paul, English
  • Rachel Hastings, New Media and Communication

Other academic award recipients—

  • Eric Miller, Carol Bloodworth Memorial Award, School of Education
  • Odell Blackmon, Georgia Academy First Year Student with Highest GPA
  • Fergus King, Georgia Academy Second Year Student with Highest GPA
  • Dylan Jones, Athlete with Highest GPA

As the academic year draws to a close, please join me in congratulating all of our academic awards recipients and join us in honoring our student leaders this Wednesday, April 12 at 6pm at the Student Leadership Awards in Warner Robins.