May 6, 2008

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

VSU Hands out top Honors

VALDOSTA - The best and brightest at Valdosta State University were honored at the annual Academic Honors Dinner held Thursday evening, May 1, in the University Center.

Those recognized embody the values and traditions of VSU and higher education. Each received honors, which represent years of dedication and commitment to individual excellence and achievement, as well as commitment on the part of parents, family and friends.

By tradition, each year Valdosta State University has held an Academic Honors day to honor our most outstanding students. Six years ago, the Academic Honors and Awards Committee began looking at ways to enhance the ceremony so that honorees and those who contributed to their success could more fully participate in the formal recognition of their achievements. The Academic Honors Dinner is the result of those efforts, providing a forum for the very best students from across the university to be recognized.

Named after VSU’s first dean of women, the Annie Powe Hopper Award marks the apex of accomplishment in one’s university career and recipients must stand high academically and exemplify the tradition of Valdosta State and those traits of character and dignity associated with the late Annie Powe Hopper. There were two students chosen to receive the prestigious Annie Powe Hopper Award this spring. Melissa Daugherty and Katheryn Klimko.

Melissa Daugherty
Melissa Daugherty
Melissa Daugherty, an English teacher at Valdosta High School, was also honored. While at VSU, she maintained a 3.96 GPA and achieved all-state honors as a member of the cross country team. She has been honored many times during her academic career and plans to teach long term, always positively impacting students’ lives.

Katheryn Klimko not only received the Annie Powe Hopper Award, but also the Marga Award, another of the university’s top honors. Sigma Alpha Chi Honor Society gives the Marga and Mac awards to outstanding female and male graduates who have demonstrated academic superiority and participation in at least three campus organizations.

A mathematic major with a 3.97 GPA, Katheryn Klimko has worked hard and received numerous awards and recognition throughout her college career. She co-authored a paper that was accepted for publication in Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics journal and presented at both VSU’s Math Technology Conference and Mercer University’s Undergraduate Research in Mathematics Conference. An avid volunteer with the Big Brothers Big Sisters, she has also served as a peer tutor at VSU and a tutor at S.L. Mason Elementary School. After graduation, she plans to study Constitutional Law at Harvard University. Adam Herbert was this year’s Mac Award winner.

Named for Maria Leonard, founder of Alpha Lambda Delta, the Marie Leonard Book Award is given to the top graduating senior member of the organization with the highest cumulative GPA. Khaleh Thomas, a senior chemistry major, was honored with this award. Thomas has maintained a 4.0 GPA, while playing a full career on the Lady Blazers basketball team. A member of the East Conference championship team in 2005, she was voted the Student Athlete of the Year in 2007 by the NCAA Division II Gulf South Conference and was also a finalist for the Annie Powe Hopper Award, the university’s top academic honor. She plans to attend medical school and study forensic pathology in order to become a medical examiner.

Christina Leigh Huntley, a biology major who plans to attend medical school, was honored with the American Association of University Women Award. It is given to a female VSU graduate with at least a 3.5 GPA, who has demonstrated talents for intellectual growth and leadership through involvement in organizations and projects during the university experience. Huntley plans to earn a second degree in Spanish and eventually become a doctor. During the past year, she was recognized by the Georgia Collegiate Honors Council.

Named for explorer and scientist William Bartram, the Bartram Award for Intellectual Exploration was presented to William Jake Newsome, a junior majoring in History, who held a 3.84 GPA and was awarded the Student Prize for Excellence in International Studies in 2008 by the Georgia Consortium for International Studies. He has demonstrated the skills of intellectual exploration, adventure and competence, remained active in the VSU Honors Program and has participated in an exceptional scholarly course of study. Newsome’s university highlights include traveling abroad and presenting research at VSU’s Symposium for Undergraduate Research.

Speech and language pathology major, Ashley Garland, was award the Clare Philips Martin Scholarship, which is given in honor of the late President Mereitus S. Walter Martin’s wife Clare. Garland met the award’s GPA and academic criteria by holding a 4.0 GPA and remaining active in various campus and community organizations. She will graduation in December 2008 and plans to establish a private practice, focusing on early intervention with preschool children.
The Division of Athletics presents two annual awards to those who qualify as the most outstanding student athletes. Senior tennis player Leos Jelinek was honored as the male athlete of the year. An international student who hails from Prague, Czech Republic, he plans to enroll in a Master of Business Administration program and become a manager of a soccer team in Europe. Softball player Kristina Ely was named the Female Student Athlete of the Year. The recent recipient of the Health and Physical Education Award for Student Teacher of the Year said she considers her student teaching experience one of the highlights of her college career.

The Outstanding College of the Arts Award was presented to senior theatre major Jonathan Able, who held the highest GPA and a record of distinguished department, college and university service.

The Outstanding Student in Arts and Sciences award was given to Christopher Parker, based on his demonstrated academic excellence, including scholarship, memberships, honors and GPA, as well as service to the department, college and community.

The Wall Street Journal Student Achievement Award, the highest award given by the College of Business Administration, was presented to business administration major Amanda Orvin, who holds a 3.97 GPA. She is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, Golden Key International Honor Society and Sigma Alpha Chi and looks forward to applying the skills she has learned at VSU to a professional career in business.

Presented to the student with the highest GPA of all departments within the college, the College of Education Highest Academic Achievement Award was given to Mary Gunderson, a Communication Science major who held a 4.0 GPA and memberships in several honor societies. She plans to attend graduate school at VSU in the fall and become a speech language pathologist who is fluent in Spanish. Gunderson was also the recipient of the Valdosta State Academic Recognition Day Award, which allowed her to represent the university among the 35 University System of Georgia Institutions at Academic Recognition Day with the State of Georgia’s House of Representatives and State Senate.

Kellie Register received the Outstanding Senior Nursing Student Award, which is presented to the student with the highest GPA, who is also active in campus and community activities, showing leadership capabilities and initiative in both clinical and classroom settings. Register has been an outstanding student during her tenure at VSU, remaining active in the International Honor Society in Nursing. She plans to work at South Georgia Medical Center in the Intensive Care Unit and pursue a degree as a certified registered nurse anesthetist.

The George Gaumond Master of Library and Information Science Award was presented to Sarah Hepler, a 4.0 student who has worked full time in addition to her studies in the MLIS program. She has shown overall excellence in academic, professional service and scholarship, and plans to become an academic librarian specializing in new technology and its application to libraries.

Cadet Ryan Chapman was honored as the Division of Aerospace Studies Most Outstanding AS300 Cadet. Winners of this award must positively contribute to leadership and show initiative, good judgment, self-confidence, promptness and respect, also showing the ability to adapt to change and possess the highest personal and ethical standards. A junior majoring in physics, he has been engaged in numerous service opportunities, serving as a volunteer tutor and visitation tour guide for incoming freshman, among others. His future goals include earning a masters degree in his field of study and becoming a scientist in the United States Air Force.

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