Cierra Franklin receives the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Scholarship during the Brenau University Honors Convocation on Thursday, April 12, 2018. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Brenau Awards Students for Academic Excellence at Honors Convocation

Apr. 18, 2018
Alison Reeger Cook

Brenau University recognized 68 students for their outstanding academic achievements during the annual Honors Convocation Thursday, April 12, in Pearce Auditorium. The ceremony honors the top scholars of Brenau across all disciplines, from the arts to health sciences to business majors, and it recognizes the dedicated work of all students and faculty that makes Brenau a great institution of higher education.

“Everyone here today is essential to our vibrant traditions,” said Provost Jim Eck. “We have a distinguished faculty that attracts fantastic students. Today’s ceremony conveys our sense of pride in our Brenau University students.”

Brenau President Ed Schrader presented the Baxter-Bryan Senior Scholar Award, granted to a junior for her senior year to cover tuition, room and board. Established by Joe W. Baxter, who named the scholarship for his sister Carfax Baxter and his friend Morris Bryan Jr., it is Brenau’s highest scholarship award and has been given for the past 29 years.

James Eck listens during the Brenau University Honors Convocation on Thursday, April 12, 2018. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

“Every one of the five finalists this year is deserving of this scholarship, the top of the top, scholars and student leaders that not only represent excellence at Brenau but excellence in any school in the United States and around the world,” said Schrader.

The winner of the 2018 Baxter-Bryan Senior Scholarship was health science major Allie McConnell from Cumming, Georgia. She is an athlete on the inaugural Golden Tigers Lacrosse Team that played its first game this past February, and she was a student ambassador for incoming Chinese exchange students from Anhui Normal University. The first runner-up was Kellsey Kolker, a health science major from Lawrenceville, Georgia, who won the Sidney O. Smith Scholarship. The three finalists were Katherine Davis from Rockledge, Florida; Susan DeWitt from Cumming, Georgia; and Geanna Funes from Calhoun, Georgia.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Scholarship and Mary Mildred Sullivan Award, each named in honor of husband and wife philanthropists, recognize students who have demonstrated humanitarian efforts and stewardship qualities in their communities. Cierra Franklin, a mass communications junior from Albany, Georgia, was the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Scholarship winner, and psychology senior Kaleigh McIntyre from Homer, Georgia, received the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award.

There was also a special acknowledgement made during the ceremony for longtime Brenau faculty member, Jolie Long Carlton, retiring dance professor who was diagnosed with cancer last year. Madia Cooper-Ashirifi, assistant professor of dance, took a moment after presenting the dance awards to recognize Carlton.

John Streit and Madia Cooper Ashirifi pose for a photo during the Brenau University Honors Convocation on Thursday, April 12, 2018. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

“Her gracious and forthcoming way of instruction really galvanized me as a student when I attended Brenau,” said Cooper-Ashirifi. “By her example I and many others became stellar teachers and performers. Her 20 years of dedicated commitment has catapulted the dance department to what it is today: phenomenal, thriving, and preparing future dance artists.”

Cooper-Ashirifi also announced that she will reinstate the Nu Delta Alpha dance honors society this fall at Brenau, which Carlton originally initiated years ago.

Sommer Stockton, the recipient of the Massey Journalism Scholarship and the incoming president for the Student Government Association for 2018-19, closed the Honors Convocation by thanking the students in the audience for staying true to Brenau.

“To those of you who are graduating, know we have the utmost confidence in each of you to achieve anything you desire,” she said. “You have become gold refined by fire. I urge you to take your fire and spread it across the globe, lighting the fires of others as you go.”

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