From left, Savannah “Maeve” Auchmoedy, Brenau President Anne Skleder and Jennifer Elias stand together during a reception to honor the two scholarship winners. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Brenau Scholar, first Brenau Dreams Scholarship recipient recognized at reception

Jul 27, 2021
Kathryne Davis
Jennifer Elias sits with her sister, Martha, during the scholarship reception. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Two incoming freshmen in The Women’s College of Brenau University were recognized as the first Brenau Dreams Scholarship recipient and the next Brenau Scholar during a reception Thursday, July 22, on the university’s historic Gainesville campus.

Jennifer Elias, a graduate of Gainesville High School, was awarded the Brenau Dreams Scholarship, which was created for first-generation students in Hall County. In addition, Savannah “Maeve” Auchmoedy, a graduate of Warner Robins High School, was named a Brenau Scholar for the 2021-22 school year. Both scholarships cover the full cost of tuition.

“With the Brenau Dreams Scholarship, we wanted to give back to the community that Brenau has been a part of since 1878 by dedicating an award to students in our county,” said Redenna Poole, assistant vice president for enrollment management. “The applicants wrote an essay that basically asked, ‘What would winning this scholarship do for your dreams?’ The responses were amazing.”

For her entry, Elias wrote about how the scholarship would help her pay for college after her parents died in January.

“My essay was about how this scholarship would help my siblings and me,” she said. “I wrote about how I had to help my 22-year-old sister support her son and our three younger siblings. This scholarship can open a lot of opportunities for all of us. I live two minutes away from Brenau so I can go to school and be close to my family.”

Elias was accompanied at the reception by her older sister, Martha, as well as Gainesville High Principal Jamie Green, GHS counselor Betsy Escamilla and Tonya Sanders, director of The Hub student success center at GHS.

“I’m so thankful for the support system at Gainesville High School, especially Tonya,” Elias said. “She was always there to help guide me.”

Elias is taking time to decide on a major at Brenau. The Brenau Dreams Scholarship is renewable every year as long as the student makes satisfactory academic progress.

“It’s an honor to be the first recipient of the Brenau Dreams Scholarship,” Elias said. “I know my parents are proud of me.”

Auchmoedy, who will be studying theatre, knew she wanted to go to Brenau after hearing stories from her cousin Caitlin Cavanaugh, who graduated from The Women’s College in 2016.

Savannah “Maeve” Auchmoedy gives a speech after receiving her award. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

“Caitlin sat me down and said, ‘You’re not going to find anywhere better,’” Auchmoedy said. “I saw the Brenau Scholar scholarship and figured I’d apply. It just seemed like everything fell into place, and I felt like I was meant to be here. I feel like Brenau is one of those places that if you weren’t meant to be here, someone will make sure you are.”

To be chosen for the Brenau Scholars Program, students must excel in academics, community service and extracurricular activities. It is renewable each year under the stipulation that recipients keep at least a 3.2 grade-point average and maintain involvement in the community and university.

“Brenau has so much to offer all students,” Auchmoedy said. “I’ve never met the president or anyone here face-to-face — and now they’re here crying for me and so excited that I’m a Brenau Scholar. They’re so proud of me. That’s something I haven’t experienced a lot of throughout my life. Feeling that love and support is what I need from Brenau. I know, undoubtedly, Brenau will provide that for me.”

Brenau President Anne Skleder congratulated the scholarship recipients and said everyone at Brenau is looking forward to them joining the campus community in the fall.

“When you get here, we absolutely know that you’re going to become some of our best and brightest leaders at this university,” Skleder said. “We are so grateful to have you. Brenau will be better for having you here. I’m in your corner and will be with you every step of the way, along with your teachers, coaches, advisors and everyone else at this university.”