Katie Watkins recognized as the Baxter-Bryan Scholar for 2022.
(AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Katie Watkins named Baxter-Bryan Scholar for 2022-23

Apr 26, 2022
Alyson Shields

Katie Watkins of Sharpsburg, Georgia, was named the Baxter-Bryan Scholar for the 2022-23 school year during Brenau University’s spring Honors Convocation on Thursday, April 21. The award is Brenau’s highest academic recognition, and the accompanying scholarship covers the winner’s tuition, room and board for her senior year.

Watkins is a junior pursuing degrees in dance and English and has a minor in mass communication. She serves as chapter president of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and is involved in several honor societies and other organizations. She has been involved on campus as a Writing Center tutor, past editor of The Elixir literary magazine and a tour guide. She has also held internships at Core Dance, A’Keen Brand and DanceATL.

“Receiving the Baxter-Bryan scholarship was so unexpected, but I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity,” Watkins said. “I’m tremendously grateful for the support I’ve received from my fellow students and from faculty here at Brenau. I think after my interview, they could tell how much this distinction meant to me and my family.”

Watkins was a Brenau Scholar her freshman year and has a dance scholarship to help cover the costs of her education. Her parents have been supporting her journey at Brenau, so she said the award is a gift to them as well.

“It’s a tremendous weight lifted off of our shoulders that we don’t have to worry financially,” Watkins said. “Plus, it’s an honor for me and for my parents that I get to represent Brenau in this way.”

A rising senior in The Women’s College has been named a Baxter-Bryan Scholar each year since 1990. The award was established by Joe W. Baxter, who named the scholarship for his sister and Brenau alumna, Carfax Baxter, and friend Morris Bryan Jr.

The Sidney O. Smith Jr. Scholarship was presented to the Baxter-Bryan runner-up, Katherine Fourie. The exercise science major from Lawrenceville, Georgia, is a member of the Golden Tigers basketball and track and field teams as well as Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. The Smith scholarship is named after the former Brenau trustee and U.S. district judge.

“I’m honored and grateful to have been awarded this scholarship,” Fourie said. “Along with my other scholarships, this will pay off the rest of my tuition.”

Fourie said while she knew about the Baxter-Bryan Scholars, she never thought she’d go through the process and be named a finalist. 

“I’ve worked very hard at Brenau, and I’ve changed a lot being here,” Fourie said. “I’ve become a part of Greek life and am participating in two sports. It feels like my hard work is paying off — literally.”

Other Baxter-Bryan finalists included dance (pre-PT) major Tiffany Oltjenbruns of Woodstock, Georgia, dance major Jenna Patton of Snellville, Georgia, and elementary education major Annabeth Vandiver of Sautee, Georgia. All three were named Provost Scholars; the trio also were selected as Brenau Scholars their freshman year.

A host of other awards were presented in Pearce Auditorium during Brenau’s Honors Convocation, including the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award to senior mass communications major Sydney Hencil. The award recognizes a student who has demonstrated humanitarian efforts and is a good steward to the community. Departmental awards were also given, and several Women’s College awards previously announced at Cotillion were recognized again.

Faculty awards were also announced. The room exploded into cheers for Dance Department Chair Madia Cooper-Ashirifi as she was named the winner of the Ann Austin Johnson Outstanding Faculty Award, which is Brenau’s highest faculty honor. Associate Professor of Education Donna Cherveny was recognized with the Vulcan Award, and Psychology Instructor Fred Bloom and Physical Therapy Instructor Clare Stinespring received the Outstanding Part-time Faculty Awards.