Sept. 7, 2010
Elizabeth Klipp, 404-413-1356
GSU's Presidential Scholars clockwise from top left: Hannah Wildes, Aaron Carmichael, Madeline Grayson, Alexandra Troxell, Bianca Harrison, Anna Oltmann and Kelly Holroyd.
ATLANTA – As an incoming freshman, Bianca Harrison has accomplished more than many college juniors.
The 18-year-old Carrollton, Ga., native comes to Georgia State University with 60 college credits under her belt from courses she took at a local college while still in high school. She’s also an accomplished viola player and an active volunteer with Relay for Life and the Bhutanese Refugee Project.
Harrison is just one of the Presidential Scholars for the class of 2014 – a group of seven dynamic and intelligent freshmen selected for Georgia State’s premiere scholarship out of 3,000 incoming students.
“It’s such an incredible honor” said Harrison, who plans to major in music performance and English. “I hope I can live up to the expectations, learn and investigate as much as possible at Georgia State and be involved in the community.”
Indeed, GSU’s Presidential Scholars have strong academic backgrounds and a laundry list of accolades. Hannah Wildes, for example, graduated valedictorian of her class at Murray County High School and received a perfect score on the Georgia Writing Test, a National Merit Letter of Commendation as well as the highest SAT score on the day she took the exam.
But what makes the scholars truly remarkable is their desire to do undergraduate research, study abroad, serve the community and make an impact on the world.
For instance, Alexandra Troxell, who was president of her high school’s Key Club, a Special Olympics Buddy and involved with the National Art Society, plans to take her service to another level at GSU. And Madeline Grayson, a highly involved student from Johns Greek, Ga., founded her own business in high school, Green Tea graphics, which generated enough money for her to study abroad. She also volunteered more than 100 hours at the YMCA and Camp High Harbor.
“It’s more than just grades,” said Greg Chishlom, administrative coordinator of the University Honors Program who helps select the scholars. “We want these students to be ambassadors and leaders to take what they learn at GSU beyond this campus.”
In exchange for their talents, the scholars receive financial support, access to campus and faculty, and an allotment of resources. The Presidential Scholar program was started in the 1990s by the Georgia State University Foundation and is funded by multiple donors.
The scholarship covers four years of tuition, fees and housing. Presidential Scholars live together in the University Commons on the Honors Floors. The scholars are given a $2,000 stipend for books and expenses each year, a new lap top and a one-time award of $2,500 to study abroad.
They are also assigned a University Assistantship where they work alongside a faculty member in their field of interest. For instance, Presidential Scholar Anna Oltmann, a nursing major, will be involved in the start up of the Atlanta Regional Geriatric Education Center, which has a goal for expanding geriatric education for health professionals in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Oltmann will work with Nancy Kropf, Georgia State professor and director of the School for Social Work, and Pat Clark, professor in the School of Nursing, to gather geriatric educational materials, conduct literature searches to foster the development of an interdisciplinary course and explore creative ways to reach health professionals.
Even before the first day of classes, the Presidential Scholars were excited about ways they could become involved on campus. Aaron Carmichael, or “CA” as he likes to be called, writes, produces and records his own music and is eager to be involved with WRAS Album 88, Georgia State’s student-run radio station.
“It’s like fate, my destiny to be here at Georgia State,” Carmichael said. “The university has everything I wanted: the diversity, the city, the music programs and the best radio station. I can’t wait to be involved with WRAS, either on the air or behind the scenes.”
The university has pledged $500,000 over the next four years for scholarships to improve recruiting for top tier students. The Presidential Scholar Program adds status and prestige to the university, program coordinators say.
“It’s a way to capture the best and brightest students and get them to attend GSU,” said Nancy Mansfield, faculty associate for the Scholars Program and an associate professor of legal studies in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business. “It gives students resources and faculty to flourish in their studies and achieve their goals, and also make a difference in the community.”
For example, Oltmann wants to be a pediatric nurse and travel to third-world countries to provide medical care to children in need. She’s already volunteered at the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta and is looking forward to finding a similar opportunity at Grady Hospital. Kelly Holroyd, from Woodstock, Ga., is interested in pursuing art therapy and doing community service projects with children involving, as she did in high school at her local church.
In addition to the Presidential Scholar program, GSU offers additional scholarships for incoming freshmen. For more information on scholarships, please visit http://webdb.gsu.edu/scholarships/incoming.cfm.
To learn about Georgia State’s Honors Program, in which the scholars are included, please visit: http://www.gsu.edu/honors.