Two students, alumnus receive Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Published: April 16, 2018
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Auburn University recognized three recipients of the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at the annual President’s Luncheon April 11. Students Wesley Curles and Hallie Nelson and alumnus and Secretary to the Board of Trustees Grant Davis were each presented with the award, which is given annually to individuals who embody high qualities and nobility of character.

Curles is a native of Montgomery, Alabama, and is a senior studying biomedical sciences. He plans to attend medical school and wants to establish a clinical practice. His research between Alzheimer’s disease and Type 2 diabetes in laboratory mice resulted in a potential causal link between insulin sensitivity and cognitive impairment. In addition to his scholarly activities, Curles competes on Auburn’s cross country team and has served as team captain for two years.

Curles is a Rhodes Scholar semi-finalist and a member of the Chi Alpha Sigma National College Athlete Honor Society and Phi Kappa Phi.  He is also on the SEC Academic Honor Roll and Auburn University College of Sciences and Mathematics Dean’s List, and a recipient of the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-American Award and Auburn Top Tiger Award. Curles also volunteers with the local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Nelson, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, is majoring in ecological engineering and pursuing a triple minor in community and civic engagement, sustainability studies and Spanish. A passionate advocate for those facing food insecurity, Nelson’s research findings, which focus on food insecurity in Montgomery County, will be used with the River Region Food Policy Council. Her strong commitment to combat hunger afforded her the opportunity to serve as a Community Agriculture Promoter for the Peace Corps in Paraguay, where she will continue her mission to alleviate the impact of food insecurity in a distressed region.

During her time at Auburn, Nelson has served in various leadership roles, such as president and treasurer for Campus Kitchens; director of facilities for Student Government Association, committee chair for Adopt-A-Spot; sustainability chair for Global Leadership Council; and committee chair for Women’s Leadership Conference.

She is the recipient of the Robert Stewart Engineering-Humanitarian Award; Spirit of Sustainability William Olson Student Achievement Award; National Kitchen of the Year Award and Outstanding ePortfolio Award, and she was a finalist for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Award.

Davis, who has held many roles at Auburn and currently serves as secretary to the Board of Trustees, is a member of St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church and Auburn Rotary Club and is a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association. Davis began his 43-year journey with Auburn as a student. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1975 and master’s degree in 1977.

While a student at Auburn, Davis was president of Auburn University Graduate School, president of the Auburn University chapter of DECA, vice president of Beta Theta social fraternity and a Student Government Association senator representing the College of Education.

Davis held various leadership roles in Student Affairs from 1980 to 1999, including assistant to the dean of students, assistant dean of students, director of student activities and assistant vice president. He is known for his passion for guiding students to become productive citizens of society of servants to mankind.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award is a national honor that has been presented at Auburn since 1951 as a reminder of the noblest human qualities exemplified by Algernon Sydney Sullivan, a prominent humanitarian and first president of the New York Southern Society, now the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation. Each year, Auburn bestows the honor on at least one student from the graduating class.

The luncheon also featured the presentation of the W. James Samford Jr. Memorial Scholarship to Bailey Carroll Sullivan. The award is named in memory of James Samford, a 1972 Auburn alumnus and member of the Auburn Board of Trustees from 1987 until his death in 2003.

The President's Award and W. James Samford Jr. Foundation Award recognizes one graduate in each school or college who has completed at least three semesters at Auburn with a minimum grade point average of 3.40, and possesses outstanding qualities of leadership, citizenship, character and promise of professional ability.

This year's honorees are Mary Joanne Toohey, College of Agriculture; Eric Parker Lynn, College of Architecture, Design and Construction; Chris G. Maurice, Raymond J. Harbert College of Business; Caitlin Elizabeth Lindquist, College of Education; Madeline Michelle Bonifay, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering; Zachary A. Slay, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; Ryan Jeffrey Weaver, Graduate School; Samantha Ingram Patton, College of Human Sciences; Mary Katherine Kirk, College of Liberal Arts; Katelyn Rose McDonald, School of Nursing; Anthony M. Todd, Harrison School of Pharmacy; Sara Elizabeth Odom, College of Sciences and Mathematics; Sydney Elizabeth Smith, University College; and Mary Margaret Thompson, College of Veterinary Medicine. 

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 29,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.