Community leader, pair of Auburn students receive prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Published: May 11, 2020
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An Auburn University alumnus with more than two decades of community leadership and a pair of accomplished students recently were tabbed as the 2020 recipients of the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

Community leader Chris Dernard Nunn, animal sciences and pre-vet major Paxton Wade Peacock and biomedical sciences and psychology double-major Natalie Elizabeth Conboy are the 2020 recipients of the award, which is given annually by the university to individuals who embody high qualities and nobility of character.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award 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 one male and one female student from the graduating class and this year also has honored Nunn as an exemplary alumnus.

A 1990 graduate from the College of Liberal Arts, Nunn upholds the meaning of the Auburn Creed in every way. For more than 20 years, he has served as executive manager of community services for Project Uplift at the Lee County Youth Development Center.

He has led the community and university project that has placed more than 10,000 volunteers and children together. To improve the overall experience, Nunn developed a more careful screening process, expanded services the program offers and grew communication and data keeping efforts.

Outside of Project Uplift, he has served on a number of community boards, including the East Alabama Medical Center, the City of Opelika Zoning Board of Adjustments, the Opelika Chamber of Commerce and the Lee County Department of Human Resources. A former gospel music radio announcer and juvenile probation officer, Nunn also has been involved with area churches as a youth and young adult choir director, Christian education director and youth minister and currently serves as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Hurtsboro, Alabama.

Peacock, from Wicksburg, Alabama, serves as a leader not only in the local community, but also within the state, nation and world. He is the founder of NBC Showpigs, which raises, shows and sells elite show hogs.

He also founded an international service organization called Chick-Chain Project, which sends chickens and chicken coops to third-world countries. Peacock has traveled on a medical mission trip to Guatemala, where he established a library in a rural African community by donating more than 1,000 books, and has helped to rebuild a church for the homeless in Paris.

In addition, he supervises his family’s Peacock Farms and works as a health care policy intern for the Healthcare Leadership Council in Washington, D.C., and he also managed horses at the Auburn University Equestrian Center. He is a student in the Honors College, an Undergraduate Research Fellow and is active in the Student Government Association, Undergraduate Research Ambassadors and the Collegiate Board of the National Society of High School Scholars. After graduation, Paxton will attend medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Conboy, a resident of Birmingham, takes helping others to new levels. Since she was a freshman, she has volunteered as a tutor at the Esperanza House, a local nonprofit that serves low-income Hispanic children and families. She supports academic and personal growth of more than a dozen children in the program through workshops and recreational events.

She is president of the Student Association for Mentoring, where she helps to train and match student mentors with local school children. She also has been part of a number of research projects, including screening community and student participants for traumatic experiences.

Conboy—who also is this year’s President’s Award winner for the College of Sciences and Mathematics—has presented her research at national conventions in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta and was named a Fulbright Scholar semifinalist. After graduation, she plans to attend medical school.

In addition, the W. James Samford Jr. ’72 Memorial Scholarship has been awarded to Nathan Daniel Holden of Dallas, majoring in applied math and professional and public writing. 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 President’s Award honorees are:

Cierra Alisha James, College of Agriculture

Kristin Erin Hamilton, College of Architecture, Design and Construction

Alexandria Renae Harper, Raymond J. Harbert College of Business

Caroline Marie Bugg, College of Education

Ryan Austin McGill, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering

Gabrielle Nicole Ripa, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences

Julio Alejandro Yanes, Graduate School

Allison Leigh Tidwell, College of Human Sciences

Julianne Bethany Lyn, College of Liberal Arts

Sophia Louise Brint, School of Nursing

Samantha Sloan Beck, Harrison School of Pharmacy

Natalie Elizabeth Conboy, College of Sciences and Mathematics

Hilary Rizk Seals, College of Veterinary Medicine

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 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.