Auburn Honors College event to spotlight current and past student recipients of nation’s highest scholarships and awards

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Auburn University has had quite an impressive record when it comes to students achieving nationally competitive scholarships, particularly in the past 10 years, with two Rhodes Scholars, two Marshall Scholars and two Gates Cambridge Scholars.

It’s a statistic that places Auburn second in the Southeastern Conference when considering recipients of the three top-tier scholarships in the past decade, and on Thursday, April 5, such outcomes will be on display as Auburn’s Honors College offers a 12-person panel event featuring former and current Auburn students who have received the nation’s most prestigious scholarships and awards.

“These are some of our best. When you look at it, it’s wow! This is Auburn!” said Paul Harris, associate director and professor of political science in the Honors College, who helped establish a national prestigious scholarship presence at Auburn with his arrival to the university 10 years ago. “It’s nice when our Auburn Family can celebrate these significant academic achievements and I am grateful for the opportunity former director of the Honors College, James Hansen, provided me and for the foundation laid by Honors College Director Emeritus Bill Gwin who was an early advocate for national prestigious scholarships over a quarter-century ago.”

The event, titled “Where Dreams May Go – A Celebration of National Prestigious Scholarship at Auburn University,” will take place from 4-5:30 p.m. on April 5 in room 2510 of Auburn’s Mell Classroom Building.  Panelists will speak about their scholarship experience, to be followed by a question-and-answer session and light refreshments. Auburn students, faculty, staff, alumni and the general public are cordially invited to attend and hear the scholars’ success stories and how their Auburn education prepared them for their respective awards.

The panel of speakers and their scholarship award(s) includes: Azeem Ahmed ’14, Harry S. Truman Scholarship; Nighet Ahmed, psychologist and doctoral student in adult education at Auburn, Boren Graduate Fellowship; Jordan Anderson ’10, Rhodes Scholarship; Paul Bergan ’12, Gates Cambridge Scholarship, Fulbright Scholarship and Marcus L. Urann Fellowship; Patrick Donnan ’14, Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Marshall Scholarship; Ed Gentle ’75, Rhodes Scholarship; Doug Kilton ’82, Fulbright Scholarship; Ashton Richardson ’12, Marshall Scholarship; Marian Royston ’13, Mitchell Scholarship; Alyssa White ’14, Phi Kappa Phi National Fellowship and Oxford University Clarendon Fund Scholarship; Matthew Rogers ’18, Rhodes Scholarship; and Lauren Hayes Smith ’09, Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship and USA Today Academic All USA Team, 2nd Team.

“It’s really a celebration,” said Harris, noting how the event underscores Auburn’s Vision and Mission Statement “as one of the nation's preeminent comprehensive land-grant universities in the 21st century.”   

One key example of that success, Harris said, is the fact that in the past 10 years Auburn has had, in addition to two Rhodes Scholars, 11 finalists for the Rhodes which is an international postgraduate award for students to study at the University of Oxford. The award is widely considered one of the world’s most prestigious scholarships.  In that same timeframe, among others, Auburn has also had back-to-back Marshall Scholarship recipients; one Mitchell Scholarship recipient; two Gates Cambridge Scholarship recipients and four finalists; two Truman Scholarship recipients and six finalists; nine Goldwater Scholarship recipients and seven honorable mentions; 21 Fulbright Scholarship recipients; two Udall Scholarship recipients; one Boren Scholarship recipient; five Phi Kappa Phi National Fellowship recipients;  eight Gillman Scholarship recipients; one German Academic Exchange Service Graduate Fellowship and two undergraduate summer fellowships; and 43 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship recipients and 10 honorable mentions.

Harris said such results demonstrate the strength of Auburn’s academic programs and the dedication of the university’s faculty and staff who provide opportunities for students to engage, influence and lead in the world.  The national prestigious scholarships office works closely with all campus constituencies, i.e., deans, department chairs, individual faculty, departmental advisors, athletics, veterans affairs, inclusion and diversity, undergraduate research, Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC, student affairs, the graduate school and Miller Writing Center, in an effort to identify candidates for these awards and to recruit current students to Auburn. 

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The Honors College at Auburn University is designed to provide a select cohort of high-ability students a means to experience, explore, engage and elevate their academic dreams. The college offers four types of graduation distinctions, smaller class sizes, priority registration, undergraduate research and internship opportunities, study and travel experiences, access to graduate-level courses, peer tutoring sessions, flexible curriculums and designated Honors housing and study areas. Students engage in an academically challenging set of courses and programs to provide a deeper understanding of the class material.