Students honored for excellence in academic achievement

AUGUSTA, GA – Students from the College of Education were honored for their academic achievement and contributions to scholarship at the 2015 Commencement Celebration.

Thirteen students were celebrated for their outstanding contributions to the College of Education during the 2014-2015 academic year; and 11 students earned the distinction of graduating from the university with honors.

Aaron Barton was chosen Outstanding Master of Arts in Teaching Student. He began the M.A.T. program while employed with Starbucks and was hired at Grovetown High School as a French Teacher. Barton said, “The MAT program helped me to think critically about what takes place in my classroom, and I now implement many of the things I learned and developed in the program.”

Maura Bravo was selected Outstanding Educational Specialist in Curriculum and Instruction. Bravo works at Evans Elementary School in Columbia County where she teaches fourth grade math and science. She earned her Masters and Specialist degrees at Georgia Regents University. Bravo said, “I have developed a sound philosophy on teaching and learning through my personal, professional, and academic experiences.”

Cynthia S. Carbonell was awarded the Outstanding Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction honor. Carbonell is a fourth grade teacher at Blue Ridge Elementary School in Columbia County. She said, “My experiences at GRU not only challenged me to reflect upon my strengths as an educator, but also to examine my personal beliefs and perspectives.”

Kip Allen Custer earned the honor of Outstanding Undergraduate in Health and Physical Education, and intends to be a physical education teacher. Custer said, “I wanted to be an inspiration and a role model to others just like my family, coaches, and teachers were to me. I had the privilege to help teach students from kindergarten to eighth grade, and I can’t see myself in any other profession.”

Grier Hargrove was chosen as the Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Middle Grades. “Middle School is where my heart lies as a teacher, and I am not the “poor teacher” everyone thinks of. I’m the lucky teacher who gets to shape students’ lives just as my life was shaped here at GRU. My grandmother was the Dean of Education here at Augusta College many years ago, so I feel truly honored to be carrying on her legacy.”

Kenneth Allen Holley, Jr., was awarded Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Kinesiology and Health Science. Holley said, “I have had some incredible opportunities. I have studied under one of the most notable upcoming researchers in Augusta, Dr. Ryan Harris. I have developed great relationships with teachers who have helped to challenge me while making learning an enjoyable experience.”

Quentin Hunter earned the honor of Outstanding Graduate Student in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and he will begin his PhD at the University of Louisville this fall. Hunter said enrolling in the M.Ed. of Counselor Education was “a choice that’s changed my life.” As a student and staff member at GRU, as an intern at the VA Medical Center, as a GRU SafeZones Trainer, and as a member of Chi Sigma Iota, Quentin has developed the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to continue to help and educate others.

Ariel Lucas was awarded the Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Special Education honor. Lucas is on the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, served as President of the GRU chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children, and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and Kappa Delta Epsilon.

Tikki Nichole Middleton was chosen as Outstanding Graduate Student in Educational Leadership. Middleton said, “Experience is a great teacher, and during my degree program with Georgia Regents University, the challenging experiences encouraged me to think critically, build creatively, and remain reflective in my leadership practices. As a result, I have become thoroughly equipped with competencies and skills that will allow me to proactively respond to the evolving educational systems and to be able to continuously foster innovative practices that meet the needs of all educational stakeholders.”

Rebecca Newhouse is the Outstanding Graduate Student in Kinesiology & Health Science. Newhouse said, “The opportunities I have been offered throughout this program have been awarding and beneficial to my personal growth. As of today, I am the first member of my family to graduate with a Master’s degree and for that I would like to thank GRU and the faculty for helping me achieve this goal of mine.”

Nicole Michelle Smith was selected as the Outstanding Graduate Student in School Counseling. She will return to Colorado to continue her career. Smith said, “The faculty members of the Counselor Education Program consistently challenged me to dig deeper and think about all aspects of counseling while also providing an eclectic atmosphere of theoretical approaches and techniques. I feel confident that my time spent at GRU in the Counselor Education Program will undoubtedly lead to success in the upcoming transition.”

Allison Suzanne Vick earned the Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Secondary Education honor. Vick said, “Throughout my academic career at GRU I have been honored to work alongside passionate and highly talented colleagues that will serve as tremendously gifted educators in secondary schools throughout the CSRA and even the world. I hope to embody the integrity, character, and work ethic that the College of Education faculty, staff, and students have embodied every day.”

Ashley West was awarded the honor of Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Early Childhood Education. She has begun the Master’s program in Curriculum and Instruction at GRU. West said, “The faculty at GRU are committed and encourage each student to strive for excellence.  I hope to now inspire future students in my classroom to be hard workers and achieve greatness.  I am thankful for the GRU faculty and my supportive family!”

In addition, 11 undergraduate students completed their academic program with honors.

Magna Cum Laude students completing their programs with a Grade Point Average of 3.70 but less than 3.90 are: Brooke Ashley Byrd, Haley Brooke Goolsby and Yoo Jin Yi Jang, in Early Childhood Education; Emily Paige Usry in Special Education; and Trevor Lee Elkins in Kinesiology.

Cum Laude students finishing their degree with a grade point average of 3.50 but less than 3.70 are: Audrey Michelle Crane, Jessica Mae Goodwin and Ashley Nicole Jackson in Early Childhood Education; Ariel Melody Lucas in Special Education; and Jessica Shaylee Carpenter and April Diane Sganga in Kinesiology.

Visit the College of Education’s Facebook page or Flickr page to see photos of these award winners, and more from the GRU College of Education Commencement Celebration.

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