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Student named Georgia Association on Young Children Student of the Year

Salena Neuwar and GAYC President Courtney May

Senior child and family development major Salena Neuwar was named the 2016 Georgia Association on Young Children (GAYC) Student of the Year at the Together for Children Conference for her outstanding work as a student and the positive impact she has made in her field of study.

To be considered for the award, Neuwar had to be a GAYC member, a student studying child development or a related field, considered an outstanding student in her program and be nominated by an instructor in higher education.

In addition to the GAYC Student of the Year Award, Neuwar has been honored with the Betty Lane Family and Consumer Science Award, the Georgia Southern Honors Program scholarship and the Susie Frances Whitener scholarship.

In between studying and working, Neuwar enjoys working with children. She has volunteered in Costa Rica, where she worked with local children in an educational setting, and South Africa, where she worked at a school for children with disabilities through an adaptive surfing program.

“My time with the adaptive surfing program was about building relationships and enabling the children to do something they enjoy which improves their overall wellbeing,” said Neuwar.

With her degree, Neuwar plans to continue to work with the early intervention program Babies Can’t Wait of the Coastal District where she is currently interning; she then plans to attend graduate school. Ultimately, she would like to work for Babies Can’t Wait as an occupational therapist.

“I am glad that I was recognized for my academics, but most importantly my volunteering and passion that I have for all the children I work with,” said Neuwar. “I hope to be able to grow with the families and children I service in my new career in early intervention.”

In addition to Neuwar, three other students in the College of Health and Human Sciences (CHHS) presented research at the GAYC conference. Kristin Gauthier presented “Technology in early childhood classrooms.” Rebecca Mertins and Nicole Sheahan presented “Visual schedules in early childhood classrooms.” Mertins, Sheahan and Neuwar all worked under the guidance of Katy Gregg, Ph.D., associate professor of child and family development, and Gauthier worked under the guidance of  Dina Walker-DeVose, Ph.D., assistant professor of child and family development.

For more information about the CHHS, visit

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research University founded in 1906, offers 119 degree programs serving 20,673 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement. Georgia Southern is recognized for its student-centered and hands-on approach to education. Visit


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