Skip to main content

Georgia Southern student one of five in nation to garner leadership fellowship

Georgia Southern University senior Jessica Riley Martinez was recently awarded the 2019 Jordan Smith Undergraduate Fellowship and will represent Georgia Southern at the 38th Annual Conference on the First-Year Experience (FYE) in February.

Martinez was one of just five winners from across the nation, making this the second year in a row that a Georgia Southern student has been selected for this honor. She will accept her award at this year’s FYE Conference in Las Vegas on Feb. 18.

“It’s a really big deal to be one of the five undergraduate winners of this fellowship award in the nation, and I still cannot believe that I won,” said Martinez. “It shows that Georgia Southern University is helping their students to become successful and to be able to further themselves in any field they work hard in.”

A psychology major who is also pursuing a double minor in French and Information Technology, Martinez has worked with the University’s FYE for three years.

“Riley Martinez has held every student leadership position we offer in First-Year Experience,” said FYE Director Chris Caplinger, Ph.D. “She’s had a direct, positive influence on hundreds of students, helping them navigate the first year of college and explore majors. Since last fall, she’s also been an active participant on a task force comprised primarily of faculty assessing our First-Year Seminar. I’m excited about the things she will bring back to the task force after serving as a Jordan Smith fellow at the national FYE conference.”

The conference is designed to provide educators from every segment of higher education with an environment to share innovative ideas, programs, tools and research critical to the learning, development and success of first-year college students. It will feature keynote and plenary speakers focused on critical issues in higher education, colleague clusters for networking opportunities, and commercial and nonprofit exhibits offering strategies and resources to support college transitions.

As a fellow, Martinez will have the opportunity to advance her leadership skills and knowledge base of undergraduate students in an effort to encourage first-year development in students on campus.

For more information about FYE at Georgia Southern, visit

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving nearly 26,500 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit


Posted in Awards and Recognition