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Georgia Southern student posthumously awarded state honor

Recently, the Georgia chapter of the American College Personnel Association posthumously awarded Nicole Hilliard, former College of Education (COE) graduate student in the higher education administration program, the 2019 Outstanding Student Award.

Presented to master’s or doctoral level students preparing for a career in student affairs, recipients of the Georgia College Personnel Association’s (GCPA) Outstanding Student Award have demonstrated outstanding scholastic achievement as well as research and scholarly activities in the field. 

“Nicole was in the final year of the M.Ed. Higher Education Administration program at Georgia Southern,” said Steven Tolman, Ed.D., COE assistant professor of higher education. “She was an exemplary student.”

Active in conducting research, Hilliard was a co-author on a study with Tolman that was recently published and accepted for presentation at a national conference in March. Hilliard also served on the executive board of the higher education administration graduate student organization.

A native of New Jersey, Hilliard served as a graduate resident director on the Statesboro Campus of Georgia Southern. She died unexpectedly in September as a result of a medical condition.

“Nicole had a profound impact on the students she worked with in her residence hall,” said Tolman. “Our profession was stronger with her, and Nicole will be missed dearly. As a faculty member, I can only hope that her passion for working with students and love for life will inspire her classmates and spread like wildfire.”

Tolman and colleagues Elise Cain, Ph.D., and Dan Calhoun, Ph.D., along with former classmate Kaitlyn Van Dyk, traveled to the GCPA conference to accept the award on behalf of Hilliard.

GCPA enhances the higher education community through advocacy and support for the holistic development of students. The association leads the state in the advancement and dissemination of knowledge for transformative practices that address emerging issues in higher education.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving more than 26,000 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


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