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Georgia Southern’s Honors College and Undergraduate Admissions welcome more than 300 select students to interview for merit scholarships

Georgia Southern University’s Honors College and Office of Undergraduate Admissions will welcome more than 300 new students to the Statesboro Campus and Armstrong Campus in Savannah over the next two weeks as they interview for valuable merit scholarships from the Honors College during Honors Scholars’ Days.

“We are excited to welcome these newly admitted Honors College students to campus,” stated Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Amy Smith, Ed.D. “Georgia Southern University is a top destination for high achieving students, and our Honors College is able to provide an enhanced educational experience through a community of scholars interested in research, curiosity and creativity. These unique Honors Scholars’ Days allow our faculty and staff to get to know the incoming class while considering them for valuable merit scholarships. Simultaneously, our new students are able to see how Georgia Southern and the Honors College can help them achieve their educational goals.”

On Feb. 23, more than 50 students will visit the Armstrong Campus, and more than 250 will visit the Statesboro Campus on March 1.

“This year we have had over 1,000 applications for the Honors College and honors scholarships, and the quality of our applicants has never been higher,” said Honors College Dean Steven Engel, Ph.D. “Our faculty and student interview teams will have a very difficult job selecting the scholarship recipients from such a strong pool. Having these students in person on our campuses is valuable for us to get to know them better and for them to meet our outstanding faculty and learn more about how we can help them be successful in college and beyond.”  

During their time on campus, these outstanding newly admitted students will interview with Georgia Southern faculty, staff and current Honors students. They, along with their guests, will also be treated to a meal hosted by administration and faculty, attend informational sessions on campus engagement, and learn more about how they can benefit from an Honors education at Georgia Southern.

Last updated: 2/22/2024

English Department’s Annie S. Mendenhall to receive 2024 Outstanding Book Award

In April, Georgia Southern University Associate Professor of English Annie S. Mendenhall, Ph.D., will be honored with the 2024 Outstanding Book Award in the Monograph category at the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC).

The CCCC is a constituent organization within the National Council of Teachers of English that honors books within the field of composition and rhetoric. Single and multiple-authored books, as well as edited volumes, are evaluated for scholarship and research in the areas of pedagogy, practice, history and theory that have informed the work of past award recipients.

The nod is a distinct honor for Mendenhall, whose work, “Desegregation State: College Writing Programs after the Civil Rights Movement,” was eight years in the making before being published in 2022.

“CCCC is the oldest and largest professional organization in my field, and I have been a member of the organization for my entire professional career,” Mendenhall said. “It is a major career achievement and a huge honor to be recognized by the CCCC with this award and to have my work included with so many other outstanding scholars who have won this award in the past.”

Mendenhall is also the director of the First-Year Writing Program at Georgia Southern. She received a Ph.D. in writing, rhetoric and literacy at The Ohio State University in 2013. Mendenhall has published on the history of writing and rhetoric and writing program administration in College English, the Journal of Basic Writing, WPA: Writing Program Administration, and edited collections in the field. In addition, she has served on the CCCC Executive Committee and the editorial board for Young Scholars in Writing. 

Mendenhall will be announced as a recipient of a CCCC Outstanding Book Award during the CCCC Awards Presentation on April 5 during the 2024 CCCC Annual Convention in Spokane, Washington.

For more information about the CCCC Outstanding Book Award, including past winners, see

The Conference on College Composition and Communication, with more than 4,000 members and subscribers, supports and promotes the teaching and study of composition, rhetoric, and communication skills at the college level, both in undergraduate and graduate programs. For more information, visit

The National Council of Teachers of English, with more than 25,000 individual and institutional members worldwide, is dedicated to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education.  For more information, visit

Last updated: 2/20/2024

Three Honors College seniors named Fulbright U.S. Student Program semifinalists

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program has selected three Georgia Southern University Honors College seniors as semifinalists for 2024-2025. Being chosen as a semifinalist is a significant step in the Fulbright competition as these three students were chosen by Fulbright’s national screening committees. Their applications have moved on to their respective host countries’ selection committees for final selection. 

The three Georgia Southern semifinalists are:

James Landers
History ’24
Semifinalist for the English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program in Taiwan
James Landers is currently working on his honors thesis, “Unilateralism and Strategic Ambiguity in American Foreign Policy: The Taiwan Relations Act in Context” with Mao Lin, Ph.D., Department of History. Landers’ research fueled his desire to travel to Taiwan and apply for this opportunity. If he is awarded the ETA, his main goal for the year is “to increase my proficiency in Mandarin so that upon my return to the United States I can jump right into my graduate research on the United States’ relationship with Taiwan and China.”

Rylee Stanton
International Studies and World Languages & Cultures – Spanish ’24
Semifinalist for the English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program in Colombia
Rylee Stanton studied abroad in Colombia in the summer of 2022, and is eager to return. “My time teaching will be spent creating powerful educational experiences for students and building a community of lifelong learners and global citizens,” she said. Stanton is currently working on her honors thesis, “The Edge of Paradise: Consumer Experiences with Sustainable Development” with William Biebuyck, Ph.D., Department of Political Science and International Studies. Stanton hopes to continue to explore this topic further if she is awarded the Fulbright.

Lilly Thompson
International Studies ’24
Semifinalist for Study/Research Grant to Latvia
Lilly Thompson has been working on her thesis, “Examining Populist Political Parties in the Baltic States and Slovenia” with Jacek Lubeccki, Ph.D., Department of Political Science and International Studies, and she hopes to continue to research the Baltic States in graduate school. Thompson applied for a study grant to earn a master’s degree in international governance and diplomacy in Latvia. She is interested in pursuing research on transitional justice. “The legacy of transitional justice still informs Latvia’s governance and foreign policy today, especially regarding the treatment of ethnic minorities and support for other victims of gross human rights violations, such as in Ukraine,” she said.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program expands perspectives through academic and professional advancement and cross-cultural dialogue. Fulbright creates connections in a complex and changing world. In partnership with more than 140 countries worldwide, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers unparalleled opportunities in all academic disciplines to passionate and accomplished graduating college seniors, graduate students and young professionals from all backgrounds. Program participants pursue graduate study, conduct research or teach English abroad.

During their grants, Fulbrighters will meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences. The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things and the way they think. Through engagement in the community, individuals will interact with their hosts on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity and intellectual freedom, thereby promoting mutual understanding.

The Honors College at Georgia Southern is an inclusive community of scholars that fosters intellectual and professional development through undergraduate research and creative scholarship, experiential learning, global engagement and personalized mentorship.

Last updated: 2/20/2024

Singing their way to praises: Southern Chorale’s harmonies garner a Top 10 ranking in ‘most impressive college choirs’

Students in the group say the secret sauce for the Chorale’s success is a recipe of inclusivity and community, adding that every voice is valued and every member is embraced for their unique contributions.

Georgia Southern University’s Southern Chorale secured the sixth position in College Rank’s “Most Impressive College Choirs,” a resounding testament to its musical prowess.  Directed by Shannon Jeffreys, DMA, professor of music and director of choral activities, the Southern Chorale has garnered acclaim not only nationally but also on the international stage.

With a repertoire spanning various styles and periods, the Southern Chorale has become a sought-after performer at music conferences across the United States, including appearances at the National Collegiate Choral Organization, American Choral Directors Association and National Association for Music Education.

Jeffreys is immensely proud of her choral students and their recent achievements. 

“Their dedication and hard work, evident in every performance from international competitions to national conferences to our everyday rehearsals, fill me with pride as they represent Georgia Southern University with excellence,” said Jeffreys. “In Southern Chorale, we foster a supportive family environment where high standards are maintained and mutual encouragement flourishes. One of the things that makes Southern Chorale stand out is our deep passion for the texts and music we present.”

Students in the group say the secret sauce for the Chorale’s success is a recipe of inclusivity and community, adding that every voice is valued and every member is embraced for their unique contributions.

“Chorale places a strong emphasis on collaboration and ensemble unity as essential components of storytelling through music,” said Amare McJolly, voice area graduate assistant. “We recognize that music is a universal language that transcends words, allowing us to communicate emotions and experiences in ways that words alone cannot.”

In 2022, the Southern Chorale clinched first place in their sixth international choral competition at the “Sing Berlin Choral Competition.” Three years earlier, they were successful in the Ave Verum International Choir Competition in Austria and the International Chamber Choir Competition in Germany.

“Preparing for these performances pushes us to be the best we can be,” said Sarah McHan, Southern Invitational choral assistant. “International travel gives us a glimpse into other cultures. These experiences grow our network amongst musicians and introduce us to the choral traditions of other countries.”

Last updated: 2/14/2024

Georgia Southern art professor wins global COVID-19 monument design contest, unveiling in Chicago in 2025

Menacing spiked images of the coronavirus have been reimagined with a gentler profile for a global design contest, which was recently won by Georgia Southern University Art Professor Casey Schachner. 

In honor of the five-year marker of the pandemic, Schachner’s winning design for the COVID-19 Monument of Honor, Remembrance, and Resilience, selected by the COVID-19 Monument Commission, will be unveiled in Chicago in spring 2025. The monument will be a major outdoor public sculpture and park.

Submissions for the global contest were open to interpretation.

“There weren’t a lot of specifications of what they were looking for,” said Schachner. “They just wanted this monument that would both honor the lives lost and be in remembrance to first responders. So it was really inspiring to me. Obviously, COVID affected all of us.”

Following deep research dives into the pandemic, the dandelion emerged as Schachner’s muse.

“Besides all of the data of lives lost and the massive impact of the pandemic, I kept coming across that medical illustration of the COVID-19 virus, which we all can imagine,” she said. “The sphere with the little tendrils coming out felt very similar to plants. Then I started thinking about plants and landing on how similar the image was to a dandelion head, particularly the puffy dandelion. I started thinking more about the symbolism of plants alongside COVID because plants are about rebirth and regrowth. So I started digging into the symbolism and significance of dandelions. And it’s interesting because all across the world they have these themes of resilience. They also have a lot of medicinal qualities, so wellness and recovery kept coming up.”

Dandelions also stir memories of youthful innocence.

“It’s so identifiable, you know, even for a child,” she said. “We remember blowing the dandelions and watching them. It’s sort of magical.”

Schachner, who won $20,000 for her design, is currently consulting with the COVID-19 Monument Committee in Chicago that will bring the soaring 20 to 30-foot outdoor display of yellow dandelions and a flurry of their tufts, to fruition. 

In order for the monument to become a reality, there is a grassroots fundraising campaign. At present, the COVID-19 Monument Commission is fundraising to construct the piece that will reside on a plot of land within the Illinois Medical District, which is one of the largest urban medical districts in the nation. 

“Based on what I know of similar-scale sculptures and monuments, it’s going to require a pretty significant budget because they’re working from the ground up, with the foundation, electrical work and engineering to make sure that the pieces can be safe around the public.”

Schachner grew up in Florida and Hilton Head Island and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Baylor University and Master of Fine Arts from the University of Montana. While earning her undergraduate degree, she spent a semester abroad in Cortona, Italy, where she fell in love with stone carving, and then returned as an artist in residence within the program for a year. Once back home, she moved to Vermont and served in stone carving apprenticeships at local quarries. Later, she opened her own studio in Florida and then became a professor at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, before joining the faculty on the Armstrong Campus in Savannah in 2021.

As an assistant professor of art, she instructs Georgia Southern students on the principles and techniques of mixed media, including 3D design, ceramics, clay and soapstone carving, and metal welding and woodworking. 

Beyond processes, Schachner encourages her students to think about the type of emotion they want to evoke with their work, and what that could potentially mean in a public setting.

“There are different emotions for different pieces,” she explained. “I talk a lot about this in my classes. Are we making art for ourselves or making art for the assignment?”

Each semester, Schachner gives a public art assignment for which students seek an RFQ, or Request for Qualification, requiring them to share information on their qualifications and ability to create a public work and submit a proposal. Additionally, the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art annually hosts an outdoor public art exhibition of sculptures made by students in Schachner and other art instructors’ 3D courses.  

“I tell them to design it and understand the parameters of what they’re designing for,” she explained. “You have to be willing to know the themes that you’re working within and to accept that everyone’s going to have an interpretation, and it’s important not to be too narrow-minded in your design approach. 

“So, it can be challenging. It can be interesting. I think different artists have different stands where they kind of want it to mean one thing and that’s it. I don’t particularly feel that way. I feel like once I’ve made something, I’ve made it from my place of inspiration. But when it’s out in the world, it can certainly take on new meaning. It’s also important where it’s being installed. It influences how people would view it and experience it, which is very different than if it were in a gallery.”

Schachner considered all of this when creating a design in honor of the global pandemic experience.

“It feels like an interesting time to be working on this,” she said. “It’s still relative. People are still experiencing loss and, you know, lives changed. So it feels important. I think it is going to be really powerful and important, and a place where people can share their own experiences.” 

The COVID-19 Monument Committee is working in collaboration with the Hektoen Institute of Medicine and the Illinois Medical District to create the physical monument structure. The public work will also be accessible to the world through virtual engagement. For more information on the monument and park, visit here.

Last updated: 2/7/2024

Turning Commencement True Blue: Georgia Southern University unveils custom-designed blue regalia in time for Spring 2024 Commencement

Georgia Southern’s custom-designed commencement regalia.

Georgia Southern University’s future commencement ceremonies will be more True Blue than ever as graduates cross the stage in newly designed custom commencement regalia. 

For the first time in the University’s history, graduates participating in commencement ceremonies will now wear custom-designed blue regalia. Each gown features embroidered University seals on the front, with slight variations of design elements for master’s, education specialist and doctoral degree levels. 

In addition to aesthetic considerations, functionality played a crucial role in the regalia redesign process. The newly unveiled regalia now features a pocket, seamlessly blending tradition with practicality, allowing graduates to carry essential items during commencement ceremonies. 

The regalia worn by faculty and graduates serves as a symbolic representation of the University’s values, traditions and academic excellence. The new regalia reflects Georgia Southern’s distinctive brand, colors and academic symbols, creating a visual identity that resonates with the University’s rich heritage.

A collaborative effort involving students, faculty, staff and alumni shaped the redesign process. A dedicated working group facilitated discussions and gathered valuable input from various stakeholders to ensure that the regalia truly represents the diverse perspectives and traditions of the Georgia Southern community. Before finalizing the design, feedback was also collected through focus groups, further emphasizing the inclusive and participatory nature of this transformative initiative.

The deadline for spring graduates to order caps and gowns is March 31. Doctoral candidates who plan to order deluxe doctoral regalia, which is tailored to the individual, must do so by March 8. Caps and gowns are expected to ship approximately six to eight weeks from date of the order.

Undergraduate design featuring embroidered University seals on each shoulder
Masters design featuring embroidered University seals on each shoulder and winged sleeves
Education Specialist design featuring embroidered University seals on front chest with velvet panels and chevron panels on each sleeve
Standard doctoral design featuring embroidered University seals on front chest with velvet panels and chevron panels on each sleeve.
Deluxe doctoral design featuring embroidered University seals on front chest with velvet panels outlined in white trim. Each sleeve features three velvet chevrons with white trim. Each deluxe design is tailored to the individual.

Last updated: 2/7/2024

Georgia Southern receives grant to support University String Camerata tour

The Georgia Southern University String Camerata has received a grant of nearly $55,000 from the Halle Foundation to support the ensemble’s educational tour of Germany. During this tour, Georgia Southern string players will experience German composers, music history and music culture in an authentic manner that players do not get in a typical home setting.

Students and faculty will have the opportunity to connect with Georgia Southern’s official exchange partner, Halle an der Saale, and visit historically significant locations for music, such as the Thomaskirche (St. Thomas Church) in Leipzig, Germany, where composer Johann Sebastian Bach is buried. The funds from the Halle Foundation will be used to facilitate travel, lodging, and logistics for the students and faculty members. The $54,870 will cover roughly 80% of the total cost of the tour.

“The most important thing about this grant is the opportunity to open a new world of travel and education to Georgia Southern University students,” said Georgia Southern College of Arts and Humanities Associate Dean for Faculty, Research and External Affairs, Jolyon Hughes, Ph.D. 

“Students will have the opportunity to see what it is like being an outsider in a different culture, where people speak a different language, and see the world differently.”  

Hughes added that the Georgia Southern musicians will have the opportunity to meet students from Martin Luther University, visit Unesco World Heritage sights and experience life in Europe.

“The impact on the students is amazing to witness,” Hughes said. “My short-term goals for the program are to give GS students the opportunity to be a part of a unique experience that connects their passion for music and their intellectual curiosity of language, culture and history.”

The Georgia Southern String Camarata will also perform at the Sommersaal (Summer Hall) at the Bach Archive, among several other locations.

“The String Camarata is now the fourth initiative in the College of Arts and Humanities that the Halle Foundation has funded for Georgia Southern students, providing them with truly impactful cultural experiences in travel to and through Germany,” said Executive Director of Development Julie Gerbsch. “Students returning from these trips are full of stories of the local food, the people, the history they’ve seen in both urban neighborhoods and about Germany’s countryside. The Halle Foundation’s continued support now brings these enriching travel experiences to our students.”

The Halle Foundation was created by German-born Claus Halle, a former president of Coca-Cola International. The Foundation supports initiatives in the fields of culture, science, technology, commerce, language, scholarship, and international relations. It seeks to help organizations with strong leadership and a proven track record of success exploit new opportunities or meet extraordinary needs that will further the missions of both the organization and the Foundation.

Last updated: 1/31/2024

Georgia Southern institute awarded funding to improve natural disaster emergency preparedness and response for students

Graduate student Joana Tome leads session to educate and train students in natural disaster emergency preparedness and response. 

As hurricanes, winter storms and the devastating effects of wildfires are frequently in the news, the importance of emergency preparedness remains at the forefront of public health. 

Georgia Southern University’s Institute for Health Logistics and Analytics (IHLA) and graduate student Joana Tome have received a $20,000 grant from the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) to educate and train students on all three campuses in natural disaster emergency preparedness and response. 

In partnership with Erick Riner, director of the University’s Office of Emergency Management, the IHLA will create a learning experience specific for students. The training is especially important for South Georgia residents as the region is particularly vulnerable to certain disasters such as extreme heat, flooding and storm surges, and power outages caused by high winds from hurricanes and severe thunderstorms. 

The project is focused on improving natural disaster emergency preparedness by promoting hazard awareness and encouraging proactive planning. 

“It is crucial to train our students about emergency preparedness and response so they can be able to make informed decisions during times when it matters the most,” noted IHLA director Jessica Schwind, Ph.D. 

Not only is it critical to provide training, it is important to present it in an engaging manner, she shared. IHLA’s learning experience designer Michelle Tremblay is an expert in creating meaningful and immersive learning materials. 

“The key to truly impactful learning lies in our ability to captivate students’ attention and fuel their curiosity,” said Tremblay. “By creating training that not only imparts knowledge but also engages the mind and body, we’re fostering a culture of lasting retention and empowering the next generation of learners.”

Tome, a fourth-year epidemiology doctoral student in Georgia Southern’s Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, became interested in this project because it offers an excellent opportunity to enhance natural disaster awareness, training and safety coordination. 

“Through this project, our team has the opportunity to improve safety, protect the health of our students, and empower them,” said Tome. “As an epidemiologist and a public health practitioner, I am passionate about improving human health. Natural disaster emergency preparedness and response impacts public health by increasing and improving mitigation and prevention. It also broadens people’s capacity to respond to a variety of natural disaster hazards, including loss of life, injury, illness, other health effects, property damage, disruption of socioeconomic life, and loss of livelihoods and services.” 

Training will focus on the use of freely available informational materials from the NNLM.

In addition to the training sessions offered to Georgia Southern students, emergency preparedness resources for the community will be available on IHLA’s website and social media channels. Improving the public’s health through actionable, hands-on initiatives are at the heart of the IHLA. 

“Our activities in the first year and a half of our institute made a difference across the state of Georgia,” said Schwind. “Although we are very proud of these efforts, it is great to be able to work on a project that directly impacts the students across our three campuses.”

Developed resources reported in this press release are supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM013736. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Last updated: 1/31/2024