2020 Averitt Award Winners

Top Honor Goes to Four Graduate Students

For the first time ever, the Averitt Award has four winners in a single academic year. The award is the highest honor bestowed upon students in Georgia Southern University’s Jack N. Averitt College of Graduate Studies. In most years, there are just two recipients. One is for Excellence in Research and the other for Excellence in Instruction. This year, the Graduate Student Organization on the Armstrong and Statesboro campuses voted to give it to two students in each category.

Excellence in Instruction Recipients

Laura Serrano-Amerigo

Doctor of Clinical Psychology Candidate College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Hometown: Scottsboro, Alabama

What did you teach?

Multiple sections of Lifespan Development and Psychology of Gender, in-person and online.

What did you enjoy about teaching?

Initially, I was nervous about undertaking the responsibility of instructor of record as public speaking has never been my forte. However, I am so thankful for the opportunity to teach because it has been such a rewarding experience to both disseminate psychological literature and to have a chance to positively impact my students. To the best of my ability, I tried to use my platform to assist students with realizing their long-term academic and vocational goals while encouraging the cultivation of their professional identities just as I experienced under the mentorship of my undergraduate professors.

Describe your Georgia Southern experience.

Working and being a student at Georgia Southern has shown me the effect of community support on well-being and academic success. I was grateful to see students supporting one another within the classroom and instructors making concerted efforts to break down academic barriers. I appreciated the faculty in our department striving to elucidate and promote mental health well-being among the students. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to work alongside or observe many organizations working to delineate factors that may present barriers to students achieving academic and vocational goals or harm well-being.

What did it mean to you to be a recipient of the Averitt Award?

I am deeply honored to have been nominated for the award. Teaching has been one of my most valued experiences at Georgia Southern and something I enjoyed investing my time in to best serve my students and the psychology department. It is a significant compliment to receive the award and I am thankful for our department chair, Dr. Michael Nielsen, and all of the department faculty for supporting me and helping me improve as an instructor. The encouragement of the department faculty and the privilege to receive this award have bolstered my desire and confidence to continue work in academia, particularly as an instructor.

Melanie Hinterplattner

Ph.D. Candidate Parker College of Business

Hometown: Steyr, Austria

What did you teach? 

Operations and Supply Chain Management 4438-Negotiation

What did you enjoy about teaching?

The fruitful interactions with my students, learning from them, and helping them learn and connect the dots between the content and their lives.

What does it mean to you to be a recipient of the Averitt Award?

I am deeply honored that I’ve received this award. It is always great when hard work pays off. Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will learn. This statement guides my teaching and my aim is to always support students in building habits, developing skills and gaining the understanding to be articulate, grounded decision makers.

Excellence in Research Award Recipients

Delores Quasie-Woode

Doctor of Public Health Candidate Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health

Hometown: Upper Marlboro, Maryland

What is the focus of your research?

Sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait; mental health; overall health disparities

Describe your Georgia Southern experience.

The people in my program truly made my experience at Georgia Southern memorable. From heated discussions during ethics class to late night work sessions in the computer lab, cracking jokes in the Hendricks Hall lobby and walks to Chick-fil-A in Russell Union. I am also extremely thankful for the opportunity I had to lead and conduct my own research in Kumasi, Ghana, through the study abroad program, directed byDr. Evans Afriyie-Gyawu.

What did you learn about yourself at Georgia Southern?

I learned that I truly value work-life balance. It is so easy to get caught up in the work side, so I need to be intentional about the life side. For me that looks like taking a fitness class at the RAC, taking some time to learn to cook a new dish, taking time to chat with a professor or hanging out with friends in different capacities.

What does it mean to you to be a recipient of the Averitt Award?

I am both excited and humbled to have received the Averitt Award for Excellence in Research. I would be remiss if I did not mention the outstanding researchers and professors of the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, especially my mentor and dissertation chair, Dr. Tilicia Mayo-Gamble. They have all empowered me to gain additional research and professional skills that will give me a competitive edge in the workforce.

Corine Newsom

Corina Newsome

Master of Science Student College of Science and Mathematics

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

What is the focus of your research?

Nest predation in the MacGillivray’s Seaside Sparrow

Describe your Georgia Southern experience.

I have had the opportunity to work with professors who far exceeded my expectations in their commitment to my learning and success, the most important being my advisor, Dr. Elizabeth Hunter, Dr. Kevin Loope and Dr. Checo Colon-Gaud. Not only did they provide their academic expertise and resources, but also, they offered me invaluable social support as well. I hope to be the mentor to others that they have been to me.

What did you learn about yourself at Georgia Southern?

I learned that engaging the public in conservation and outdoor exploration is more important to me than I previously realized. No matter what my future job title may be, I will be diligent about incorporating such efforts into my work.

What does it mean to you to be a recipient of the Averitt Award?

The research that I conduct is important to me both academically and morally. Wildlife conservation has been at the center of my vocational drive and is rooted in a deep conviction that I must do everything I can to prevent the extinction of imperiled species. To receive the Jack N. Averitt award for this very work is an honor, a cherished affirmation and a testament to the incredible mentorship I have received throughout my career thus far.