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Set Flight to Morocco

One of the best opportunities available to college students is the chance to study abroad.  Unfortunately, many students are unable to take advantage of these trips because the expense of travel is too great. To encourage all students to go abroad, the Gilman International Study Abroad Scholarship funds students from across the country in their travels.  Honors Program student Nathan Carpenter (international studies, economics, and Arabic ’20) recently received a Gilman scholarship to support his upcoming trip to Morocco to work on his Arabic language skills.

“Thanks to this scholarship, I will be able to travel to Morocco and practice what I have learned in my Arabic classes first hand. The Arabic curriculum has also included a strong focus on the socio-cultural background of the language, and the practices of the Middle East and North Africa region,” he said.

Carpenter has studied Arabic for the entirety of his college career. He works closely with Professor Youssef Salhi, lecturer of Arabic.

“Undeniably, Mr. Carpenter is an extraordinary young man, full of initiative and driven by unquenchable thirst for knowledge. His class participation and exams’ results are most satisfactory and denote, on his part, a keen interest in the Arabic language and culture. It’s also important to mention that Mr. Carpenter is a member of the Arabic Club at Georgia Southern University and has been involved in organizing many events on campus such as Arabic Coffee Hour and Arabic Movie Night,” Salhi said.

Over eight hundred students applied for the Gilman International Study Abroad Scholarship and only three hundred were awarded. The Program gives students with limited financial means the opportunity to study abroad, while providing them with the necessary skills to maintain the United States’ national security and competitiveness in a global economy.

This scholarship requires a unique task upon returning to the United States. Carpenter must create a follow-on project to inspire students in his local community to study abroad. “My project will entail keeping a detailed multimedia account of the Morocco trip, submitting stories to several local newspapers, and (hopefully) presenting at the fall 2018 Study Abroad Fair. I will also be sharing a presentation about my experiences abroad with a local high school,” he said.

This year will mark Carpenter’s first time leaving the United States. He has the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica with the Honors Alternative Break Trip, “Project Pura Vida.” He will also participate in the Georgia Southern University language immersion program in Seville, Spain before studying in Morocco.

Other than the normal study abroad obligations, such as classes and field trips around the country, Carpenter finds it important for students to look into study abroad programs for many reasons. “For one, it makes all the pictures and facts you have seen and read in textbooks real. It puts everything in an authentic perspective. Also, the ability to travel abroad helps you become a better student academically, as well as an engaged world-citizen” he said.


The University Honors Program works with all Georgia Southern University students interested in applying for internationally competitive scholarships like the Gilman Study Abroad Scholarship.

Honors in Action: Linnea Ryan Wins Conference Poster Competition

Congratulations to Linnea Ryan (history ‘19) for winning the poster competition at last year’s meeting of the SouthEastern Division of the Association of American Geographers (SEDAAG)! Ryan also has a minor in geography, and under the guidance of Dr. Amy Potter and Dr. Meimei Lin, professors of geography on the Armstrong Campus, she conducted research on historical markers in downtown Savannah.

Savannah is a popular destination in the southeastern United States, with its historic districts and a particular draw. In her presentation for the SEDAAG conference, Ryan focused on the historic markers around downtown Savannah and their underrepresentation of women. When asked about what she would like to see come from her research, Ryan noted the importance of shining a light on this finding. “Bringing recognition to this lack of representation is the first step in forging a path to a landscape in which the accomplishments of all people are celebrated, no matter their gender, race, or sexual orientation,” Ryan said.

Dr. Potter and Dr. Lin both have glowing praise for Ryan and her dedication to this research. “I’m incredibly proud of Linnea. With some guidance from myself and my colleague Meimei Lin, she was incredibly proactive in developing her project. She took the initiative and ran with the topic,” Dr. Potter said.

Dr. Lin, who has worked closely with Ryan on her research, says Ryan put in a great deal of time and effort into building a geodatabase and creating the map for her presentation, showing her dedication and work ethic. “I think the best part of this is that she was able to relate and apply what she learned in the classroom to study real-life problems,” Dr. Lin added. “Throughout the process, she was actively engaged in the learning process.”

Ryan is grateful for the many opportunities her professors and her geography research have provided her, from getting to experience the SEEDAG conference and meeting others in the geography field to working with Geographic Informational Systems (GIS), a tool that integrates a variety of data that can be used to determine geospatial patterns and solve geographic problems.

Ryan said her research leading up to the conference presentation “solidified my love for geography, a field I never expected to work in.” She also did not expect to win the poster competition, but she is pleased to be putting the award money toward a study abroad trip to Russia this summer.

Ryan is an Honors Ambassador at the Armstrong campus and an active participant in the program’s social and community service events. She was also one of three Armstrong State University students to participate in the Honors Consolidation Panel at the Southern Regional Honors Conference in 2017.

Digging into the Collection

Archaeological repositories have a constant flow of incoming collections containing a range of different artifacts, and typically a collection’s common connection is the location in which the artifacts were found. The repository at Georgia Southern University accepts collections primarily from sites in Georgia, and cataloguing the University’s collections is a daunting task on its own. However, Amanda Sexton (anthropology ’18) has taken on the larger challenge of cataloguing collections from approximately twenty repositories in the southeast.

Sexton’s research focuses on the repositories’ means of choosing collections based on price. “I want to see the state of these repositories, which were surveyed in an archeological report in 2002, and their collections now that they’ve had more time to work with their budget and determine whether these prices will be sufficient. I also hope that another effect of this project will be that archaeologists will have an easier time finding a place to house the collections since this project will produce an updated list of the currently active facilities,” she said.

She began working on this project with Dr. Matthew Compton. Initially, he needed volunteers to participate in the management of Georgia Southern University’s collections. This work evolved into her current honors thesis: “Costs of Curation: A Comparative Analysis of the Southeastern United States.”

Sexton’s research caught the eye of the Curation and Collections Committee of the Society of Historical Archeology (SHA).

“I am excited that Amanda has been able to make this connection with the Society for Historical Archaeology through her honors thesis project. It’s unusual for an undergraduate student to have the opportunity to serve on a committee of a national organization such as the SHA. I think this is a great opportunity for her to share her research while also making connections with others in the field,” Dr. Compton said.

The SHA team is working on a similar project, except on a larger scale. She attended the 2018 Society for Historical Archaeology Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, in order to meet and to network with SHA’s team members.

“We discussed my plans for the future and how I might achieve my goals with my research. I was one of the youngest people at the conference, so the professionals were interested in me starting research at a young age. It was incredibly interesting to hear the ideas that they had for what this research could be used for. They would like to use the data we compile to make an interactive map that archaeologists could use to find the best place to house their collections,” she said.

The 2018 Society for Historical Archaeology Conference allowed Sexton to gain hands-on experience and talk with professionals in her desired field of work. While at the conference, she attended several sessions and met with many professionals in her field. One session discussed the idea of material culture.

“One of the speakers had photos from some of the residents who live around a lighthouse that his team was excavating. Some of the artifacts that they had found could be seen in the photos,” she said. “For me, it’s always an incredible experience when I get to see someone interacting with a recovered artifact in a photo, because it gives life and depth to what I’m looking at. I think that feeling can get lost sometimes because we study people who have been deceased a long time.”

Looking back, Sexton said she began her research like many other students, unsure about what subject she wanted to pursue. “Don’t be afraid to start talking about research early. Even if you are not sure about what you would like to do, talk to people about it. They may know of opportunities that you would never hear about otherwise,” she said. “Let people know what you are interested in so that they can help you. Our mentors are here for us and want to see us succeed.”

Balancing Student and Parent Life

Parenthood is a feat like no other, but balancing academic life and parenthood may seem impossible to some. However, Paige Peterson (writing and linguistics ’19) decided to create a resource for herself and other student-parents at Georgia Southern University.  Peterson, a first time mother, started an organization reaching out to other parents on campus. She formed a Student-Parent organization designed to provide support to other fathers and mothers balancing parenting and school.

“When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was shocked by the lack of resources and support for student-parents on campus. Being a parent and a student is isolating, and I thought that there should be an easier way to find other students in similar positions. I wanted to start a group to make more friends as well as create a safe support system for other student-parents in a place free of judgment,” she said.

The group meets bimonthly in the Russell Union. The Student-Parent group currently has five registered members. They bring their children, ranging from 11 to 18 months of age. This group benefits not only parents, but the children as well. At a young age, children need socialization. “With a student income, most of us cannot afford daycare. This group allows our kids to socialize with others around the same age. The kids are all very close! It is always fun watching them interact with each other,” Peterson said.

Paige has been constantly confronted with opinions that tell her she cannot and will not succeed in both roles as student and mother. She wants to be an example that proves that you can.

“My advice to mothers on campus who want to be full-time students is pretty simple: Don’t listen to the negative people. Many people believe you must choose between an education and a family. They couldn’t be more wrong. Like I said, it is a lot of work. With enough effort and prioritizing, anything is possible. Find a good support group and work hard. Don’t forget to enjoy the little things with your child, because those matter just as much as grades. You can succeed in both school/career and family,” she said.

Peterson’s goal is to be an advocate for other mothers on campus. She uses her love of writing as a means to reach a large number of people.

“As a writer and a young mother, I have made it a goal to help spread my experience in order to help others. I share stories and experiences on my personal blog. I like to show people the raw side of motherhood as well as being a student. I don’t sugar coat things, and share with honesty. In the end, I want to prove that you can be successful in multiple areas of life,” she said.

Alumni Update: Alex Allmond Joins Ronald McDonald House Charities

Alex Allmond (child and family development ’18) has already completed her honors thesis, and all that stands between her and graduation is completing a required internship. Her final semester, however, had much more in store for her, as she received a scholarship from the Trinity Hospital of Augusta Auxiliary Committee and an internship from the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta (RMHC), which began this January.

The competitive scholarships are open to all students studying a field related to healthcare. “I applied last summer and was accepted after submitting my transcripts and information on my Child Life practicum. They awarded me $3,000 which I can use in any way I want to further my education,” she said.

Ronald McDonald Houses aim to directly improve children’s health while providing a comfortable place where the family can stay. This charity believes that families must be together rather than separated during hard times.

During Allmond’s internship, she will create a welcoming environment through specialized activities. She will also work on organizing fundraisers for the charity.

“Mainly, I will be working underneath the Volunteer Coordinator to offer support to the families of children who are receiving treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia through providing opportunities for normalization and family centered care. I will also assist in planning and implementing several charity and fundraising events during the course of my internship to maintain the ability of RMHC of Augusta to offer their services for families at little to no cost,” she said.

Allmond will be able to implement her undergraduate studies in a professional setting. For four years, Allmond studied child and family development, and now she will be interacting with families first hand that are dealing with straining situations.

“Having a child who is hospitalized is a challenge for any family, and I am thrilled that I will get to work alongside an organization that has such a strong reputation as a beacon of hope for this population,” she said.

The unique atmosphere of the Ronald McDonald House Charities will provide Allmond with real-life experiences that she can use in her future endeavors. She plans on returning to school next fall to pursue a graduate degree.

“After I complete my internship, I plan to attend graduate school the following fall semester and pursue my M.Ed/Ed.S in School Psychology,” she said.