First-Year Experience
Georgia Southern University

First-Year Experience Awards


Each year, First-Year Experience invites the University community to submit nominations for the following awards, which recognize excellence in the teaching and mentoring of first-year students at Georgia Southern University:

The Outstanding Advocate for First-Year Students award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the academic and/or personal lives of first-year students. For the past several years, FYE has recognized one full-time faculty member and one administrator or staff member. Individuals who hold faculty rank but are 12-month administrators are considered as administrators and not faculty for the purposes of this award.

The FYE Peer Leader of the Year award recognizes a peer leader who works in harmony with his or her FYE 1220 faculty member to provide a quality classroom experience while engaging students in the overall University community and serving as a positive role model.

The First-Year Experience Advisory Council selects the recipients, who receive a plaque and travel to an FYE or other professional conference (Outstanding Advocate winners) or $100 (Peer Leader). The awards are funded by First-Year Experience and Phi Eta Sigma, the first-year student honor society.

2019 Outstanding Advocate (Faculty): Dr. Olivia Carr Edenfield

The 2019 Outstanding Advocate for First-Year Students for faculty is Dr. Olivia Carr Edenfield, professor in the department of Literature.

One of Dr. Edenfield’s nominators wrote, “Dr. Edenfield gave each one of her students an insight on our time at Georgia Southern. If we ever had any questions, we knew her door was always open to us. She made us feel loved and comfortable.” Another wrote: “Dr. Edenfield was the best professor I had my first semester…She taught me how to write a critical essay and exposed me to all sorts of literature. She gave me confidence in my writing and public speaking as well.”

Dr. Edenfield (second from left) is pictured below (l-r) with Dr. Chris Caplinger, director of First-Year Experience, and Dr. Carl Reiber, provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs.

2019 Outstanding Advocate (Staff/Administrator): Dr. John Egan

The 2019 Outstanding Advocate for First-Year Students for administrators or staff members is Dr. John Egan, leadership educator in the Office of Leadership and Community Engagement.

One nominee wrote of Dr. Egan: “Coming from high school into college was a huge transition for me, but John was able to guide me and make me feel like I had a place here and that I was important. I know that he has the same impact on every student he meets.”

Associate Vice President & Dean of Students, Dr. Melanie Miller, presented the award to Dr. Egan in front of his co-workers in the Office of Leadership & Community Engagement. Dr. Egan (second from left) is pictured below (l-r) with Dr. Chris Caplinger, director of First-Year Experience, and Dr. Melanie Miller.

Previous Advocate Award Winners
  • 2018 (Faculty): Dr. Salman Siddiqui, lecturer, Electrical Engineering
  • 2018 (Admin/Staff): Dr. Francis Desiderio, associate director, University Honors Program
  • 2017 (Faculty): Dr. Daniel Calhoun, associate professor, Leadership, Technology & Human Development
  • 2017 (Admin/Staff): Nick Escalante, financial aid counselor
  • 2016 (Faculty): Dr. Leticia McGrath, assistant professor, Spanish
  • 2016 (Admin/Staff): Annise Richard, hall director, University Housing
  • 2015 (Faculty): Abby Johnson, lecturer, Bachelor of General Studies (Sociology)
  • 2015 (Admin/Staff): Michael Baugh, educational program specialist, Academic Success Center
  • 2014 (Faculty): Dr. Ed Mondor, associate professor, Biology
  • 2014 (Admin/Staff): Kerry Greenstein, associate dean of Students
  • 2013 (Faculty): Leigh Ann Williams, visiting instructor, Writing & Linguistics
  • 2013 (Admin/Staff): Christine Thompson, director, College of Education’s Student Success Center
  • 2012 (Faculty): Dr. Padmini Shankar, associate professor, Health and Kinesiology
  • 2012 (Admin/Staff): Mike Czech, assistant director, Academic Success Center
  • 2011 (Faculty): Dr. Trey Denton, professor, Marketing
  • 2011 (Admin/Staff): Patrice Buckner, assistant dean of Students & director of Student Conduct
  • 2010 (Faculty): Dr. Bridget Melton, assistant professor, Health and Kinesiology
  • 2010 (Admin/Staff): Ms. Jodi Middleton, assistant director, Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement
  • 2009 (Faculty): Dr. Dan Czech, associate professor, Health and Kinesiology
  • 2009 (Admin/Staff):  Bob Frigo, assistant director, University Honors Program
  • 2008 (Faculty): Jessica Orvis, assistant professor and Director of General Chemistry
  • 2008 (Admin/Staff): Janet O’Brien, director, Academic Success Center
  • 2007:  Dr. Michelle Cawthorn, assistant professor, Biology
  • 2006:  Dr. Donna Saye, assistant professor, Mathematics
  • 2005:  Kellie Pickett, coordinator, New Student and Parent Programs
2019 FYE Peer Leader of the Year: Jalon Ross

The 2019 Peer Leader of the Year is Jalon Ross, a junior Civil Engineering major.

Dr. Salman Siddiqui, the faculty member with whom he taught, wrote that Jalon “was successful in establishing a relationship in the classroom and outside of the classroom and from that perspective he provided a quality classroom experience to our first year students in the course.”

Below, Dr. Siddiqui is pictured presenting the award to Jalon during peer leader training, for which Jalon was assisting in training new peer leaders.

Previous Winners
  • 2018: Morgan Gallahue, senior Biology
  • 2017: Candace (Alex) Dugan, sophomore English major
  • 2016: Brandon Lee, senior management major
  • 2015: Janie Malson, junior English major
  • 2014: Caitlin Evans, sophomore pre-early childhood education major
  • 2013: Samuel Ivey, junior biology major
  • 2012: Matt Kempton, senior middle grades education major
  • 2011: Ansley Callanan, senior English major
  • 2010: John Kile, senior political science major
  • 2009: Brandi Heath, junior chemistry major
  • 2008: Erin Rice, senior psychology major
  • 2007: Synovia Edwards, senior psychology major
  • 2006: Amanda Fischer, senior biology major
  • 2005: Abby Lynes, senior human resources major

Last updated: 7/5/2019

First-Year Experience • P.O. Box 8145 Statesboro, GA 30460 •