More than 400 Albany State University students received awards for academic excellence at Friday's Honors Day Convocation.
"It tells you something about commitment that the students have to academic excellence that they can juggle family, life, sometimes work and remain the best and brightest in their respective field," says ASU President Dr. Everette Freeman.
Dr. Marla Black Morgan, neurologist at Phoebe Neurology Associates and 1994 ASU graduate, returned to give the keynote speech to students.
"I wanted to really stress the importance of not only achieving academically but putting that knowledge to good use, to use that in your community and ultimately improve the quality of life for mankind," says Morgan.
Freeman says Morgan was the prime choice for the convocation's guest speaker.
"For them to see a young physician who is just several years ahead of them age wise to have excelled in the way that she has, it's really motivation for our students," says Freeman.
One of the big awards given out at Friday's convocation was the Merck Undergraduate Science Research Scholarship Award from The United Negro College Fund. Only 15 nationwide are given out and an Albany State student was one of them.
"I feel really excited. I was really excited when I first found out that I got it," says the award's recipient Kerestin Goodman. "This summer I get $5,000 to do research with Merck. I'm not really sure what field I'm going to be doing but it's going to be something really amazing I'm sure. In addition to that I also get $25,000 to pay for my tuition for the 2011-2012 school year."
Goodman says after attending graduate school she wants to go on to receive her Ph.D. The award not only helps Goodman with her future studies but also the college: Albany State's Department of Natural Sciences will receive $10,000.
"Students who excel from an academic standpoint don't get quite the glory so I'm glad we have a day like today that we honor those who excel and we encourage them in their endeavors," says Morgan.
Teacher of the Year and Staff Member of the Year were also acknowledged at the ceremony.
"I was looking forward to have different staff members get this award to recognize what the staff actually does for Albany State and I was surprised that it was actually me," says Staff Member of the Year Joe West, who works in the college's Communications Department.