Time to Shine

2017 student honorees made Emory better
award winners

(L to R) Caroline Holmes, Jared Greenbaum, and Kaitlyn Posa

Marion Luther Brittain Awards

A lot of people seem to start college intending to pursue medical school, and then change their minds—but their desire to help people simply gets redirected.

Kaitlyn Posa 17C, who graduated in May with a double major in English and psychology, is the undergraduate recipient of the 2017 Brittain Award, Emory’s highest student honor. Although she was initially interested in medicine, once on campus, Posa found herself captivated by the university’s commitment to diversity of thought, an intriguing environment for a young woman who had attended Catholic schools in Greenville, South Carolina.

“The desire I saw here for encouraging free expression was very appealing,” Posa recalls. “At Emory, I’ve appreciated working with people who aren’t necessarily on the same page as me, hearing new ideas and reconsidering my own.”

Posa was drawn to study international human rights and religious persecution. In 2016, she decided to create and implement a campus panel to discuss religious persecution. The project was inspired by a summer internship at Grieboski Global Strategies, a Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit, where she worked with foreign nations and international organizations to improve human rights. During a meeting of the Aquinas Center of Theology board, on which she served, Posa suggested bringing together experts and representatives of several religious traditions to explore the rise in religious persecution being seen around the globe. The event will now be held as an annual “Consistent Ethic of Life” speaker series by the Aquinas Center.

With international affairs as her career goal, Posa will next study international law and continue her work to promote religious freedom and human rights.

Another almost-medical student, Jared Greenbaum 17MBA, the 2017 graduate recipient of the Brittain Award, helped to transform student governance at Emory.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in 2011, Greenbaum worked as a production coordinator at Nickelodeon in New York and Los Angeles, as well as for a talent management firm. He chose to earn an MBA to augment his artistic pursuits.

In his first semester at Goizueta Business School, Greenbaum became graduate business school representative to the Student Government Association (SGA), then president of the Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA). He helped lead the implementation of a SGA/GSGA restructure that created two equal and autonomous governing bodies for undergraduate and graduate students, modernizing a fifty-year-old student governance structure at Emory.

Greenbaum also served as an MBA admission ambassador, a Graduate Business Association vice president, a Delta Leadership Coaching Fellow, and a teaching assistant at Goizueta. He led the school’s 2016 admitted student weekend, one of the most successful to date, and worked as a summer intern for multiple offices at the business school.

McMullan Award

Science, arts, and social justice were the foundation of a remarkable four years for Caroline Holmes 17C, whose pursuit of knowledge and service earned her the highly selective McMullan Award. 

Holmes, who graduated with highest honors in physics and biology, will begin a doctorate program focusing on theoretical biophysics at Princeton University in the fall.

A native of Westchester, New York, Holmes has already made a mark in the relatively new field of theoretical biophysics. Working closely with faculty and graduate students, Holmes conducted research using a songbird model that revealed that skeletal muscles in vertebrates are controlled not by the rate, but by the precise timing patterns of the electrical signals that the brain uses to process information. This upends current knowledge about how the brain controls behavior, and may have serious applications to brain-machine interfaces and neural prosthetic devices.

In her senior year, Holmes served as director of Volunteer Emory’s Social Justice Dialogues program, which holds regular community discussions around class, race, and socioeconomic differences—and how to navigate them as students.

“What attracted me to Emory initially, and what I found as a student, is that this is a community open to new ideas, with a deep appreciation for questions and curiosity, and great faculty who facilitate that kind of learning,” Holmes says.

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