McMullan winner Robbie Brown 07C and Elizabeth Sholtys 08C


An Unexpected Gift
McMullan winner gives $20,000 to fellow student

What would you do if you were a graduating college senior and the University handed you a check for $20,000, no strings attached?

Robbie Brown 07C didn’t think twice. The recipient of this year’s McMullan Award and its accompanying $20,000 gave it all away.

During her freshman year, Elizabeth Sholtys 08C founded the Ashraya Initiative for Children to help street children in Pune, India. Sholtys had worked in India as a high school student and was inspired by the works of physician and activist Paul Farmer. With the help of six friends, Sholtys has continued to develop the project, which now houses nine children and operates a health and education outreach program.

Sholtys was getting off a plane in her hometown of Ithaca, New York, when she received urgent messages from Brown about his decision to give her the $20,000 award. “I kept asking him, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ ” Sholtys says. “I was just shocked. It was an incredibly generous gesture.”

“I was humbled to receive the McMullan, but I felt kind of uncomfortable accepting the money,” Brown, an Atlanta native, says. “I’m amazed by what Elizabeth has done. She is the most inspiring student I’ve met at Emory, and I know she’ll use the money well.”

Sholtys will use the $20,000 to help purchase a permanent building for the initiative.

A history and journalism major, Brown served his senior year as editor-in-chief of the Emory Wheel and also founded The Hub, which was named one of the nation’s best student-run magazines by Newsweek in its first year. Brown has served as a resident assistant, interned with the Center for Ethics Servant Leadership program, and reported for the Dayton Daily News, Newsweek, and the Cape Times in Capetown, South Africa. This summer he is working as an intern with the Boston Globe.

Brown is a Goodrich C. White Scholar and also was one of four seniors to receive a Bobby Jones Scholarship to study at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland next year (see page 8). He plans to earn a master’s degree in modern history and continue working in campus and professional journalism.

The Lucius Lamar McMullan Award, endowed by Emory alumnus William L. Matheson in honor of his uncle, is given to a top graduating senior who exhibits “outstanding citizenship, exceptional leadership, and potential for service to his or her community, the nation, and the world.” The donor’s intention is to allow a student to do something he would not otherwise be able to do.

Like give $20,000 to a friend.—P.P.P.



© 2007 Emory University