February 21, 2000
Volume 52, No. 22
Three honored as USA Today scholars
By Eric Rangus
The USA Today All-Academic Team, which was released Feb. 17, carries 20 members. They represent some the most academically gifted and socially aware college students in the country. Three of those honorees call Emory home.
Nir Eyal, Amos Jones and Danielle Sered, who already have a couple of trophy cases worth of honors among them, can now add another bullet to their impressive resumes.
Whenever a university places just one student on the team, it's notable. That's what makes Emory's accomplishment truly outstanding.
This is the first time any university has placed three students on the newspaper's all-academic team in one year. Each student received a $2,500 scholarship and attended a banquet for them and their families on Feb. 18 in Arlington, Va., USA Today's home.
"I am delighted by the national recognition and believe that it not only reflects on the personal strength, volunteerism and imagination of our students, but it is also an indication of the kind of students Emory attracts and the kind of reputation we have built for having a caring, high-minded and generous campus culture," said President Bill Chace.
"It speaks highly of our school that we are able to accomplish these things in addition to our schoolwork," Jones said.
To be considered for the team, entrants had to write an essay demonstrating their talent or scholarship. For Emory's winners, chosen from a pool of more than 900 applicants, that was hardly a problem.
"I couldn't believe it," Eyal said. "I was even more surprised and glad to hear that Emory was the first school ever to have three people named."
Eyal, a junior political science and journalism double major, is extremely active in the community, having founded the Emory Read program in collaboration with Hands On Atlanta as a freshman.
As a sophomore he created Emory Bigs, a organization that trains volunteers in developing and nurturing one-on-one mentoring relationships with at-risk children. Emory Bigs is the University chapter of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Atlanta.
"The greatest award is the recognition [of the service programs we've created]," he said. "We can get the word out about Emory Read and get some feedback about possibly expanding it to other schools."
Sered, a senior majoring in English, is a Rhodes Scholar, the first University female undergrad to earn that distinction. Among her many accomplishments, she is the founder of ArtsReach, a program that teaches conflict resolution, prejudice reduction and AIDS/sex education through the arts in Atlanta city schools and juvenile detention centers; she is also the founder of Emory Women's Alliance, a network of mentors and support for female faculty, staff and students.
Sered wrote her essay on a series of interviews she completed last summer with 12 contemporary Irish female poets. "I was thrilled because it's exciting to be recognized for some thing that's really important to me," she said.
"I know both Nir and Amos and I have so much respect for them," she said. "This is a mark of how supportive the faculty is. It's indicative of the way a lot of us have found people who are interested in what we do."
A senior political science major, Jones was named a Truman Scholar last April, an honor that could be worth more than $25,000 in scholarship money for graduate school (he plans to defer that money, since he starts a job as a copy editor at The Charlotte Observer shortly after graduation--he's worked for several newspapers during his college career, including the Atlanta bureau of The New York Times.)
Jones recently researched the history of African-American churches in his hometown of Lexington, Ky., and posted his findings on a web page. His work repaired a rift between the black community and the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau and created a new destination for tourists to Kentucky's second largest city--its more than half a dozen historically black churches.
"It was a delightful surprise," Jones said about being named to the team. "It was the first call I got after winter break. I was speechless. When you apply, you think you're well-qualified, but there are a lot of other entrants who are, too."