Service, leadership and academic rigor defined the college career
of Meg Elizabeth Rithmire. Her dedication and hard work did not
go unnoticed by the University, which gave Rithmire the 2004 McMullan
Award, complete with $20,000, no strings attached.
The Lucius Lamar McMullan Award, endowed by alumnus William Matheson
in honor of his uncle, is given to a graduating senior who exhibits
“outstanding citizenship, exceptional leadership and potential
for service to his or her community, the nation and the world.”
The award’s intention is to allow a student to do something
he or she wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.
Besides receiving the McMullan Award at Commence-ment, Rithmire
also earned dual degrees: a bachelor’s in Chinese studies
and international studies, and a master’s in political science.
The Phi Beta Kappa scholar, who also made the dean’s list
every semester, accrued an impressive academic record while working
40 hours a week as a restaurant server during most of her college
career, plus volunteering on- and off-campus.
“I am truly humbled to receive this award,” she said.
“I deeply appreciate not only the money, but the honor as
well. Emory has been an outstanding and supportive community.”
Rithmire served as president of Young Democrats this past year,
and on the Emory College Honor Council. She also served as a volunteer
judge for the Barkley Forum, Emory’s renowned debate program.
She plans to donate part of her award to help a high school student
attend the Emory National Debate Institute this summer. “Debate
made a huge difference in my life in high school, and I want to
give a young student the opportunity to experience it,” she
A Goodrich C. White Scholar for the past three years, she is a member
of Phi Sigma Iota national language honor society and Pi Sigma Alpha
political science honor society. She also received the 2004 Eliot
Levitas Award as the best all-around political science graduate
Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Rithmire studied and conducted research
in China three times. Through the Institute for Comparative and
International Studies, she received a grant and did independent
field work in Beijing and surrounding areas last fall. She spent
fall 2002 in a study abroad program where she took intensive language
courses and taught English to elementary school students. She also
spent the summer of 2001 at Shaanxi Normal University in China.
Next year Rithmire will attend Harvard University’s Kennedy
School of Government, where she has received the Karl Deutsch Prize
Fellowship to begin work on a doctorate in politics and government.
During her time at Emory, Rithmire served as an academic tutor with
Volunteer Emory at the Newcomer’s Network Refugee School in
Clarkston and as an Emory READ volunteer tutor. As a member of the
University’s Foreign Policy Exchange executive board, she
led student discussions on the war in Iraq and helped coordinate
and spoke at the Universitywide Classroom on the Quad events in
2003 and 2004.