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Release date:
May 10, 2001
Contact: Deb Hammacher, Assistant Director, 404-727-0644, or

What To Do With $20,000? Recipients of Emory University's McMullan Award Have a Few Ideas

Imagine being a college senior who's called to the dean's office just weeks before commencement. Normally it's not a good thing, unless of course you're an Emory College senior. For six years in a row now, one fortunate—and very nervous—graduating senior has been summoned to the dean's office to be given the Lucius Lamar McMullan Award and its accompanying check for $20,000—absolutely no strings attached.

The award, which was endowed by college alumnus William L. 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 donor's intention is to allow a student to do something he or she wouldn't otherwise be able to do.

The six Emory graduates who have received the award since 1996 certainly have taken that goal to heart, using the award to further their education, establish a foundation to battle cancer, and to pursue creative writing dreams. Here's an update on the McMullan Award recipients' activities:

• This year's award winner, Nir Eyal, was selected in recognition of his leadership and service to Emory and Atlanta as the founder of campus chapters of the AmeriCorps literacy program and of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. He plans to write a book aimed at volunteers wanting to make the most of their service.

• The first recipient, Joe Kable, graduated in 1996 with a degree in chemistry, then spent almost two years in South Africa working with a community group in a township outside of Johannesburg that runs housing and economic development programs. He also contributed to a report for the Truth & Reconciliation Commission regarding how the media functioned under apartheid. Kable currently is in graduate school in neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania.

Hannah McLaughlin, a 1997 Emory graduate, is in her second year of the PhD program in medieval studies at Princeton. Following graduation, she spent a year in England at the University of York on a Rotary scholarship to earn a master's degree in medieval studies.

Anjan Sahni, who graduated at the top of his 1998 class with a degree in political science, will graduate from Yale Law School in June. He will work in New York for a federal appellate court judge for a year and then plans to practice law in Washington. While in New York, Sahni will work with the public school urban debate league that is mentored by Emory's debate program, the Barkley Forum.

Brant Brown, a 1999 graduate in biology, is enrolled in the joint MD/PhD program at Harvard Medical School, where the McMullan Award has enabled him to become the founder and executive director of a foundation called The Giving Tree. "The money has helped me help others battle cancer. I could not have been happier with how I chose to spend the money and feel so fortunate to have been given it," says Brown. "It just goes to show that through generosity, no matter how big or small, the lives of others can be changed forever." Brown plans to pursue a career as physician and medical school professor.

Danielle Sered, who graduated in 2000 with a degree in English with highest honors, currently is studying at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. "There is the sense of a really huge burden being lifted," said Sered when she got the award last year. "The award opens so many opportunities. It feels more like a challenge and an investment. These doors have been thrown open; am I going to walk through them?" Sered, who worked two jobs while maintaining a 3.9 grade point average at Emory , was able to pay off her student loans, allowing her to travel and focus on her creative writing following graduation. In addition to being a stellar student, Sered was active in establishing a mentoring program for women students and an arts outreach group for disadvantaged youth. Her work for women's and children's issues has continued at Oxford.

"I think the McMullan Award is exceptional in that it gives its recipients room to move in ways they never would have anticipated, to take risks that become far more valuable than the safe path ever would have been," says Sered.


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