Honors Alumni Officers

Officers

Jake Newsome

W. Jake Newsome 
President, 
Honors Chapter, VSU Alumni Association
Class of 2009

Jake graduated Summa Cum Laude from VSU in fall 2009, earning his bachelor’s in History, while minoring in International Studies and German.  During his time at VSU, Jake was very active in the Honors Program, for which he was awarded the Hugh C. Bailey Family Scholarship.  Jake’s research received many awards, including: the William Bartram Award for Intellectual Exploration, the College of Arts & Sciences Best Paper Award for 2009, as well as the statewide Georgia Consortium for International Studies Student Prize for Excellence in International Studies.  Jake was also a contributing author to the inaugural edition of Omnino, VSU’s new academic journal.  He also understands the importance of literally broadening your horizons, and participated in three study abroad programs while he was at VSU, including a one-year ISEP academic exchange to Philipps-Universität in Marburg, Germany. 

Newsome currently lives in Buffalo, New York, and working towards his Ph.D. in History at the State University of New York at Buffalo.  He works as a teaching assistant for World History classes, and has also received multiple fellowships to help fund his research into the interactions between history and personal memory. 

Newsome remembers the Honors Program fondly and states:  “Most of my best memories of VSU involve the Honors Program.  Academically, the smaller seminars taught you how to work with both peers and professors, how to give and receive helpful criticism, and how to think outside your own box.  These are necessary attributes for a graduate student and team worker, and I know that the Honors professors prepared me for grad school.  But it was also fantastic to be around other students who wanted to push the boundaries of their college education, and hanging out with them for movie nights at the Honors House made for some good memories.”

Kristen Morrison

Kristin Morrison 
Vice President for Public Relations,
Honors Chapter, VSU Alumni Association 
Class of 2009

In 2009, Kristin graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Mathematics.  Hers was a familiar and friendly face in the Honors Program during her tenure at VSU; she was there for all of the Honors’ academic and social events.  In 2008, Kristin was awarded the prestigious Hugh C. Bailey Family Scholarship for her contributions to the Honors Program, but while she was at VSU, she also won an Odum Scholarship, served as Psi Chi President, webmaster for the local Golden Key chapter, and belonged to a multitude of honor societies.

Kristin is now a Ph.D. Candidate in Quantitative Psychology at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.  A member of the American Educational Research Association, Kristin is very active in conducting research and is employed by Georgia Tech as a research assistant. She has even already published an article in the North American Journal of Psychology, as well as co-authoring a number of technical reports for an Institute of Educational Sciences grant.  

About VSU and the Honors Program, Kristin states:  “Valdosta State University has some of the best professors I have ever met.  Without the support of my academic advisors in the Psychology Department and the Director and professors of the Honors Program, I may not have achieved my goal of attending graduate school to work towards my Ph.D.  I am forever grateful for these wonderful people that I had the esteemed privilege of knowing.” 

Lauren Braun
Braun (furthest left) with some of her International Students.

Lauren A. Braun 
Vice President for Campus Liaison
Honors Chapter, VSU Alumni Association 
Class of 2003

Lauren joined the world of Honors Alumni in 2003 when she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in History and minors in Philosophy and Anthropology.  She belonged to multiple honors societies while she was at VSU, and in 2003, she was awarded both the History Department Award and the prestigious Annie Powe Hopper Award.  Lauren served as Honors Student Association President for two years in a row, during which she led the HSA in multiple Habitat for Humanity builds. 

Lauren went on to earn a master’s degree in Liberal Studies from Duke University in 2007.  In addition to writing her Master’s Thesis, Lauren was busy on Duke’s campus.  She worked with Duke’s Center for Leadership and Public Values (alongside the former U.S. Ambassador to South Africa) and the Duke University Islamic Studies Center.  She was nominated several times for “Advisor of the Year” for her work as a pre-major advisor at Trinity College. 

In November 2011, Lauren returned to VSU where she now works as the International Student Advisor for the Center for International Programs.  About the Honors College, Lauren says, “I think there is a lot to be gained from the Honors Program (now College). Aside from the social interactions with other Honors students, the academic format of the Honors courses (namely the seminar style) provided an excellent foundation to prepare for graduate study.  The one-on-one interaction with Honors faculty also helped me form relationships in my academic departments. I’m still close with many of my professors, and I often call them if I have a question or need a recommendation.  Students should know that building strong bonds with professors can lead to successful futures both within and outside of the university.  I’m grateful to my professors for all they taught me.” 

Monica Chana

Monica Chana
Secretary, 
Honors Chapter, VSU Alumni Association 
Class of 2007

Monica graduated from VSU in 2007 with a bachelor’s in Biology and a minor in Chemistry.  Throughout her undergraduate career, she was very involved with the Honors Student Association, and the Honors Program in general.  During her time as the president of the local chapter of Golden Key, the chapter won an award for outstanding service contribution to the community.  Monica used her experience as Golden Key president to help increase membership in the Honors Student Association while she served as its leader. 

After graduating from VSU, Monica worked at Valdosta Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons for Dr. John Roan.  She then moved to Augusta, and is currently in her third year at Medical College of Georgia’s College of Dental Medicine.  Monica remains active in her field, presenting at conferences such as the American Association for Dental Research. 

Recalling her time at VSU, Monica notes, “Some of my favorite memories of VSU are the times we were able to spend with faculty outside of the classroom at the Honors House at our events.  Not only did we get to learn more about who they are outside of teaching, but their words of wisdom about life outside of school still impact my outlook on life today.” 

Elizabeth Barwick

Elizabeth Barwick 
Treasurer, 
Honors Chapter, VSU Alumni Association
Class of 2008

In 2008, Elizabeth graduated Summa Cum Laude, earning a bachelor’s in History with honors.  She was very active in the Honors Program and dedicated her time and efforts as an executive officer of the Honors Student Association.  As any good historian should, Elizabeth enjoyed researching and then discovering ways in which to present her findings to people in easily understandable ways.  While at VSU, Elizabeth funneled her creativity into one of her passions and launched a website dedicated to everything Tudor.

Elizabeth stayed at VSU to earn her Masters in Library and Information Science in 2010, and she now lives in Philadelphia where she works as a librarian.  She is currently co-authoring an article and presentation on how to use student workers in library reference departments. 

Reminiscing about the VSU Honors Program, Elizabeth says, “I always loved helping with the Honors Haunted House!  Also, the trip to present our research at the Georgia Collegiate Honors Council was a blast.  I made a lot of friends on that trip that I still have today.”   

Michael Holman

Michael Holman 
Webmaster,
Honors Chapter, VSU Alumni Association
Class of 2010

In the Fall of 2010 Michael earned his bachelor’s in Psychology. While an undergraduate, Michael was a very active member of the Honors Student Association, participating as a Class Representative from 2007 until 2010. Most notably, Michael is credited with founding the Honors Haunted House, now a yearly tradition and notorious campus event at VSU. 

After taking a semester off, Michael began earning his master’s degree in clinical counseling at VSU, which he is currently in the process of completing. Michael recently returned from a Summer abroad in London, and credits the faculty at the Honors College for inspiring him to take a chance and travel abroad. Michael is the current graduate assistant for the Honors College, where he fulfills various duties such as maintaining the Honors website, moderating the Honors College Facebook and Twitter pages, advising honors students, as well as any other duties that the Honors College may require. Upon completion of his master’s program, Michael will continue in pursuit of his PhD.

According to Michael, “The Honors College is where I made many of my closest friendships, and also where I began to seek knowledge for the sake of learning. The Faculty at the Honors College made me feel like I was more than just another student; they really cared about me as an individual and pushed me to further my own education. I loved working with HSA as a representative each year, and truly felt like I was making a difference with each of their service projects. When given the opportunity to return to the Honors College as a graduate assistant, I practically leapt at the chance. Not only would I be returning to work with the faculty that I respected and admired, I would be helping honors students fulfill their own potential, just as the Honors College had helped me to do so.”  

Alumni

Brett Brewer

Brett Brewer 
Class of 1987

Brett graduated from VSU in 1987 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Communication Arts (Theater) and a minor in Philosophy.  During his time at VSU and the Honors Program, Brett took the initiative and helped found the Honors Student Association, acting as the association’s first president.  In his senior year, he won the university’s Outstanding Theater Major award.

Brett went on to graduate school and in 1994, he graduated with his master’s in English from Northwestern University.  He is now married with two children, and lives in Zionsville, Indiana where he is employed with ExactTarget, a digital marketing software company in Indianapolis.  Over the course of his career, he has received a number of awards and recognition, including being part of a team that won an Invision NewMedia Gold award for their work with Harvard Business School Publishing.  He speaks frequently at digital marketing conferences and other events. 

Reflecting on how the Honors Program influenced his career, Brett says, “The Honors Program helped prepare me for life after college by instilling me with a sense of intellectual curiosity, learning agility, and a creative approach to problem solving.  These traits allowed me to enter the world of Internet/digital marketing in an age where there were few “experts in the field” and quickly grow my career in a way that has been both professionally and personally rewarding.” 

Katheryn Klimko

Katheryn Klimko
Class of 2008

Katheryn graduated from VSU with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics in 2008 and went on to graduate from Harvard Law in May 2011. Currently she is an attorney for Troutman Sanders LLP in Atlanta, specializing in Intellectual Property litigation (thus far focusing on litigation of patent and trade dress infringement, including working on a Federal Circuit appeal). She is a member of Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta, as well as the church choir.

Katheryn found the Honors Program to be particularly helpful while she was at VSU. She enjoyed the seminar courses at the Honors house, the courses on main campus geared toward Honors Program students, and the independent projects taken in other courses for Honors credit. Katheryn found that, not only did the Honors Program help in the obvious ways when applying to law schools (such as the prestige of being able to include it on her resume), but helped, perhaps more importantly, in allowing her to build relationships with her professors. The smaller size of many of the Honors courses naturally allowed such relationships to form. Further, the one-on-one time she spent with professors working on independent research geared toward the Honors program allowed her to develop several mentors in the University, many of whom proved invaluable in her time at VSU. 

According to Katheryn, "The primary advice I would give to current or prospective Honors students is to take advantage of the opportunity the Honors College provides. Get to know your professors and your peers; you will learn in unexpected ways from all of them, and from the variety of backgrounds they undoubtedly will bring to your courses." 

Dr. Michael Black

Dr. Michael Black 
Class of 2000

Dr. Michael Black is currently employed as a Data Information Analyst in the Department of Strategic Research and Analysis. Although his background is in accounting and finance, he works on a variety of projects in VSU’s Strategic Research and Analysis Office which include examining student and faculty data, accreditation requirements, and revenue forecasting. He graduated with a Finance degree in 2000; he served as HSA President in 1998-1999. During graduate school, he served as the Honors Program intern and editor of The Honora

In April 2011, he accompanied a group of honors students to the Southern Regional Honors Council conference.  Dr. Black labeled the trip as an insight into the current Honors Program: “Having been a presenter over a decade years ago, it was an interesting experience participating as a faculty advisor.  The VSU Honors Program students did a fantastic job presenting their original research and representing VSU.  I am pleased to know that the Honors Program is establishing an alumni chapter that can help build a professional network for current students.”

Dr. Black resides in Valdosta with his wife, and is the author of three published books and is currently working on two more. He credits his former honors faculty members and Honors Director, Brian Adler, for encouraging him to reach to the next level.

Fr. Jason P. Adams 
Class of 2008

Father Jason Adams may have graduated from VSU in 2008 with a bachelor’s in Political Science, but it was his minor – Religious Studies – that proved to be his passion.  After finishing at VSU, Jason spent two years of pre-theology study at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsberg, Maryland.  After finishing there, Jason spent four years studying theology in Rome, Italy at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.  Jason is now an ordained Catholic priest in Savannah, Georgia. 

About the Honors College, Jason states, “The Honors Program allowed me to meet other students to help open and enrich my mind on various topics and current events.  I enjoyed our fellowship, functions, and talks together.  These experiences allowed me to have a broader perspective which I carry with me when I meet people now as a priest.”  

Christina Huntley Noguera 
Class of 2008

In 2008, Christina completed her academic career at Valdosta State University by earning a bachelor’s in Biology and minors in Spanish and Chemistry.  She was also very active in the Honors Program during her time at VSU.  The American Association of University Women granted Christina the prestigious Female Student of the Year in 2008. 

Christina now lives with her husband in Savannah, Georgia. She is currently a medical student at Mercer University’s School of Medicine, where she has contributed to an article with her advisor. 

Christina says that her favorite memories during her years at VSU came from when she studied abroad in Spain.  First, she did a summer program with Dr. Ellen Friedrich to Sevilla, Spain.  Thereafter, Christina returned to Spain via a full year ISEP academic exchange to Vigo.  She’s appreciative to VSU for giving her the opportunity and tools necessary for studying abroad.  Commenting on how an Honors education prepared her for life, Christina states, “Some of the classes I took with the Honors Program helped me to look deep into myself to discover who I am, and what I believe.  I questioned religion, politics, culture, and more.  By questioning these things, I was able to grow into the person I am today.  Learning how to question yourself and others has prepared me for life and who I want to be in the future.” 

Matthew Schmidt

Matthew Schmidt
Class of 2011

Matt graduated from Valdosta State in 2011 with a degree in Physics. During his time at VSU Matt was both the President of the Honors Student Association as well as Associate Chief Justice of the SGA Judicial Council, and was also a recipient of the Hugh C. Bailey Scholarship as well as the Claire Philip Martin Scholarship. Matt now lives in Durham, NC and is in the Masters Program in Medical Physics at Duke University.

According to Matt, "The Honors program was able to spark critical thinking and intelligent discussion among peers and professors.  It also fostered leadership skills and teamwork both inside the classroom and in the HSA."