Sitting in her eighth grade Georgia Studies class, Athena Smith was fascinated as her teacher made history come to life. She began watching The History Channel and reading books about the past. While in her freshman World History class at Georgia State, Athena realized that she had a passion for ancient history. A spark of interest in research ignited and grew into a flame.

As a Presidential Scholar at Georgia State, Athena receives full tuition for four years, housing in University Lofts, a stipend to participate in study abroad, per­sonal use of a laptop computer, and eligibility for the University Scholar Assistantship. “The best part of being a Presidential Scholar is the University Scholar Assistantship,” she says. “Georgia State paired me with Dr. Lauren Ristvet in the Department of History to research pottery from Syria. It has given me excellent experience and helped me confirm my passion.” Athena mirrors the images of pottery shards, and then prints them out to see what they would look like whole before being damaged. With this image, she can use the type of style to determine the pottery’s approximate creation date and trading patterns of that era.

Athena is also the recipient of the Robert W. Sellen Scholarship in History. “I am grateful for the Sellen Scholarship as it has opened many doors to further my research in Ancient History,” she says. This year Athena will be studying abroad in Greece, and looks forward to classes such as History and Archeology in Classical Greece held at an archeological dig site in Deon, Byzantine Art History in Rhodes, and Greek Art and Architecture in Athens.

Athena aspires to be a museum curator. In the meantime, she plans to apply for a Fulbright Fellowship and con­duct more research in ancient history or archeology.