GSU Honors College courts top students in Georgia and beyond
Scholarship Day the last chance for finalists to interview and impress

Georgia State opened its doors to 31 high school seniors vying for its top merit scholarships and further opportunities when they arrive as freshmen this fall.

Faculty across the university interviewed these top applicants during Honors College Scholarship Day on March 8 and within ten days they would be contacted with written scholarship offers.

At stake were seven Presidential Scholarships, which pay for tuition, fees, housing, a living expense stipend, study abroad and the possibility of a paid university assistantship.

Students from rural Georgia are competing for Berner Scholarships, which combine cash funding and an interest-free loan to cover college expenses.

As an incentive for all finalists to enroll, Honors business and law professor Nancy Mansfield said GSU guaranteed them each a freshman year meal plan, worth approximately $3,000. The students, many of whom visited with their parents, had the chance to tour the campus and ask questions.

“It would help me a lot to get financial aid like the Presidential Scholarship, especially for the study abroad, because I don’t think I would be able to do that otherwise,” said Zoë Cato, a senior at Grady High School who is already taking freshman core classes at GSU. “In my interview, we talked about that opportunity – where I would want to go. There are so many places I want to go.”

“I had two wonderful interviewers, and I would say it was more like a conversation,” said William Bald, a musician and aspiring music technology major from Slidell, La. He is hoping to continue research begun at Tulane University with Tae Hong Park now that Park has come to GSU as an associate professor in digital music technology.

Honors College Dean Larry Berman implored the finalists to apply their intellectual curiosity at a campus committed to helping them change the world.

The Honors College, established in January from an Honors Program in existence for two decades, will help prepare students beyond grades to have the portfolio of research papers, internships and unique academic achievements that will help them compete favorably with students anywhere. From these finalists, Berman said, GSU might find its first Rhodes Scholar and Truman Scholar. “You are the best of the best,” he said.

At GSU, they will walk through intellectual doors to find a new understanding of themselves and ideas far larger and more transformative than they presently imagine.

“In the universe, there are things that are known and unknown and in between them are doors,” Berman said, quoting the poet William Blake. “Opening doors is the heart of this Honors College. We will help you open those doors.”

GSU President Mark Becker, in luncheon remarks, told the finalists that Honors faculty will challenge them in life-changing ways, and an extensive alumni network will help open even more doors. The energy and breadth of Atlanta will give them ample chances to push themselves as far as they wish.

“The key word is passion,” Becker said. “You can have an amazing experience here, but the question is: ‘What are you passionate about?’ If it doesn’t exist now, you can start it.”

Triple major Josh Sanders told the finalists that he turned down offers to go to private colleges and instead chose to accept the Presidential Scholarship. He did not regret it- because GSU has launched him to a state internship where he worked on a $1 billion construction budget; to start a nonprofit to fund scholarships for women in Kenya; to study art, literature and culture in Spain; to sign a contract to work for a major accounting firm three years before his anticipated master’s degree completion date; and to see his photo in Delta’s Sky magazine.

“My message to you is simple: There’s no reason you can’t do even more than I’ve done,” he told them. “The challenge will be to find a way to give back all that GSU will have given you.”

“Three years ago, I stood where you are today, but I did not expect to be here today,” he said. “I pictured myself at a high profile college… but I was impressed with GSU, and the more I started researching, the more I liked it, and this offer was too good to pass up.”

In April, GSU will host a similar event for Goizueta Scholarship finalists. The Goizueta Scholarship offers $10,000 for college expenses and a structured program for leadership development. This scholarship  is given to students for whom Spanish is a first language or who demonstrate service and leadership within the Latino or Hispanic  community.

—By Michelle Hiskey; Contact Kim Cretors, (404) 413-3424