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CBSS 40 Under 40

The Georgia Southern University Alumni Association is pleased to announce the 40 Under 40 Class of 2018!

Out of 120,000 living alumni, nearly 50,000 are under 40 years old. 40 Under 40 honorees not only represent the excellence of the University’s young alumni but also demonstrate the positive contributions and remarkable achievements for which Georgia Southern and Armstrong graduates are known.

The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences boasts five alums on the 40 Under 40 Class of 2018. Listed below are those seven alumni.

Please join us in congratulating these outstanding young alumni.


Jonathan Herschell 2005 BA Political Science Assistant City Manager – City of Hartwell, Georgia
Adrian King 2013 BA International Studies Public Health Program Associate, Project Coordinator – Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
Brittney Mobley 2003 BSED Early Childhood Education Principal – Taylors Creek Elementary, Liberty County Board of Education, Hinesville, Georgia
Clinton Rouse 2004 BS Recreation/Natural and Cultural Resource Management Park Manager – Richard B. Russell State Park, Elberton, Georgia
Kutina Ruhumbika 2002 BBA Marketing/Fashion Merchandising Vice President of People – Barteca Restaurant Group, New York, New York


Four Georgia Southern Phi Eta Sigma members win scholarships

Four students from Georgia Southern University’s Phi Eta Sigma (PEΣ) chapter were awarded scholarships from the society’s national organization, totaling $14,000. PEΣ is a national honor society recognizing success among first-year students, with 209 active chapters at colleges and universities around the country.

Ashley Archer, a spring 2018 graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, was awarded a $7,000 scholarship to support her graduate education. Archer, who was a two-year president of Georgia Southern’s PEΣ chapter, will be attending Florida State University to pursue a master’s degree in higher education administration.

Junior Libby Hartley, who was recently accepted into the nursing program, won a $5,000 undergraduate scholarship. Hartley was the Georgia Southern chapter’s service chair last year and is very active in community service, according to faculty advisor and Director of First-Year Experience at the University, Chris Caplinger, Ph.D.

“First and foremost, winning the scholarships is recognition of a lot of hard work by the students who won,” Caplinger said. “It’s also a recognition of a strong chapter. Phi Eta Sigma students participate in monthly community service, and the chapter sponsors active peer leadership programs.”

Georgia Southern members have had a string of success in the national scholarship competition, winning a total of $70,000 in scholarships since 2010. Caplinger said that over the years he has enjoyed reaching out to students to let them know they won.

“Relaying the information makes for a good day,” he said. “This is life-altering news for some of them.”

In addition to Archer and Hartley, Emily Coats, a senior art major, and Elizabeth Lennon, a senior writing and linguistics major, were both awarded $1,000 scholarships.

To be offered membership to Georgia Southern’s PEΣ chapter, students must earn a minimum 3.6 GPA after the fall semester of their first year as a college student. The national organization will award almost $300,000 in scholarships this year.

Georgia Southern University invites proposal submissions for 32nd annual Southern Conference on Children

call for proposals is now open for the 32nd annual Southern Conference on Children that will be held at the Nessmith-Lane Center, Jan. 26, 2019, in Statesboro, Georgia.

Proposals may be submitted for any of the nine conference strands, which are STEM, Nurturing Healthy Children, Intentional Teaching Strategies, Including All Children, Play & DAP, Leadership and Professionalism, Program Management, Family Child Care and School-Age Care. Submissions are also accepted for a variety of formats including panels, workshops, roundtables, posters and regular sessions.

The priority deadline for submissions is Aug. 31.

This one-day conference allows childcare center directors and personnel, teachers, childcare providers and parents of young children to train on evidence-based strategies from local and regional leaders in child development, early childhood education, special education and other related fields. The theme of this year’s conference is “Innovations & Quality in Early Care and Learning.”

The 2019 keynote speaker will be Vernon Mason Jr., founder of Directors Leadership Solutions and president of the WEE School, serving children in four locations across North Carolina. Vernon has been in the early childhood profession for nearly 25 years and delivers training, workshops and keynote presentations at the local, state and national level.

The Southern Conference on Children is hosted by the Georgia Southern University College of Behavioral Health and Social Sciences, the School of Human Ecology, Kid’s World Learning Center and the Division of Continuing Education. Those interested in learning more about the conference may visit

For more information from the Division of Continuing Education, please contact Michel Blitch at or 912-478-MORE.

Georgia Southern duo spark conversation at TEDx Savannah 2018

On May 11, two Georgia Southern University Armstrong Campus community members shared “Ideas Worth Spreading,” at TEDx Savannah 2018, an all-day, immersive networking event held at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.

Instructor of Communication Karla Jennings and recent magna cum laude psychology graduate Tina Nelson (‘18) were both selected, along with 13 other featured speakers, to interpret this year’s TEDx Savannah theme “Legacy by Design,” with the intention of sparking discussion at the sold-out gathering.

Jennings explored the various reasons humans fear speaking in front of an audience and shared ways to help overcome that fear. She drew on the power of research-backed inoculation messages, or pre-emptive messages designed to prepare individuals for possible challenges.

“‘How can we change the way we think about and respond to the fear of public speaking?’ she asked the crowd, the iconic red block TEDx letters illuminated just behind her. “The key is in designing a response to fear. Inoculation messages can reframe our response to fear of public speaking.”

Nelson, a high-school dropout and mother at 16 who returned to pursue a formal education at age 40, shared her personal story of overcoming an intense fear of rats while working as a Georgia Southern research assistant, and how her new-found closeness to the animals changed the way she sees human behavior.

“As humans, even the most nurturing and animal-loving of us think of ourselves as being pretty high on the evolutionary ladder, and in a lot of ways we are,” she stated. “But one of the things I learned about working with rats is that our higher-order thinking and consciousness puts a greater burden of caring for others on us. Can you imagine what it would be like to not be able to communicate with the only other living species you interact with?”

Specifically, she was referring to Rizzo, a rat she cared for in the lab, who employs body language and behavioral cues to communicate.

“How this translates to us as humans interacting with each other, that’s the lesson that Rizzo and his brothers taught me,” Nelson said. “When humans interact or respond to each other we respond to situations from our own perspective. The lesson for me was in acknowledging that Rizzo’s awareness comes from a different experience than mine. What I learned is that we could reach deeper within ourselves than our spoken or written language.”

Georgia Southern decorated Army ROTC grad heads to U.S. Army Aviation school, leaves unique legacy at alma mater

Madison Nicole Stewart, a Georgia Southern University Army ROTC leader and aspiring linguist from Senoia, Georgia, will proudly walk the commencement stage in Statesboro this weekend to earn dual diplomas in international studies and Arabic, as well as a minor in military science.

Stewart, who initially chose to attend Georgia Southern for its award-winning ROTC program, is grateful to the University for support of her educational and professional paths from day one.

“I have always wanted to become an Army Officer and Georgia Southern offered the best option to achieve that goal,” she said. “I was very fortunate to be awarded a three-and-a-half year scholarship from the school to attend.”

In her first year as a military science cadet, Stewart was introduced to Army customs and characteristics of the profession. She was also allowed the opportunity to have a small leadership role within her squad and attended Basic Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky, which provided further leadership training.

By her second year, Stewart was bumped to a squad leader and the Cadet Association’s President, tasked with managing funds, fundraising and volunteer events for the Eagle Battalion. She and her team successfully organized the annual ROTC Blood Drive, conducted post-football game stadium clean-ups and hosted car wash fundraisers. She was also the only female competitor on a team of nine who participated in the grueling Brigade Ranger Challenge Competition, which pushes cadets through tough mental and physical challenges while encouraging the tenets of leadership and teamwork.

The following year, Stewart attended the Cultural Understanding and Language Program in Hungary, where she and a team of cadets taught English to the Hungarian Armed Forces with the mission to improve relations between the U.S. and Hungarian militaries.

“The ROTC Cultural Understanding and Language Program was an incredible opportunity for me not only as a future Army officer, but also as an international studies and language student,” noted Stewart. “It was an awesome experience and opened my eyes to the greater international military community, who, more often than not, work together hand-in-hand to preserve and protect peace efforts.”

She rounded out that year with a second-place Ranger Challenge win and completion of the ROTC Advanced Camp, a required month-long test on tactics, soldiering skills and leadership at Fort Knox.

Stewart’s final year has been the most demanding — and rewarding — as she served as the Eagle Battalion’s Command Sgt. Major, the most senior enlisted cadet who coordinates all training events, classes, labs and field training exercises, and sets and enforces standards. It was her distinct honor to work alongside the Battalion Commander, who attends Georgia Southern’s Armstrong Campus in Savannah.

“The Battalion Command split between two campuses required careful coordination through our leadership,” she said. “We were proud to bring the two campuses together through the ROTC program.”

Stewart, who earned placement on the President’s List with a 4.0. GPA each semester, three Platinum Eagle Awards for maintaining a perfect physical training score and garnered the Alumni Association Award in April, is most honored to leave her own special University legacy, as the Superior Cadet Decoration Award will be named in her honor from this year on.

On track to commission as a second lieutenant soon, Stewart is “beyond excited” to attend the U.S. Army Aviation Basic Officer Leader Course at Fort Rucker, Alabama, in June to complete flight school. It is her hope to fly UH-60 Black Hawks and attend the Defense Language Institute, which supports Army officers in learning a foreign language in the country of origin.

“Without the incredible support of my ROTC cadre and professors, and the amazing faculty of the international studies and Arabic departments, I would have never succeeded to the extent I have in ROTC, school and in life,” said Stewart. “I owe everything to the people who supported my efforts here.”