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Auburn University Announces Nominees for Prestigious Rhodes, Marshall and Mitchell Scholarships

By: Paul Harris - Auburn University students are among the nominees for three of the nation's top postgraduate honors, the Rhodes, Marshall and Mitchell scholarships. Students awarded these scholarships will pursue their individual fields of study at prestigious universities in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

"These students evoke the core values of Auburn University," said Melissa Baumann, assistant provost for undergraduate studies and director of the Honors College. "They have succeeded through hard work in their courses and extracurricular activities and they are men and women of character. These scholarships are some of the most prestigious international awards and we are pleased to nominate them."

Three seniors at Auburn are nominees for the Rhodes Scholarship, which gives 32 of the most outstanding young scholars in the country an opportunity to study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. The scholarship, one of the oldest in the world, is awarded to students with proven intellectual and academic achievement, integrity of character, qualities of leadership and proven respect for their fellow humankind.

Sean Bittner of Clearwater, Florida, is a senior Honors College student with a major in chemical engineering in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and a minor in Spanish in the College of Liberal Arts. Bittner is actively involved in a host of disciplinary and non-disciplinary organizations, most notably as a summer intern with the Alabama Alliance of Students with Disabilities-STEM program. An Auburn University Undergraduate Research Fellow, Bittner is working on an interdisciplinary project under the direction of Edward Davis, professor in materials engineering, which focuses on loading halloysite nanotubes with antibiotics for wound treatment and infection prevention.

Chloe Chaudhury of Auburn, Alabama, is a senior in the Honors College majoring in biochemistry in the College of Sciences and Mathematics with a minor in dance in the College of Liberal Arts. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa during her junior year, Chaudhury is a member of the Auburn Indian Music Ensemble. In addition, she serves as an undergraduate learning assistant for freshman physics, as captain of AU Rhythm and a COSAM Summer Science Institute counselor. Under the direction of Satya Pondugula in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Chaudhury's research examines the development of novel and safer therapeutic approaches to reverse chemoresistance in human cancer patients.

Blake Willoughby of Phenix City, Alabama, is a senior with a double major in theatre and political science in the College of Liberal Arts. Willoughby serves as president of AU Players, as public relations liaison for the Department of Theatre and as assistant artistic director for Mosaic Theatre Company, a student ensemble which creates works of theatre devised around issues of diversity and social justice. In addition to Willoughby's organizational leadership, he has served as director, assistant director and actor in numerous plays and performances. His undergraduate faculty mentor is Tessa Carr, assistant professor in the Department of Theatre.

Six Auburn students have been nominated for the Marshall Scholarship, which provides up to 40 of the most outstanding undergraduates in the country an opportunity to study at any university in the United Kingdom. This award focuses on exceptional academic merit and the potential a student may have to be a world leader and ambassador.

Jessica Adams of Phenix City, Alabama, is an Honors College senior with a major in microbiology in the College of Sciences and Mathematics and a minor in hunger studies in the College of Human Sciences. Selected to Phi Kappa Phi her junior year, she also is a recipient of the society's Susan Stacy Entrenkin Yates Scholastic Award and is the recipient of Auburn University Undergraduate Woman of Distinction Award. Her many service activities include treasurer and representative at-large for the Committee of 19, Auburn's anti-hunger initiative; IMPACT project coordinator; and student ambassador to Presidents United to Solve Hunger, or PUSH. Adam's faculty advisor is Kate Thornton, director of Hunger and Sustainability Initiatives at the Hunger Studies Institute in the College of Human Sciences.

Azeem Ahmed of Auburn, Alabama, is an Honors College and 2014 Auburn graduate with a finance major from the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business and a sustainability minor from University College. A 2014 Clinton Global Hunger Leadership Fellow and a recipient of the President's Medal in the Harbert College of Business, Ahmed served as vice president of Campus Kitchens Project and president of the Committee of 19 while at Auburn. His major professor was Harriet Giles, director of external relations in the College of Human Sciences and managing director of Auburn's Hunger Solutions Institute.

Sydney Herndon of Chelsea, Alabama, is a summer 2013 Honors College graduate with a double major in anthropology and art history from the College of Liberal Arts and a double minor in Spanish from the College of Liberal Arts and sustainability from University College. A co-founder and President of Auburn University's ONE Chapter, an international organization to end extreme poverty, Herndon joined the United Nations World Food Programme, or WFP, during her senior year and since then has continued at the WFP as an Emergency Preparedness and Support Response Officer. Among her many professional responsibilities, Herndon has analyzed operational data from past emergency responses to include the 2013 South Sudan conflict, the 2014 Ebola virus disease epidemic and the 2015 Nepal earthquake, to name a few. Herndon's faculty advisor is Kate Thornton, director of Hunger and Sustainability Initiatives at the Hunger Studies Institute in the College of Human Sciences.

Also nominated for the Marshall Scholarship are Bittner, Chaudhury and Willoughby.

Auburn has endorsed two students, Chaudhury and Willoughby, for the George J. Mitchell Scholarship. The Mitchell Scholarship provides 12 students nationwide the opportunity to study in Ireland. The award criteria focus on scholarship, leadership and commitment to community and public service.

"Our students must be endorsed by the university's national prestigious scholarships committee to receive a nomination," said Paul Harris, director of national prestigious scholarships, who worked with the students, along with their faculty mentors, to help prepare them for the application process. "As part of their applications, they were required to submit a personal essay and letters of recommendation which highlighted their scholarly potential and their character and suitability for the award."

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