Myron R. Anderson, a leader in higher education at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, once wrote, “You can have diversity without excellence, but you can’t have excellence without diversity.”
For 23 years, the Tower Awards have celebrated the academic achievements of underrepresented students at Georgia Tech. Of the more than 1,200 students eligible to receive a 2017 Tower Award, nearly 300 gathered for the annual recognition ceremony, hosted by OMED: Educational Services, on April 6.
“Our students set the standard for what the next generation can accomplish with a high-quality education and community support,” said OMED Director Cynthia Moore. “For instance, one of our Tower Award recipients, Cray Noah, was recently accepted into Harvard Medical School, and we are very proud of him! Cray served as a physics tutor and mentored several pre-med students in OMED for years.”
Award categories included Ph.D. Awards, Master’s Awards (graduating GPA of 3.5 or higher), Graduating Senior Awards (cumulative GPA of 3.15 or higher), Sustained Awards (cumulative GPA of 3.15 or higher), Yearly Awards (GPA of 3.15 or higher over the past three semesters), and First-Year Awards (cumulative GPA of 3.15 or higher). Within each award category, except the Ph.D. and Master’s Awards, sub-categories included Bronze (GPA of 3.15-3.49), Silver (GPA of 3.50-3.94), and Gold (GPA of 3.95 or higher).
Two special honors were also conferred: the Georgia Tech Black Alumni Organization (GTBAO) Unsung Hero Award and OMED Student Mentor Award. Renee Copeland, a biomedical engineering undergraduate student, received the Unsung Hero Award, and Nyemkuna Fortingo, a biochemistry undergraduate student, was recognized with the Student Mentor Award. Both also received a 2017 Tower Award for their outstanding academic performance at Tech.
“I am thankful to GTBAO for this award, and I credit support from OMED for this achievement,” said Copeland, who plans to pursue a graduate degree in public health. Fortingo, who plans to attend medical school, echoed the sentiment: “OMED has had a huge impact on my life – both academically and socially. As an incoming freshman, I participated in the Challenge program, and my Challenge counselors inspired me to become a Challenge counselor and Edge mentor.” Challenge is an immersive bridge program for incoming freshmen, and the Edge program pairs first-year students with upperclassmen who help them acclimate to Georgia Tech.
As the ceremony concluded, Henderson Johnson II, an aerospace engineering doctoral student and a co-founder of The Black Burdell, reminded attendees of the meaning and significance of their success.
“As Georgia Tech students, you are called to change the world,” he said. “Every day we are here, we make history. Your story should be one worth noting.”
Part of Institute Diversity’s Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, OMED is supported by more than 25 corporate partners and sponsors who attended and provided raffle giveaways at the Tower Awards. Corporate partners include 3M, BP, Eaton, John Deere, Northrop Grumman, Procter & Gamble, and Southwire.
To learn more about the Tower Awards, visit www.omed.gatech.edu.