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First-Year Experience Awards Honors

Francis Desiderio and Morgan Gallahue surrounded by the students in Soccer Cultures around the World.

Every year, the Office of First-Year Experience recognizes a student, a faculty member, and a staff member whose work with first-year students is exceptional. This spring, two of these three winners were from the same honors section of a First-Year Experience class.  Peer Leader Morgan Gallahue (biology ’18) was recognized as the 2018 Peer Leader of the Year, and Dr. Francis Desiderio, the Associate Director of the University Honors Program, was recognized as the 2018 Outstanding Advocate for First-Year Students.

During her freshman year, Gallahue was a student in Dr. Desiderio’s Honors FYE, The Meaning of Place. That course explored the built environment from an interdisciplinary perspective with a particular focus on how people attach meaning to place. This year, the course theme is Soccer Cultures around the World.  While Gallahue was not well-versed in the sport, she agreed to work with Desiderio in the year-long course that covered the fall seminar and the connected spring Global Citizens course.

“Morgan’s help in developing this course to hit the right level of academic rigor while still being accessible to the soccer novice was invaluable,” Desiderio said. “She had an excellent rapport with the students, and it was clear that they were comfortable approaching her with questions about the class, the program, and Georgia Southern. It was exciting for both of us to receive awards!”

Dr. Desiderio has been coordinating the Honors Program’s sections of FYE since 2010 and has been the program’s point person on the first-year Honors Living Learning Community.  “Francis has been an instrumental reason for the success and retention of honors first-year students, and I am delighted he is being recognized for these efforts along with his peer leader Morgan.” Dr. Steven Engel said of Dr. Desiderio’s recognition.

Morgan enjoyed working with the students in the class, outside of class, and in her capacity as a community leader in the Honors Living Learning Community.

“It felt nice to be recognized, but I know there are also many peer leaders that do just as good a job and are just as deserving. None of us are doing this for recognition. We just care about our students and want them to succeed. My favorite part of this experience was watching the freshmen present at the Honors Symposium with their research projects. I was proud to see all their work on display,” Gallahue said.


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