The Robert T. Jones, Jr. Scholarship program selected four College seniors as award recipients of the Bobby Jones Scholarship from a pool of 13 finalists. Winners Sarah Hunter, David Kulp, Samah Meghjee and Adesola Thomas will receive a paid year of study at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland as recognition for their achievements.
The program began in 1976 in honor of Emory alumnus and amateur golfer Robert T. Jones (29L) and has since recognized more than 300 scholars from Emory and St. Andrews. The scholarship is awarded to those who “exemplify the legacy of Bobby Jones through intellectual excellence, significant leadership, exemplary character, integrity and citizenship.”
The primary application involved submitting a resume, two essays, three letters of recommendation and transcripts. According to scholarship eligibility criteria, recipients must have an “outstanding academic record,” “significant leadership in the life of the Emory community,” “excellent speaking and writing abilities,” “strong interpersonal skills” and “academic and/or scholarly interests that can be pursued through the offerings at St. Andrews.”
Finalists were invited to an evening reception with the selection committee on Feb. 21, followed by three subsequent rounds of interviews the next day.
Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and Director of the Bobby Jones Program Joanne Brzinski noted in a statement that the interview committee — comprised of University faculty members and administrators, former Bobby Jones Scholarship recipients and the award namesake’s granddaughter — anticipates selection weekend each year.
“It presents us the opportunity to meet highly engaged, academically gifted students who have already left their mark on the Emory community,” Brzinski wrote. “We’ve seen the transformative effect this program can have on the lives of those selected. The students we have chosen represent the best of Emory.”
Students can choose whether they wish to partake in available degree programs at St. Andrews or to pursue their own non-degree course of study.
Hunter, a neuroscience and behavioral biology major, plans to obtain a masters of science in comparative and evolutionary psychology. She recalled that when she got the call confirming that she won, her heart “jumped in her throat.”
“I picked it up, and Dean Brzinski said, ‘Hi Sarah, this is Joanne Brzinski. How are you?’ and my response was, ‘I think I’m about to be a whole lot better,’” Hunter said. “I’m honored to have been selected amongst very interesting and accomplished people, [and] I’m very excited to be in Europe for the first time.”
A first-generation college student at Emory, Hunter has co-authored two research papers, volunteered at Wesley Woods Towers, tutored children through Emory’s Project READ program and spearheaded scientific outreach in nearby elementary schools. She also received the Barry Goldwater Scholarship in 2019 for her accomplishments and future potential in STEM research.
As an interdisciplinary studies in society and culture major, Kulp hopes to continue his study in similar coursework at St. Andrews, where he will focus on the connections between medicine and humanities with a focus on neurobehavior and decision making.
“I’ve arrived at this point in my college experience because of the help and guidance of many mentors,” he said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have known how to best apply and position myself for this scholarship and this opportunity.”
Kulp is a Henry L. Bowden Dean’s Achievement Scholar involved in numerous campus organizations, including the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Hillel International’s board of directors and College Dean Michael Elliott’s Student Advisory Board. Additionally, he coordinates programming for youth with Type 1 diabetes as associate executive director of Camp Possibilities and is an undergraduate mentor in the Emory Pipeline Collaborative with the School of Medicine.
Like Kulp, Meghjee will design her own path of study at St. Andrews, as she will pair courses in film studies and English to “improve [her] storytelling” on her goal to become a television writer. Though she did not have intentions to apply prior to this year, Meghjee received encouragement to do so from previous Bobby Jones Scholar Wei Wei Chen (18C).
“I just never felt like [the program] was something that was a possibility for me, … so I was unbelievably shocked [to get in],” she said. “It’s so cool that a school that I love has this amazing opportunity for four students.”
An English and creative writing and media studies double major, she received the Virgil Y.C. Eady Sophomore Service Award and produced a winning movie for the annual Campus Movie Fest event. Meghjee has also served as public relations chair for the Muslim Students Association, a resident adviser, community coordinator for Residence Life and design director and staff writer for the Emory Spoke.
A political science and English double major, Thomas will enroll in the Master of Literature program in playwriting and screenwriting in Scotland. She also hopes to join the Inklight Creative Writing Society and the Filmmakers’ Society of St. Andrews.
Thomas is the arts and entertainment editor for the Wheel, a producer for her original show “The Positive Planet” for WMRE Radio and a program assistant in the Center for Women. She has also received the Johnston Fellowship for Travel and Research from the English department, which she used to further research on her honors thesis in New York City and London.
“I spent so much of college trying to convince myself that I needed to be a practical person to be successful and that being ambitious was irresponsible,” Thomas said. “Emory and the people I’ve met here have taught me that the dreams that I have and the passions I have are worthwhile. I’m really glad that, looking back, I took a chance on myself.”
Kendall Chan (20C) and Mariam Hassoun (18Ox, 20C) were named Emory’s alternates for the program.
Editor’s Note: Arts & Entertainment Editor Adesola Thomas (20C) was not involved in writing or editing this article.