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Two students and one faculty member from the College of Education were recognized at Auburn University’s annual Awards Ceremony held April 16. Undergraduate student Pressley Rains, graduate student Soolim Jeong and Professor Sean Forbes are this year’s recipients from the college.
Rains is the College of Education’s undergraduate student recipient of The President’s Award and Samford-Cannon Foundation Award. Jeong is the Graduate School’s winner of the award. The President’s Award and Samford-Cannon Foundation Award recognizes one graduate in each school or college who has completed at least three semesters at Auburn with a minimum grade point average of 3.4, and possesses outstanding qualities of leadership, citizenship, character and promise of professional ability.
Forbes received the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, a national honor that has been presented at Auburn since 1951 as a reminder of the noblest human qualities exemplified by Algernon Sydney Sullivan, a prominent humanitarian and first president of the New York Southern Society, now the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation. Each year, Auburn bestows the honor on one male and one female student from the graduating class, and one non-student of the campus community. Forbes is the university’s non-student winner this year.
Rains, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education and will soon be a fourth-generation Auburn graduate. She has dreamed of being an educator since the second grade. Despite a rigorous academic schedule, she has maintained a consistent presence on the Dean’s List and a high level of involvement in the College of Education and around campus, including service as a college student ambassador and as the college’s Student Government Association vice president and senator in 2022. She has also held leadership roles in her sorority, Kappa Delta, and Auburn Panhellenic as a Pi Chi. After graduation, Rains plans to work as an educator in Alabama.
Jeong, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is pursuing a Doctor of Kinesiology degree and campus involvement has been an integral part of her time at Auburn. She has served as president of the Graduate Student Council and held memberships on several other committees. She was also an instructor, graduate teaching assistant and undergraduate research mentor. She has conducted research focusing on racial and ethnic disparities in heart disease and the effects of salt intake on the health of those populations. Her work has been recognized with predoctoral fellowships from the American Heart Association and the NIH Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Upon graduation, Jeong will pursue post-doctoral positions and federal and health agency opportunities that align with her goal of raising awareness and developing strategies to prevent disease in diverse communities.
Forbes is a professor of educational psychology in the Department of Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology. He joined the faculty at Auburn University after receiving his Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Florida in 1999. He teaches courses in child/adolescent development, learning, motivation and assessment, and mixed-method research design. He has co-authored two textbooks, disseminated his research through a variety of journal articles and conference presentations, and been supported in his outreach efforts through extramural grant funding and corporate gifts. As a community-engaged scholar, he applies his expertise in human development and community-based learning to implement educational experiences that align the needs of Auburn students with that of the wider community. Foremost among such efforts is O Grows, a community-university partnership he helped to establish in 2012 and has since served as its executive director. Through the involvement of 100+ Auburn students and scores of residents each year, O Grows operates K-12 programs, a community garden and farmers’ market in pursuit of the mission to cultivate local food, relationships and knowledge-sharing.