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Sean Forbes, a professor of educational psychology in Auburn University’s College of Education, and pre-medicine student Juan Luis Contreras from the College of Sciences and Mathematics have been selected as this year’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winners.

Forbes, a member of Auburn’s faculty since 1999, was selected for his mentorship as an educator and for his many outreach initiatives designed to make an impact on the local community. Contreras, a Birmingham, Alabama, native, was selected for his academic excellence, as well as for his volunteer work with several charities and organizations.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award 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.

Forbes, who earned his doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Florida in 1999, teaches courses in child/adolescent development, learning, motivation and assessment, as well as mixed-method research design. He has co-authored two textbooks and shared his research through various journal articles and conference presentations.

His outreach efforts have been supported through extramural grant funding and corporate gifts. As a community-engaged scholar, Forbes applies his expertise in human development and community-based learning to create educational experiences that align the needs of Auburn students with those of the community.

Notably, Forbes helped establish O Grows in 2012, a community-university partnership. With the help of more than 100 Auburn students and scores of residents each year, O Grows operates K-12 programs, a community garden and a farmer’s market, aiming to cultivate local food and community connections through education.

Contreras has been an exemplary member of the Auburn community, both through his leadership in multiple organizations across campus as well as his work within the lab. He has served the university as a student recruiter, an athletic recruiter and as a member of the Student Leader Organization Lobby Board, as well as serving as treasurer for the College of Sciences and Mathematics Leaders.

Contreras is bilingual and uses his skills as a volunteer with Esperanza House to translate for the Hispanic community. He also delivers meals and serves as a shift leader for Campus Kitchen.

The 2023 recipient of the Outstanding Junior Award for Biomedical Sciences, Contreras has been on the Dean’s List every semester since fall 2020. He has extensive physician shadowing experience at East Alabama Medical Center, Christ Health Center, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center. Upon graduation with a Bachelor of Science in biomedical sciences, he will continue his education through medical school and work toward achieving his dream of wearing a white coat one day.

In addition, Nicholas McLean Coffey, who soon will earn his Bachelor of Science in building construction, is this year’s W. James Samford Jr. ’72 Memorial Scholarship recipient. The scholarship is named in memory of James Samford, a 1972 Auburn alumnus and Board of Trustees member from 1987 until his death in 2003. Preference is given to juniors who have completed at least 61 but no more than 89 semester hours, and the scholarship committee also considers candidates’ philanthropic and leadership activities.

Coffey is pursuing a degree from the College of Architecture, Design and Construction and plans to enter the MBA program in Auburn’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business upon graduation. From Trussville, Alabama, Coffey has held multiple positions on campus and in the community that combine his building science education with his passion for service.

Coffey has been named to the Dean’s List and is enrolled in the Honors College. He has served as vice president of Auburn’s student chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors and is a member of Associated General Contractors and Design Build Institute of America.

Coffey is a volunteer with Alabama Rural Ministries, where he completes home improvement projects for residents across Lee County. He also works for Third Lens, a nonprofit that matches trained construction professionals with community organizations that design and build structures for those in need.

The President’s Award recognizes one graduate in each college who has completed at least three semesters at Auburn with a minimum grade-point average of 3.40 and possesses outstanding qualities of leadership, citizenship, character and promise of professional ability. All honorees were celebrated at a special awards ceremony on April 16.

This year’s President’s Award honorees are:

Taylor Ann Sondgeroth, College of Agriculture

Leonard Dwan Jefferson, College of Architecture, Design and Construction

Jacob Read Levant, Raymond J. Harbert College of Business

Pressley Davis Rains, College of Education

Penelope Grace Kovakas, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering

Rory Grace Smith, College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment

Soolim Jeong, Graduate School

Caroline Marie Bush, College of Human Sciences

Joanne Jung Kim, College of Liberal Arts

Garrett Keith Cox, College of Nursing

Sarah Grace Cook, Harrison College of Pharmacy

Juan Luis Contreras, College of Sciences and Mathematics

Haley Peyton Angel, College of Veterinary Medicine

*Ainsley Ehlers contributed to this article.