by Kathryn Friedmann
The Georgia Perimeter College Alumni Association presented a record number of awards this year, following receiving nearly 40 nominations.
Since 1984, the alumni group has presented Outstanding Alumni and Outstanding Faculty awards each year. As the GPC student population grew to accommodate more students and alumni, the alumni award categories have grown to include Emerging Leader, Recent Alumni and Distinguished Alumni. This year, an Outstanding Staff award was added to recognize the role staff members play in student success.
These integral people of the GPC community were honored May 3 as part of GPC’s commencement ceremony. The presentations were made by Kitty Gold, interim president of the Alumni Board. Award winners include:
Meredith Hoffman, Outstanding Alumna of the Year, Emerging Leader: Hoffman is a current Computer Science major and Honors student at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus. She founded and organized the college’s chapter of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars, an honors organization; the chapter now exceeds 500 members. “She sees things that need to get done and does them,” says Dr. Gregory Murray, English professor and Honors coordinator. “If Meredith signs her name on something, she takes full responsibility for it.”
Juan Rodriguez, Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, Emerging Leader: Rodriguez, a History and Political Science major and 2013 graduate, served as president of the Dunwoody Campus Student Government Association, vice president of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars and mentor to fellow students in the GPC Educational Achievement Program. “My dream has always been to protect and fight for the rights of all people, especially those of Hispanic descent, such as myself, and others whom the political system has failed,” says Rodriguez, who plans a career in politics.
Kavya Manyapu, Outstanding Alumna of the Year, Recent Alumni: While growing up in India, Manyapu shared a special interest in space exploration with her father. After attending GPC from 2002 to 2004, Manyapu earned her bachelor’s in aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech and her master’s in aeronautics and astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is currently fulfilling her dream as a flight test engineer at The Boeing Company, where she works on the NASA Commercial Crew program for the CST-100 spacecraft and helps design safe exit strategies for pilots.
Karla Moody, Outstanding Alumna of the Year, Distinguished Alumni: Upon graduating from the college’s Nursing Program in 1990, Moody worked as a hospice nurse for 20 years before retiring in 2011. In 2012, her husband, Dave Moody, decided to honor her hard work by starting a scholarship for nursing students in her name. To date, Karla Moody has endowed two nursing scholarships in the amount of $500 each for African-American and Native-American women older than 30. She also now serves on the GPC Foundation Board.
Dr. Sallie Vargis, Outstanding Faculty of the Year: Vargis, professor of History and Honors Program coordinator on Newton Campus, serves as faculty advisor for Phi Theta Kappa, the two-year college international honor society, and various other clubs. Outside the classroom, she mentors students by taking them to national conferences and serves on various committees. “As a colleague, I have admired her work for many years, and I am often in awe of her dedication to student success and her energy in creating the environment that makes this possible,” says Loretta Gilead, English professor at Newton.
Dr. Margaret Ehrlich, Outstanding Faculty of the Year: As dean of math, computer science and engineering, Ehrlich has overseen the redesign of GPC’s learning support math classes, including helping to secure a Department of Education grant to support the changes. “Making the decision to go with this ‘flipped classroom’ approach was leading-edge, and Maggie had to get buy-in from the USG, administration, faculty and students,” says Laura Lembeck, math chair at GPC Alpharetta. “She faced challenges at every turn, but she met those challenges by educating herself, listening to her faculty’s concerns and procuring data so that she can lead our division toward good decision making.”
Anthony Edwards, Outstanding Staff of the Year: As the coordinator of Health and Wellness for Clarkston Campus, “Coach” Edwards designs fitness programs for students, faculty and staff. While managing a facility of Clarkston’s size is no small feat, what is most impressive about Edwards is his ability to manage and encourage his staff of 19 student employees daily. “He has shown me, by example, how to thrive in my place of employment, improve my lifestyle and keep going forward, always having a positive impact on others, no matter what obstacles may arise,” says Deidra Myers, current student and HWR employee.
Stephan Moore, Outstanding Staff of the Year: As director of Student Life on Clarkston Campus, Moore works tirelessly to organize and promote student life events. He is often the first in the office, at 7 a.m., and the last to leave. His mentoring of student campus leaders and his accommodations of their lives and schedules is unparalleled. “He welcomes us to speak to him about our concerns, is patient and always willing to offer advice or a helping hand,” says Salwa Ahmed, SGA secretary. “He pushes us to do our very best—to never settle for what is easy and comfortable.”