Three honored with Sullivan Awards at Troy University

Posted: Monday, 28 April 2014

TROY - Troy University has honored two students and a member of the University's faculty with the 2014 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards.

KeLeigh Edwards, a senior elementary education major, Tyler Vaughn, a senior chemistry major, and Ivan Merritt, Associate Dean of First-Year Studies and Professor of Leadership Development, were presented the awards during a luncheon on the Troy Campus on Tuesday. The recipients were also honored during the University's annual Honors Convocation on Tuesday night.

The Sullivan Award, which is presented at select colleges and universities throughout the United States, recognizes recipients for their excellence of character, humanitarian service and spiritual qualities. The award has been presented annually to a male student, a female student and one non-student at TROY since 1981. Students, faculty and staff nominate candidates for the award.

"It's appropriate that we present the Sullivan Awards at Troy University," said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor. "Our mission is not only to prepare our students to make a living, but more importantly, to make a life. We want our graduates to be equipped with the skills and values necessary to make a difference, and the Sullivan Awards honor that type of commitment to serving others."

Edwards, of Smith Station, will graduate in May and has a 3.908 grade point average. She currently serves as President of the Omicron Delta Kappa honor society, Vice President of the Order of Omega honor society and Historian of Mortar Board honor society. Selected to "Who's Who Among America's College Students," Edwards was a 2013 Greek Woman of the Year nominee and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society, Kappa Delta Pi, the Alabama Education Association, the Association for Childhood Education International and the Student Council for Exceptional Children.

Edwards was Miss Troy University 2012, and the recipient of the "Daily Point of Light" Award and a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Medal recipient. In addition to her many campus activities, Edwards has served as a coach for Upward Cheerleading; a "D-Now" leader serving as a devotional and praise and worship leader for girls in grades four through six; a praise and worship leader with 7:29 Ministries, First Baptist Church of Troy's college ministry; and a small group Bible study leader. She is a member of the United Way Youth Leadership Council and also volunteers with the Miracle League.

Vaughn, of Murphy, N.C., will graduate in May and has a 3.91 grade point average. Shortstop and team captain for the Trojans' baseball team, Vaughn was a first-team All-Sun Belt selection and a Capital One First-Team Academic All-America in 2013. Vaughn was recently the 2014 recipient of the 2014 Clements Award for the highest graduating GPA among all male student-athletes.

A recipient of TROY's Millennium Scholarship, the London Foundation Educational Scholarship and the 2014 TROY Baseball Books Scholarship, Vaughn is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, a Chancellor's Capstone Leader and a 2012 member of Who's Who of Troy University. He has been a member of the Troy University Campus Outreach and Discipleship group since 2009, a baseball Bible study leader, the TROY Chemistry Club, an Athletic Training Towers Volunteer, a Leadership Studies Panel and TROY's Athletes in Training Bible study. In addition to his many campus activities, Vaughn volunteers with McClellan's Critters Zoo, Miracle League, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Common Ground Montgomery. He also has coached Little League baseball and assisted with TROY baseball's community service efforts, including the Wounded Warrior Project.

Merritt is a member of the University's Undergraduate Academic Council, the Common Reading Initiative Selection Committee and Chair of the First-Year Advocate Award Program. He is a Troy University representative to the Alabama ACT Consortium and an active participant in the TROY Student-Athlete Mentoring Program. Additionally, he serves as a guest speaker or lecturer for IMPACT orientation sessions, various fraternity and sorority events, leadership and career preparation courses, and youth and high school leadership conferences.

An active part of the Troy community, Merritt serves as a Deacon at Bush Memorial Baptist Church, a member of the 2014 Man Up Conference Committee, Co-Chair of the City of Troy Miracle League Playground Project and a gymnastics coach at Extreme Athletics.

Merritt served 27 years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force and has served as a diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. He earned a Bachelor of Science from Michigan State University, a Master of Art from the University of North Carolina and a Master of Science from Air University.

He and his wife, Kami, make their home in Troy.

Joe McCall, lecturer in the Department of History

Ivan Merritt, Associate Dean of First-Year Studies and Professor of Leadership Development, and KeLeigh Edwards, a senior elementary education major from Smith Station, receive the 2014 Sullivan Awards at Troy University from Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor, during a luncheon on Tuesday. Also honored but not pictured was Tyler Vaughn, a senior chemistry major from Murphy, N.C. The Sullivan Award, which is presented at select colleges and universities throughout the United States, recognizes recipients for their excellence of character, humanitarian service and spiritual qualities. The award has been presented annually to a male student, a female student and one non-student at TROY since 1981.