May 9, 2022

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Kasmira Smith, Student Intern

VSU Honors Vanessa Okojie with 2022 Annie Powe Hopper, Outstanding Student Awards

Vanessa Okojie is pictured with her parents, Joseph and Clarice Okojie.

Vanessa Okojie is pictured with Dr. Robert Smith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, and Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of Valdosta State University. 

52038223004_d39c8dac52_k.jpgVanessa Okojie is pictured with Dr. Mark Smith, associate dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; Dr. Robert Smith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; and Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of Valdosta State University. 

VALDOSTA — Vanessa Okojie of McDonough, Georgia, is the recipient of the 2022 Annie Powe Hopper Award at Valdosta State University.

“Receiving the Annie Powe Hopper Award is a surreal and humbling way to culminate my time at VSU,” she said. “To represent the university, my family, my college, and the village that supported me by receiving this is incredible. I return all of the glory to God, who has directed all of my steps thus far.”

Known as the highest honor bestowed upon a VSU student, the Annie Powe Hopper Award is presented annually to a senior who represents the university’s high academic standards and exemplifies its traditions of excellence. It was first presented on May 2, 1962, and is named in honor of the institution’s first dean of women, who arrived at what was then known as South Georgia State Normal College in 1920 as a teacher.

South Georgia State Normal College became a four-year institution in 1922 and the name was changed to Georgia State Womans College. In the role of dean of women, Hopper insisted on proper etiquette in all areas from behavior to dress. She believed that a college education afforded students the opportunity to engage in a higher level of knowledge and the pursuit of an advanced critical thinking process, and she guided her female students to make choices that were noble and worthwhile in their lives. She retired in 1943, seven years before the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia declared the institution a coeducational one and changed the name to Valdosta State College.

Okojie also earned VSU’s 2022 Outstanding Student in Humanities and Social Sciences Award, which is presented to a College of Humanities and Social Sciences student with a record of academic excellence and distinguished service inside and outside the classroom. 

Okojie graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science during VSU’s 233rd Commencement Ceremony on May 7.

Okojie plans to spend a year working in the legal department of a financial startup to gain experience before going to law school. She solidified her career goals after completing an internship with the law office of John D. Holt PC.

As a student, Okojie served as president of VSU’s Forensics (Speech and Debate) Team. She was nationally ranked as fourth best debater by the Junior Varsity International Public Debate Association from 2020 to 2021. She served as vice president and president of the Alpha Beta Mu chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha: The National Honor Society for Political Science. She was appointed director of academic affairs with the Student Government Association and selected to serve on the University Council Plus.

She has presented research at VSU’s Undergraduate Research Symposium and the Georgia Political Science Association’s annual conference. She presented more research at the 79th annual Midwest Political Science Association Conference in Chicago, Illinois, in April. Her research focuses on various topics, from presidential gains of power to electoral success to education disparities.

Okojie’s commitment to academic, leadership, and research excellence resulted in her earning repeated Dean’s List honors, the Georgia Power Recruiting and Retention Scholarship, the Regents’ President’s Choice Scholarship, the Debate Team Scholarship, and the 2022 University System of Georgia Academic Recognition Day Award. She was a finalist for the Department of Political Science David W. Winder Best Paper Award.

Okojie, 21, is the daughter of Joseph and Clarice Okojie.

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