b'Ross plans to pursue a career in public relations or journalismAfter graduation, Ward plans to continue her education at VSU after graduation.and pursue a Master of Education in Elementary Education. She has also accepted a job at Sallas Mahone Elementary School in Since its important to society, I would love to be involvedValdosta, where she said, I was once a student myself.in an industry where communication is the focal point, she said. For instance, due to my passion for writing, music, andI am ready and excited to be a teacher giving back in my the entertainment industry, a career goal of mine is to one daycommunity, she added. One day, with more experience write for a national magazine such as Rolling Stone or Essence.under my belt, I hope to become an academic coach or Another career goal would be to represent a company or clientmaybe an administrator.through public relations. Her supportive family includes mother April Ward, father Max Ward, Her supportive family includes mother Wendy Ross, fatherbrother Stewart Ward, sister Allie Ward, and sister-in-law Tenley Rosco Ross, grandmothers Esther McCall and Johnnie MaeWard. Her parents, brother, and sister-in-law are all VSU alumni. Ross, great-aunt Dorothy McKoy, and aunt Pamela Ross. c ollege ofs cience& m AthemAticsJ Amesl. & D orothyh. D ewArc ollege ofe DucAtion& h umAns ervices t eressAK onyoA KuoKoof Valdosta, Georgia, is the recipient K Atiel ynnw ArD of Valdosta,of the Fall 2023 Presidents Award Georgia, is the recipient of thefor Academic Excellence for the Fall 2023 Presidents Award forCollege of Science and Mathematics Academic Excellence for the Jamesat Valdosta State University. She L. and Dorothy H. Dewar Collegegraduates summa cum laude with of Education and Human Servicesa Bachelor of Science in Biology, a at Valdosta State University. SheMinor in Chemistry, and an Honors graduates summa cum laude with aCollege Certificate.Bachelor of Science in Education in Elementary Education.My experience at VSU has been much like a typical teenage coming-of-age story, she shared. The pitfalls, in their I started my VSU experience knowing I wanted to be anobstinate obstruction, helped me grow and learn both as a elementary educator, and I stayed the course, she shared. Fromstudent and a person. I became more knowledgeable, more the beginning, I got involved in the Wesley Foundation and aresilient, and more passionate with the help of my professors Christian community that has helped to ground me with theand peers. My college career helped set the basis for the rest right priorities throughout my VSU experience. I give God theof my life, so I am proud to be able to represent an institution glory for this culminating honor. that has nurtured my growth so extensively. It feels bittersweet to be graduating, but I know that I will eventually meet the Being that I didnt get to have a full high school graduation dueeffulgence of a future yet to come. to COVID-19, I am full of gratitude to receive this award and be able to represent my college in this way. As a student at VSU, Akuoko founded and coordinated the Honors College Affinity Groups. She was an active member of As a student at VSU, Ward was an active member of the WesleyStudent Members of the American Chemical Society, where she Foundation, where she served on the Connect and Media Team,served as vice president and outreach coordinator, and the Honors and The Porch Community Church, where she served as a smallStudent Association, where she served as outreach coordinator, group leader for high school girls and participated in collegeclass representative, and first-year representative.ministry and discipleship groups. She worked as a tutor at theAkuoko worked in wet lab research on various molecular biology on-campus Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center and as a studentand plant genetics projects. She presented A Comparative Study teacher at W.G. Nunn Elementary School. of the Arabidopsis thaliana eIF2alpha Kinase, GCN2 Using Ward volunteered with Vacation Bible School events, elementaryProtein Sequence Alignment and Homology Modeling at VSUs school festivals, and South Georgia Chrysalis retreats. She2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium and Unraveling enjoyed serving in childrens ministry and having an impact onthe Rapid Signaling of Versatile Plant Stress Hormone, Methyl the world through mission trips. Jasmonate (MeJA) at the 2022 Georgia Undergraduate Research Conference. She earned a Blazer Summer Research Institute grant Wards commitment to academic and service excellence resulted into study The Effects of Methyl Jasmonate (MeJA) on GCN2 her earning repeated Deans List recognitions, the Gerald PatrellaSignaling in Arabidopsis Thaliana.Award for Outstanding Student Achievement in Mathematics Education, the VSU Alumni Association Endowment FundOutside the classroom and research lab, Akuoko volunteered Scholarship, and the Dorothy Dewar Service Scholarship.with South Georgia Medical Centers Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit and served the less fortunate through Living Bridges 24 |VALDOSTA STATE UNIVERSITY'