BRITTAIN AWARD >>

Dickerson dives into athletics, academics and service

By Mary Loftus | Emory Report | May 10, 2013

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Emory College senior Katie Dickerson will receive the Marion Luther Brittain Award, Emory's highest student honor, at Commencement.

When Katie Dickerson looks back on the Katie of four years ago, she hardly recognizes her. "This has truly been a transformative place for me— the people I've met and the experiences I've had," the Emory College senior says. 

Originally from Annapolis, Md., Dickerson loved her hometown but "decided to venture into the Deep South because I really liked the atmosphere at Emory, the diversity and that people are ethically engaged."

A multi-sport athlete in high school, she was recruited to play basketball with the Emory women's team. "I was all about being the star athlete in high school and then I came to Emory and rode the bench, but I did it with joy. I really love my team. Every day I wanted to work hard for them," she says. She also captained the Emory Lacrosse team this year. 

"Katie is probably the most well-rounded student athlete to play in our program during my tenure here at Emory," says Christy Thomaskutty, head women's basketball coach.

A double major in neuroscience and behavioral biology, and anthropology and human biology, and a global health, culture and society minor, Dickerson was one of four seniors selected to pursue master's level work as a Bobby Jones Scholar next year.

At University of St. Andrews in Scotland she will study neural and behavioral sciences and will focus her research on learning about episodic memory in children to see if the likelihood of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's can be predicted. "To get to travel around Europe and get to be part of this Bobby Jones family is just incredible," she says.

During her time at Emory, Dickerson was also involved with the Wesley Fellowship, the United Methodist campus ministry; was a Teach for America campus coordinator; was a member of Alpha Phi Omega co-ed national service fraternity; was Mortar Board honor society president; a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority; and was on the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honors Society executive board.

"There was very little sleep involved," she says, laughing. "When you have a busy schedule, a lot of it for me is just being really meticulous about planning things. My planner has gotten down to 15-minute increments now, which is really sad."

With enough credits since the end of her sophomore year to graduate, Dickerson still found time to take or audit seven classes this semester, getting in as many as she could outside her major before "they kick me out."

Ultimately, she would like to go to medical school. Through volunteer work in Ghana, she saw "how much good there is to be done in the world with a medical degree."

She was shocked to win the Marion Luther Brittain Award, Emory's highest student honor, given for service rendered to the university without expectation of reward or recognition. Last year, the Brittain award went to Dickerson's good friend and orientation leader Evan Dunn. "I know what a big deal it is, which definitely contributed to my shock," she says.

Dickerson plans to donate the $5,000 that comes with the honor to the Appalachian Service Project (ASP), a nonprofit she has worked with since high school that does free home repair for needy families throughout Appalachia. "ASP has been such a big part of my life, that sometimes when I think of money, I think of how many roofs it equates to, and that," she says, "is five roofs.