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Emory announces 2020 Bobby Jones Scholars

Emory College students (from left) Samah Meghjee, Adesola Thomas, Sarah Hunter and David Kulp will spend a year studying at the University of St Andrews in Scotland as part of the prestigious Robert T. Jones Scholarship. Emory Photo/Video

Four outstanding graduating seniors from Emory University will spend the next year at the University of St Andrews in Scotland through the prestigious Robert T. Jones Jr. Scholarship program. Each year, both Emory and St Andrews host the Bobby Jones Scholars, selected from among the top students at each institution. 

Emory College of Arts and Sciences students Sarah Hunter, David Kulp, Samah Meghjee and Adesola Thomas will join the community of more than 300 scholars who have participated in the program since its founding in 1976.

Honoring the legacy of the amateur golfer and scholar who attended Emory’s School of Law, the program recognizes students who show academic excellence, exemplary character and integrity. Forging a permanent bond of friendship and collaboration between St Andrews and Emory, the scholarship aims “to perpetuate Jones’ memory in the hearts and minds of young people by creating a permanent memorial to his sense of values and character.”

“The interview committee looks forward to selection weekend each year. It presents us the opportunity to meet highly engaged, academically gifted students who have already left their mark on the Emory community,” says Joanne Brzinski, senior associate dean for undergraduate education and director of the Bobby Jones Program. “All of the finalists would be worthy scholars, which makes our job in selecting only four recipients very difficult.”

“We’ve seen the transformative effect this program can have on the lives of those selected,” Brzinski continues. “The students we have chosen represent the best of Emory. We know they will make the university proud during their year as a Bobby Jones Scholar and beyond.”

The students are free to choose their own courses of study in Scotland from among the available degree programs or a non-degree course of study. This year, two scholars will pursue a self-selected course of study, while two have elected to pursue master’s degrees in fields such evolutionary psychology, and playwriting and screenwriting. 

Meet the 2020 Bobby Jones Scholars

Sarah Hunter

Described by a recommender as “being a citizen who contributes to the community she operates within,” Sarah Hunter has excelled both inside and outside the classroom. The neuroscience and behavioral biology major has an active research profile studying the consequences of intergenerational transmission of relevant sensory cues using the olfactory system in mice as part of the Dias Lab in the Emory School of Medicine. Hunter also has co-authored two published papers: one in “Biological Psychiatry” and the other in “Genes, Brain and Behavior.” She plans to continue her study of psychological development through the master’s of science in evolutionary psychology at St Andrews.

As a first-generation college student, the Illinois native describes Emory as a place where she has met diverse people and broadened her world view. She says that Emory has allowed her the opportunity to “analyze variations of personal interactions and thought through different cultural and educational lenses.”

Hunter is active in the local community, designing activities for patients with reduced mobility and Alzheimer’s disease at Wesley Woods, tutoring children with Down syndrome as part of Emory’s Project READ and conducting scientific outreach in local elementary schools.

No stranger to competitive awards, Hunter received the Barry Goldwater Scholarship in 2019 in recognition of her accomplishments and future promise in STEM research. 

David Kulp

Majoring in interdisciplinary studies in society and culture, David Kulp is an “aspiring physician-ethicist” who brings together his professional interest in end-of-life care, decision-making and ethics. Kulp views the opportunity to study at St Andrews as a chance for him to “pursue a year of interdisciplinary coursework at the intersection of medicine and the humanities.”

“Approaching these seemingly existential questions with new knowledge from experts in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, economics and philosophy will enable me to become a well-rounded future thought-leader and practitioner of pediatric palliative care medicine,” Kulp says.

Kulp, a Henry L. Bowden Dean’s Achievement Scholar, is currently an undergraduate fellow at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry and is a member of Hillel International’s board of directors. He also serves as a member of Emory College Dean Michael Elliott’s Student Advisory Board, where he was described as “a natural leader, someone who listens carefully to others, attempts to draw his interlocutors out and listens with generosity.”

In addition to his work on campus, Kulp also serves as the associate executive director of Camp Possibilities, a year-round position coordinating programming for more than 110 youth with type-1 diabetes. He also is an undergraduate mentor in the Emory Pipeline collaboration with the School of Medicine

Hailing from Maryland, Kulp recently submitted an op-ed to the Washington Post entitled, “More than headwear: My yarmulke as a symbol of faith, not target of hate.” 

Samah Meghjee

Samah Meghjee is a 2018 graduate of Oxford College of Emory University and is on track to graduate with a double major from Emory College: one in English and creative writing and the other in media studies. Hailing from Florida, Meghjee’s ultimate career goal is to become a television writer. To that end, she is working on a short film as part of her honors project titled “Bad Muslims.” 

One recommender describing the project states that she “brings an observant eye for detail, a deft hand for writing characters, a learned appreciation of contemporary culture and media and a humor about the ways that humanity expresses itself in the most complex of circumstances.”

The Bobby Jones program will allow Meghjee to combine “courses in film studies and English and from a diversity of [other] subjects to improve my storytelling overall.” She aims to leverage the opportunity to “gain knowledge about religion, diversity and a broader understanding of the arts that fuel my interest in writing about young Muslims living in the West post-9/11.” 

Meghjee is a previous recipient of the Virgil Y.C. Eady Sophomore Service Award and produced a winning movie for the annual Campus Movie Fest event. She has served as the public relations chair for the Muslim Students Association and spent two years as a resident assistant. Meghjee currently serves as a community coordinator for Residence Life and is the design director and a staff writer for the Emory Spoke, a satirical news publication on campus. 

Adesola Thomas

“Creative thinking, empathy for others, independence of thought and an intellectual leader” are just some of the attributes ascribed to Adesola Thomas by her recommenders. The Georgia native will graduate from Emory with a double major in political science and English and plans to undertake the master’s of literature program in playwriting and screenwriting at St Andrews.

Thomas is a recipient of the Johnston Fellowship for Travel and Research from the Department of English, which she used to travel to New York City and London to further her study toward her honors thesis on the cathartic legacy of political satire, 18th century British periodicals and “Saturday Night Live.”

Away from formal academic endeavors, Thomas has distinguished herself in the arts community on campus. She has served as the arts and entertainment editor for the Emory Wheel and as a radio producer of “The Positive Planet,” her original show for WMRE (Emory’s student radio station). She also works as a program assistant in the Center for Women where she regularly hosts film screenings and free dinners for black women on campus. This work culminated in Thomas coordinating Emory's inaugural Lunafest, a short film festival dedicated to women filmmakers. 

“While Emory has emboldened my ardor for storytelling, my reverence for it was accidentally instilled within me by my upstanding Nigerian immigrant parents,” Thomas says. “They shared stories about their mutual longing for the complexities of Nigeria and the sacrifices they made to access American convenience and suburban boredom. I was enraptured by their humanity and dialogue. The sublimity I found in living room conversations inspired my zeal for screenplays.” 

Emory alternates

In addition to the four winners, Kendall Chan and Mariam Hassoun were named as Emory’s alternates.

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