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From left, National Role Model Award winners: JU students Edrick Hamilton, Keith Taylor Jr. and Alanna Rowan.

Three for four: Students win lion’s share of National Role Model awards

When it came time to recognize leadership during the recent 15th annual Minority Access National Role Models Conference in Washington, D.C., Jacksonville University students stood out in a big way: out of 150 nationwide nominees, they took home three of the four National Role Model awards.

From left, Alanna Rowan, Edrick Hamilton, Dr. Colleen Wilson, Keith Taylor Jr. and Dr. Carole Barnett.

Students Edrick Hamilton, Alanna Rowan and Keith Taylor Jr. received the recognition after being nominated by Dr. Carole Barnett, chair of the Division of Humanities, and Dr. Colleen Wilson, chair of the School of Education..

“This is a huge distinction that really reflects on their backgrounds and showcases their commitment to academics and community service,” Barnett said. “They have exhibited scholarly excellence and are extremely involved on campus, making them top role models for others.”

The National Role Model awards are a highly competitive honor that recognizes minority college students who have maintained outstanding academic records and successfully completed a major research project. Recipients are eligible to apply for grants and scholarships through the organization, and the recognition also aids them as they apply for grants and scholarships through other governmental agencies and private sources.

Among other projects, Hamilton and Rowan, both graduate students in the School of Education’s 5-year master’s program in elementary education, conducted intensive research with Dr. Tammy Ryan, Associate Professor of Reading Education, on the ability to teach reading to local elementary students through the use of iPads.

Taylor, meanwhile, a senior political science major and Jacksonville University Student Alliance president, conducted separate research projects on “Factors That Influence Presidential Elections” and “Middle East Culture and the Evolution of Body Art.”

“JU is a close-knit family, and the professors really guide you to do your best,” said Hamilton. “For example, if you’re missing from class, you know your professor is going to reach out to you to see if anything is the matter. They push you to the next level to achieve, and it sets you up for success. The proof is JU having three of four winners at a national event.”

The students traveled to Washington Oct. 4 with Barnett and Dr. Adele Hanlon, Assistant Professor of Elementary Mathematics, to receive their awards. The Minority Access National Role Models Conference assembles high-achieving innovators, recruiters, researchers, faculty, administrators, students, mentors and alumni, as well as institutions that have been exemplary in producing minority researchers.