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Science students take top 2 student awards at Commencement

5/8/2006
The spotlight was on the sciences as the two top student awards went to science majors during Austin Peay State University's Spring Commencement.

Kenneth Robertson received the William McClure Drane Award and Michael Gaither, the Harvill-Civitan Award. Although both are chosen by faculty vote, Drane Award criteria include character, scholarship, leadership and service to APSU. The Harvill-Civitan Award goes to the graduate who maximized his/her abilities and worked for the betterment of the University.

Robertson, the son of Dr. and Mrs. Ron Robertson of Dickson County, earned a perfect 4.0 grade-point average with a major in chemistry and a double minor in physics and religious studies. After turning down a full scholarship to Centre College, Danville, Ky., Robertson attended APSU on a President's Emerging Leaders Scholarship, in addition to Academic Honors, Presidential and Professional Chemist scholarships.

A consistent Dean's List Scholar, he was tapped to membership in Sigma Pi Sigma Physics Honor Society, Eta Sigma Phi Classics Honor Society, Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society. He has received top departmental honors each year.

Last summer, Robertson was selected for a research internship at the University of Georgia Center for Computational Chemistry. And, as an undergraduate, he made several scholarly presentations before such professional organizations as the American Chemical Society National Meeting and the Mid-South Philosophy Conference.

Besides activities inherent in the President's Emerging Leaders Program, Robertson's leadership at APSU includes service as a Student Government Association senator, Transitions leader, assistant coach for intramural softball, Del Square Psi Physics Club Executive Board and Chi Epsilon Mu Chemistry Club president and vice president.

Robertson was a four-year member and vice president of The Navigators Campus Ministry. He is an Adult Sunday School teacher, worship leader and instrumentalist for his church in Dickson.
His University service includes Tennessee Science Teacher's Association Demonstration Presentation, National Science Teachers' Association Demonstration Presentation, Kids and Chemistry Demonstration leader at local K-12 schools, judge of the Elementary School Science Fair and student coordinator of the Middle Tennessee Science and Engineering Fair.

Robertson plans to continue graduate studies but, to date, has not decided where.

A Clarksville resident, Gaither, who majored in physics at APSU, is the son of Tina and Scott Tadsen, Clarksville, and Scott Gaither. He plans to continue graduate studies next fall.

He came to APSU on several scholarships, including an Academic Support Tutoring Scholarship, Leadership Scholarship and a Society of Physics Students Scholarship.

Among Gaither's many volunteer activities, he spent countless hours at night and weekends to restore and maintain the Sundquist Science Complex aquarium. He also served two years as the organizer of the Community Science Outreach program. He has been a faithful volunteer worker for G.H.O.S.T., Help-an-Elf Program, Plant the Campus Red, ExpOlympics, Rivers and Spires Festival and the Multiple Sclerosis Walk.

He is active in his church, singing in the choir, participating in drama programs and playing in the church's volleyball league.

A member of Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, Gaither served as president and vice president of Del Square Psi Physics and Astronomy Club, as well as treasurer of Chi Epsilon Mu Chemistry Club. He also served two years as a Student Government Association senator.

As an undergraduate, Gaither played a major role in showing other students and the larger community that physics can be fun. He taught “Physics is Phun” for the APSU Center for Extended and Distance Education. He also was a teacher for the local High School Upward Bound program and served four years as a volunteer peer tutor. During his junior and senior years, Gaither was a judge for the Middle Tennessee Science and Engineering Fair.

Other students nominated for the Drane Award were Amber DeMore, Michael Gaither, Andria Huggins, Jordan Richardson and Feras Sadik.

Other students nominated for the Harvill-Civitan Citizenship Award were Amber DeMore and Andria Huggins. — Dennie B. Burke