Honors College Office of the Provost

Allen Li Awarded Truman Scholarship

Auburn University student Allen Li has been awarded the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship, one of 58 nationally this year.

Li, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, is an Honors College junior majoring in political science and economics with a minor in philosophy within the College of Liberal Arts.

“Allen’s selection as a Truman Scholar is a testament to his remarkable impact on our campus community and his ability to continue influencing those around him,” Interim Provost Vini Nathan said. “His commitment to identifying important LGBTQIA+ issues on our campus and initiating meaningful solutions represents, in my opinion, the very best of our students.”

Created in 1975 by an act of Congress, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship is awarded to approximately 60 college juniors each year based on four criteria: service on campus and in the community, commitment to a career in public service, communication ability and aptitude to be a “change agent” and academic talent that would assure acceptance to a first-rate graduate school.

“I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Allen for receiving this prestigious award,” said Ana Franco-Watkins, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “This is an extraordinary recognition, as only a select few students are honored nationally. We are extremely proud of Allen for his commitment to excellence in public service.”

The Truman Scholarship Program was established to provide scholarships to outstanding students who are committed to a career in public service. Scholars receive an award of $30,000 toward postgraduate education. They participate in leadership development programs and have opportunities for internships and employment with the federal government.

“This is a richly deserved recognition of Allen’s role as an agent of change,” said Tiffany Sippial, director of the Honors College. “He has repeatedly demonstrated the power of moving toward a problem, listening to those involved, asking hard questions, being willing to take risks and then taking bold and decisive action to bring about transformative change. I am so proud of all that Allen has already accomplished and know his journey as a leader is only beginning. This is a truly outstanding honor.”

Li was awarded the Truman Scholarship thanks to his work with LGBTQIA+ issues at Auburn. As a sophomore, Li developed the Inclusive Housing Project, which specifically addresses LGBTQIA+ student issues regarding the roommate matching process. Li developed a three-phase plan with SGA that focuses on prioritizing a safe space for students who may be dealing with harassment, misgendering, fear and anxiety.

“It means a lot that an organization like the Truman Foundation recognizes the intersectionality of my communities and the work that I did through Auburn’s Student Government Association and the Human Rights Campaign,” said Li. “I am so excited to have a platform to magnify the work I’ve done at Auburn on a bigger stage and talk about issues in the LGBTQIA+ and AAPI community with leaders all around the nation.”

Li accredits his accomplishments to much of his Auburn family.

“For the endless support, reassurance, application edits, interview prep and for caring deeply about the LGBTQIA+ community, much thanks must go to Alex Sauer, Honors College coordinator for scholarships and research,” Li said. “I also must thank Dr. Paul Harris, department chair and professor of political science with the College of Liberal Arts, for supporting me academically, giving me the opportunity to study under him about one of Truman’s most influential policy decisions, connecting me with alumni that were incredibly helpful for interview prep and for being so willing to provide the space and accommodations needed for a successful interview.”

Li also acknowledges Sam Wilcox, Azeem Ahmed, Marian Royston, Ray Griffin, Sara Rains, Kelly Krawczyk, Dr. Soren Jordan, and Dr. Ryan Williamson for their support in preparing for the interview. As well as those at the Human Rights Campaign and Auburn SGA, “two organizations that spring boarded me into the field that I want to pursue in Public Service.” 

Finally, Li would like to thank Abby Stapp, Sierra Berry, Molly Grubb, and Maggie Nelson for cheering the hardest and believing in him every step of the way, and of course his parents for their love, support, and inspiration.

Staff Update: Courtney Arnold

The Honors College is proud to welcome, Courtney Arnold to the team as our Business and Administration Services Coordinator – let’s get to know Courtney!

Name: Courtney Arnold

Hometown: Pensacola, FL


Completing BS in Horticulture, Business and Counseling

Why did you choose those degrees?

I grew up on a farm and have had a passion for vegetable and fruit production, a love for helping others and believe increasing by business sense is always beneficial.

What brought you to the Honors College?

My interest in becoming a part of the team in the Honors College was due to the amazing reputation of servant leadership, student engagement and team-oriented environment. It is a great place full of amazing people!

Do you have any hobbies?

I love to garden, cook anything and everything, fish, kayak and make memories with my husband (Branden), dog (Penn) and friends and family.

What are small things that make your day better?

A good cup of creamer with a dash of coffee, positive affirmations and laughs with my husband.

Movies, TV, or Books – or all three?

All three! I enjoy turning my brain off and diving into another world!

You’d be surprised to know that I can …

make homemade jams, jellies, salsas, marinara, soups, vegetables, etc. I am the youngest of a “Rebel Canners” group. My friends LOVE to make fun of me for it.

What do you hope to accomplish here at the Honors College?

I hope to be a valuable asset that serves our team, students and Auburn University. 

What are you most excited about working at the Honors College?

I am excited to serve the students and provide a safe, productive and welcoming environment for all.

What advice would you give to an Honors College student?

You are here, you made it! Now, lets take it one day at a time, focus and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience! War Eagle!

Do you have a favorite Auburn memory / or Auburn area memory?

My memory is on its way – the day I graduate and can officially claim that I am an Auburn Tiger!

Or the 78th Iron Bowl. Kick Six, that moment will go down in history!  I will never forget, I can still feel the way the stadium rumbled that night!

Best way to contact?

Email: cea0022@auburn.edu

Staff Update: Matthew Stinson

The Honors College is proud to welcome, Honors College graduate, Matthew Stinson to our team as an Academic Advisor – let’s get to know Matthew!

Name: Matthew Stinson

Hometown: Summerdale, Alabama

Degree (s): M.Ag. Plant Pathology, B.S. Horticulture: Fruit and Vegetable Production

Why did you choose those degrees?

Early in academic career, I became interested in agriculture. It is an industry that is so fundamental that it is frequently overlooked. I wanted to understand how this global system operated and what effects it had on our everyday life.

What brought you to the Honors College? 

When I reflect on the courses and experiences that I enjoyed most throughout my academic career, each thought that comes to mind includes something that I was uniquely exposed to as an Honors student. Looking back, the advice that I received from my Honors Advisor proved to be invaluable in helping me navigate my undergraduate and graduate studies. When I saw the opportunity to join the Honors College and help provide today’s students with the same experience I had, I jumped at the chance!

Do you have any hobbies?

I love baking sourdough bread and lifting weights

What are small things that make your day better?

I enjoy taking a walk around campus and to downtown Auburn during my lunch break.

Movies, TV, or Books – or all three?

Anything in the Sci-fi and Fantasy genre!

You’d be surprise to know that I can … Swing Dance!

What do you hope to accomplish here at the Honors College? 

 I want to help provide Honors students with the best possible college experience that Auburn can offer.

What are you most excited about working at the Honors College?

Working with the fantastic Honors College staff members!

What advice would you give to an Honors College student? 

Take ownership of your value. While at Auburn, work hard to develop your skills, to learn all you can, and to build your professional network. However, do not let your value be determined by what you can or can’t do, what do or don’t know, or who you know. 

Do you have a favorite Auburn memory / or Auburn area memory?  

Yes, I proposed to my wife in the Arboretum, so it will always be a special place for me!

Best way to contact?

Through email Mws0024@auburn.edu

Matthew will serve as an academic advisor to students with he last names: Go-Mo and serve as the advisor for our Honors Serves student organization.

Staff Update: Whitney Comer

Getting to know you!

Name: Whitney Comer

Position: Assistant Director of Student Programming

Hometown: Greeneville, Tennessee

Degree (s): BS – Mass Communications; MA – Student Development

Why did you choose those degrees? Growing up, I always wanted to be a writer, so when I got to college, it only made sense to get a degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in journalism. My experience as a reporter after my undergraduate career quickly changed my mind. Since I had been very involved in co-curricular activities in undergrad, I began exploring the field of Higher Education, and ultimately ended up pursing that for my Masters. 

What brought you to the Honors College? I have enjoyed my career in Student Affairs but was also interested in pursuing something a little different than my traditional student activities role. The position with the Honors College will allow me the opportunity to focus on creating a great student experience for a specific group of students. 

Do you have any hobbies? I am a runner. I have run 11 half marathons and have a goal to complete one each year. I have also completed two sprint triathlons. I enjoy being physically active. I also love to travel. Whether it be somewhere with my family or a girls weekend for a race, I love to experience new places.  

What are small things that make your day better? I love a good cup of coffee to start the day. I usually only have one cup, but I savor it. A good run always makes things better. Also, movies, TV, or Books – or all three? 

What do you hope to accomplish here at the Honors College? I hope to create a dynamic and unique college experience for the Honor students through a variety of events and travel experiences.  

What are you most excited about working at the Honors College? I am excited to work with the students in creating the student experience they want. 

What advice would you give to an Honors College student? Embrace and enjoy your journey. Every day is a gift. 

Do you have a favorite Auburn memory / or Auburn area memory?  Actually, I ran a half marathon here in 2015. It was stormy that morning, and my friends and I really didn’t think they would start it…but they did. We also had not done the research on the course. After training at the coast, we were not prepared for the hills. 

Best way to contact? My email at wrc0024@auburn.edu

Austin: A Force for Change

Austin Blanton is a powerful force across Auburn’s campus. He serves as an Honors Ambassador, a leading member of a campus wide LGBTQ+ initiative, and as the Executive Vice President of Curricular Programs for Emerge, which keeps him busy. Not to meantion his triple major course load.

headshot of Austin

Blanton is a Honors College junior from Hoover, Alabama pursuing a triple major in Biomedical Sciences, Premed and Neuroscience. For as long as Blanton could remember he wanted to become a doctor and started to get involved with a Health Science Academy and EMT training in high school. “I love it because it combines science but also has the social aspect of face to face interaction while making an impact,” said Blanton. 

In addition to pursuing three degrees, Blanton also leads an LGBTQ+ initiative across Auburn’s campus. Blanton’s main objective is to help lead the effort to create a solid foundation and framework for this initiative. This includes bringing together action committees which help implement the agreed agenda on campus. 

Blanton biggest goal for this LGBTQ+ initiative is creating a mechanism for continuous change.

“I want this to be something that will continue to grow and happen year after year. I want to push for this to be a more equitable LGBTQ+ community at Auburn,” said Blanton. He is so excited to see the change that is already taking place throughout campus. 

“The best part of this process and initiative has been seeing the amount of support we have from the Auburn community,” said Blanton. Even at the initial prospective meeting, Blanton explained the gravity of how important this is and to see how far we’ve come. 

Blanton was blown away to see the over 100 responses to fulfill the 20 open leadership roles. 

The biggest challenge has been learning to work with faculty and administration as co-equals in this process. “It is a shift and we are working to pull together different parts of Auburn’s campus and treat them as co-equal to address this issue,” said Blanton. 

You would think the heavy coursework load and time commitment of helping lead a LGBTQ+ initiative across campus was enough to fulfill someone’s day, but Blanton is also Executive Vice President of Curricular Programs for Emerge. 

“The reason I got involved with the LGBTQ+ Initiative originated from the Catalyst Workshop that was put on by Emerge during sophomore year while I was a team leader.”

It was after that workshop that Blanton realized he needed to be doing more. 

“My experience with Emerge and the initiative is intertwined. Without the foundational knowledge from Emerge I would not bring what I currently bring to the table. However, without this initiative I would not have the opportunity to take what I learned from Emerge and apply it to a real-life setting,” Blanton noted.

Emerge has taught Blanton that every single person has the ability to emerge as a leader. 

The hardest part of balancing the schoolwork, LGBTQ+ Initiative and EVP of Curricular Programs is Blanton’s very passionate about all of them. “It is so important that I remain present for whatever task is at hand. I need to focus my time and prioritize what I am currently spending my time on,” he explained. 

To no one’s surprise, COVID-19 has impacted many things. However, Blanton has seen some of these recent impacts in a positive light. “I have really seen people push their limits and stretch their creativity in a way we have not had to before,” said Blanton. His goal is continuing to make this experience as beneficial as possible to students, even with the current situation at hand. 

In fact, Blanton plans to continue to carry over some of the changes that were made because of the pandemic. For example, they have started to do hybrid event formats to become more accessible to students and he has seen a positive impact from it. This helps students who are unavailable to attend the event and still have access to the information that was given out. 

Blanton attributes these accomplishments with joining Honors College freshman year.

Blanton was able to come in and connect with his peers and the Auburn community from the very beginning with Honors College. He was given the opportunity to get involved with ‘Week of Service’ and become an Honors Ambassador. “Becoming an Honors Ambassador has allowed me to come in touch with incoming students and show people the platform that Honors has given me to launch off of.” 

Thank you Austin for being a force of change across the Auburn University campus!

-Written by Megan Bloomquist

Staff Update: Taylor Mitchell

Getting to know you!

Name: Taylor Mitchell

Hometown: Columbus, GA

Degree (s): B.B.A in Marketing- University of West Georgia; M. Ed. In College Student Affairs Administration – University of Georgia

Why did you choose those degrees? My ultimate career goal has always been event planning. I would love to own my own business one day which inspired the marketing degree. During my undergraduate career, I was introduced to student affairs as a supplemental instruction leader. Student affairs has offered me the best of both worlds by combining my two passions: event planning and working with others, particularly college students.

What brought you to the Honors College? Being a Georgia girl, I wanted to stay in the South for the warm weather and to be close to family. I also knew I wanted to continue gaining experience in event planning and coordinating, so when this opportunity arose, I jumped at it!

Fun fact, Auburn was my first choice for college after graduating high school, so now working here has been a full circle moment for me. The Honors College allows me to work with some amazing and hard-working students and help create an engaging environment where students can learn and grow from one another.

Do you have any hobbies? When I’m not working, I’m spending time with family and friends, finding new series to binge watch, and looking for new places to explore!

What are small things that make your day better? Drinking coffee from a non-traveling mug, taking cute boomerangs of campus, and lighting a new candle

Movies, TV, or Books – or all three?  Movies and TV. However, I’m working on becoming a more avid reader!

You’d be surprise to know that I … am somewhat of a thrill seeker. I’ve even been ziplining across the Chattahoochee River!

What do you hope to accomplish here at the Honors College? I hope to help create a welcoming, inclusive, and tight-knit community for the Honors College students. I want students to feel like there is always something to do, to make a new friend, and to learn something new. Through my role, I hope to contribute to students’ overall sense of belonging and college experience by providing fun and innovating opportunities and events.

What are you most excited about working at the Honors College? I’m so excited to bring some new events to the Honors College! I’m ready to learn about what students are interested in seeing and doing and working to provide those experiences to them.

What advice would you give to an Honors College student? Take advantage of all the opportunities presented to you by the Honors College, your school or department, and the university as a whole. There are so many wonderful (and often times, free!) resources such as tutoring, writing labs, etc. available that students don’t take advantage of enough. Have fun, work hard, don’t be scared to try new things or meet new people, and help others where you can!

Do you have a favorite Auburn memory / or Auburn area memory?  I’m still new to the Auburn area, but I’m excited for the memories to come!

Best way to contact? Email me your event ideas at tbm0039@auburn.edu

Nice to meet you Taylor and welcome to the Honors College!

Taylor Mitchell Headshot

New Advisor: Savannah Woodall

Over the summer we added a new member to our advising team. Today we’d like to officially welcome Savannah Woodall to Auburn University and the Honors College. Let’s get to know Savannah, who advises students with the last names A-Gn.

Name: Savannah Woodall

Hometown: Lake Butler, Florida

Degree(s): B.S in Agricultural Education & Communication,  M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration

Why did you choose those degrees?

As the daughter of two educators, I always knew that somehow I’d work in the field of education, but I wasn’t sure exactly what the right fit would be. My bachelor’s degree program focused heavily on communication and leadership development, which I knew could translate into a career focused around helping people communicate well and grow their leadership skills. In my gap year, I began working in higher education at UF. I quickly realized that not only do I love helping people succeed, I love helping students see their potential and reach their goals even more. This led me to pursue my master’s in higher education administration.

What brought you to the Honors College?

With my background in agriculture, it was important to me to work at a land-grant institution, and from my time at Baylor University, I learned I really liked working at a mid-sized school.

Thus, Auburn was already in the running. What really drew me to the Honors College was the opportunity to work with such incredible high-achieving students. Getting to teach honors participation courses was the icing on the cake!

Do you have any hobbies?

Yes! When I’m not working there’s a good chance I’m traveling the globe (when it’s allowed) binge watching Netflix, taking photos, or finding a hole-in-the-wall restaurant to enjoy!

What are small things that make your day better?

Coffee dates, fresh sunflowers, and snail mail! I love sending and receiving handwritten cards.

Movies, TV, or Books – or all three?

All three!

You’d be surprised to know that I …

always use Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives food map to decide where I’m going to eat in a new city!

What do you hope to accomplish here at the Honors College?

As a result of working here, I hope that the students whom I’ll get to interact with will know how supported and valued they are. College is a time to discover your passions and pursue your dreams. I just want students to know that I’m here to support them through every step of their collegiate experience.

What are you most excited about working at the Honors College?

I am so eager to interact with Honors College students in both advising appointments and in the classroom! I’ve heard such great things about this group of students and can’t wait to meet everyone.

What advice would you give to an Honors College student?

Your college experience will fly by; so, make the most of your time and don’t feel like you need to rush! Take a class that you’re interested in (even if you don’t “need” it), pursue creative opportunities, and use every opportunity you have to network.

Do you have a favorite Auburn memory / or Auburn area memory?

I don’t have many memories of Auburn yet, but I’m excited to make them soon!

Best way to contact?

Email me at Slw0083@auburn.edu 

Savannah Woodall in front of War Eagle sign

Honors College Statement of Solidarity

Update: (August 2020) The Honors College at Auburn University’s statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion is now completed and can be view on our website. As always the Honors College is open to all communication about our statement. We can be reached via email at honors@auburn.edu.

In Fall 2018, the Honors College released its first mission statement to the Auburn University community. That statement, which now hangs prominently in Cater Hall, affirms our unit’s collective commitment to serve with compassion, to value the diversity of human experience, to pursue truth with courage and conviction, and to participate in the creation of a more just world. This statement of shared values is a call to action and a touchstone for our staff, faculty, and students as we pursue excellence in all forms.

While the Honors College has always valued diversity and inclusion and has worked diligently to support the needs of our faculty, staff, and students from underrepresented groups, we acknowledge the lamentable decision this unit made in February 2018 to invite a white supremacist to address Honors students following a film screening. There is no way to undo the past, but the Honors College underwent significant organizational restructuring beginning in summer 2018 that has included deep work to ensure that our actions align with our values in all circumstances. Our new mission statement—and a student-crafted diversity statement that is nearing public release—reflects this commitment to uphold the highest values embraced by the Auburn University community.   

Actions always speak louder than words, however.

The Auburn University Honors College stands alongside all members of our community who denounce the ongoing acts of violence, discrimination, and exclusion against our fellow citizens. These actions have no place in our society. While we pursue our own unit-based plans to increase diversity and inclusion within the Honors College, we also offer ourselves as continued allies to members of our community seeking real change. 

The final paragraph of our forthcoming diversity statement attests: “Awareness is the herald of change. We must first educate ourselves and seek to understand the challenges faced by those around us if we are to build a tomorrow in which we stand united in our differences. The purposeful promotion of diversity, inclusion, and equality is the foundation of our collective commitment to improve the lives of the people of Alabama, the nation, and the world.”

The Honors College stands ready to serve.

Fulbright Virtual Information Session

Students who wish to travel abroad, work, live with and learn from different cultures as a Fulbright U.S. Student are encouraged to attend a virtual Fulbright Scholarship information session on Monday, April 6 at 3 pm CST. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. This event is open to all Auburn University juniors, seniors, graduate students, or anyone with future interest in applying.  

During the virtual information session future applicants will learn more about campus and national deadlines for the 2021 scholarship, resources and support provided by Auburn University, online workshops provided by the Miller Writing Center, hear details about life as a Fulbright scholar, and have their questions answered. 

The Auburn University campus-wide intent to apply deadline is May 1, 2020.

To attend the moderated event, login to the following Zoom broadcast on April 6 at 3 pm CST. 

Fulbright Information Session

Time: Apr 6, 2020 03:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada) 

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://auburn.zoom.us/j/214104108

Connect using Computer/Device audio if possible.

Or Telephone: Meeting ID: 214 104 108

    Dial: +1 312 626 6799 (US Toll) 

        or +1 646 876 9923 (US Toll)

Or an H.323/SIP room system:

    H.323: (US West) or (US East) 

    Meeting ID: 214 104 108

    SIP: 214104108@zoomcrc.com

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

For additional information about the Fulbright Scholarship or the virtual information session, contact the Honors College Coordinator for Scholarship and Research, Alex Sauer at ras0046@auburn.edu.

Regarding Remote Instruction

Auburn University will transition from on-campus instruction to remote delivery beginning Monday, March 16 and continue through the rest of Spring semester in response to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

University officials ask that students refrain from returning to campus after spring break. University officials will subsequently determine if students will return to campus for the remaining weeks of the spring semester. 

Auburn faculty will contact students on steps they should take to continue their academic coursework.

Your Honors advisor will be available to you remotely. If you have advising or registration related questions you can email your honors advisor directly or at honors@auburn.edu. Please do not drop classes. If you have any questions about your schedule, please contact your advisor.

All Honors College events are suspended until April 10 including the Honors College Film Series, Cater Porch Talks, Cup at Cater, Career Workshops and the newly developed Honors Exhibition. 

Honors College student organizations meetings and service projects are suspended during this time. This includes Diversity in Honors, Honors Serves and Honors Congress. If you registered for the Honors Congress Formal, more information will be emailed to you shortly. We encourage organization leaders to utilize online platforms, such as Zoom, to continue any necessary organizational meetings.

Ask an Honors Student – Academic Peer Coaching will be available virtually. You will receive more information with dates, times, and platforms from Ms. Yvette Stone. 

Parents and guardians should be reminded that they can visit the Auburn University Parent Portal for more information. For the most current up-to-date information please visit Auburn’s COVID-19 information page.

The Miller Writing Center will continue assisting students with their needs. More information can be found on their website. 

All university domestic and international travel is suspended through April 10.

Dining facilities, libraries and residence halls will be closed through April 10. University officials will make arrangements for international students and others who are unable to return home. Students who have specific questions should contact the Division of Student Affairs. 

Decisions have not yet been made on spring commencement, summer study abroad programs or other events and activities beyond April 10.

The university medical clinic remains open. Those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should immediately call the Auburn Medical Clinic at 334-844-9825 before visiting the clinic. 

University officials will make arrangements for students who do not have access to the technology needed for remote instruction. 

Auburn officials urge the following safety precautions:

– Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds

– Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve

– Don’t touch your face, especially your eyes, mouth and nose

– Disinfect commonly touched surfaces, including mobile devices

Auburn’s COVID-19 information page will be updated daily.