Campus News

Foundation Fellows: UGA trumps other options for higher education

It’s been a heady few months for Foundation Fellow Chloe Thompson, who in May shared the speaker’s platform at undergraduate Commencement with Time Inc. editor-in-chief John Huey, and in August was one of the students featured in a Time magazine article entitled “Who Needs Harvard?”

The international business major from Lithonia was chosen by her classmates as the student speaker at Commencement and served as the opener for Huey, who graduated from UGA in 1970 with a degree in English literature and joked about being less than a stellar student. Not so for Thompson, who is now a research analyst with a Wall Street investment company.

Her list of accomplishments includes being named a First Honor Graduate, a distinction reserved for students who maintain a perfect 4.0 GPA during their college career, and being chosen a Leonard Leadership Scholar in the Terry College of Business. Not to mention receiving the Foundation Fellowship, UGA’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarship.

In fact, it was the Foundation Fellowship that enticed Thompson to choose UGA over a slew of other schools.

“I received scholarship offers from other colleges,” she said, “but the travel opportunities of the Foundation Fellowship were unmatched. I had never been out of the country and the idea of traveling around the world really sealed my decision.”

Freshman Lucas Puente also found the lure of the Foundation Fellowship unbeatable. Accepted to Stanford, Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania, Puente-profiled in a spring Wall Street Journal article, “Saying ‘No Thanks’ to the Ivy League”-picked UGA when he compared price tags. As a Foundation Fellow, his out-of-state tuition and other costs were covered, while attending one of the other schools would have meant paying about $48,000 a year, according to the article.

“With everything they offer,” Puente said of UGA, “no other school can really match that.”

Puente is one of 20 freshmen in the Foundation Fellows program, chosen from 900 applicants-all with exceptional academic credentials. The average SAT score for the new class is an impressive 1501; their average high school grade point average is 4.19 on a 4.0 scale (indicating extra points for advanced placement courses).

The Fellowship recipients are enrolled in UGA’s academically rigorous Honors Program, where they find themselves in good company. The 400-plus freshmen in the Honors Program are the most academically talented in the program’s long history, with a record-breaking average high school GPA of 4.11 and average SAT of 1446.

Students in the Honors Program work closely with faculty in their respective majors and complete research projects that can turn into Honors thesis papers, symposium presentations or publishable journal articles.

Students in the Honors Program have won a significant number of major awards in recent years-including Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater and Gates-Cambridge scholarships-and have gone on to prestigious graduate programs, according to David Williams, Honors Program director. Recent alumni are studying law at Yale and Duke, public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and have entered M.D./Ph.D. programs at Washington University and New York University.

“Our students are well-equipped to compete with students from any other institution in the country,” Williams said.

And they’re well-traveled, particularly the Foundation Fellows. As Time noted, Thompson worked in a nursing home in Costa Rica and orphanages in Guatemala and Peru during her four years at UGA and took part in study-abroad trips to Vietnam, China and Egypt, with travel costs covered by her Foundation Fellowship.

“Traveling around the world really opened my eyes,” she said. “It taught me how to retain my identity, while still being respectful of other cultures and ideas.”