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New UGA study-abroad fund to honoe slain alumna and French honor student Meredith Emerson

New University of Georgia study-abroad fund to honor slain alumna and French honor student Meredith Emerson

Athens, Ga. – Meredith Emerson was, her professors and friends remember, an outstanding student of French language, literature and culture during her years as a student at the University of Georgia. Now, following her tragic death and the arrest of her alleged murderer, a fund is being established in her memory at UGA to support students studying abroad in French-speaking countries.

When fully endowed, the Meredith Hope Emerson Memorial Fund for Study Abroad will be given to a UGA student each year for study in a French-speaking country, with preference given to current and former residents of the French Language Community.

“Meredith really loved her study-abroad experience while she was at UGA,” her parents, Susan and Dave Emerson wrote, supporting the new fund. “It made a wonderfully positive impression on her and changed her life. Setting up a scholarship to allow others to have such an experience is a very appropriate way of celebrating how her life was enriched through her time in France.”

Tax deductible gifts to the Meredith Hope Emerson Memorial Award for Study Abroad can be made by check or credit card. Make checks payable to the Arch Foundation and write “Meredith Emerson” in the memo line. Send checks to Suzi Wong (gifts officer for the Romance Languages department at UGA) c/o the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, 124 Old College, UGA, Athens, Ga. 30602. To make donations by credit card, go to, click on “contribute now” and donate to the romance languages account. Follow all links and at the “checkout” point, in the box for indicating special designation, write “in memory of Meredith Emerson.”

For gifts of stock, matching gifts or other questions, please call Wong at 706/542-9867.

Emerson was recipient of the Cecil Willcox Award for Excellence in French in 2005. She was a student at UGA from 2001 to 2005. An officer of the UGA chapter of the French Honor Society Pi Delta Pi, she received the Joseph Yedlicka Scholarship for Study Abroad awarded by the national organization of Pi Delta Phi in 2004.

She was a resident of the French Language Community during the academic year 2003-2004. The language communities in French and Spanish at UGA opened in the fall of 2000 to provide a means for interested students to blend their residential and academic experiences in order to enhance the overall quality of college life.

The goal of the French and Spanish language communities is to explore and promote the richness and wonder of all French-speaking and Spanish-speaking cultures through a simulated immersion environment. Residents speak French or Spanish on a daily basis through spontaneous and organized activities, such as informal conversations, movie nights, dinners, dances and parties, guest lectures, concerts, excursions, community outreach and a required weekly conversation course.

“We are so pleased that Meredith will be honored in this way,” said Peggy Bailey of Athens, her godmother. “We are comforted to know that someone who loves studying French as much as Meredith did will benefit from this.”

University of Georgia President Michael F. Adams released a statement about Emerson on January 11.

“Meredith enjoyed the type of full experience at UGA that we want for all our students,” he said. “She immersed herself in language studies from her early days as a student when she moved into one of our language learning residence halls.”

The French Honor Society at UGA also plans to announce an honor for Emerson at its annual induction of new members later this semester.

“The department of romance languages has created this award to remember and honor Meredith, particularly her love for French language and culture,” said Nina Hellerstein, interim head of the department. “She was an outstanding student and an active participant in the residential French Language Community. The fund will allow other deserving students to discover the richness and beauty of French culture and to enjoy the same kind of opportunities for intellectual and personal growth that study in France gave Meredith.”

Emerson disappeared while hiking in the North Georgia mountains on New Year’s Day, and her body was found on January 7. A 61-year-old drifter was charged in her death.