Outstanding students honored at traditional Honors Day programs

Gadsden State Community College recently held its 55th annual Honors Day events at the Cheaha Center on the Ayers Campus in Anniston and at the Wallace Hall Fine Arts Center in Gadsden. The programs spanned two days of recognizing student achievements and scholarship presentations. Almost 300 awards and scholarships were given. 

Traditionally one of the highest honors presented each spring is the Allen-Ray Award. The award, which has been presented at every Honors Day program over the past 54 years, is presented in honor of the late Sen. James B. Allen and the late Jack Ray, former CEO of the Exchange Bank of Alabama. Both men were active supporters of Gadsden State. Noah Grady is the 2021 recipient of the Allen-Ray Award. 

Grady, a resident of Altoona, received his associate degree in general studies at the May 7 commencement ceremonies, where he was a student speaker. At Gadsden State, he served as an ambassador and vice president of scholarship for Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. He was voted Homecoming King at Gadsden State as well. Grady was one of two Gadsden State students to be named to the Phi Theta Kappa All-Alabama Academic Team. In addition to the Allen-Ray Award, he received the Outstanding Achievement Award in Economics and was named a Student of Distinction. He has a 4.0 and has maintained a spot on the prestigious President’s List. Grady plans to continue his education at Jacksonville State University as an accounting student.

The President’s Cup, a designated award for students who demonstrate exceptional success in all phases of college life, is presented each year to students in both the academic and technical divisions. It is given by Dr. Kathy Murphy, president of Gadsden State. 

The Academic Division recipient for the Etowah County campuses and Gadsden State Cherokee was Xun Chen of Glencoe. She was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and was recently named to the All-Alabama Academic Team. She was also a member of Students Without Borders, was elected to the Homecoming Court and served as the president of Circle K International. Chen, who has a 4.0 GPA and was on the President’s List, received an Associate in Science in General Studies at the May 7 graduation. She plans to continue her education majoring in Accounting at JSU.  

The Technical Division recipient of the President’s Cup was Jakson Cole Spurlin of Lincoln. An Electronics Engineering Technology student, Spurlin held a 4.0 GPA and was on the President’s List despite having two jobs, one of which is running his own lawncare business. He graduated following the summer semester with an Associate in Applied Science. He plans to attend the University of Alabama, where he received the Community College Distinguished Scholarship and the Leadership Scholarship. He will major in electrical engineering. 

The Academic Division recipient for the Ayers Campus was Natasha Breanna Lorine Burcham of Anniston. She was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society and TRiO for Success Club. The married mother of two served as a tutor in Student Support Services as well. She held a 3.9 GPA and was on the President’s List and SSS Director’s List. Also at Honors Day, Burcham was recognized as a Student of Distinction. She studied Office Administration and graduated following the summer semester. She plans to sit for her Certified Coding Specialist and Certified Professional Coder tests and pursue a career at a physician’s office or nursing home. 

The Ayers Campus Technical Division recipient of the President’s Cup was Matthew Wright of Lincoln. He was a member of the senior cohort of the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education program at Gadsden State. The program allowed him to work at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama while taking classes in Industrial Automation. His was a fill-in coordinator at HMA as well as a new model trainer. He received his associate degree at the May 7 commencement exercises. Wright, a married father of two, was a member of Phi Theta Kappa and the National Technical Honor Society. He held a 3.87 GPA and was on the President’s List. In addition to receiving the President’s Cup, Wright also was named a Student of Distinction and was a winner of the Outstanding FAME Student Award.

For a complete list of Honors Day winners, see "Outstanding students honored at traditional Honors Day programs" in our News section.