By Joel Hall
From day one of college, Clayton State University senior Julie Kornder set her sights on being a high achiever.
She was surprised, however, when last week, she was awarded the university's highest academic honor-- the university's 2008 Chancellor's Academic Recognition Award.
The prestigious award -- granted to only one student per year -- honors students who have risen above their classmates in academics and personal development.
Kornder, a biology major and chemistry minor from Forest Park, received the award recently at Spivey Hall during the university's annual Academic Honor's Convocation.
Potential recipients are selected from a handful of students who have achieved the highest grade point average in their respective colleges. Kornder was recommended by the College of Arts and Sciences -- the university's largest academic department -- and was ultimately chosen as the university's overall winner.
Michelle Furlong, department head of Natural Sciences at Clayton State University, said that Kornder's 3.94 GPA is not the only thing that sets her apart from other students.
"There are people at the university who have a 4.0 GPA ... but all they do is school work," said Furlong. "She is so multifaceted. She has her hands in everything and she is still able to do well."
Furlong noted her former research assistant Kornder has also served as the service chair of the Clayton State Honors Association, vice president of the Clayton State Science Association, and secretary of the Golden Key Honor Society. She added that Kornder plays the clarinet, works as a volunteer lifeguard at the Forest Park Recreation, and has been dancing jazz and tap for the last 15 years.
"When you meet her, you would never think that she is a brainiac," said Furlong. "She doesn't have an air of superiority ... she is very normal."
Steve Burnett, an associate professor of biology and academic advisor to the Clayton State Science Association, called Kornder a "hardworking," yet "cheerful," leader.
"She works until she gets it," said Burnett. "She isn't satisfied until she understands it. When she doesn't do well at something, she doesn't fall into despair.
"I went in feeling really confident," that Kornder would win the chancellor's award, Burnett added. "It was good to know that my opinion was not overly inflated ... I think it was a well-deserved award."
Kornder has been accepted to attend the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. While she aims to be successful, she was surprised to win the chancellor's award.
"There's a biology senior award ... I was definitely aiming for an award," said Kornder. "It was a surprise that it was a chancellor's award because that is a bigger deal.
"I'm not like a college student that goes out and parties," Kornder added. "I go to the recreation center and volunteer ... that's what I do for fun."