Macon—John Michael Carroll of Waynesboro received two of Mercer University's top honors at commencement in the Macon Coliseum on Saturday, May 14. Mercer University President R. Kirby Godsey presented him with the Griffin B. Bell Award for Community Service—the only award selected from students from all of the University's 10 colleges and schools—and the Louie D. Newton General Excellence Medal—one of two top awards given to Mercer undergraduate students.
He is the son of Nancy and Michael Carroll.
While it is rare for a graduate to receive two of the University's highest honors, Carroll's commitment and service to others and his outstanding academic accomplishments made him deserving of both. During his four years at Mercer's College of Liberal Arts, he has given of himself to many worthwhile organizations that have benefited hundreds of individuals.
From tutoring elementary students to helping organize youth retreats for churches, Carroll has stood out as a leader since his freshman year. A student in Mercer's Program in Leadership and Community Service, he served as president of Mercer's Baptist Student Union and was a member of the President's Advisory Council. Along with a few friends, he helped create the Fishers Ministry, which takes sandwiches and water to homeless people who do not seek help at stationary shelters. He has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and with the Diversity House, a semi-permanent housing facility for people with HIV or AIDS.
Known for giving his time to help others, Carroll gave countless hours to assist a fellow student and close friend in obtaining a lifetime dream. After many hours of preparation and rehearsal, Ellie Potts, diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy, with Carroll's assistance, left her wheelchair and walked the necessary steps to accept her diploma during commencement in 2004.
The Waynesboro native has been active in many ministries, including working as a youth intern and interim youth minister at Vineville Baptist Church in Macon, participating in a mission trip to Guatemala, and serving as a member the Lord's Players—a theater group that goes to churches and nursing homes to perform skits and lead worship. Most recently, he postponed his first term of studying abroad at Oxford University in England in order to spend two months assisting with tsunami relief efforts in Banda Aceh in Southeast Asia.
Carroll's commitment to his studies has never faltered, having once told a professor that he sees his education as a means to an end to help him help others. One professor wrote in his nomination of Carroll for the Louie D. Newton Award, "In the courses that John had with me, he never took the easy or convenient path. At every opportunity he chose the more demanding essays on exams, the more sophisticated books for review, and the more challenging research topics upon which to base his term papers. In my 25 years of teaching undergraduates, I've never had a student who combined a passion for learning and excellence the way John Carroll does."
A member of the Theta Alpha Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies, Carroll completed his studies with a nearly perfect grade point average. He graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Christianity.
Carroll's future plans include developing construction skills in preparation for entering the Peace Corp.
About the Griffin B. Bell Award
In March 1999 Judge Griffin B. Bell was awarded the Distinguished Service Award in Trusteeship by the Association of Governing Boards and Universities. The longtime Mercer Trustee was one of two national honorees selected from the 50,000 board members who volunteer their time to higher education. For this noteworthy accomplishment, Judge Bell was presented a crystal Steuben sculpture and a framed certificate. The University, in Judge Bell's honor, was presented a $10,000 unrestricted cash award. At its April 2000 meeting, the Mercer Board of Trustees voted to use the award to establish the Griffin B. Bell Award for Community Service. This award, along with a replica of the Steuben that was given to Judge Bell, is presented annually to deserving graduating students from among Mercer's 10 schools and colleges.
About the Louie D. Newton Award
The Louie D. Newton General Excellence Medal is presented to the graduating student who best exemplifies scholastic achievement, personal integrity and character, service to the campus community and a commitment to spiritual values. The award is named in honor of Dr. Newton, former Mercer professor, Christian journalist, distinguished pastor and renowned denominational leader.