MACON — Mercer University will present Academic All-American basketball player William L. Emerson with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, one of the two highest honors given to undergraduates, during its commencement on Saturday, May 13.
"In all my dealings with athletes over the last 30 some years, I've never known a better 'student-athlete,' and he's the first athlete to win the Sullivan award since I've been here," said Bobby Pope, Mercer's Director of Athletics for the past 17 years. "We've had some very good athletes and some very good students, but we've never had one like Will. He's as good as they come. He's a great representative for the University and I think he'll make a great physician." Emerson will attend medical school in the fall.
Emerson excelled as both an athlete and in the classroom; playing for four years on the men's basketball team and serving as captain his senior year. He was twice recognized as a first-team Academic All-American by ESPN The Magazine, the premiere academic All-America team in the United States. He was also one of only two players on the All-America team to maintain a 4.0 grade point average. Emerson was a four-time Atlantic Sun Academic All-Conference honoree and was named the conference's Male Student-Athlete of the Year for 2005.
Head men's basketball coach Mark Slonaker said that he was extremely proud of Emerson, not only for his ability on the court, but also for his ability to be involved in all facets of campus life and be a success in all of them.
"I'm glad he's being recognized becausek from the moment he set foot on campus, he really threw himself into campus life," Slonaker said. "He served in student government, did community service here and in his hometown, and he was a great student and athlete. He didn't just get tunnel vision and say, 'I'm going to get my 4.0 and play basketball.' I think everyone associated with Mercer University can take a lot of pride in Will and his accomplishments."
A St. Mary's, Ga., native and Camden County High School graduate, Emerson was a highly successful student and athlete at Mercer, but his involvement went far beyond the court and the classroom. Emerson served the student body as a Student Government Association senator for three years and as senior class president in this past academic year. He is also a leader in the community, serving as a volunteer with the Dolphin Swim Program for disabled children and with His Able Hands Respite Care Program, as well as helping Boy Scouts earn chemistry merit badges. Emerson also worked with children at baseball and basketball camps.
Emerson maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average as a biology major in the College of Liberal Arts. He plans to attend medical school and has been accepted to many of the country's top programs. In his preparation for medical school, Emerson swept the awards for all three yearlong science sequences required for entry into medical school: the 2003 Outstanding Student in Introductory Physics, 2003 Outstanding Student in Organic Chemistry and the Graydon L. Ware Rising Junior in Biology Award. Professors praise Emerson's work ethic, intellectual gifts and ability to manage his time as an athlete and a scholar.
The academic accolades for Emerson extend beyond Mercer. He recently won a prestigious NCAA post-graduate scholarship, one of only 30 graduates to do so in the country.
About the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award:
The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award is presented to the graduating student who best exemplifies excellence in character, leadership, service to the community and a commitment to spiritual values. This award was established by The New York Southern Society in 1925, and at Mercer University in 1926, in memory of Mr. Sullivan, a great humanitarian and philanthropist.
About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University has campuses in Macon and Atlanta as well as regional academic centers in Douglas County, Henry County, Macon and Eastman. With 10 schools and colleges, the University offers programs in liberal arts, business, engineering, education, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, law and theology. On July 1 2006, the University will add its eleventh academic program, the School of Music. For 16 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has named Mercer University as one of the leading universities in the South. The Princeton Review has ranked it among the top 10 percent of colleges in the nation.
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