ATLANTA – Hollie Benet Preston of Tucker, Ga., received Mercer University's highest university student honor Saturday, May 6, at the commencement on the Atlanta campus. The nursing graduate received The Griffin B. Bell Award for Community Service, the only award given to a graduating student from among the University's 10 colleges and schools who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to service of others.
During the graduation ceremony, Preston received a crystal Steuben sculpture. The award is named for Mercer alumnus and longtime trustee Judge Griffin B. Bell, whom most Americans recognize as the United States Attorney General during the administration of President Jimmy Carter.
She is the daughter of Stephen and Christy of Monroe. She is a member of the Center Hill Baptist Church, Loganville.
Preston entered Georgia Baptist College of Nursing of Mercer as a first-generation, first-year college student. Having already developed strong leadership abilities in high school, she has given back to the College of Nursing and her community since first arriving on campus.
An outstanding student leader, Preston has served as secretary of the Student Government Association and as president of the Baptist Student Union and of the Honor Council. A member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and the Pi Gamma Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, she has been active with the National Association of Nursing Students and the Pi Gamma Chapter of Georgia Association of Nursing Students.
In addition to her campus activities, Preston has committed her time to assisting members of the underserved Atlanta community. She worked with the homeless at the Pavilion Homeless Ministry, served as a camp nurse for the Baptist Student Union convention, volunteered for the Red Cross in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and assisted at the Good Samaritan Health Clinic. She also worked as an associate staff member at The Living Vine, a Christian maternity home in Savannah, Ga.
Preston has a heart for missions. She leads weekly Bible studies for students and teaches Sunday School at her local church. At the end of her first year of nursing studies, she went to Los Mochis, Mexico, on a medical mission trip, where she participated in nursing activities, Vacation Bible School, evangelism, recreation ministry and ministry in the churches. In 2005, she planned and chaperoned a mission trip to New York City for middle and high school students. Following her graduation, she plans to travel to the eastern European country of Moldova on a medical mission trip.
Throughout the academic year, Preston has worked at Emory Eastside Hospital in labor and delivery and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She has averaged 12 hours per week while classes are in session and 40 to 50 hours per week at other times. It has allowed her to assume financial responsibility for her education.
About Mercer University and Georgia Baptist College of Nursing:
The founding of Georgia Baptist College of Nursing at Mercer University in 1902 was born out of a vision to establish a Baptist institution for the training of "Christian nurses" to "heal the needy sick." More than 100 years later, some 6,000 men and women have graduated from the College of Nursing, now part of one of the largest Baptist universities in the world since its 2001 merger with Mercer. The College requires students to undergo a unique three-year clinical sequence and offers clinical experiences in more than 40 of the Atlanta area's most recognized health care agencies.
Founded in 1833, Mercer University has campuses in Macon and Atlanta as well as three regional academic centers. With 10 schools and colleges, the University offers programs in liberal arts, business, engineering, education, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, law and theology. For 16 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has named Mercer University as one of the leading universities in the South.