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Political Science Major Patrick Austin Wins Kaufman Award for Academics, Public Service

Patrick Austin, a senior political science major with a 3.7 grade point average, is the winner of this year's Kaufman Prize at Old Dominion University.

The $10,000 award is presented to a graduating senior "who has exerted an exceptional and constructive influence on the university, its students or the community by demonstrating the highest qualities of leadership and service." Landmark Communications established the award to honor Charles L. Kaufman.

Austin, who is from Conyers, Ga., received the award at the Student Honors and Awards Reception and Dinner on May 7.

In addition to his outstanding performance in the classroom, Austin served as editor-in-chief of the Mace & Crown for the 2008-09 school year. For the two previous years, he was sports editor at the student newspaper.

A member of the Dean of Students Leadership Council, Austin was also involved in a number of community activities, both on and off campus.

He served breakfasts to ODU students with morning classes through the Good Morning Monarchs program; worked as a community organizer for Barack Obama's presidential campaign; was a manager with Community Advancement of Norfolk; and participated in Keep Norfolk Beautiful in March of this year.

Austin named Joseph Cosco, associate professor of English, as his most inspirational faculty member.

In his essay applying for the Kaufman Prize, Austin wrote that he was a "hermit" during his first semester at ODU. "My dorm room was a sanctuary in which I spent countless hours in a general malaise. I was perplexed at the situation I found myself in, considering everyone said college was going to be the best time of my life."

Austin wrote that his college experience changed for the better when he decided to get involved in extracurricular activities.

"It was evident the true joy of college life isn't merely found in the classroom or in the confines of a dormitory. The most fulfilling aspect of college life is found in the community," he said.

Austin, who will graduate on Saturday, plans to pursue a master's degree in public policy.

The three other finalists for the Kaufman Prize, who were also recognized at Thursday night's student awards dinner, were Amy Daugherty from the College of Sciences, Meredith Brier Lee from the College of Arts and Letters and Rachel N. Ririani from the College of Business and Public Administration.

This article was posted on: May 8, 2009

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