Pillar of PEGS


Honors student epitomizes scholarship and service

KENNESAW, Ga. (Mar 10, 2020) — Danielle Griffin was so impressed by Kennesaw State University’s Honors College, and specifically the President’s Emerging Global Scholars (PEGS) program, that KSU was the only school she applied to attend.

“I came to Kennesaw State because of the Honors College and PEGS,” Griffin said. “I didn’t want just a regular college experience, and I am truly thankful for this opportunity.”

Through coursework, community involvement and international trips, the two-year PEGS program helps students to grow as scholars, leaders and innovators. Griffin, a public relations major in the School of Communication and Media, credits PEGS not only for challenging her academically, but also providing an environment for her to succeed.

“I would not be the person I am today had it not been for PEGS,” Griffin said. “Honors gave me a community in which to grow, and they were very supportive. They really help you get out of your comfort zone because you always know you can have help to push you back up if you fall. It has been awesome.”

Danielle Griffin

Griffin, from Columbus, Ga., is this year’s recipient of the Ralph Rascati Outstanding PEGS Student award. Named for the founding dean of the KSU Journey Honors College, the award is given annually to a second-year PEGS student who demonstrates strong scholastic performance and service to others.

“Danielle Griffin embodies the three pillars of PEGS – service, leadership and intercultural competency,” said one of her instructors, Casey Waldsmith. “Since her first day as a member of the PEGS cohort, Danielle has been passionate about making a difference in the community and in the lives of others. She is always the first to volunteer her time.”

For example, Griffin was part of a group of Honors students who showed their appreciation to emergency room nurses who were working on New Year’s Eve. The students put together baskets of snacks and delivered them to local ERs, along with thank-you notes written by Griffin.

Griffin also is a peer mentor, serving as a resource for Honors students as they navigate their first years of college, and she is active in KSU’s Conversation Partners program that pairs international students with native English-speaking partners. She is teamed this semester with a Chinese student, and the two of them meet as often as possible to enjoy friendship and learn more about each other’s language and culture.

“Danielle Griffin is the consummate student and, perhaps even more importantly, an invaluable member of our broader KSU community,” said Michelle Miles, Kennesaw State’s director of national and international scholarships and fellowships. “There is no doubt that Danielle has and will continue to benefit all those with whom she comes in contact.”

Griffin credits her parents, other family members and close friends with instilling in her the importance of helping people and serving her community. She now is committed to setting the same example and being a role model for younger people, such as her nieces and nephews.

“I got here with the support of so many other people that I want to pay that forward and represent everything they taught me,” Griffin said. “I’m passionate about making a difference and contributing to society because it’s about more than ourselves.”

Griffin plans to continue that commitment after she graduates from Kennesaw State. That should be sometime next year as she is on track to graduate in only three years’ time after bringing Advanced Placement credits to KSU and carrying heavy course loads, including during summer.

Griffin acknowledged that, “in a dream world,” she would work at a church or in ministry, but the likelier scenario will be to volunteer in the community while working full time in PR. One possibility could be to collaborate with her mother, Lamona Griffin, who is a licensed counselor and certified clinical trauma specialist in Columbus.

“We might put our heads together and try to do something like a mental health nonprofit,” Griffin said. “I know that mental illness is at an epidemic proportion now, and I’d like to help in some way. We’re going to see what post-graduation brings me.”

– Paul Floeckher

Photos by Jason Getz

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu