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2023 Georgia Southern Alumni Association Awards Honor Alumni Achievements and Community Engagement

Paul Newman, retired Major General Randall V. Simmons, Jr., Matt Wise, Ronny Just, Mary Githens, Georj Lewis, Ed.D., Commissioner Russell McMurry, Michelle McMurry, John Havenar and Cecilia Arango. / GSU

Georgia Southern University’s Alumni Association recognized the highest levels of achievement and service among the University’s alumni during the 2023 Alumni Awards ceremony, held at the Statesboro Convention & Visitors Bureau on April 14.

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“As we gather here tonight, I am honored to recognize our outstanding alumni for their remarkable service, exceptional business acumen and overall excellence,” stated Georgia Southern President Kyle Marrero at the event. “With a growing network of more than 146,000 Georgia Southern and Armstrong alumni, each success story further strengthens our University’s reputation as a center for excellence.”

This year’s full list of winners include:

Georj Lewis, Ed.D. (’07)  — Talon Award

Ronny Just (’84)  — Marvin Pittman Award

Cecilia Arango (’02) — George & Lucy Armstrong Award

Commissioner Russell McMurry (’92) and Michelle McMurry (’91) — The Sweetheart Award

Lisa N. Herring, Ed.D. (’07) — Professional Achievement Award

Matt Wise (‘08) — Alumni Service Award

Retired Maj. Gen. Randall V. Simmons, Jr. (’95) — Community Hero Award

John Havenar (’22) — Outstanding Senior Award

In addition, the Alumni Owned Business Awards were given to the following top alumni-owned businesses:

Coastal Oral & Maxillofacial — Mark Clayton, DDS (’17)

Latin Chicks Restaurant and Mint to Be Mojito Bar — Mary Githens (’08)

Statesboro Real Estate — Paul Newman (’05)

“These exemplary alumni, who lead with distinction and honor in their respective industries, remind us of the transformational power of education and its importance for our students,” said Georgia Southern’s Director of Alumni Relations Ava Edwards. “We are grateful for their impact around the world and at Georgia Southern University.”

To view the award criteria, visit


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