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Austin Gibbons

George M. Abney Award
(Grady College Outstanding Honors Student Award)

This award was created to honor Professor George Abney, who retired in 1993 after more than 40 years at the university, including 25 as the Honors coordinator of the Grady College and the college representative on the academic policy board of the Honors Program. The Grady College presents this award annually to the graduating Grady senior who has achieved the most impressive record in the Honors Program.


Majors: Political Science and Public Relations
Certificates: Public Affairs Professional Certificate, Public Affairs Communications Track; Personal and Organizational Leadership
Hometown: Stone Mountain, Georgia

Activities/Honors: Graduating summa cum laude, Outstanding Senior Leader, Grady College Ambassador, first place winner in public speaking in the Department of Communications Studies, recipient of the George M. Abney Honors Award and the Presidential Award of Excellence, member of the Student Government Association, Arch Society, Road Dawgs, Digital Dawgs, Wesley Foundation, Public Relations Student Society of America, Leadership UGA, Honors Policy Scholars, Carl Vinson Fellows, Homecoming Spirit Squad, Blue Key Honors Society, Pi Sigma Alpha, Kappa Tau Alpha, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, and participant in the Grady College Summer in D.C. and Governor’s Office Internship programs

What I like most about the Honors Program: The Honors Policy Scholars Program exposed me to some of the Honors Program’s greatest people. Likewise, becoming a policy scholar provided the exclusive opportunity to apply for a fellowship with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. The Vinson Fellowship, followed by a communications internship with the Institute of Government, sparked my passion for economic development, local government, and UGA’s public service mission.

Why I chose my major(s): I was raised by a Democratic mom and a Republican dad who made their views known at the dinner table but who also stressed the importance of respect for all sides. Everyone has their own story, their own identities, and their own processes of socialization that shape their political views. Through talking with my parents and joining my mom at political functions in Gwinnett County, I developed a love for all of these stories and for the political process. That led me to choose political science at a very early age. In high school, my dad told me about a field called Public Relations as a way to hone my skills for writing. At first, I was skeptical, but my introductory courses sold me. Admittedly, I am in the small minority of students who have never changed their major.

Post-graduation plans: I am actively pursuing career opportunities in public affairs and government relations with the aim of working in Atlanta, Athens, or D.C.