Tau presented with Emory’s highest student honor

May 20, 2010

When Alex Kappus, Emory ’07, arrived on campus as a freshman, he had typical expectations to study hard, do some service on the side and work toward law school. A lot can change in four years.

The Emory University senior and outgoing Student Government Association (SGA) president graduates with a track record of outstanding scholarship, leadership and service that has netted him Emory’s highest student honor: The Marion Luther Brittain Award.

The Brittain Award is presented each year at Emory’s commencement to a graduate who has demonstrated exemplary service to both the university and the greater community without expectation of recognition. Candidates are required to demonstrate a strong character, meritorious service and sense of integrity. Kappus is the sixth ATO to receive the Brittain Award alongside last year’s Thomas Arkle Clark Honoree Nicolai Lundy. Kappus receives the award, which also comes with $5,000, during commencement May 10. 

Next year, Kappus, a political science major with a Chinese minor, plans to attend the University of Georgia to pursue a master’s degree in college student affairs administration. He hopes to eventually work in a university administration, and serve as a mentor to students to help them engage in the classroom and connect that with the outside world.

“I initially came to Emory expecting that I would go to law school, but from my experiences here, I feel called to work in this field,” Kappus says. “I’m happy that people pushed me to excel and reach my potential, and I hope to do the same in my career.”

Kappus has been an integral part of the Emory’s SGA, serving as a freshman and sophomore representative, executive vice president and this past year as president. Described as a natural coalition builder, he worked closely with administrators to understand and lobby for student concerns and sought to find practical and creative solutions to issues.

In addition to his leadership, he dedicated much of his time to volunteering, including service as coordinator of activities for Emory’s volunteer theme hall, through his fraternity Alpha Tau Omega, well as mass volunteering for the Catholic Center at Emory. He helped lead an Alternative Spring Break trip this spring to rebuild houses in New Orleans and worked to enhance the experience of Emory freshmen through service on the First Year at Emory steering committee and as a three-time orientation leader.

As a sophomore, Kappus founded SYNERGY, a student organization focused on building community within Emory and beyond campus. The group started the popular “Free Hugs Day” and other coordinated acts of kindness to build community within Emory. SYNERGY also has held Halloween parties for local children, raised funds for the Atlanta’s Children’s Shelter and sponsored other campus events geared at breaking down social barriers. He received an Emory Humanitarian Award for this and other work.


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