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Jeremiah Stevens is so excited to be a top Dawg, he’s chomping at the bit.

The University of Georgia Foundation recently announced names of 15 incoming freshman selected to receive its most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship, and Stevens, a 2010 graduate of Northwest Whitfield High School, was among them.

“I cannot wait,” he said. “Whether I would have gotten it or not, I would have still gone down there and loved it. I’ve wanted to be a Dawg since I had any idea what college was.”

The program covers the full cost of tuition at the university, and the students also participate in travel-study programs, research conferences and dinner-seminars with faculty from the university, and are mentored by faculty members and senior Foundation Fellows.

Recipients were chosen from 948 applicants, and in-state students will receive an annual stipend of $9,000 in addition to the HOPE Scholarship. The Fellows chosen had an average grade point average of 4.2 and an average SAT score of 1,553, board chairman Sam Holmes said, and were vetted through an interview process. Holmes said Stevens’ honor is a “great testament” to the community and the caliber of teachers in it.

“It is really one of the absolute top scholarships you can get at any public or private institution in the United States,” he said.

The scholarship comes with a non-renewable $3,000 stipend Stevens can use for travel during his four years at UGA as well as opportunities for several trips.

“There are spring break trips every year, like freshmen go to New York and D.C.,” Stevens said. “The seniors just got back from Berlin. Then, all freshmen spend a Maymester at Oxford (University in England).”

There are also cultural, academic and networking events.

The Georgia Bulldogs football team initially captivated Stevens’ attention, but as a college student looking for a good deal, UGA offers the best “return on investment” of any university in Georgia, he said. Stevens plans to major in political science and economics and later go to graduate school.

“Economics is tremendously practical because it is the science of making the right choice,” he said. “We think about it in terms of money. You can apply it in terms of anything ... The problem of economics is (that) I have limited resources and I have aspirations and desires that are not limited. How do I go about using my limited resources to satisfy my desires?”

The answer to that question is one Stevens said he’ll have to address in the arena of study habits and juggling multiple assignments and deadlines. He said he does not have a specific career path in mind, but he does plan to conduct research in the human trafficking problem in Atlanta and find a way to help stop it. Classes in political science should help, he believes.

“At least now, if you’re looking to make a difference in this country, whether or not you actually work in government, you’re going to be dealing with government,” he said.

Stevens has received several honors at Northwest, including, according to his father David, receiving just 30 points off a perfect score on the SAT, including the writing section. The three-part college entrance exam is used by most universities in considering applications and awarding scholarships. Stevens was also selected for the United States Senate Youth Program which included a free trip to Washington and a chance to meet many government officials.

Stevens was also Northwest’s STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) student. The award is given to a high school senior at each participating school who has the highest SAT score on a single date and is in the top 10 percent of his or her class. Stevens credits former principal Carolyn Towns for much of his success as well as his STAR teacher, Rebecca Jenkins.

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