Honors College Welcomes Presidential Scholar Class of 2021

Posted On August 10, 2017
Categories News Tags

The Georgia State Honors College is excited to welcome our newest cohort of Presidential Scholars to campus.

  • Rachel Davis, Tyrone, Ga.
  • Manya Garg, Duluth, Ga.
  • Petra Goettel, Mount Airy, N.C.
  • Ratislav Krylov, Auburn, Ga.</li
  • Sai Maddali, Johns Creek, Ga.
  • Savannah Rogers, Mount Airy, Ga.
  • Nitheyaa Shree, Lawrenceville, Ga.
  • Brianna Smith, Chickamauga, Ga.
  • Clay Voytek, Alpharetta, Ga.
  • Zoe Webb, Decatur, Ga.

Georgia State’s Presidential Scholars arrive on campus as incoming freshmen with more than just good grades. They possess the open minds, creativity, and dedication to hard work and discovery upon which our university was founded. In return, the Presidential Scholarship covers full tuition and fees and provides stipends for living expenses and study-abroad opportunities. Presidential Scholars are also part of the Honors College and receive specialized advising and mentoring by faculty and staff.

Over the fall semester, we’ll introduce you to each of our new Presidential Scholars, a diverse group of students with widely varying interests and goals for their futures. We’re proud to call them Georgia State Panthers — and to have invested in their future success.

For now, click on each student’s name to learn a little more about them.


Tyrone, Ga.

Sandy Creek High



Math has come naturally to Rachel since elementary school, but she realized her love for the subject during her sophomore year of high school in AP Statistics. She plans to major in mathematics with a concentration in statistics. The variety of the major’s application appeals to a student with awards for essay competitions and fluency in foreign languages, and perfectly aligns with her ultimate goal to better someone’s life. Rachel plans to become a biostatistician and apply her passion for mathematics to the medical field. She intends to help the federal government create new vaccinations, or to help pharmaceutical companies design clinical trials and develop medications that could help treat or cure patients across the world. Rachel chose Georgia State for its urban location, which offers access to countless research and employment opportunities. She also anticipates the opportunity to “study both of my passions, statistics and public health, in and out of the classroom alongside students from many backgrounds.”

Duluth, Ga.

Northview High



Although Manya is undecided on a major, she aims to pursue a career with a positive impact on society. She is interested in the effects businesses and economies have on societies with low education and high poverty rates. Manya chose Georgia State for its urban location, which provides students with greater access to research and employment opportunities. However, an education in the city provides Manya with another distinctive and humane drive to excel at State. Reflecting on her campus visit to the University, Manya states she “could not help but notice a man with ripped jeans shivering in forty-degree weather as I drove comfortably in the heat of my car… Unbeknownst to this man, he has kept me motivated, humble, and grateful since the moment I saw him, and I can only hope to one day impact his life in a positive way as well.” Manya hopes to gain experience through internships and co-ops around campus, and eventually plans to open her own business in Atlanta that employs homeless men and women. She also strives to be in a position where she can help hire more people of color, create economic policies that help those in poverty, and operate businesses that give back to the community. Through her connections in the Honors College, Manya will begin her freshman year with the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute as their Brand Ambassador.

Mount Airy, N.C.

Surry Early College High School of Design

Film and Media


Petra developed her passion for film and media at a university in Brooklyn, where she attended a summer camp that teaches students to film and edit videos. Here, Petra participated in a live television taping, studied the different jobs on a television set, and learned the basics of production. Petra’s high school principal further cultivated Petra’s passion for behind-the-scenes production and enlisted her to create a video that promoted their high school. She recorded all of the video, conducted interviews, and edited the entire piece, which has since been shown and praised regularly around the school. Petra chose Georgia State University since Atlanta has become a major destination for the film and media industry. The additional benefits of the Honors College allow her more rigorous courses, a stronger support system, and the chance to fulfill her dream of studying abroad. As an out-of-state student, Petra will be hundreds of miles away from her friends and family, but believes the students and dedicated staff at the Honors College will “help me through the transition from high school student in North Carolina to a university student in Atlanta, Georgia.”

Auburn, Ga.

Apalachee High School

Mathematics and Computer Science


Ratislav plans to pursue physics and math, subjects he has favored since his childhood in Russia. Ratislav notes that the Russian education system favors students who excel in certain subjects, and his natural abilities in math set him apart at an early age. He began participating in math competitions in third grade, and eventually joined competitions in universities around Moscow as a middle schooler. Ratislav later enrolled in physics courses, where he learned problem solving skills and studied groundbreaking research in the field. Georgia State attracted Ratislav as a large research university in the city, but he was most charmed by the Honors College and its staff on Scholarship Day. Ratislav saw speeches on improvement and growth delivered by President Becker and Dean Berman reflected in the opportunities around him: “Over the last several years, the school has grown tremendously, adding new facilities and doing major renovations every year. The programs such as the Honors College and this Presidential Scholarship prove that they want the best and the brightest students.” Ratislav is enthusiastic to join the community of Presidential Scholars at Georgia State, and hopes to begin work on numerous research projects. He affirms the fitness of the university to his own ambitions and ideals, and states that, “If GSU was a person, I believe we would be best friends.”

Johns Creek, Ga.

Northview High

Computer Science and Economics


Sai intends to break stereotypes as an entrepreneur just as his personal heroes- Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, and Joe Gebbia- have done before him. Interested in both the creative and marketing aspects of business, Sai is taking a multi-disciplinary approach to technology. Particularly, he is interested in the relationship between computer and social sciences, and the ability of systems to register, interpret, and cater to human emotion. Georgia State’s downtown location allows Sai access to startups and corporations in the city, while the Honors College “allows me to be at the forefront of connecting with professors and staff.” He states that some of the appeal of an education at Georgia State is derived from “a scruffy looking entrepreneur named Jim Beach,” a former professor at the University and a personal mentor to Sai through an entrepreneurial program. While at State, Sai hopes to become a Freshman Liaison to the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute, join other coders and tech enthusiasts as part of Panther Hackers, and participate in engineering research at the immersive ExLab.

Mount Airy, Ga.

Habersham Central High



Savannah realized her passion for journalism and political science through her intelligent and hilarious high school teachers and their invigorating classes. Savannah has always enjoyed engaging with others about current events. In the classroom, she made a habit of asking questions and was even encouraged to disagree and debate with her teachers. Through their courses, Savannah learned the importance of formulating her own opinion- a process that was further stimulated by the presidential campaign, and subsequent discussions on government, religion, history, and society. She discovered Georgia State at the beginning of her sophomore year of high school, when she met a representative of GSU at a college fair. Savannah has always been drawn to Atlanta, and states that she “[loves] the progress made there- stagnant is the opposite of how anyone could describe that wonderful city.” A small-town native, she is thrilled to join the Honors College and its diverse community. While she enjoys challenging and confronting the world around her, Savannah acknowledges that she has a huge heart for her peers. “I know that individuals from rural environments can find their place at GSU and contribute to an ever-growing pool of interesting, intelligent, and brilliant young people from all across the world,” she states. Savannah anticipates the opportunities and adventures available in her new downtown environment, from co-authoring research publications to internships under the gold dome.

Lawrenceville, Ga.

Peachtree Ridge High



Nitheyaa is eager to begin her education at the leading public university in Georgia for neuroscience. She states that, “From the age of three, I’ve been fascinated by how a three-pound organ controls the entire human body. The sheer volume of information that the scientific community is yet to discover about the brain sparked my interest, and Georgia State is home to exciting neuroscience research.” Nitheyaa is particularly interested in neurological disorders, and has already completed research on epilepsy and the brain. This fall, she will begin studying the development of visual neural pathways at Georgia State’s Pallas Lab. Nitheyaa is most excited to join the close-knit community at the Honors College and become immersed in “an environment fostering education, discovery, and curiosity.”

Chickamauga, Ga.

Gordon Lee Memorial High



A wide-eyed teacher and enthusiastic classmates helped Brianna cultivate her interest in biology. Her high school Biology courses both challenged and motivated Brianna to study the various functions of the human body. She states, “I chose GSU because I’ve lived in a small town my entire life, so I’ve never been somewhere with unlimited opportunities and attractions… Attending Georgia State will allow me to learn and grow in the heart of the city while receiving plenty of advisement and help from the Honors College.” This fall, Brianna will participate in a University Assistantship and serve as a member of the marching band. Looking ahead, she plans to be involved in numerous clubs on campus, join the 1913 Society, and even learn Spanish at Georgia State.

Alpharetta, Ga.

Johns Creek High



Four years ago, Clay became the first freshman to join his school newspaper’s staff. He exchanged the simplicity of a typical freshman experience for the “fast-paced, high-stakes ecosystem” of the newsroom, and gradually progressed to Editor-in-Chief of the publication. Clay plans to enter his freshman year of college with the same tenacity he greeted high school: “Over the next four years, I hope to get involved in various student-run publications, possibly the Signal, New South and Underground, and the student radio station, Album 88. I plan to get involved in academic research, but principally at Georgia State, I look forward to being both challenged and supported by the Honors College.” Clay chose Georgia State because of the uniqueness of an education in downtown Atlanta, which offers more than “just a college town.” The additional advantage of an Honors College, its smaller classes, dedicated staff, and connections to the city appeal to a student who plans to pursue the innumerable opportunities available at Georgia State.

Decatur, Ga.

Atlanta Girls School

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


In high school, Zoe came across an article on indigenous women that revolutionized her perspective and purpose in life. She notes that, “United States history focuses little on the struggles of native peoples,” and even less on the lives of Native women; “I wanted to know the impact of the mothers, the matriarchs, and the little girls that took their first steps on the Trail of Tears.” Zoe worked with her teachers to create an independent study on Feminism and Social Justice, and plans to continue her exploration of women’s history and rights at Georgia State University. She states that, “The Honors College of GSU is an extensive research facility with a number of faculty that are knowledgeable in the areas I wish to pursue.” Zoe desires a career that empowers women, and commends a university that “is not afraid of the future that my peers and I will create.”