Student Spotlight: Morgan Gaston

Meet Morgan: Morgan Gaston after being crowned Homecoming Queen.

Morgan is the newly elected Miss Homecoming of Auburn University. She was born and raised in Guntersville, Ala., and is a senior studying exercise science. Aside from her responsibilities as Miss Homecoming, Morgan is also a member of Project Uplift, a social sorority, Auburn Cru, International Buddies Program, intramural sports, as well as a regular bible study.

Why did you want to be Miss Homecoming?

I wanted to make Auburn University a better place for international students! Auburn is always changing, molding, and becoming better. This was an area where I could visualize Auburn’s improvement. It is tangible, and it is achievable.

How did you get involved with your platform?

I went to China last summer where I was welcomed with such kindness, I never felt out of place. I knew that I hadn’t provided the same experience for our international students, so I joined the International Buddy Program and got involved with the international students here in Auburn. From this, I became more aware of the problems they faced here on a daily basis.

What are your goals for the term?

Morgan Gaston on the field after being crowned Homecoming QueenI am currently working with Campus Dining and the International Student Organization to extend the ISO social hours that have traditionally been on Fridays at 4p.m. We are trying to make them better known and accessible, while also trying to help expand what they already have going on. Also, some groups on campus have already established an international liaison, which was the goal of the campaign, in their campus organization. We are meeting with the Student Government Association’s inclusion and diversity officers to further this initiative further on campus and throughout more organizations. These liaisons bring international students to events and meetings and make the feel more involved in those organization and on campus as a whole.

How did you decide to come to Auburn?

I actually grew up as an Alabama fan, but, after one visit, I was captivated by the Auburn family and culture. It was the way that Auburn felt like home.

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

I was once in a rock slide while trying to summit a mountain, Mount Shasta, in northern California. It was actually a very close call.

What are your hopes after graduation?

I am going to University of Alabama in Birmingham next year for Physical Therapy school! That will be 3 years, and then I’m hoping to find a job in an Outpatient facility (maybe here in Auburn!).


Written by: Grace Fabyan

Remembering Bettye Burkhalter

Photo of Bettye B. Burkhalter, former Vice President of Student AffairsFormer Auburn University Vice President and Associate Provost Bettye B. Burkhalter, 75, of Gordo, Alabama, passed away Thursday, May 4, at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa after a long battle with ALS.

Burkhalter retired from Auburn in 2000 as vice president and associate provost and professor emerita. She was a University of Alabama alumna and held five degrees including two doctorates. As a graduate faculty professor in Auburn’s College of Education, she also served as special assistant to the vice president for research; director and professor of the Auburn University Economic Development Institute; and associate provost for assessment and quality improvement and academic affairs.

Her career began as a teacher in the classroom and moved into leadership positions within the Birmingham City School System. In 1978, she became part of the Auburn Family. Professionally, she was recognized with numerous prestigious awards both nationally and internationally through her work at Auburn. Many of the awards were for pioneering new programs and concepts that expanded the horizons and approach to education.

She loved Auburn University and the town of Auburn, affectionately known as the “loveliest village on the Plains.” Contributions to the community were impactful through her participation on the Auburn Industrial Development Board. The Economic Development Institute at Auburn University was developed by her and became a springboard for many collaborations and partnerships stimulating economic development through partnerships within education, business, industry, government and communities.

She was particularly proud of her contribution to the space program when she was contracted by the governor’s office to develop curriculum for Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. This is one example where her creativity and hard work created a legacy that will continue to impact generations to come.

Her research had an international audience and was translated and disseminated in over 22 countries. Being elected as a lifetime Bettye B. Burkhalter and the Student Communication Board.member of the International Academy of Astronautics in Paris, France, was one of her most cherished achievements.

Post retirement, she wrote a three-volume series of creative non-fictional books telling the story of her ancestors and the pioneers that built the foundation of America.

Although she was a business woman with a teacher’s heart that made countless contributions, her greatest legacy is her impact on her family. As a mother and grandmother, she taught her daughters and granddaughter to be independent, confident and successful women. She loved her family immensely and was always there in whatever capacity was needed.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Shiloh Free Will Baptist Church Cemetery Fund, P.O. Box 1022, Gordo, Alabama 35466.

by Charles Martin, Office of Communications and Marketing

Student Government Association introduces the first Creed Week

AUBURN UNIVERSITY- The Auburn University Student Government Association created a new tradition, Creed Week, from Feb. 27 through March 2, 2017. The week was started in conjunction with Student Affairs Office of Student Conduct in order to celebrate the history and spirit of the Auburn Creed, as well as promote what it really means to “Be the Creed.”

Each day of the week is dedicated to different lines from the Creed. SGA partnered with organizations across campus to plan coordinating events and activities.

Monday, Feb. 27, marked the first day of Creed Week, promoting lines in the creed that highlight the importance of hard work and the value of education. SGA passed out free scantrons, a commonly used test-taking tool, on the concourse throughout the day.

The week continued on Feb. 28, promoting lines of the creed that focus on maintaining a sound mind and sound body. SGA promoted maintaining a “sound mind” by passing out bubble wrap on the concourse to encouraging students to “Pop Their Problems.” Along with this, the Be well with Active Minds’ Be Well Hut was on the concourse handing out buttons with messages from the Creed. Group Zumba on the Student Center green space and group yoga later in the afternoon encouraged a “sound body.” The day concluded with an Auburn vs. Samford baseball game in Plainsman Park, where students could receive a free hot dog with their Creed Week stickers.

Wednesday, March 1, was dedicated to lines of the Creed encouraging obedience to the law and valuing the human touch. SGA gave students a chance to “Sit Down, Make A Friend” with the Auburn Police Department and Campus Police on the concourse. To showcase the importance of human touch, the students were given a chance to spin the wheel of kindness on the concourse.

March 2 was dedicated to believing in “my Country… doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God,” which was supported by “Thank A Vet” day on the concourse. Students were invited to write letters to deployed alumni with ROTC, Silver Wings, Auburn alumni and student veterans.

The week ended on Friday, March 3, highlighting the line: “I believe in Auburn and love it.” The day featured a tailgate with the WEGL 91.1 team and Tiger Dining on the Student Center green space. A petting zoo on the green space followed.

“This year’s Creed Week was a great success,” said Jennings Bowden, SGA executive vice president of Communications & Marketing. “The first year of any program has many challenges and sometimes barriers, but the Creed Week directors in SGA did a phenomenal job planning and executing a great week. We are excited use feedback and things we learned this year to improve upon things for the future.”

In 1943, George Petrie, Auburn University professor and first football coach, wrote what he believed to be the ideals of the Auburn Family. His Creed became one of Auburn’s most sacred doctrines and outlines what it means to be an Auburn man or woman.

For more information and future SGA events, please visit the Auburn SGA page:

Written by Grace Fabyan

Auburn University Student Affairs Faculty Members Recognized by NASPA

AUBURN UNIVERSITY- On Jan. 20, 2017, three members of Auburn University Student Affairs faculty received NASPA awards, two of which were awarded at the 2017 National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Region III Alabama Drive-In Conference in Birmingham, Alabama. NASPA is a national association for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession.

Tess Gibson, coordinator for Parent and Family Programs, is this year’s recipient of The Rising Star Award. Gibson received the award at the NASPA Region III Alabama Drive-In Conference. This award recognizes a new professional with no more than four years of experience in Student Affairs. The recipient must “demonstrate initiative, contribute to the programs that address the needs of students and institutions, creates campus environments that promote student learning and personal development and contribute work that supports advancements of student support in higher education,” according to the NASPA website.

“I am continually learning from meeting colleagues in NASPA and from reading articles published by the organization,” said Gibson. “I would say learning the best practices has helped shaped my office and the services I am able to provide.”

Shannon Cantlay, graduate advisor for Leadership and Service, is this year’s Future Leader Award, an award which is only awarded to one graduate assistant from the entire state of Alabama. Cantlay received her award at the NASPA Region III Alabama Drive-In Conference, as well. Cantaly was recognized for her intentional and effective work with Parent and Family Programs this past summer as well as for her continued work in Leadership and Service programs in the Office of Student Involvement.

“NASPA has definitely played a role in my development as a student affairs practitioner,” said Cantlay, “by affording me the opportunity to present at conferences, listen to amazing speakers, and learn from colleagues and mentors.​”

Troy Stephens Jr., advisor for Greek Life, is this year’s New Connections Stipend winner which covers his registration fees for the 2017 NASPA conference in San Antonio, Texas. It also provides him with $500 reimbursable funds which may be used for food, travel and lodging during the conference. Stephens expressed his excitement for the opportunity to travel to a new city and be among like-minded people in his field for five days.

“NASPA has provided me with the road map for how I do my job,” said Stephens, “all of my work is associated with NASPA Core Competencies.”

The organization works to ensure student affairs professionals are current on trends in higher education. Their work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy and research for 15,000 members in the United States. NASPA holds the Region III Alabama Drive-In conference to bring together student affairs professionals from across the state with the goals of learning from each other and discussing critical issues impacting the student affairs field, as well as fellowship with the new and established colleagues.

For more information about NAPSA or future NAPSA events, visit the website at

Written by Grace Fabyan

Student Spotlight: Justin Smith

Meet Justin

Justin Smith is the newly elected Vice President of Auburn’s Student Government Association. He was born and raised in Auburn and is a junior studying chemical engineering and political science. Outside of SGA, he has been involved in the International Buddy Program, a social fraternity and is currently a co-host for WEGL radio show.

Why did you want to be SGA Vice President?

Serving as a senator for the College of Engineering last year gave me a lot of exposure to the role of the vice president and the responsibility the position demanded, which is to work in the interests of the student body. Before deciding to run for election, I believed I was capable of executing this role and fulfilling its mandate to serve Auburn University.

How did you get involved with SGA?

I was involved in student government at my high school, so naturally the SGA here on Auburn’s campus was always an organization that interested me since my freshman year. It was during my sophomore year, however, when I reached out to a student from my high school, who was also a senator at the time, on what steps I should take to get involved. Later that year, I was selected to run on a ticket as a senator for the College of Engineering and our ticket ended up winning all seats for the next term.

What are your goals for your term?

As SGA Vice President, one of my biggest goals this year is to introduce and pass meaningful legislation that represent the students’ voice and their interests here on campus. Collectively, among all the executive SGA officers, this year we want to focus our efforts in these main areas: improving our campus dining, promoting students’ academic success, increasing student engagement and reshaping the gameday experience.

What are the specific jobs you do as Vice President?

Here at Auburn, the Vice President’s primary role is to serve as the President of the Student Senate. In this capacity, I oversee all bills, resolutions, or other legislation that come through the senate during my term. Beyond the Senate, I also serve several University committees, including academic affairs, core curriculum and academic standards.

How did you decide to come to Auburn?

I was attracted by Auburn’s engineering program. Coming out of high school, I knew I wanted to get into a good engineering program, but I was also aware of the fact that I wouldn’t be able to afford any schools that were too expensive. Auburn offered the best balance of prestige and affordability from among the other colleges and universities that accepted me.

What do most people not know about you?

Most people don’t know that I’m kind of a linguistics hobbyist. I really enjoy learning about other languages and how they’re related or how they contrast from each other.

What are your hopes for after graduation?

After graduation I hope to work in the energy sector, either corporately within the industry, or for publicly for the government. I’m particularly interested in the legislation and laws behind the regulation of natural gas processing, nuclear power and renewable energy endeavors.

Written by Hayley Wright


What’s Your Green Dot?

WE.auburn is Auburn University’s Green Dot Bystander Intervention initiative aimed at reducing sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking/harassment. Since October 2015, we have been hosting presentations and trainings on how we, as active and courageous bystanders, can safely intervene (a green dot) when we see a signs of a potentially dangerous situation or behavior (a red dot).

Now we want to hear from you—what is YOUR green dot moment? When have you reacted in a situation and safely intervened OR engaged in a proactive behavior that demonstrated the importance of WE.auburn? Submit your green dot moment to be entered to win a pair of BeatsX earphones or one of three $100 vouchers for non-expiring Tiger Dining money!

Directions: Using the following form, describe your most important green dot moment since October 2015 in as much detail as possible without including personally-identifying information. By completing this form, you are consenting for us to use your submission (without your name) for marketing and program evaluation purposes. Please remember that this submission is intended to collect stories of bystanders, not those of victims/survivors or perpetrators.

Tell us your story here: