These days, just about everybody with an email inbox gets a message telling them they’ve been nominated for inclusion on one “Who’s Who” list or another.
Those tend to be scams, more often than not. But Pembroke resident Aaron Avera’s selection to be on one such list isn’t.
The Reinhardt University senior was recently picked to be included in the 2014 “Who’s Who Among University and College Students.”
Avera, whose father, Matt, is pastor at Pembroke United Methodist Church, was one of 44 Reinhardt students to make the cut. He called it an honor to be selected.
“I have been very active at Reinhardt since showing up there, and I quickly got to know several faculty and staff,” he said. “By getting selected for this it shows me that they think a lot of me and that they think I have potential leadership skills”
It’s a big deal, said Dr. Walter May, assistant dean of students.
“Being selected to ‘Who’s Who Among University and College students’ is a distinctive honor,” May said in an email. “The annual listing recognizes outstanding campus leaders nationwide.”
May noted no more than 4 percent of the school’s enrollment of 1,300 is eligible for the list — and all who are nominated by faculty and staff then go through a rigorous screening process by the school.
“Students are selected for this honor based on their scholastic and academic achievement, in addition to their service to community, leadership in extracurricular activities, and potential for continued success,” May noted.
And Avera has shown plenty of all that during his time at Reinhardt, it seems. An education major with a concentration in middle grades education, he’s “a leader in and out of the classroom,” May said.
Indeed. Avera has made the school’s dean’s list for seven semesters during his time at Reinhardt.
He’s also been involved in a number of programs at the school, ranging from his role as a student ambassador captain for the school’s admissions office — “leading tours for prospective students and their families,” May said — to working with intramural sports.
Avera also filled a number of roles with the school’s campus ministry for University Chaplain Rev. Jordan Thrasher, May said, primarily as a leader for the school’s Wesley Fellowship, a Methodist-based student group.
“Although (all that) appears to seem like a high level of out-of-class involvement, it is truly a healthy level, which allowed him to be not only plugged into the campus community but to also provide him with opportunities to practice and hone the skills and knowledge related to his major and interests,” May said, calling Avera “enthusiastic” and a “go-getter.”
“As a student at Reinhardt, Aaron has been an active and indispensable member of the university community and truly an asset to the Division of Student Affairs,” May said. “Unquestionably, he is one of the most dependable and talented student leaders that I have run across in my years as student affairs professional.”
As the son of a preacher, Avera didn’t stay in one place growing up.
“I don’t have one place I have lived my whole life,” he said. “I say my hometown is Columbus, because that is where I was born and where I completed high school. I graduated from Columbus High School in 2010 and have been at Reinhardt since the fall of 2010.”
His parents, Matt and Stacy, moved to Pembroke in the summer of 2012 when Matt took over as pastor at Pembroke UMC.
His younger sisters, twins Ansley and Ashlyn Avera, will graduate from Bryan County High School in May. An older sister, Alaina Harrison, graduated from Columbus High and is now married.
Harrison was actually the first in the family to apply to Reinhardt, but chose to attend Wesleyan College instead. After Avera’s mom suggested he apply to Reinhardt as well, he did.
“I chose to go without ever touring the school and I have loved it,” Avera said, praising the school’s small class size.
“It helps with the ability to learn and understand material for me,” he said. “If I have a question it’s a perfect setting to ask. At Reinhardt we aren’t numbers in class, we are names.”
He’ll graduate May 3 with his degree and then hopes to land a teaching job in Metro Atlanta.
“I will be getting married in May and my fiancé and I thought that Metro Atlanta was a good area to fit both of our degrees to find jobs,”
So how will making Who’s Who help?
“I think it will not only show that I am a student leader but will also show that I am motivated,” Avera said. “In order to be selected by teachers and administration you have to have a good GPA, have school and community leadership and show potential to be a future leader. I am going into a profession where I have to lead our students to succeed in school.
“It is very important that teachers have a leadership quality to assure them in being able lead our students.”