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Churchill Scholar, Birmingham’s Maggie Nelson most awarded student at Auburn

Maggie Nelson, a senior from Birmingham, has won the prestigious Churchill Scholarship, a first for Auburn University. This fall, Nelson will attend Churchill College at the University of Cambridge and work towards her MPhil in materials science and metallurgy.

Nelson now sits comfortably at the top of the list of Auburn’s most prestigious scholars. Over the course of her time at Auburn, she has won two Astronaut Scholar Awards, the German Exchange DAAD RISE Award, the Barry M. Goldwater Award and now the Churchill Scholarship.

No other undergraduate in the history of Auburn University has won as many prestigious scholarships as Nelson.

“It feels like a little much, but I’m honored and thankful. I would like to thank all the people who supported me through my undergraduate journey at Auburn,” she said.

Nelson was quick to note that even though it seems she has achieved a lot, she has also failed about the same amount of times.

“Winning these awards is a testament to building a tolerance for failure, but I’m always trying,” she said.

This attitude of hard work exemplifies Nelson’s nature.

“Maggie is the personification of the Auburn Creed, particularly where it reads ‘I believe in work, hard work.’ While her performance in the classroom has been truly outstanding, we have always emphasized the importance of quality experiences outside of the classroom. This is where I think Maggie has truly shined,” said Brian Thurow, chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering in Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

While at Cambridge, Nelson will research ways of improving the efficiency of solar energy cells in interior light. She hopes she can apply this knowledge to Earth and space-based solutions for sustainable energy production.

Nelson, an Honors College student, will graduate this spring with a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering and minors in materials engineering, philosophy and sustainability studies within the Ginn College of Engineering and the College of Liberal Arts, respectively.

The Winston Churchill Scholarship is an annual award given to only 16 students nationally to study at Churchill College in Cambridge. The scholarship is regarded as one of the nation’s most prestigious awards.

Established at the request of Sir Winston Churchill as part of the founding of Churchill College, the Churchill Scholarship fulfills his vision of deepening the US-UK partnership in order to advance science and technology on both sides of the Atlantic, ensuring our future prosperity and security.

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