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Contact: Lynn Stewart, Centenary News Service, 318-869-5120, lstewart@centenary.edu

See also USA TODAY article, Centenary's Heritage Language Project , the Front Page article in The (Shreveport) Times and Founders' Day Includes USA TODAY Award Recognition

USA Today Selects Centenary's Kelsey Bellamy Johnson Among Nation's Top 20 Undergrads for its All-USA College Academic First Team

Kelsey Bellamy Johnson, one of 20 in nation chosen to USA Today's All-USA College Academic First Team

SHREVEPORT, LA – Kelsey Bellamy Johnson, a senior at Centenary College of Louisiana, was named today (Feb. 17, 2005) to the First Team of the All-USA College Academic Team by the national daily newspaper USA TODAY.

Johnson is one of 20 college students in the nation chosen for the First Team for outstanding intellectual achievement and leadership.

She will be recognized during Centenary’s annual Founders’ Day Convocation today at 11 a.m. in Brown Memorial Chapel. President Kenneth L. Schwab will present her with a Centenary Laurel during the annual spring convocation.

The 20 students selected for the First Team are featured in today's edition of USA TODAY. The students each receive $2,500 cash awards and trophies.

The First Team was selected from 602 undergraduates nominated by colleges across the country and “selected in a very rigorous process,” said Tracey Briggs, All-USA Academic Team coordinator. A panel of judges considered grades, leadership, activities, and how students extend their intellectual talents beyond the classroom.

The First Team includes students from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Duke, MIT, the U.S. Naval Academy, Radford, the Universities of California at Los Angeles and North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Auburn, Valparaiso, Arizona State, Virginia Tech and the Northwestern University of Illinois.

Johnson, 21, of Shreveport, La., and formerly of Golden, Texas, is pursuing a double major in French and communication. She has been a major contributor to Centenary’s internationally recognized Heritage Language Project, which has rescued and printed important literary works of 19th Century Louisiana in their original languages. Last year the Heritage Language books represented the largest single printing of French in the United States since the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The international edition of Le Figaro hailed the project as “an undertaking without precedent in the United States.”

Johnson edited the text and designed the cover for an anthology of poems, Les Éphémères (Ephemeral Things), written by Alexandre Latil, the leper-poet of Creole Louisiana, in 1841. In addition, she designed another book cover and performed other duties for the Heritage Language Project. The book has been adopted for use at several universities and her edition was a featured text at the 2003 Louisiana Book Festival, sponsored by the Louisiana State Library and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. In recognition of this work, Johnson earned a coveted summer study scholarship to Belgium from the Communauté Française de Belgique.

At Centenary, Johnson has earned the Biedenharn Scholarship for outstanding students in the Church Careers Institute, the D.L. Dykes Founder Award for Excellence in Field Education and the Tintamarre Award for contributions to the French press. In December, the Shreveport Journalism Foundation awarded her its annual Kerry Garland Scholarship for an outstanding college junior or senior pursuing a degree in communications.

Johnson was nominated by D.A. Kress, professor of French, and her nomination was supported with letters of recommendation from Dr. Kenneth L. Schwab, Centenary president, and Lynn Stewart, Centenary’s director of public relations and Johnson’s internship supervisor.

"Kelsey Johnson embodies the intellectual excellence that is expected of a member of the USA TODAY Academic Team,” Kress said. “Few undergraduates in the United States can boast of any sort of publication; Kelsey managed such a feat in a language that is not her own. While many students perform excellent work in the narrow confines of the classroom when a grade is involved, it is indeed rare for an undergraduate student to successfully project her academic endeavors into an international arena."

Schwab said, “Ms. Johnson is an outstanding example of an involved student whose activities have extended well beyond the traditional classroom. Indeed, her work has extended beyond the college and city to rescue important Louisiana history and literature that are in danger of being lost… She is a young woman of character and a leader on campus and in the community.”

Stewart noted that as a double major in French and communication, Johnson has traveled to Belgium to immerse herself in the French language, to Michigan to learn more about book publishing, and into the community to work with children and music. “She is creative, skillful and thoughtful in everything she pursues.”

Johnson will graduate with highest honors from Centenary in May. She plans to attend graduate school and then pursue a career in publishing. “In the future, I hope to find a job designing publications for print and Web, focusing on the integration of original writing and images. This award from USA TODAY recognized my undergraduate work and affords me the confidence to pursue even greater things as a well-equipped Centenary alum," she said.

Criteria for the All-USA College Academic Team were developed in consultation with USA TODAY's education cosponsors: the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the American Council on Education, and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. The All-USA College Academic Team is open to full-time undergraduates at four-year institutions in the USA and its territories.

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