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Ian Wynn named 2021 GSW Outstanding Scholar

– Double major in geology and math looks ahead to bright future in research.

AMERICUS (July 2, 2021) — Ian Wynn, a senior from Plains, Ga., was named Georgia Southwestern State University’s (GSW) 2021 Outstanding Scholar, the university’s highest academic honor. Wynn, along with other top scholars from University System of Georgia (USG) institutions, represent the system’s highest scholastic ideals and best qualities. 

Wynn, a double major in geology and mathematics with a minor in chemistry, is at the top of his class with a near-perfect GPA and represents superb scholastic achievement. At just 19 years old, Wynn has completed over 160 credit hours – earning 90 of those credits hours while still in high school. 

“I am honored to represent GSW as an Outstanding Scholar and am thankful for the acknowledgement of all my hard work,” said Wynn. “I am especially grateful to GSW’s geology department and STEM programs and the academic traditions they represent. I’m just doing what I love, and doing it well I suppose.” 

Wynn anticipates to graduate in Spring 2022 and transition into graduate school, possibly at Cornell University, with aspirations of becoming a professor. 

“I plan to use both of my degrees conducting research in graduate school,” stated Wynn. “I just finished my senior project that I’ve been researching for a couple years now and am working on getting it published.” 

Wynn collected sediment samples from western China in 2017 while on a trip with his father Keaton Wynn, a visual arts professor at GSW. He brought them back to the U.S. and analyzed them to see how they could be utilized in glazes and ceramics. 

“I love that you’re incorporating your interest with your dad’s interest and marrying the arts with the sciences, bringing them both together in a unique way,” stated GSW President Neal Weaver, Ph.D., when hosting Wynn on his podcast. “Our job as a liberal arts institution is to understand the complexity of this world by bringing different disciplines together.” 

Wynn has made GSW’s President’s List for four years, with only two Bs in his entire college career keeping him from a perfect 4.0 GPA with a 3.94. He recalls the first B was in physics while he was still in 10th grade, and the second in calculus as an 11th grader battling an autoimmune disease in and out of the hospital. Wynn persevered and kept taking classes. He calls this time in his life “a very formative experience.” 

Through dual enrollment, Wynn began taking college courses at Georgia Southwestern as a high school freshman in 2015 and officially started at GSW as a full-time student in Fall 2019. It was his Intro to Geology class with now-retired geology professor Tom Weiland, Ph.D., that genuinely got Wynn interested in the field. 

“Dr. Weiland truly inspired me and has always been one of my favorite professors. He helped me entirely through my data collection when I was collecting samples in China. I wasn’t even a declared geology major, yet he still took the time to help out this high school kid.” 

The high quality of the geology program and the personalized attention he received while dually enrolled were determining factors for Wynn’s decision to complete his degrees at GSW. 

“Because the department was so small, I really developed relationships with my faculty, advisors and peers in a way that I know I wouldn’t have been able to experience anywhere else. The quality of the education I received due to the small size of our department is invaluable.” 

Wynn is one of the last four geology majors left in the program as it phases out and is proud to represent his program with honor as one of its final graduates. 

Outside of the classroom, Wynn serves as president of the Geology Club and is a peer tutor in geology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, and Chinese – which he can speak intermediately. 

As recipient of the Outstanding Scholar award, Wynn and the other top scholars from USG’s 26 institutions were recognized on Academic Recognition Day in May 2021. All honorees received a resolution from the Georgia House of Representatives along with a letter of commendation from former USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley, Ph.D., congratulating them for achieving academic excellence. 

“During a difficult academic year, you have seized the opportunity to build upon an incredibly valuable time in your life and lay a foundation for success far beyond your chosen field of study,” Wrigley said. “You did not let the challenges of the pandemic hinder your academic performance, and we celebrate your achievement.”