Nicholas Taunton “07, a magna cum laude graduate and former student body president of Texas A&M University, recently received the Brown Foundation-Earl Rudder Memorial Outstanding Student Award, the institution’s highest honor bestowed upon a graduating senior. Taunton, who graduated from Mays Business School in December with a degree in finance, was active in numerous student organizations, in addition to being student body president, while maintaining a 3.71 GPR.

The award honors top students who exemplify the leadership and related traits of the late Gen. Earl Rudder, a World War II hero who served as president of Texas A&M from 1959 until his death in 1970.

The award is normally presented at commencement exercises at Texas A&M each May, but Taunton is currently out of the country and will formally receive the award during August graduation ceremonies.

Citing Taunton’s exceptional academic performance, Dean Bresciani, the university’s vice president for student affairs, said Taunton has exceptional interpersonal skills. “He is a gifted speaker capable of energizing any audience made up of peers, alumni, legislators, foreign dignitaries and even the former president and first lady of the United States,” Bresciani said.

Ben Welch, clinical professor of management and director of the Center for Executive Business Development, said he recognized Taunton as a student who cared about making a difference. “He has excelled in all areas and is truly one of the most motivated individuals I have known.”

Douglas Slack, who served on committees with Taunton while speaker of the Texas A&M Faculty Senate, noted that Taunton was well respected by students and faculty. “He is the embodiment of Texas A&M. Integrity, loyalty, excellence, leadership, selfless-service and respect are not just words to Nic Taunton.”

In addition to his duties in student government, Taunton was a recruitment leader for the Aggie Relay for Life, an organization that raises money for cancer research. He also participated in the Aggie Men’s Club, the Fall Activities Council, Student Organization Advisory Board, Parent’s Weekend, Howdy Week and Rwanda S.P.R.E.A.D., an organization dedicated to raising money for the African country.

Currently, Taunton is volunteering in Rwanda, managing and reorganizing a local coffee roasting company through his position with S.P.R.E.A.D. He will remain in Butare, Rwanda for four months.

“He matches courage of conviction with antithetic humility,” said John McDermott, distinguished professor of philosophy and humanities. “He has a deep commitment to the values we hold dear here at Texas A&M. Never, however, is there in his person the slightest trace of arrogance, pomposity or self-preening. Add to these characteristics that he is a thinker, a reader, an avid listener and given to helpful rumination and you come upon a rare and treasured student leader.”

Two of the Brown-Rudder awards are presented each year at Texas A&M.

The other winner was Jonathon Edward Glueck, who graduated with a degrees in agricultural leadership development and agricultural economics. Each of the Brown-Rudder Award recipients receives a check for $5,000 and a framed certificate.