Audrey Poltorak Wins Lander University’s Coveted Thayer Award

May 19, 2024

Audrey Poltorak, of Fountain Inn has been named the recipient of the prestigious Thayer Award for the spring 2024 semester at Lander University. The Thayer Award is bestowed upon the student graduating with the highest grade-point average (GPA) and was established in 1986 on behalf of the family of Dr. Henry K. Thayer, a civic leader and former president of Thayer’s, Inc. of Greenwood

Poltorak achieved this remarkable distinction by completing her bachelor’s degree in graphic and interactive media, accumulating an impressive 4.0 GPA over 141 institutional hours.

“When I heard my name called as recipient for the Thayer Award, I felt pure joy and pride,” Poltorak said. “I looked at my family in the crowd, seeing them beaming with joy as they knew how hard I had worked for this moment.

The graphic designer added, “I felt honored that Lander saw and recognized my efforts to be the best student I could be, and I am beyond thankful towards my professors, friends, and family that helped me achieve my possible potential during my time at Lander.”

Poltorak balanced her academic pursuits with student activities as a member of the Lander Equestrian Team, vice president of the Lander Players, and a featured artist in the student magazine New Voices. She won first place awards in the graphic arts division of the 2021 and 2022 Lander Juried Exhibition.

Asma Nazim-Starnes, MFA, chair of the Department of Art + Design, envisions a bright future for her former student. “Audrey has thrived as a graphic designer at Lander’s print shop, showcasing her talents by designing the latest graduation tickets for the Spring 2024 commencement ceremony,” remarked the department chair. “I often feature her work as exemplary, highlighting the exceptional quality and high level of detail she demonstrates in her design work.”

“Audrey also served as the illustrator for our department’s ‘Ripple’ Magazine, impressing not only the former dean, Mark Rollins, but also our faculty,” added Nazim-Starnes. “We plan to print copies for distribution at recruitment events. Audrey shows promise to excel in her career as a designer.”

Founded in 1872, Lander University is a co-educational, state-assisted, comprehensive, regional, four-year university in Greenwood, South Carolina. With approximately 4,300 students, Lander provides exceptional educational opportunities within its traditional liberal arts and science programs, and its professional programs in art, business, design, education, and nursing. For more information visit