April 27, 2023
Reading time: 2 minutes, 22 seconds

John David Butler, the University of West Georgia's Academic Recognition Day Scholar for 2023, is an overnight success 38 years in the making. 

John David Butler

The Academic Recognition Day program is designed to select a single undergraduate student per institution within the University System of Georgia who has maintained a 4.0 grade point average and honor their successes. Applicants are nominated through their respective universities and follow an interview process.

Butler is a nontraditional student who spent nearly a decade as an audio engineer in the music industry before discovering his life's purpose at UWG as a student majoring in biology with a minor in psychology.

Growing up in nearby Temple, Butler was always aware of UWG but hadn’t considered his ability to thrive academically. By taking a leap of faith – with himself and with UWG – he found a place where he could satisfy his never-ending curiosity and love for grappling with the unknowns of the world. 

“Receiving this honor is a great responsibility because now people have shown they believe in me,” explained Butler in response to receiving the honor. “I have to live up to it because I know how many fantastic students there are at UWG, and to think that I'm any more deserving than they are is tough to consider.”

Butler’s curious nature and dedication to his academic career have resulted in not only the stellar grade point average required to receive the title but the distinction in character necessary to be named the recipient of this award.  

He dedicates his time to several student community service projects at UWG, including the UWG River Cleanup, maintaining the biology program’s greenhouse and serving in the Exceptional Experiences Lab under the tutelage of a faculty member who specializes in paranormal psychology. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, capturing wildlife photography and practicing yoga. 

Butler’s regard and care toward others are apparent through his actions. His hope is to use this opportunity to continue to catalyze change and give back to others. 

“I want to make sure my efforts give back to others,” said Butler. “It is quite humbling to be the honoree amongst so many other talented students here. I hope to pass along what I have learned.”

In a consistent fashion of selflessness, Butler’s future ambitions aim to assist others. After graduating in May, he hopes to pursue graduate studies in biomedical sciences to study human aging. His ultimate goal is to research and discover ways to maximize individuals' quality of life as they get older.

“I still want to be hiking when I’m 90 years old,” asserted Butler. “One of the most unfortunate things about life is that when we should be at our peak – once we begin understanding life – that's when we experience physiological decline and can no longer do what we would’ve. My future research will hopefully help change that.”