Marc Ebelhar, graduate student success specialist and academic professional in the Office of Graduate Education, has been named Georgia Tech’s 2024 “Putting Students First Award” recipient. This award recognizes an individual or team, who demonstrates, through specific activities, programs, or other aspects of teaching, commitment to the Institute's value of making students our top priority. 

In his role as graduate student success specialist, he oversees Institute-level orientation and onboarding programs for graduate students that promote student success. These activities include leading Tech’s GT6000 extended orientation program and the Graduate Institute Orientation (GradIO). Beyond this, he meets with graduate students to advise them on overcoming challenges and volunteers as a GT1000 instructor and mentor for undergraduate students. 

In his nomination letter, a student wrote “one of Marc’s gifts is seeing the light in students, reflecting it back to them, and also sharing with them new spaces and people with whom they can shine and reflect that light.” This quote accompanied numerous others from students and staff about Marc’s indelible impact. 

“It is an honor to receive this award. Knowing that there are thousands of faculty and staff members here at the Institute that make students their top priority, this recognition is a highlight of my career,” said Ebelhar. “I’m fortunate to be in a role that allows me to guide and support students as they navigate who they are, what they stand for, and what they aspire to become. A mentor of mine once referred to working in higher education as a privileged responsibility. With that in mind, I seek to find outlets to connect to students in ways that they feel seen and supported. While this is an individual award, this recognition also demonstrates the collective success of the GT6000 program.” 

The GT6000 program that Ebelhar leads was piloted in 2014 and has grown to become a campus tradition, enrolling around 500 first-semester graduate students each fall. The program focuses on topics like working with research advisors, exploring professional development resources, planning academic program milestones, developing resilience, and other broadly applicable topics that provide a foundational “whole person” education critical to student success. Course sections are led by trained graduate student peer mentors providing critical support as students start graduate school. The GT6000 program was created by James Black, director of Student and Academic Affairs, in the Office of Graduate Education. 

“Marc is an incredible asset to the campus community and the Office of Graduate Education,” said Black. “I’m glad to have him as a part of my team to support graduate students. He has positively impacted thousands of students since joining our office two years ago and is incredibly deserving of this award. I look forward to seeing him continue to grow and innovate how we support our graduate students and the graduate education community.” 

Ebelhar holds an Ed.D. in student affairs leadership from the University of Georgia, an M.Ed. in higher education and student affairs from the University of South Carolina, and a B.A. in economics and political science from Bellarmine University. To learn more about the GT6000 program, visit the program website at