Inaugural awards convocation celebrates excellence

| April 22, 2013

President Jo Ellen Parker Parker welcomed students, faculty and staff to Sweet Briar’s first combined Awards Convocation on Friday afternoon with a moment of silence. In the midst of celebrating academic honors, she noted, the College was “mindful of the events in Boston.”

The ceremony marked a “new tradition” at Sweet Briar, uniting departmental awards and honors, as well as Student Government Association awards and the Presidential Medal under one umbrella.

Previously, some of the awards had been announced at events that only included members of the senior class or those who were being honored, Parker said.

“But academic achievement is the very heart of our community, the very reason for Sweet Briar to exist. The excellence of our students is a source of pride for the whole community — for all faculty members, all students, and all members of staff.”

Dean Amy Jessen-Marshall began the ceremony by announcing this year’s first-year honors and dean’s list students, asking them to stand and be recognized.

The first academic award recipient to be called to the stage was M.A.T. candidate and former chaplain’s assistant Kristie Munn, who received a one-year membership to the American Association of University Women, presented by Donna Kerley ’10, member of the association’s Lynchburg branch. Rousing applause was followed by a list of departmental awards, with each one of them handed out by the department’s chair.

Professor of economics and environmental studies Rob Alexander presents seniors Sarah Lindemann (left) and Kate Macklin with the Juliet Halliburton Davis Award.

After acknowledging Sweet Briar’s outstanding riders — most of whom were away for the American National Riding Commission Championships in Baltimore — Jessen-Marshall went on to announce the juniors and seniors who had been included in this year’s Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities.

Senior members of departmental honors societies were named along with those inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa before SGA president Maddie Hodges and Izzy Begej, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, took the stage to present the SGA Excellence in Service and Excellence in Teaching Awards.

Director of residence life, Annie Jones, received the first award for having “done some really terrific things for our community in such a short period of time,” Hodges said.

“On behalf of the entire student body, we are forever grateful.”

The Excellence in Teaching Award, announced by Begej, went once again to associate professor of classical studies Eric Casey, who was unable to attend the ceremony.

Parker concluded the event with the announcement of this year’s Presidential Medalist — business management major Elizabeth Hansbrough, who, along with her fellow riders, was in Baltimore, but had been informed of the top-secret award beforehand.

“At commencement we will have the opportunity to give her a hearty ‘Holla, holla’ in person,” Parker said.

Before leaving the stage, she reminded students that the real value of awards and prizes “lies in what they symbolize, what they represent, and what they express. They articulate shared standards and values; they give occasion for celebration; they crystallize memories.”

Years from now, the trophies and plaques themselves wouldn’t be remembered nearly as well as the experiences that led to them, she added.

“If today is about anything, it is about moments like those. They are what — I hope — you will remember about Sweet Briar, and it is certainly what Sweet Briar will remember about you.”


The following departmental awards were announced during the ceremony:

  • Kathryn Haw Prize in Art History: Ann Burris Roach ’13
  • Sprague-Belcher Award in Biology: Julie Alissa Sharp ’13
  • James Lewis Howe Award in Chemistry: Katie Jane Bitting ’13
  • The Jean Taylor Meyer Memorial American Poets Prize: Ashley Elizabeth Baker ’15
  • The Jean Besselievre Boley Prize for best short story: Mary Katherine Patterson ’13
  • Economics Department Outstanding Senior Award: Kelly Ann Winer ’13
  • Juliet Halliburton Davis Award: Katherine Margaret Macklin ’13 (environmental science) and Sarah Marie Lindemann ’13 (environmental studies)
  • The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Outstanding Scholar Education Award: Emma Malone Neave ’12 (M.A.T.)
  • The Tye River Elementary School “Big Sister” Award: Jessica Faye Murphy ’13
  • Lawrence G. Nelson Award (English): Caden John Campbell ’13
  • Shakespeare Prize: Madelyn Virginia Garnett ’14
  • Marcia Capron Award (French): Marianna Victoria deLyon ’13
  • L’alliance Française de Lynchburg Award: Hannah Grayson Atwood ’14
  • Pauline Roberts Otis Award (Junior Year in France): Nicole Jeamin Lee ’13
  • German Embassy Book Prize: Emma Marie Merritt-Cuneo ’14, Sixtine Abrial ’15 and Alyssa B. Sarmiento ’15
  • Goethe-Institut Buchpreis: Hannah Rose Robinson ’13
  • Anne Gary Pannell Taylor Award in History: Jennifer Marie Gray ’13
  • Anne Gary Pannell Taylor Graduate Fellowship in History: Sarah Lee Woll ’13
  • Mathematical Sciences Award: Emily Kate Cochran ’13 and Xingjian Yu ’13
  • Leigh Woolverton Prize for Excellence in the Visual Arts: Kaitlyn Aki Holloway ’13

Janika Carey


Category: Academics, Student Government Association, Uncategorized