Students, organizations recognized for campus leadership

April 30, 2012
Contact: Karen B. Eldridge, Director of Communications

More than 40 Maryville College students, faculty, staff and student organizations were honored for outstanding campus and community leadership during the institution’s annual Leadership Awards Ceremony. Students, parents, College faculty and staff and community members attended the April 24 event held in the Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall of the Clayton Center for the Arts.

Opportunities for involvement in and leadership of various campus causes is a long-held hallmark of the Maryville College educational experience, which seeks to prepare students for an enriched life as citizens, leaders and educated persons.

Vice President and Dean of Students Vandy Kemp introduced the awards.

“Each year, this event follows the Academic Awards Ceremony, and it provides a different opportunity for the Maryville College community to recognize exceptional students,” she said. “At this particular event, we focus on those students who have demonstrated positive character and who have provided exemplary leadership within our campus community.

“We also honor several faculty and staff at this event who model outstanding leadership in their day-to-day lives,” she added.

Students, faculty and organizations recognized during the April 24 ceremony are listed below.

The Black Student Association (BSA) Leadership Award was presented to junior Brian Bush, a political science major from Chattanooga, Tenn., and junior Jerica Johnson, a music major from Chattanooga, Tenn.

The College's Global Citizenship Organization recognized two members: freshman Brieanna Kepley, a freshman teaching English as a second language major from Maryville, Tenn., who was named Newcomer of the Year; and sophomore art major Laura Pierpont, from Seymour, Tenn., who was honored as Member of the Year.

Senior AJ Cragar, a history major from Winchester, Tenn., was the Intramural Cup Winner because of his support of and participation in intramurals.

The student organization MC for Our Military and Their Families presented the Award of Valor to Ed Harmon, who serves on Maryville College’s Board of Directors.

The Pep Band Outstanding Member of the Year award went to senior Jeffrey Hoover, a biochemistry major from Johnson City, Tenn.

The Pep Band also awarded “Note”worthy Member of the Year honors to Jerica Johnson.

The Dance Team’s Scotties Spirit Award was presented to Ally Boling, a sophomore child development and learning for teacher licensure major from Knoxville, Tenn.

The MC Student Literacy Corps’ Linda Clark Literacy Award went to Elvira An, a senior math major from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

“Peer Mentor of the Year” honors went to two students: Leah Petr, a junior writing/communication major from Knoxville, Tenn.; and junior Emily Julian, an art major from Powell, Tenn.

David Sturchio, a freshman psychology major from Knoxville, Tenn., received the Residence Hall Association's (RHA) First-Year Experience Award. Senior Nicole Verdino, a mathematics for teacher licensure major from Sevierville, Tenn., received the RHA Student of the Year Award. The RHA Distinguished Service Award went to senior Stephanie Barger, a psychology major from Harriman, Tenn.

Three students were recognized for their outstanding leadership on the College's Student Government Association (SGA). Representative of the Year honors went to junior Cory Lingerfelt, writing/communication major from Farragut, Tenn. Senior Megan Lock, a biology major from Buford, Ga., was named Senator of the Year, and junior Devan Reynolds, a political science major from Clinton, Tenn., was named Outstanding Member of the Year.

Bridget Sternisha, a senior environmental studies major from Huntingtown, Md., was recognized by the Student Programming Board as its Outstanding Member of the Year.

The Voices of Praise Leadership Award went to sophomore Onyekachi Ononye of Nigeria and junior Matthew Morgan, a biology major from Atlanta, Ga.

Maryville College’s Admissions Office recognized outstanding leadership in its Ambassador program, which trains current students to give tours, assist with special events and represent the campus community to prospective students and their families and other guests to the campus.

Ellison Berryhill, a senior philosophy major from Jefferson City, Tenn.; Hannah Hickman a senior child development and learning for teacher licensure major from Knoxville, Tenn.; and Megan Lock received the Ambassador Outstanding Lifetime Service Award.

The First-Year Spirit of the Ambassador Award went to Hannah Fry, a sophomore math major from Buchanan, Tenn. Katie Fair, a sophomore international studies major from Maryville, Tenn., was named the Ambassador of the Year.

Elvira An received the International Student Award.

The Nancy Smith Wright Unity Award, named for the first African-American to graduate from Maryville College following reintegration, went to the Black Student Association, a student organization that was established to cater to the needs of African-American students in the Maryville College community. The award recognizes an individual or organization that consistently demonstrates unity through diversity within the Maryville College community and beyond.

Jerica Johnson was honored with the Sojourner Truth Award, which recognizes outstanding leadership in a Maryville College female student of color.

Brian Bush accepted the College's W.E.B. DuBois Award, which recognizes outstanding leadership in a Maryville College male student of color.

Bonnie West, a senior literature in English major from Louisville, Tenn., received the Non-Traditional Student Award.

Beeson Village and Court Street resident assistants were honored with the Residence Hall Academic Achievement Award. Those awarded: Charlotte Howard, a senior history major from Knoxville, Tenn.; Dixie Baum, a senior political science major from Townsend, Tenn.; and Sam Jackson, a senior political science major from Greenback, Tenn.

Elvira An was named Resident Assistant of the Year. Shelbianne “Nikki” Wilks, a senior teaching English as a second language major from Loudon, Tenn., received the Distinguished Service Award.

The Charles and Mary Ensign Scholarship, which recognizes students’ contributions to the religious life of the campus, was presented to two seniors: Allison Little, a sociology major from Maryville, Tenn., and Nate Smith, a senior history major from Danville, Ky.

Morgan Goodman, a senior physical education major from Jackson, Tenn., was presented with the Spirit of Service/Student Volunteer of the Year Award.

Claire Keener-Eck, a senior American Sign Language major from Abingdon, Va., was named Student Activist of the Year.

Up ‘til Dawn, an organization that raises funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, received the Student Group Recognition Award for Building and Strengthening the Human Community.

Certificates for successful completion of the Highland Leadership Program were presented to Mary Alexander, Ashley Avans, Spencer Blanden, Samuneisha Davidson, Carmina De Guia, Montana Dunn, Paul Earheart-Brown, Ashley Ferris, Yasuo Fukui, Iman Harris, Kayla Lewis, Sophia Lively, John Mainland, Zachary Parker, David Sturchio, Ravyn Thompson, Amber Vargas, Germani Williams, and Jarrett Yoder.

The Highland Leadership Program provides holistic leadership development for underclassmen through one academic year of experiential learning, direct instruction, mentoring and skill application.

Two faculty members, one staff member and one student were named recipients of the College’s Spirit of the Covenant Award, which recognizes individuals who embody the spirit of the principles of scholarship, respect and integrity as outlined in the College's Covenant.

Recipients were Dr. Barbara Wells, academic dean and professor of sociology; Shelbianne “Nikki” Wilks; Roger Myers, assistant professor and reference & instruction librarian; and Linda Millsaps, housekeeper and mother of two Maryville College alumni.

The Outstanding Freshman Leader Award went to Spencer Blanden, who is from Glenn Heights, Texas. Keylan Myers of Cornelia, Ga., was awarded the Outstanding Sophomore Leader Award. Emily Julian of Powell, Tenn., was called to the stage to receive the Outstanding Junior Leader Award.

Leah Petr also earned the Sharon A. Murphy Crane Award, which recognizes a rising junior or senior who is an active participant in the College theatre and/or student programming activities, and who deeply loves the College and is willing to raise issues intended to benefit the entire campus community.

The student organization MC for Our Military and Their Families was named Student Development's Organization of the Year.

Kelly Battles, assistant professor of English, was named Student Organization Advisor of the Year for her work with the Chilhowean, the College's yearbook.

Special recognition was given to Michelle Ballew Safewright for excellence in leadership in the division of student development. After 16 years of service, she is leaving Maryville College and will serve this summer as a faculty member for the National Housing Training Institute at the University of Georgia. She is regionally recognized as an outstanding housing administrator.

“Under Michelle’s leadership, Residence Life and student involvement has truly been transformed at Maryville,” Kemp said. “She is leaving behind a great legacy in high quality residential life at Maryville College.”

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,198.