Commencement 2020 Award Recipients

Mary Baldwin University celebrates the recipients of top honors who have garnered a mention during the 178th Commencement ceremony, this year held in a virtual format. Advisors, professors, and deans reflected on the accomplishments of these graduating students, illustrating the contributions they have made to the university community and beyond.

Members of the Steadfast Shakespeare Master of Fine Arts Company in MBU’s Shakespeare and Performance Program, who collectively received the Ariel Service Award (pictured at MBU at the Wharf in 2019).

Phi Beta Kappa

The Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) Society is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society, and membership is an emblem of high achievement and exceptional potential, conferred upon barely one percent of college seniors nationwide. To be elected to PBK, a student must have demonstrated a commitment to the pursuit of excellence in the liberal arts and sciences, and eligibility requirements include a high GPA, foreign language, mathematics, and laboratory science. The criteria to be inducted into PBK as a junior is even more rigorous. 

Inducted in their senior year: Rebecca Balzan, Dana Cromer, Jade Doswell, Syrina Haldiman, and Shayla Spruill
Inducted in their junior year: Tatyana Johnson and Anais Gutierrez

Martha Stackhouse Grafton Award 

This award is given to the graduate with the highest cumulative grade point average (GPA).

Camille Weeks

From her advisor John Ong, professor of mathematics:
Camille Weeks is a confident, technically brilliant, and caring student from the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted. She is the first person in the department to complete the requirements of the mathematics major in three years and is now enrolled in our master of arts in teaching program. She leveraged her senior project into gaining knowledge and insight about teaching, by comparing the flipped classroom model to the traditional lecture model through survey and rigorous statistical data analysis. Her passion is one of service and leadership through teaching, and she intends to teach mathematics in the Dominican Republic with her church mission after completing her master’s degree. We in the Mathematics Department feel privileged to have her in our program and are thrilled that she is receiving the Martha S. Grafton Award.

MBU Online Outstanding Graduate Award

This award recognizes a student who has excelled academically as well as being one of the best representations of the MBU Online program. He or she is outstanding in all respects, as a student and as a person in both their academics and their character.

Sandra “Sandy” Miller

From Virginia Trovato, director of advising, MBU Online:
Sandra “Sandy” Miller of Charlottesville will be graduating with a 4.0 GPA in her major, business with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. An exceptional professional and lifelong learner, she plans to re-create herself once again after graduation as a business consultant by building on her entrepreneurship skills from MBU. She is not only an excellent student, but also active in her community through the youth summer lacrosse league, Falcon Club, and women’s 4-miler training program, and she also helps with a number of fundraising events for her employer, the Virginia Institute of Autism.

MBU Online Legacy Award

Given for the first time this year, this award honors the legacy of the Adult Degree Program at MBU, and is given to a graduating senior who has overcome obstacles and persevered in earning her or his degree from Mary Baldwin University.

Gwendolyn Barber

From her advisor, Ellen Lucius, academic advisor, MBU Online:
Gwen Barber has shown incredible determination during her seven years of work toward earning her undergraduate degree through MBU Online. She is dedicating her degree to the memory of her son, Owen, who passed away from a rare form of cancer 24 hours after his diagnosis at the age of 8 in April 2019. Her major at MBU was special education, and Gwen currently works as a special education teaching assistant at Baker Butler Elementary School in Charlottesville. She hopes to pursue work as a special education teacher in the future. Gwen made a decision to make special education her life’s work not by accident, but on purpose. She will be that one person a child in her care needs in order to find the path to success.

Commencement awards given to undergraduate students included (l-r) Camille Weeks, recipient of the Martha Stackhouse Grafton Award; Madalyn Mongold, recipient of the College of Education Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award; and Gwendolyn Barber, recipient of the inaugural MBU Online Legacy Award.

Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences Nancy Morse Evans Leadership Award

The Nancy Morse Evans Leadership Award was created in 2017 through the generosity of Nancy Morse Evans ’70. This award recognizes a Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences (MDCHS) occupational therapy, physical therapy, and registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing (RN to BSN) graduating student who demonstrated academic excellence, clinical distinction, and a record of service and leadership while in their program. Recipients of this honor will receive a scholarship and have their names etched on a special plaque housed in MDCHS.

RN to BSN Recipient 

Deborah Risner Darrell

From Drew Gogian, director of the School of Nursing, MDCHS:
The 2020 RN-to-BSN Program recipient of the Nancy Morse Evans Leadership Award is Deborah Darrell. Deb graduated among the top students in her class academically, received accolades from her preceptor during her community health practicum experience, and has a strong record of service and leadership to the profession, our community, and the university. In addition to her program and a busy work schedule, Deb also served on the nursing honor council, as a class representative, and provided tutoring to multiple students across the university. She takes a holistic approach to healthcare and is concerned with the overall, long-term wellbeing of those she works with, currently serving as a charge nurse in an assisted living facility in our community. Deb is a pillar of nursing professionalism and a fine example of a nurse leader. It is a privilege to name her as the recipient of this year’s award.

Physical Therapy Recipient

Samantha Anne Myers

From Lisa Shoaf, director of the School of Health and Human Performance, MDCHS:
Both MDCHS faculty and Samantha’s clinical instructors describe her as a “positive and happy person in all of her interactions. She portrays maturity at all times and has the ability to maintain an ‘even keel’ even in stressful situations.” She put in extra time in the clinical setting to ensure all patients and clients were cared for prior to going home. She takes the time to research challenging cases to make sure she is prepared and knowledgeable.

Occupational Therapy Recipient 

Emma Catherine Hartman

From Allison Ellington, program director, occupational therapy, MDCHS:
Emma Hartman has made a significant impact in her time at MDCHS. She was elected president of her class and was instrumental in many new activities accomplished by the Student Occupational Therapy (OT) Association. She was also inducted into Pi Theta Epsilon, the national occupational therapy honor society and served as a tutor to fellow students. Emma’s passion for serving adults with developmental disabilities led her to complete an impactful doctoral experience studying the effect of staff education and providing client-centered, occupation-based activities among retirees in a supported living facility. The OT faculty are proud to select Emma as the 2020 recipient of the Nancy Morse Evans Leadership Award.

Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences Linda Seestedt-Stanford Leadership Award

The Linda Seestedt-Stanford Award was created in 2018 through the generosity of Angela Blose Corley ’67. This award recognizes one graduating student in each of the founding programs: occupational therapy, physical therapy, and physician assistant. Students are selected for this award based on demonstrated excellence in academics, clinical performance, and a record of service and leadership activities during their time in the program. Recipients of this honor will receive a scholarship and have their names etched on a special plaque housed in MDCHS.

Physical Therapy Recipient

Shana Kathleen Sherman

From Lisa Shoaf, director of the School of Health and Human Performance, MDCHS:
Shana completed a very difficult clinical rotation and was selected from all the students at the facility to provide physical therapy services to the athletes at the five-day 2020 football combine. She worked long hours displaying a positive attitude and great enthusiasm, and was extremely dedicated and professional. She stood out as a strong, competent team member. Her clinical supervisor stated she was “the best student they have ever had.”

Physician Assistant Recipient 

Samara Rachel Stovall

From Harold Felton, program director, physician assistant, MDCHS:
Samara was a solid performer in both didactic and clinical phases. She had great rapport with the preceptors, staff, and patients no matter where she went.

Occupational Therapy Recipient 

Emily Harrison LaMotte

From Allison Ellington, program director, occupational therapy, MDCHS:
Emily LaMotte has demonstrated excellence in many areas while at MDCHS. Emily is described by her fieldwork educators as kind, caring, and empathetic, and these occupational therapists note that she will be “an asset to any organization.” Emily embraced the opportunities to engage in scholarly activities and presented poster presentations at both the Virginia Occupational Therapy Association conference and American Occupational Therapy Association conference. Emily has also demonstrated a commitment to service as a tutor and participating on the occupational therapy program newsletter committee. She was also a leader in her class, serving as the vice president for the Pi Theta Epsilon honor society.

Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences Outstanding Master of Healthcare Administration Graduate Award

Catherine McGowan

From Kim Nine, director, School of Public Health, MDCHS:
Catherine is outstanding in mastering challenging material, a highly engaged team member, and hardworking student committed to continuous improvement. Catherine consistently maintained an excellent academic profile and was able to quickly master complex material and always presented her work in a very professional manner.

Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences Master of Science in Physician Assistant Student of the Year Award

David Christopher Flores

From Harold Felton, program director, physician assistant, MDCHS:
David is a caring, patient-oriented physician assistant. He had multiple job offers for those organizations with which he rotated due to his caring and knowledge.

The Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences honored several graduating students including (l-r) Deborah Darrell, recipient of the Nancy Morse Evans Leadership Award for the RN-to-BSN Program; David Flores, recipient of the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Student of the Year Award; and Samara Stovall, recipient of the Linda Seestedt-Stanford Leadership Award for the Physician Assistant Program (pictured with her husband, Ben).

Susan Nolan Palmer Outstanding Master of Business Administration Apex Project Award

The Susan Nolan Palmer Apex Project Award is bestowed upon the master of business administration (MBA) student that excels in completing the final project for the program. The selected student exemplifies the ideals of the program in a highly professional manner.

Hope Scott

From Joe Sprangel, dean, College of Business and Professional Studies:
Hope Scott is a 15-year high school business teacher that completed the MBA program part time. Her apex project was the development of a plan for Charger Business Solutions. The organization allows her students to work on readiness skills by providing professional business services to local small businesses and service organizations at a minimum cost. The program will allow students to showcase their capabilities while working alongside potential future employers. Hope excelled in her MBA coursework while caring her for family and working in her full-time teaching role. 

College of Education Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award

Madalyn Mongold

From Rachel Potter, dean, College of Education:
Madalyn is completing the undergraduate portion of the bachelor of arts/master of arts in teaching (MAT) program this May. She majored in liberal arts and educational studies with a focus in elementary education with minors in history and sexuality/gender studies. This fall, she will resume her studies at MBU to complete the MAT portion of her program, including teacher licensure.

College of Education Outstanding Graduate Student Award

Melody Parsons

From Rachel Potter, dean, College of Education:
Melody is a career-switcher who graduated with her MAT degree in December after an exemplary student teaching experience in third grade at McSwain Elementary School in Staunton. Melody graduated with an exceptionally high GPA, just a fraction of a point below a 4.0. She is conscientious and passionate, and will be a tremendous asset to her future students and colleagues.

Shakespeare and Performance Ariel Award for Outstanding Program Service and Leadership

The Ariel Service Award is named after a character in Shakespeare’s late play, The Tempest. Ariel is a character who gains freedom by performing acts of service. The award therefore reminds us that freedom derives not from an act of self-expression but from an expression of selflessness.

Jessica Boyles, Abigail Fralix, Heron Kennedy, Jessie Lillis, Kaitlin Moore, Lauren Romagnano, Kirsten Wimberg, and Tessa Zimmerman

From Paul Menzer, dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts:
The 2020 Ariel Service Award is presented to the eight graduating master of fine arts (MFA) students who comprise “Steadfast Shakespeare Company.” They took this name in the spring of 2019 and had no sense then of how prophetic it would turn out to be. Undeterred by the interruption of their spring semester, which cancelled their culminating theatre festival, they served the Shakespeare and Performance community by modeling a steadfast resiliency in the face of an unprecedented challenge. 

Shakespeare and Performance Andrew Gurr Award for Outstanding Thesis

The Andrew J. Gurr Thesis Award is named after a great scholar and a great friend both to the American Shakespeare Center and to Mary Baldwin University, who named him as Doenges Scholar in 2001. The Gurr award is given annually to the master of letters (MLitt) or MFA thesis that the faculty judge to be that year’s superior effort among the 35 or so theses written each academic year. 

Emma Rose Kraus and David Meldman

From Paul Menzer, dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts:
For the first time in the history of the Shakespeare and Performance program, the prize is shared by two students, Emma Rose Kraus and David Meldman. Emma Rose Kraus is a second year MLitt student from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She produced a masterful thesis, a theatre historical examination of illegal performances at the Red Bull Playhouse in London during the closure of the theatres during the English civil war. David Meldman is a second year MLitt student from Chicago, who also completed an on-stage internship with the American Shakespeare Center in 2018-19. David’s thesis explores anti-semitism in the reception history of 20th and 21st century productions of The Merchant of Venice